Improving your property – from the inside out!

Having looked last week at the options for extending your property, we thought this week we’d move inside and consider the ways of improving your home.

Kitchenwooden kitchen in the flat

If you’re seriously looking to boost your home’s value then planning a new kitchen should be high up on your list – it could add up to 10% value to your home, it’s the first thing a potential buyer will look for in the future, and it’s also the room you’re likely to spend much of your time in, particularly is you have a kitchen diner.  Be sure to pick a kitchen design that matches the style of your home – choose contemporary for a modern home, or more traditional for a period property.

The first thing you need to decide when planning your kitchen is whether you want to update your current kitchen or start totally afresh, and naturally this can be driven by your budget.

Look at what you already have, what you like and don’t like, and what you want to remove or keep. If the kitchen layout works, only change it if there is a real benefit.

Tasty sandwiches in kitchenYou need to decide what you need from your kitchen. Is it purely a place to prepare food, or is it to be used for entertaining and eating food too? Think carefully about how you use your current kitchen and what expectations you have for your new kitchen.

At this stage you need to think about the budget you wish to commit to this project, and consider that even with the best made plans, you should expect a few extra expenses along the way. It is not always possible to budget for every eventually; however, you should try to build a safety zone into your budget to cover any additional expenses.

Once you have set a budget and decided what you expect from your new kitchen it is time to consider the design and layout.

If you deOven and coffeecide you do want a new kitchen but lack the budget then replacing your kitchen doors and old appliances with new, good quality appliances will go a long way to giving your kitchen that just-renovated feel, but at a fraction of the cost.

Equally, new kitchen wall tiles and replacement worktops will instantly smarten up a tatty kitchen, as will new hard flooring throughout.

There are lots of kitchen companies that will provide free of charge kitchen designs, and whilst you don’t have to move forward with purchasing your kitchen from them, this can be a great help in visualising a new layout and design before shopping around for a cost effective way of implementing the new design.

Ten top tips we’ve come across for planning a new kitchen (courtesy of Kitchen SOS):-

1) Start with a basic kitchen layout

Measure up properly and produce a scaled plan of the room – quite often simply by doing the maths and working out the best combination of base units you can gain extra storage space. Allow for opening space on your plan, make sure cabinets will fit beneath windows and always position tall cabinets at the end of your worktop. Start with the basics of kitchen design. Work to the traditional triangular layout of a food prep area, fridge and sink, all within easy reach of one another. It still applies to modern kitchen layouts.

2) Make the most of a small kitchen

If you can’t physically make a kitchen bigger by knocking through to another room, there are small changes you can make to ensure you’re getting to most from the space you do have. Simple things like replacing your cupboard door fronts with thinner designs or choosing smaller appliances that fit under cupboards or easily inside them.

Get rid of freestanding appliances such as fridges and install under counter fridges and freezers. This means you can give yourself more worktop space in the area which was previously taken up by a free standing appliance.

3) Consider space-saving corner units

These are a great idea for both base and wall units as they do help to maximise space – but traditional corner units can also be a nightmare as you can easily forget what’s hiding away at the back of them and you constantly have to pull everything out just to get what you want. So, wherever possible use a carousel fitting inside or a fabulous magic corner!

4) Embrace colour in your kitchenBrushes and color guide

Because more and more of us are staying in our homes and making improvements rather than moving, you can afford to put your personal stamp on your home. For that reason, be brave and embrace colour. Everything from bright pink to cool blues will work in a kitchen; you can even go for an all-white, glossy kitchen if you want that modern, minimal look. Be bold and you’ll be thrilled by the results.

5) Positioning your sink

It is traditional to position your sink below a window and this works well, more important is that there is plenty of worktop space on both sides of the sink, so dirty dishes can be queued up whilst clean ones are draining.

6) Positioning your dishwasher and washing machine

As a rule try to keep the dishwasher and washing machine items next to the sink. But, don’t be scared of moving the sink – it’s often not a particularly difficult job to re-run pipework and wastes behind kitchen units as there is a service gap at the back of the base unit carcasses.

So, if you’re replacing your entire kitchen take the opportunity to consider whether the sink is in the most practical position. Always consider washing machine and dishwasher doors – the last thing you want is to be walking straight into an open dishwasher so don’t position them next to internal doors and try to avoid locating a dishwasher in a corner as it will make a mess of whatever is next to it.

7) Avoid oversized fridge-freezers

Huge American fridge freezers are one of the most common design mistakes made. They take up a lot of room and as much of the freezer storage space is taken up by an ice making machine, they are not that practical either. Choose a fridge that is the right size for your kitchen and provides you with the storage you need.

8) Hiding or moving a kitchen boiler

Moving a boiler is normally a pretty expensive job and whenever a boiler is in the kitchen it’s certainly a design hurdle. Concealing the boiler within a wall unit is a neat solution but you should always discuss the ventilation issue with the manufacturer of the boiler if you intend to box it inside a cupboard – as it needs airflow to run safely. Also, bear in mind that standard wall units are not normally big enough to house it so you’ll either need an oversized unit or your kitchen fitter would need to create one for you on site.

9) Choosing a cooker hood

Cooker hoods have become one item in the kitchen that you can really make a statement with. Top-of-the range statement hoods can cost well over £1000 so be careful when buying something that looks similar but costs a lot less – they’re usually badly made.

As a rule try to stick to one of the better known brands – if there is one item in the kitchen that is prone to breaking down it’s the hood.  Often it’s best to go for a concealed/integrated or canopy hood – telescopic hoods are really smart as they only project into the room when in use and are otherwise inconspicuous.

10) Ensure you have enough electric sockets

Always discuss socket positions with your electrician before they start work! Too many is better than too few. Always consider what splashback material you are using as sockets will increase the cost of some, such as glass, which is cut off-site by specialists – it’s easier to cut-around sockets if you’re using more traditional materials like wall tiles. Sockets should sit a minimum 150mm above worktops and always be installed by a qualified electrician.

If you’re someone that is competent with the more major jobs around the house, then building or fitting your own kitchen may not faze you, and there’s certainly a cost saving to be had if you can do it yourself.

Forestrall logo

Whilst we’re not suppliers of kitchen units and worktops, we do have a range of material that can assist with the build of your finished room, from skirting and architraves through to screws, nails, silicone and sealant so do get in touch with us at Forestrall Timber and Fencing Merchants at with your requirements.

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