Contemporary cookery: Does a modern kitchen increase the desirability of a home?

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Buyers and renters are mostly attracted to a property with an sparkling updated kitchen space, study finds.

A study conducted by property portal OnTheMarket has shown that house hunters in the UK are more likely to flock to properties with a contemporary style kitchen. The survey asked a number of estate agencies to declare the feature of a home that buyers and renters are most drawn to when looking for somewhere to live. While some stated the more obvious attraction of having private parking, high-speed internet, and en-suite or a garden, 17 percent said an open plan kitchen was the biggest prerequisite, with 28 percent declaring a modern kitchen is what people really want.

Perhaps this is the case nationally, but would the study return the same results if conducted in certain local areas? London residents might very well prefer their kitchens to be state of the art, with strip lighting, a coffee machine that produces a Starbucks-esque menu and shimmering chrome work-tops. But rural areas boasting a selection of properties from different eras might produce a less clear-cut result.

What about Herts? The region certainly has its selection of modern homes, but many come to the likes of St Albans and its surrounding villages to reside in a more rustic setting. The allure of a suburban or green belt area is often its more countrified feel. While commuters from the city might be on the hunt for a modern property nestled amid a historic backdrop, others moving to the area could very well be looking for beamed roofs, wood panelled entryways and a kitchen with an aga.

Perhaps the modern-day convenience of using a food processor for chopping vegetables rather than a good old cook’s knife is spilling over into the attitude we have concerning the type of kitchen we cook in. “Unlike decoration and carpets, most buyers now are too busy to refit kitchens and would rather choose the home which sparkles and that they can move into without the physical or emotional effort required to update,” says Martin Treasure, Director of Winkworth St Albans. “Kitchens and bathrooms are ‘showcase’ items which can always spark emotive response from buyers. In many cases buyers pay a premium for the ‘ready made’ sparkly new kitchen rather than buying the ‘do-er up-er’ which used to be more popular in the 1990s.”

Many of the estate agents taking part in OnTheMarket’s survey cited the nation’s obsession with cookery television as another reason for a more up-to-date kitchen. “(Culinary TV) has led to more people experimenting with food and pushed the kitchen to the forefront of a tenant’s/buyer’s mind when they view a property. Everyone likes to picture themselves cooking impressive meals among family and friends,” says Nick Guy, director of Martin & Co lettings in Reigate. Despite the country’s fascination with the Bake-Off tent, perhaps at the end of the day the viewer would rather work on their baking in the Masterchef kitchen.

It’s clear that style and setting isn’t the only factor to consider. In today’s property market, buyers are more savvy about how much money they are spending, and what they are getting for that money. “It’s probably due to the increased costs associated with home ownership,” continues Martin Treasure. “Very often both partners work full time just to service their mortgage and so have little time or effort available for what they perceive as a full-on renovation.” This boils down, once more, to pure convenience; maybe the modern-day worker simply doesn’t want to come home and wait for a vintage oven to heat up when a stainless steel Electrolux will do the job in half the time. On top of this, a modern kitchen can add to your home’s overall value from anywhere between £5,000 to £50,000.

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Agents who retained that a modern kitchen was most likely to add desirability to a home were mainly based in the South East. Perhaps the fans of historic Herts would beg to differ...