Google searches for "kitchen home improvement" have risen by 4,545% in the last year, with homeowners finding this room getting even more use than pre-pandemic.
Estate agent Foxtons believes a great kitchen can add 10% to the value of your property, while a study by Magnet found a kitchen renovation budget of £11,000 can add 5.5%.
But it's important to make sure you’re investing in the right places. So, what should you do to get the most value out of your kitchen renovation — and what should you avoid?
DO consider ‘The Triangle’
‘The Triangle’ is the classic rule of kitchen design. It relates to the flow of the kitchen being based on the triangle made by the sink, cooker and fridge, as these are the most-used items and will dictate how the room works and its optimum layout.
If these are not placed in the correct positions, the kitchen could seem claustrophobic, or you’ll end up spending ages walking from one to another.
Chef and founder of Cooking Types Annabel Gonifas agrees that function is paramount in kitchen design: "Try to create mini-zones where each zone has a function but where you can still reach other zones easily. The high traffic zones which will be used the most are the chopping surface, stove, oven, sink, fridge, store cupboards and bin."
DON’T forget about the bin
Talking of the bin, don’t make it an afterthought when you’re planning your beautiful, stylish kitchen.
"Hidden bin storage is a great use of space," says interior designer Lucy Breton. "Even the sleekest of bins are still fairly unattractive, and having your rubbish and recycling tucked away is a much nicer welcome into any kitchen."
DO think about storage
Be creative but think carefully about how you’re going to use storage. Don’t let any space go to waste — add in extra shelves, high cabinets, pull-out pantries and plate racks where you can.
"You need to make sure you have enough storage, while not letting the kitchen become an enormous cupboard," says interior designer Simone Suss. "If you have a small kitchen, cover the walls above the units but make them half the depth so they don’t feel overpowering."
DON’T skimp on lighting
The fact that there are specific guidelines for lighting kitchens shows just how important it is.
"There are two types of lighting in a kitchen — ambient, which is used to create atmosphere, and task, which helps you see what you’re doing," says Suss.
You’ll need task lighting on worksurfaces where you’ll be prepping food, especially at night, and dimmer, ambient lighting in dining areas.
DO invest in good quality flooring
The kitchen is the most used room of the house, getting the majority of the footfall, and making the wrong decision when it comes to flooring can be costly.
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As well as aesthetics, you need to consider how easy it’ll be to clean, when things inevitably get split on it, and what it’ll look like as it ages.
DON’T insist on an island
"There are a few things that can put buyers off when viewing your home… A big island is fine, but if it takes up too much space, it can be an issue," says Foxtons’ Robert Swann.
Kitchen islands are a great way to increase your preparation area, but they don’t suit every space. Putting an island in a smaller kitchen will make it feel pokey and impede the traffic flow, so you don’t have enough room to open cupboards or move around.
DO open plan if you can
With the kitchen taking over from the living room as the focal point of the home, open plan designs are always popular with potential buyers.
"Ensure you plan your new kitchen so that you have generous eating/sitting areas and consider making the kitchen open plan with the living spaces," says Marc Schneiderman of Arlington Residential.
"For some years, buyers have been seeking less formal living spaces and have moved well away from dedicated dining rooms."
One of the downsides of open plan kitchens is that cooking smells linger so invest in a good extractor fan to aid with ventilation.
DON’T choose a bold colour scheme
Colour schemes are a matter of personal choice but, if you’re planning to sell, it’s better to play safe with a neutral shade.
"Sticking to colour schemes which are popular should avoid the situation where applicants say 'sorry, but I don’t like the kitchen and I wouldn’t be willing to put in a new one, so I won’t be offering'," says Foxtons’ Christian Dickson.
DON’T buy hi-tech appliances for the sake of it
You need to step carefully when it comes to kitchen appliances too. "Good-quality, eco-friendly appliances will add value," says Gonifas, but make sure you don’t opt for anything too complicated. "Hi-tech cooking gadgets can make you feel overwhelmed and frustrated," she says.
They can also be expensive to fix if they go wrong.
"You should choose the gadgets and appliances in your kitchen based on the price range of your home," says Lizzie Beesley, head of design at Magnet.
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"Putting a £5,000 fridge in a £900,000 home is a smart move to appeal to buyers in your price point, but it won’t be expected at a lower price point."
DON’T prioritise style over substance
While it’s tempting to recreate that stand-out TikTok trend at home — it might just turn out to be a costly mistake.
"I always design for longevity," says Suss. "If you want to add some interest, use a classic colour first and add a statement splashback; tiles and glass are easier to rip out and replace than an entire worktop."
Beesley suggests not spending money when you don’t have to. "Whilst it may be tempting to overspend and get flooring that is a little more stylish, if it is already aesthetic and durable, that’s enough to impact value."