The kitchen’s no longer just somewhere to prepare food, it can be a dining place, workplace or even a playroom. So how do you make the most of a kitchen space? Find out here, including tips from property guru Martin Roberts
Since lockdown, many of us have had to re-assess our domestic spaces, and the kitchen has been pressed into use as a makeshift office or schoolroom.
Whatever the reason, lots of us have been taking a long-hard look at our kitchens, and wondering whether worn decor, tired units, and battered appliances couldn’t do with a makeover.
So where do you start with a quick kitchen refresh? There’s a lot you can get done without spending a great deal of time or money, so let’s look first at some easy options.
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A good tip when renovating your kitchen is to try to stick to the existing layout. Moving appliances, pipework and electricals is probably not something you could do without professional help, so try to work with the layout you have.
* If your appliances look worn, clean them before thinking of throwing them out.
* Repaint in lighter, brighter colours to refresh the look of your kitchen at minimal cost
* You can repaint timber panelling, once you’ve sealed it
* Replace worn splashbacks with tiling or metal
* Replace taps, power-points and light fittings for a quick refresh
* Get new blinds or curtains to pep up windows
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In these ways you can score some major improvements without spending a lot of money or having to endure major disruption in your kitchen.
Martin Roberts’ Tips
“Extending your kitchen with a side-return extension (using the narrow alley that runs adjacent to the kitchen in a typical semi) can add around 15 percent to the value of your house. A single-storey side-return extension will usually be classed as a permitted development, so long as it’s no more than 4m high and no wider than half the width of the original house, but you’ll still have to comply with building regs and have the work inspected at regular stages – and remember you might lose light from windows, so allow for skylights or a glazed roof on the extension.”
A good way to save money on a kitchen refurb is to replace the cabinet doors, draw fronts and worktops without disturbing the appliances or the carcasses of the units. This can save you around 50 percent of the cost of a new kitchen, and the work can normally be completed in days rather than weeks. There are thousands of cabinet styles to choose from, and dozens of types of work surface.
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Rather than throwing out old, mis-matched kitchen furniture, upcycle it with a fresh paint scheme and make odd items match. For a shabby-chic look, try Rust-Oleum’s Chalky Finish Furniture Paint.
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Worksurfaces can be replaced entirely, or in some cases, fitted over existing ones. There are many types of worksurface material available, including:
* Ceramic – Versatile, colourful, hygienic and lightweight, but prone to scratching and cracking
* Corian – A popular resin and bauxite combination with wooden substrate, joint-free, non-porous and repairable, but not particularly heat-resistant
* Glass – Modern, decorative, durable, and resistant to water and heat, but heavy, expensive and prone to acid damage
* Granite – Luxurious, durable, functional, available in many different shades and patterns, but very heavy so needs good support, as well as regular sealing
* Laminate – Chipboard coated with plastic, affordable, DIY-friendly and easy to clean, but easily damaged and not suitable for use with all types of sink
* Quartz – durable, scratch-proof and eco-friendly, but vulnerable to heat and not inexpensive
* Stainless steel – great for a modern look and commercial applications, heat-resistant, water-resistant, but easy to scratch and dent and noisy in use
* Wood – naturally good-looking and colourful, maintainable, germ-resistant, but not heat-resistant or suitable as a cutting surface
But what if you decide that your kitchen has had its day and need complete replacement? Maybe you want to sell, and realise that the old kitchen is dragging down the value of your house – would a refurb help you sell faster? Or maybe you’re working on a new-build, or a kitchen extension, where you can let your imagination run wild?
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Your first consideration should be what purposes you want your kitchen to serve. Easy, right? – to prepare food. But it’s no longer that simple. You may well want your kitchen to serve as a dining room, and family room, even a workroom – and for each application there’s a design trend and suitable units.
Kitchen flooring is trending towards ceramic tiling. If you like the hardwood or stone look but want something that’s easy to maintain, ceramic tiling offers the best of both worlds. Ceramic tiles are available in everything from large planks to custom-shaped tiles for unique patterns.
So what are the design trends and themes for the modern, multi-function kitchen?
* WHITE is out – darker, more elegant colours are coming back in, with splashes of brighter colour added in paint, wood stain or tiling. Blues and greens are popular tones, while dark jewel tones such as black, navy, emerald green and even plum can add a dramatic and luxurious feel.
* STREAMLINED and modern styles are more popular now than classic farmhouse designs, and go better with smart technology. Simplicity reduces stress and makes working in the kitchen easer. It’s becoming popular to remove wall cabinet to add more space and air and make it easier to use worktops. The pantry is back in for food and equipment storage, or you can use an island if your kitchen is big enough. If you still need more storage space, low open shelves are the trend – not high shelves that you can’t reach anyway.
* INDUSTRIAL materials such as rough cut wood, metal tubing and concrete floor tiles add that commercial feel that people love from TV reality shows. Interesting natural textures or bevelled designs bring some focal points back to the streamlined design, while a ceiling treatment such as wood beams, recessing or panelling adds design punch.
* SURFACES continue to offer hundreds of variations, but quartz is making great strides as it is now available in more finishes than ever before, including realistic stone patterns and veining, and even spectacular swirling effects. Grey, beige and creamy finishes are popular, matching the style for cleaner finishes. The availability of composite sinks matching the colour of surfaces is a notable trend, though stainless steel is still popular.
ISLANDS are getting bigger, particularly where the number of wall cabinets have been reduced, and are becoming multi-functional, serving both as storage, preparation surface, worktop, and as a casual dining and drinking bar. Where the home design is open plan, the island often extends into the living room space.
SPLASHBACKS are an ideal way to add a splash of colour to a kitchen, with tiling available in thousands of colours, designs and surfaces. It’s also trendy to have extra-large slab splashbacks in marble, quartz, wood copper, stainless steel and other materials. ■
This feature was originally published in Property & Home with Martin Roberts, Winter 2020 issue – read more here.
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