Home Improvement: A cutting edge kitchen can add up to 7% to the value of your home

Wood Farm Kitchens

Wood Farm Kitchens - Credit: Archant

Last month Samantha Cameron gave us a glimpse into her Downing Street kitchen – a haven of minimalist chic. But tongues were soon wagging on social media as homemakers debated the merits of colourful and cosy versus stark and steel.

Wood Farm Kitchens

Wood Farm Kitchens - Credit: Archant

Ellen Widdup asks Suffolk’s leading kitchen designers for the lowdown.

Mac & Wood

Mac & Wood - Credit: Archant

There is nothing Mikayla Seabrook loves more than adding a splash of colour to a kitchen.

“So many of us play it safe,” said the designer, who works at James Clark Kitchen Company, Sudbury. “It’s ingrained in the world of interiors to keep the kitchen minimal with clean lines and dazzling white to offset the chrome appliances, that we forget we can have fun.

“Of course Samantha Cameron’s kitchen – which is white, grey and black – is fabulous.

“But I would have liked to see an accent colour simply for a bit of lift.”

Give it a mix

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Mikayla’s colours of the moment are cranberry and green. But she says there are other ways to add something quirky to your kitchen design.

“Statement furniture is a great way to draw the eye in,” she added. “I am particularly fond of impressive lighting or buying something fabulous or unique to stand out among the rest of the bog standard.”

The Prime Minister’s wife, she claims, certainly knows how to splash the cash in the right places.

In the dining area, a £1,615 lamp can be seen bending towards the £750 breakfast table, its white Carrara marble base clearly visible beside a considerably cheaper £250 Hemnes black wooden dresser from IKEA.

Budget versus beauty

Daniel Hook, a designer with Wood Farm Kitchens, Ipswich, says beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

“I always ask clients for a wish list and a budget,” he said. “Then I pin down which elements are non negotiable and which ones I can be flexible with.

“That way a person comes away with the kitchen which works best for them – and this is vital. After all, there is no ‘right’ look. And kitchen has to be as practical as it is pretty.”

Mrs Cameron favours cluttered shelves and a blackboard for writing family messages, creating a homely, eclectic feel at Downing Street.

By contrast, celebrity cook Nigella Lawson makes a full-on feminine statement with fuchsia-pink cabinets and drawers in her new London home. “We all have very different tastes,” Daniel says. “And the recipe for a perfect kitchen is highly personal.”

Cook, eat, meet and greet

One of the key elements to consider when designing a kitchen is how you will live in it.

“Some people are real foodies,” said Mikayla. “They will place more emphasis on food preparation and cooking spaces than areas for sitting and chatting.

“By contrast there are families who like to eat together – their table will be a priority.”

Marcel Cowan, designer for Mac and Wood which makes high-end furniture from reclaimed wood, says tables should always be a focal point in a kitchen or dining space.

“We often shy away from statement furniture in our kitchens - saving it for other rooms of the house,” he said. ”This is a mistake. After all, we spend three years of our life in the kitchen which is 18 days every single year.

“It needs to be a room we love. A room which says something about who we are. A room that is welcoming to guests, practical to live in but that has some unique elements to it too.

“At Mac and Wood we create our tables, benches and desks with that in mind. .

“Our dining tables become the focal point of any kitchen which is exactly the way it should be. A place to gather, to eat, to share stories, to celebrate and to unwind after a long day.

“Home is where the heart is and the kitchen is the heart of the home. But I think

we feel most cherished when sitting round the dining table to share a meal with the people we love.”

Think it through

“If you are going to go for a statement piece of furniture, consider the rest of your space very carefully,” said Daniel. “Sometimes it helps to work the rest of your design in and around that key element.

“This will avoid your kitchen jarring with the rest of your design scheme.”

“Equally, don’t feel obliged in a period home to install a traditional kitchen,” added Mikayla. “The priority is a functional space, which is easy to work in and visually appealing.”

A kitchen can make or break a property deal, and can add up to 7% to the value of a home.

Here our designers offer their top tips to creating the perfect kitchen dream:

1. Consider the natural light available, and opt for light reflecting surfaces if it’s limited.

2. Make the most of your personal possessions. Open shelving is a great way to showcase cookware.

3. Express your personality. Don’t be afraid to do something brave.

4. Get touchy-feely, by introducing rich textures to cabinets and worktops.

5. Consider multi-functional ele

ments. Designers have developed many innovative ways to maximise space and these are worth exploring

in a small kitchen.

6. Spend money in the right places. Get yourself a state-of-the-art cooker and kitchen gadgets you use most. Think about spending cash on statement furniture. Shelving and kitchen carcasses can be bought cheaply and covered with more expensive doors.

7. Think through your lighting. Dining tables look lovely with a central chandelier or pendant light over them. Practical spots can be used in food preparation areas.

8. Add colour. Tiles and paint are a great way to add a splash of colour without breaking the bank.

Revamp rather than redesign

Finally, it is well worth considering updating - rather than ripping out - your units and starting from scratch.