Clever Kitchens: How to renovate smartly
In most houses the kitchen is the heart of the home - the headquarters, if you will. No longer just the room in which the food is stored and prepared, but rather a place for relaxing and socialising. The kitchen tends to an all-encompassing space, frequented by all in the household.
As such, kitchens need to be practical but increasingly we also want them to be inviting and suitable for gathering. "Because kitchens, even more so than bathrooms, are high-volume spaces, they tend to require maintenance and/or renovating every decade or so," says Eugène Jordaan, Principal at Leapfrog Moreleta Park.
Jordaan adds: "The kitchen is the first thing a potential buyer looks at in a property. Homes with modern kitchen tend to fetch a higher price than those where the cabinetry is old, the layout outdated and the finishes have seen better days."
Few changes enhance a space as much as a kitchen renovation, but few improvements to a property are as pricey as a kitchen makeover.
Luckily, a sleek new kitchen needn't mean discarding everything and the kitchen sink. A few savvy adjustments, creative considerations and smart planning can make the kitchen the most loved space in the home.
Prep and plan
As with most home renovations, the available budget tends to dictate the scope of the project. "Start by listing everything you would like to change, determine the cost of the line items on the wishlist, and then work backwards from there, dividing the list into the essential, must-do's and the nice-to-haves," recommends Jordaan.
If you're worried about over capitalising, speak to a trusted property advisor who will be able to share useful insights with you about what sort of value your improvements will add to your property in the medium to long run.
When planning your new kitchen, bear in mind that practicality is key in a kitchen. Think about how you use the space and how the flow, organisation and aesthetic could make it a more pleasant place to work and play.
"Too often you see kitchens where the coffee things are on the side opposite to where the kettle is. By simply moving it closer you're enhancing the space in a subtle, but very important way," Jordaan reckons.
If your budget is limited and you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, it would be wise to not make any major structural changes, such as moving the plumbing and breaking walls, but to rather focus on improvements that refresh the look and feel.
Gone are the days where the kitchen was a secret compartment that led off from the dining room. Kitchens today are hubs of social activity and need to be designed to match both our social and culinary needs!
If this is true of your kitchen (and lifestyle!), plan and renovate accordingly. This could mean adding an island to the middle - if space allows - or lengthening the counter to allow for more people to sit at it. Jordaan adds: "It may also simply mean moving the appliances that you don't use every day to make room for more social activities around the counter."
Speaking of counters, if your budget doesn't allow for a massive aesthetic overhaul but you're desperate to update the look, consider just replacing the countertops. "The countertops are the first thing that catches our eye in the kitchen and tends to dominate the look and feel of the space," says Jordaan. If the cupboards and fittings are in good condition, simply replacing the countertops with something more contemporary could make a world of difference, without costing the earth.
"I have too much storage space in the kitchen" - said no one ever! Kitchen storage is that amenity you just can't have enough, reckons Jordaan. The design and layout of the space might not allow for adding more cupboards, which is when you need to start thinking out of the box. "Clever storage solutions could mean looking up and adding a row of cupboards above a window, above the fridge or even making space for a narrow shelf behind the door." Most often clever storage solutions arise as the side effect of dynamic space planning. Here it may well be worth consulting an expert to help you think and plan more holistically.
Let there be light
Just like any other room in a house, the lighting plays a pivotal role in creating the right atmosphere for the space. "Don't even think about those bright white fluorescent tube lights for the kitchen. Yes, you need good light but there are far more attractive options available today," says Jordaan. Downlighters are a great option for the kitchen as they can be positioned above work surfaces and angled as needed. More than that, they're modern, unobtrusive and great for mood lighting.
Much in the same way that things like ornaments and scatter cushions add the final "wow" to a lounge, make sure to not neglect the accessories in the kitchen. "Yes, it's a functional space first and foremost, but adding personality to the kitchen goes a long way in making it more inviting and more attractive," says Jordaan. Whoever said you can't have photographs, artworks, plants or interesting objet and souvenirs in the kitchen.
A clean, modern and user-friendly kitchen is one of a property's most attractive assets, Jordaan adds. And the good news is that this doesn't always mean a major (read: expensive) overhaul but it's rather about being savvy about the changes and renovations. Any one of Leapfrog's many trusted property advisors will be able to offer advice and guidance in this regard. Don't hesitate to contact us.