Kitchens that add value

When you buy a house you want to feel at home but you also want to know that when you sell on, the renovations you make to the property are going to increase its value.

To do that the two rooms that need to stand out are the kitchen and bathroom.

Scott Eliott from Remax says that this seems to work across the board no matter what the original value of the house.

“Most experts agree that you’ll get the best bang for your buck by redoing the kitchen and washrooms. These are the most sought after features and would apply to homes at any price point.”

This makes sense as everyone likes a nice bathroom and in the case of the kitchen, as Elliott points out we spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it is seen as the heart of the home. In terms of selling Eliott says, “a kitchen can differentiate it from other homes.

There are also such a lot of options out there to make it different, things like modern appliances and counter tops and cabinets in a variety of materials.”

He thinks that people are looking for “functionality”, that a kitchen is going to work well and be easy to keep and that will include the look and functionality of appliances.

Patricia Rice, creative director,at A. L. Thompson’s Building Supplies says she would recommend actually buying your big appliances first as you can design your kitchen around them and too often they have seen when they are the last thought, when it comes to fitting them, people have not made the proper calculations to fit them in. Also, as your appliances are what you are using day in day, out they are what the most thought should go into.

If you are needing inspiration about what type of kitchen you want to go for, A.L. Thompson’s has five kitchens designed around manufacturers’ appliances that can give an idea of how different components can be brought together and how you might pick and choose these to design the kitchen you want.

After appliances, kitchen cabinets will give your kitchen its individuality depending on the style of kitchen you want, whether it is ultra modern with steel and glass, or a more traditional feel with natural wood cabinetry.

Sinks and taps or faucets are also important. Rice says a lot of people overlook the style aspects of sinks and faucets but they should reflect the overall design of your kitchen.

Countertops are the other important aspect, they need to be attractive materials that are also durable.

Blue Eyes Granite specialises in countertops and owner Ian Scott finds that people are looking to match their countertops with their existing colour schemes, though he says many people also like to have plain white counter-tops.

They usually vary their selection bringing in different colours every few months according to demand. “Most of our counter-tops come from Brazil or Italy and we stock granite, marble and quartz though the marble tends to be more popular for bathrooms.

The tops come in slabs and we will cut them to fit here,” he says.

Once you have decided that the kitchen has to go, you need to make a layout plan.

Planning a kitchen

The first thing to do is to find out how much space you are dealing with, measure up and make an accurate floor plan. The type of kitchen layout you choose will depend on the amount of space you have.

If you’re ripping out existing units, you can create a new layout although if it’s a small space you may be stuck with making the most of what you’ve got.

Note the position of existing power points, pipes in and out, windows and doors. Then, using the same measurements, make a rough sketch of how you would like the appliances, worktops and doors to be, noting any changes in services that may be necessary.

Bear in mind that changing the location of services or structural features will add to the overall cost. Play around with different combinations, until you have a design you’re happy with that you can present to a kitchen planner.

As you go, think of a kitchen’s functions and work these into zones in your plan. Food preparation, cooking, serving and washing-up afterwards are the four main jobs all kitchens need to fulfil.

Make sure each zone has sufficient worktop space, storage for its associated stuff and all the necessary appliances to hand.

Designers also put great stock in the ‘work triangle’, which dictates the sink, cooker and fridge should form the corners of a triangle in relation to each other.

Sinks traditionally live under the window because access to the plumbing is easier and having a wall cupboard above the sink results in banged heads – although it is possible to incorporate draining racks above it.


A galley layout may be the only option in a very narrow kitchen, but having all the zones side by side is not hugely work-friendly. Storage is also a problem, with all those appliance taking up space.

Generally you shouldn’t fit anything other than base units to avoid it feeling claustrophobic, but there are exceptions: if your ceiling is high and the space opens out into a living area, floor-to-ceiling units will work.

A corridor layout of two facing rows of units is preferable in smaller kitchens to maintain the work triangle. Using wall cabinets on both sides can make the room feel cramped – replace with open shelving, if possible.

L-shaped layouts that are tucked into a corner work well, and may even leave space in the centre for a dining table. It makes sense to put the sink and fridge/freezer on the same wall with this formation, with the stove fitted on the adjoining wall.

Look out for clever cupboard carousels or V-shaped drawers that make full use of the dead space in the corner.

A U-shaped run of units is very convenient as everything is within easy reach. It works in small and large rooms, where the return arm of the U can act as a divider and can be accessed from both sides.

Whatever the shape of your kitchen, positioning your key appliances – the oven, fridge and sink – in a triangle formation, with each appliance forming a corner of the triangle, 1.5m to 2.4m apart, will give you an efficient workspace.

Picking the right units is a balance between what’s going to work in your room, what captures the latest trend, what will appeal to future buyers and what you like.

Choosing The Look

Keep thoughts of resale at the back of your mind, as anything too personal or cutting edge may deter future buyers. If you want to add your own bold, individual touches, use wall paint and accessories that are easy to change.

Using darker floor cupboards and paler doors for wall units will help open out a room and add contemporary detail. Dark wood is great for creating maximum impact in large rooms or knocked-through spaces.

Gloss finishes are all the rage too, and reflective surfaces are great for maximising the light, but children’s sticky finger marks can be a problem.

Coloured units are another area that create individuality. When it comes to construction materials, coloured and high-gloss options tend to be laminated board or MDF, while the wood options will either be veneered or solid wood.

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