Spring makeover ideas at every budget for the ‘social hub’ of the home
Ed Miliband has two, so do Kate and Wills. We are talking about kitchens — which have risen to the top of the political agenda, after the revelation that the Labour leader has not one, but two, in his north London house. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have two kitchens in their Kensington Palace apartment. Most people have just one kitchen, a “social hub” in which they spend most of their time — and their cash if they chose to renovate. The typical spend ranges between £5,000 and £20,000, with 1 per cent splashing out more than £100,000.
If you are planning a new look for your kitchen this Easter, here are our tips on the latest trends, whether you are saving, spending or splurging.
You can give your kitchen a new look on a tiny budget. There are four main things you can do: change the kitchen doors, worktops, flooring, tiles or add a splashback, according to Steve Collinge, of the independent price comparison website Kitchen-compare.com. “If you did all four things, it would be like getting a new kitchen. It all depends on how much you want to spend, but you can do most of these things yourself, over the course of a weekend,” he says. It’s also important that you find affordable options for things like waste disposal from sites like skiphire.com or save money by finding cheaper options from wholesalers if possible.
Cat Dennison, B&Q’s interior design manager, says: “A splashback is very easy to install as it can literally be stuck straight on to the wall.”
B&Q stocks a pink glass splashback — it costs £85 for a piece that measures 600mm by 6mm by 750 mm. You can choose any design and words — a favourite verse, poem, or song, for example — from DIY Splashbacks (glasssplashbacks.com). Tiles can cost very little if you use them sparingly in small spaces such as splash areas.
Rob Whitaker, of the tile company Fired Earth, says: “Visitors will instantly notice patterned or coloured tiles, so they’re a fantastic investment, even if your budget can only stretch to creating a small splashback or decorative border rather than a feature wall or floor.”
Changing your kitchen doors is far easier than refitting your kitchen. Wickes has shaker-style cabinet doors — it has an offer on selected doors at the moment — but B&Q and specialist companies such as Kitchen Door Workshop (kitchendoorworkshop.co.uk) and Hot Doors (hotdoors.co.uk) offer an array of contemporary and traditional doors. Replacing your work tops is a bigger job. An average-size kitchen requires 5m to 6m, so if you bought B&Q’s 27 mm solid beech for £87 for 3m, it would cost you £174.
Gerald Jones, the managing director of Masterclass Kitchens, says: “Solid surfaces are aspirational. If your budget allows it, then great, but if it is overwhelmed by it, that’s not so good. Conversely, don’t buy substandard laminate.” He recommends the German manufacturer Duropal.
You can make a neutral kitchen look more vibrant by installing a brightly-coloured vinyl and rubber flooring; Harvey Maria’s Mountbatten Blue vinyl tiling costs £42.95 per sq m.
Shiny — or high gloss — finishes go well with modern kitchens. However, while people like clean lines and a sleek look, they don’t want a clinical-looking kitchen. The new style of kitchen is a mix of matt and shiny surfaces, so some areas reflect the light while other areas add warmth.
Jones, of Masterclass Kitchens, says: “People choose white or cream high-gloss cabinets but they will pair it with natural wood — or timber -effect worktops.” Cabinets made from ultra-flat wood surfaces, which are achieved by using engineered wood, are popular because you can get a really smooth paint finish.
When it comes to colour, grey tones are a huge trend. Jones says that using a grey paint finish is a popular way to make a traditional kitchen — think shaker — look contemporary. Masterclass Kitchens — where the average kitchen costs from £7,000 — has added two new grey paint shades: dust grey and light grey. Lighting has become more important and the focus is on getting a mix of decorative and task lighting as well as the right colour light — whether it is white, blue or yellow. Jones recommends LED bulbs because they are reliable, eco-friendly and have a long life span.
There has been a move towards textured or “roughed-up” timber details, as they bring a sense of vibrancy to the room, according to Steven Salt, the managing director of the deluxe kitchen manufacturer Boffi. “People still want clean lines but they also want character.” Metallic finishes are a popular look at Boffi, where kitchens cost from £35,000 to £125,000. “Metallic lacquer finishes — anything bronze and brass — is a big trend. Real metal is too heavy to use but you can get aluminium doors.”
Richard Davonport, the managing director of Davonport kitchens, is seeing a similar trend with decorative veneers. He also says that people are installing banquette seating, interesting lighting, curtains and blinds to make kitchens look cosier.
Buying a kitchen is a big investment and you can easily overspend. Dennison has these cost-saving tips. “Some of the biggest costs are the new appliances, as there are several you’ll need such as a hob, oven, extractor fan. It’s worth shopping around for these, as many retailers offer competitive prices and a variety of styles to suit your taste and budget.
“The cost of the cupboards and doors for your kitchen can soon add up, so consider reducing the amount of cabinets you use in your kitchen. You could have an open breakfast bar or put shelving on your walls instead of wall cabinets.”
So, how much of your budget should you spend on kitchen cabinets? Collinge recommends that you spend 60 per cent on flooring, tiles, lighting and appliances and the rest on the kitchen itself. “The kitchen is not just about the cabinets, it’s about the overall look,” he says.
Jones disagrees: “Don’t spend too much on the appliances and work surfaces because you are likely to change them more often than your kitchen cabinets. I would recommend spending 60 to 65 per cent of your budget on the furniture.”
A mansion with two kitchens
For an example of a property that has two kitchens, there is Ennim, a seven-bedroom mansion with nine acres of grounds. The property, south of the village of Blencow near Penrith in Cumbria, is on the market with Carter Jonas for £1.695 million.
While having two kitchens in a grand country home is not rare, says the selling agent Stephen Holland, head of residential sales for the Kendal office of Carter Jonas, the usual form is to have one larger kitchen and a smaller prep kitchen. Ennim is unusual, he says, in that both kitchens are large: one is modern and granite-topped, with Miele appliances and patio doors leading to the garden, the other is a more old-fashioned affair, with an Aga, pantry and acres of worktops.
The owner uses the former for entertaining and the latter for baking. As well as two kitchens, the property — on the fringe of the Lake District — has five bathrooms, four reception rooms and a garden lodge, which is home to the gardener. The gardens have been well-maintained; an identification schedule of the trees in the grounds, drawn up by a previous owner, will be passed on to the buyer.