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Web chats tv | Archived lifestyle chats | Redesign your kitchen

How to re-design your kitchen to make your house more of a home with Kirstie Allsopp

Kirstie Allsopp  
Web chats tv

Brought to you by:

Standard Life Bank

A new trend is emerging. Parents wanting to spend more time with their children are now investing in their kitchens, re-instating them as the hub of the family home. And at the same time they realise such an investment can pay great financial dividends, as re-designing your kitchen is still a classic way to maximise a house's value. With Kirstie Allsopp.

The Transcript

Emmylou wants
to know:

  "If you only had enough money to jazz up one room - which would it be and why?"
Kirstie said:  

I think the answer would be the kitchen or bathroom. Those are the rooms that people are afraid of doing up themselves.

Ashley said:  

Over 60% of our customers are using their flexible mortgage to help fund kitchen improvements.

Jules wants to know:

  "My wife wants a new kitchen, I want a new bathroom. If we have a budget of £5K and can only do one of them, which investment will give us the biggest return?"
Kirstie said:  

It should be possible to do both kitchen and bathroom for £5000. In the kitchen new doors and a new counter top and in the bathroom just retiling and replacing the suite, rather than shifting around bath or basin is the cheapest option. Don't be afraid of so-called "cheap kitchen's" a lot of the budget suppliers have an excellent range of kitchens.

Jemima P wants to know:

  "Do you think the kitchen is the most important room for today's family?"
Kirstie said:  

Yes, today's families are so busy that meal times are often the only family time...

Ashley said:  

Standard Life Bank has recently talked to hundreds of parents across the UK. The majority are telling us that the kitchen is the hub of their home. Seeing more and more people invest money in making the kitchen the centre of operations for the busy family.

Emmylou wants to know:

  "How much should a 'good' kitchen cost?"
Kirstie said:  

It's difficult my kitchen came from Ikea and initially cost £900. I've since added some additional units from the same range bringing the total to around £1600...

Ashley said:  

I recently refitted my kitchen at a total cost of £5500 and that included all the workmanship as well as the units. We're finding our customers are drawing down on average around £14,000 for home improvements which includes kitchen refitting, but also improving bathrooms and doing more extensive refurbishments such as adding an extension. How much you spend depends very much on what you can afford. If you are interested in using your mortgage to fund home improvements speak to your lender or visit our website.


Davina wants to know:


"I'm having a new house built and getting conflicting advice on where to site a kitchen. It's where I spend most of my time so the builder says it should be near the front of the house so I can answer the front door quickly. My friends say it should be at the back so I can keep an eye on the kids playing in the garden. What do you think?"

Kirstie said:  

Kitchen at the back where you can keep an eye on the kids and enjoy the benefits of a garden. I'm 100% that that's the right answer.

Laura wants to know:


"My husband and I are planning to get our kitchen renovated in spring. We are having issues over the design, I want and contemporary: i.e. stainless steel, minimal, clean lines and neutral colours; he wants cosy and traditional with wood cabinets and furniture. Which will add more value to the house?"

Kirstie said:  

It’s impossible to answer without seeing the house but I would say that there are a number of kitchen designs which happily combine both styles. I've seen Belfast Sinks with stainless steel dishwashers, glass splash backs with wooden surfaces. There is no need to be 100% one way or the other. Compromise is the key!

Ashley said:  

Whichever design you choose make sure you pay attention to detail it's crucial that you finish any improvements to your home properly to ensure you get most value.

Steven wants to know:


"The kitchen in my flat is in a right state and my girlfriend never stops complaining about it. I only bought the property last year and had plans to do it up. Money is a bit tight though at the moment, so it would have to be done on a budget. Any tips to save me some money and stop me getting an ear bashing? "

Kirstie said:  

Kirstie: Again, cheap does not mean nasty. Calculate what you can afford and go out and find the kitchen that fits your budget. There is one out there!

Ryan wants to know:


"I am planning an extension early next year. I have a choice of having a very large kitchen with a dining area and breakfast bar or reduce the kitchen slightly and incorporate a utility room as well, what is your advice - do I add a utility room and sacrifice some of the kitchen or go all out with a dream kitchen"

Kirstie said:  

I am a great fan of putting as much as possible in the utility room. Leaving the kitchen as a cooking and entertaining space not a glorified laundry room. Design your kitchen so that all you have to incorporate by way of appliances is a cooker, sink and small fridge. Put the deep freeze, washer, dryer and the majority of the storage for cleaning products appliances you don't use that often (sandwich maker!!) in the laundry room, this way you wont lose the dream kitchen and the laundry room is really an area for keeping things clean.

Ashley said:  

For a big piece of work such as this always make sure that you've budgeted properly and remembered that big projects, however well managed have a tendency to overrun financially.

Janet W wants to know:


"If there is one item you shouldn't scrimp on when budgeting for a new kitchen, what should it be?"

Kirstie said:  

I would say flooring and if you are tiling always go that bit much higher. If you scrimp on the tiles and the splash back is therefore too low you'll regret it.

TT wants to know:


"Flooring - slate, tile, wooden or lino? Which is more durable and what gives best VFM?"

Kirstie said:  

Personally, I'm very clumsy. If you drop a mug or a plate on a slate floor it will shatter into a million pieces. Wooden and Lino floors tend to more sympathetic and bare in mind that what ever surface you choose (with the exception of Lino) will have to be properly treated to protect it from the constant drip of food, juice, tea and coffee etc. A kitchen floor has more traffic and general wear and tear than any other surface in the house.

Elspeth wants to know:


"I would die for a kitchen range but I don't know much about them. Should I go for Aga or Rayburn? Gas or solid fuel? And do they actually work or just look great? Sorry for all the questions!"

Kirstie said:  

I've got one! And I love it! They cost an arm and a leg, but they do really work and I think they add value. My mum hates Aga's but I think she is unique in this. For most buyers they are a major draw...

Ashley said:  

Remember if you are choosing a kitchen range to ensure that it fits in with your overall kitchen design. They are quite expensive you should think carefully about how you are going to pay for this. You might want to think about using the flexible features of your mortgage to fund your new kitchen. If you are saving up make sure you put your money in an account which pays a consistently high rate of interest.

Nadia wants to know:


"I am just so desperate for a new kitchen but I'm not looking to sell my house and won't get my money back for a long time. Should I just remortgage? I hear so many scare stories about building up debt. Help!"

Ashley said:  

Always look for a flexible mortgage (such as Freestyle) that offers "debt busting" potential. This means that you can use the flexible features such as overpayments or offsetting to reduce your mortgage debt as quickly as possible. If you are using some of the money in your property to do up your kitchen you can choose to pay it back over a period of time that suits you. For example over 3 or 5 years rather than the full term of your mortgage and you get the full benefit of borrowing money at low mortgage rates.


Olivia wants to know:


"I want a bigger kitchen - would my money be better invested by knocking through and losing my dining room or extending the house into the garden?"

Kirstie said:  

Talk to a number of local estate agents to find out whether buyers in your area and at your price range set any store by separate dining areas. I would personally always prefer a bigger family kitchen to two separate smaller rooms. Could you put in double doors which were open the majority of the time but ensured that a buyer could have separate eating space if they wanted? When doing work to any property you must research properly in advance and not assume that all buyers will want what you want.


Roshani and Angelo want to know:


"My Fiancé and I have found a house that has the space we need but needs complete renovation. Before we make an offer we would like to get an expert in to tell us what are the must do's and whether the work we have in mind is feasible and an estimate for this work to be carried out. Our question is who and where do I go to find such an expert, and how much do they cost? "

Kirstie said:  

That type of expert is a good personally recommended local builder. Not an easy thing to find, ask your agent, lawyer, colleagues at work, friends and relations if they know of anyone who has had a similar project carried out. It's very important to get a minimum of three estimates for any building work. As far as dos and don’ts are concerned again, turn to your agent for advise on what sells well in your area

Ashley said:  

Always check you have enough money to do major renovations. Speak to your mortgage lender to find out how much money you can borrow. You should carefully consider if you can afford to pay this back and if you are in any doubt about this speak to your financial adviser.


Petal wants to know:


"Is there much benefit in building an extension if it is going to reduce your garden space significantly. Will the financial benefits cancel each other out?"

Kirstie said:  

Again, consult at least 2 local agents. They will be able to tell you whether the benefit lies in increasing your current inside space or in making the most of your garden.

Avril Verity wants to know:


"We live in a "desirable" area north of the River Thames in Reading ( Caversham Heights). Our home is described as a semi-detached Edwardian 4 bedroom house, with 3 reception rooms and a kitchen. The property currently has just one main bathroom and an outside toilet. We would like to extend the kitchen, create a downstairs cloakroom + small utility room to the side of the house with an en-suite bathroom and dressing room on the floor above. The v. small 4th bedroom could easily be incorporated into the adjacent room to create a spacious main bedroom. I have no idea how much any of this work may cost, but have £40,000 as a rough figure. In your view would upgrading the house in this way be worthwhile? In particular how much would taking away a tiny 4th bedroom detract from the overall value of the house? "

Ashley said:  

Again make sure that you have enough money to embark on this project. If you plan to draw down on your equity you must speak to your mortgage lender before you do anything else.

Kirstie said:  

I would say if you are spending £40,000 you must hope to add at least £55,000 to the value of your property. Again speak to an agent about whether three or four bedrooms makes a big difference in your area. It sounds to me like the alterations you are planning are just right for a house of that size.

Blackstreet wants to know:


"How much in % terms should a person be looking to make in profit from buying a poor house and doing it up. Say for example its bought for 100k"

Kirstie said:  

This question is really impossible to answer properly. Take as much local advice as you possibly can. Look at the condition of other houses in the street, find out what neighbouring houses in good condition have sold for and bare in mind that the time you take on the project means that the money is not so much profit but salary for the work involved. I would hope that you could make an 8 - 10% overall thereby giving you as much as 5% profit once you have calculated the interest on the money you have borrowed.

Fay wants to know:


“What’s the next big trend in kitchen design?"

Kirstie said:  

If, as the Standard Life Bank research shows, the kitchen is at the hub of the home. I think the next big trend is for built-in/banquette seating which means you get the maximum use out of every corner of your kitchen and could perhaps find a space for a small sofa or armchair. "Kitchen sitting rooms" are definitely the way forward. Cosy is a good watchword.

Imogen wants to know:


"Is there a classic kitchen design which is your favourite?"


Kirstie said:


It's not so much a classic design as key pieces that really appeal to me. In an ideal world I would have a Belfast Sink an Aga and an American style toploader washing machine hidden away in a separate laundry room but hey! Everyone is allowed to dream!!

Nigel wants to know:


"What is 'the must have' kitchen wise nowadays? "


Ashley said:


Based on our survey, your kitchen should be spacious, family orientated, flexible and make as much use of your garden as possible.


Kirstie said:


If you were going to borrow money to do one thing, I would say French windows which open up your kitchen into your garden would be a winning investment.


Ashley said:


We spoke to hundreds of parents across the country and the majority want to use their kitchen not only as a place to eat with their family but also as a place where their kids can do their homework or entertain their friends while they can keep an eye on them.

Kirstie and Ashley said:  

We hope we have managed to help a little bit. For more information on Freestyle mortgages visit Thanks for you questions

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