The kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home” and, for many, that’s certainly become true following the recent national lockdown or where self-isolation becomes necessary. With more time available, the kitchen has become the place to develop cooking or baking skills, spend time, perhaps as a family, to have more meals together or where make-shift office or classrooms are created. Yet, if that heart is looking a bit tatty, lacks storage space or just ‘doesn’t work’ for you, now might be the time to reconsider a change especially as the threat of more COVID-19 restrictions loom.
Replacing or renovating a kitchen is a big project – average costs are around £8,000, depending on size and finishes – but done correctly, a new kitchen can add four per cent on to the value of your property according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), as well as increasing your well-being and enjoyment of your home. So how can you make sure that you end up with the kitchen of your dreams?
Budget or borrow?
Set a realistic budget from the start. Flick through glossy kitchen magazines and you will see projects that cost £20,000 or even three times that, but buy off-the-shelf units from a builder’s merchant and you could upgrade for £2,000 if you re-use your appliances. Bearing in mind that most new kitchens last at least 10 years, if you are planning on staying in the property then you might want to borrow enough to get it just the way you like it, rather than scrimp and be disappointed. On the other hand, if you just want to make it look better to sell your home, then you can get great results by just replacing doors and worktops rather than starting from scratch.
If you decide to borrow to fund your dream kitchen then you might find that extending your mortgage, or re-mortgaging to borrow a larger amount that pays off your existing loan and gives you cash-in-hand, can work out cheaper than the high interest rates of personal loans, credit cards or overdrafts, and give you more scope to borrow the amount you’d like to make things perfect.
An eye for beauty
If you want to ensure that your new kitchen improves the value of your home as well as being a delight both to look at and to use, here are a few points to consider:
- Choose something timeless rather than the latest fashion fad. Bright red or fluorescent yellow kitchen units, for example, look stunning in high-end design magazines but migraine-inducing in small, real-life homes!
- High-gloss finishes require frequent cleaning, especially if you have sticky toddler hands or pets to contend with. A simple matt cream will give the same stylish, minimal feel without the need for constant polishing
- If you have the budget, granite worktops give a superb finish. Unlike laminate and wood that damage easily, granite is extremely resilient, especially if you opt for bevelled edges to minimise the slim chance of chipping. Darker colours resist staining and stay looking cleaner for longer
- Ergonomics are important – ideally you should be able to stand at the hob and reach all your ingredients and utensils, and stand at the dishwasher and be able to put everything away without walking across the room
- Cheaper kitchen and DIY stores tend to employ “designers” who just try to cram as many units as possible into your space, but it’s worth paying for a proper kitchen designer who will come to your home and literally poke around your kitchen cupboards to find out what, and how you like to cook, then create a layout that suits your style
- Have enough storage to get everything out of sight - in a perfect world, nothing but the kettle would be left on the worktop! OK, we all know it won’t stay like that for very long, but being able to clear all the clutter away into cupboards and drawers can be liberating while it lasts
- Some electrical work, such as a new circuit or replacement fuse box, will need to be done by a professional electrician and could require building regulations approval, so make sure you employ qualified people
- Keep any guarantees, along with the details of your kitchen finishes, somewhere safe in case you need any repairs or replacements in the future