Home' Abode : November 23 Contents THE HERALD
MAKEOVER: How a kitchen area can be revamped,
with the before photograph bottom centre.
It is the heart of the home, the hub of
the house, the place you always end
up in at parties. The importance of a
kitchen should never be underestimated;
it's the most saleable room in the house.
If you want to increase the value of your
property or boost buyer appeal in the
market, this is the first stop for a renova-
tion or revamp. More so than bathrooms, a
fresh and functional kitchen can make or
break a sale and, according to the experts,
is likely to return a tidy profit from any
"It's hard to put a percentage on how
much value you can add," says real estate
director Scott McElroy. "But you are
likely to double the cost of your outlay
in saleability value. If you spend $20,000
renovating the kitchen, you can hope to
be looking at getting that $20,000 back,
plus another $20,000 on top as an absolute
starting point. That's on a dollar value. It's
hard to quantify the opportunity value, or
the impact it can have in the market."
These favourable returns, combined with
the current trend for incorporating the
kitchen into the living areas for all to see,
has made refurbishing the kitchen the
most popular form of home improvement
When it comes to the scale and cost,
the job should, ideally, reflect the home.
It makes no sense to install a family-sized
food hall in a one-bedroom apartment
or cut corners in a mansion. Working out
a budget, however, can be daunting and
confusing. You can buy a flat-pack kitchen
for a few thousand dollars but that doesn't
include installation costs, so exactly how
much can you expect to fork out for a
"Realistically, you should be looking at
from $15,000, excluding appliances," says
kitchen designer Peter Treweek. "That's
the price for a good, average-sized kitchen
using quality fittings and laminate cup-
boards and bench tops. For that you will
get a well-designed, good-looking and func-
tional kitchen that will add resale value to
To maintain a budget but still achieve
the wow, Treweek believes benchtops and
splashbacks are the way to go. "They are
the first things people notice," he says. "If
you want to know where to save and where
to spend money, have laminate cupboards
and drawers and get a beautiful stone
With the continuing advancements in
design transforming the kitchen into a
high-tech zone filled with impressive tricks
and gadgetry, how far should you go?
"The most important things don't have
to cost that much," Treweek says. "Little
extras such as a pull-out oil and spices
drawer next to the cooktop, a narrow
drawer to vertically store all your baking
trays, or an Italian waste bin system with
the automatic soft-close lid. They all look
terrific, are not overly expensive and will
be real selling points."
Of course, it's not always necessary to rip
out the kitchen and start afresh; a clever
revamp can be amazingly effective for a
fraction of the cost. Designer Fiona Austin,
whose clients include building and design
professionals, has used a number of cheap-
and-cheerful tricks to staggering effect.
"We have painted wooden kitchens,"
she says. "A lot of people freak out at that
but it just makes an extraordinary differ-
ence. Solid timbers are so dark, heavy and
really dated but usually beautifully made.
If they're not, then most cupboards have
hinges so you can just take the doors off
and replace them - that's not expensive.
You can also just replace the handles or
knobs and that can make a big difference,
For another instant lift, get rid of the old
tiles. You don't even have to chip them off
first; a new splashback can easily be fixed
over the top.
"Another good tip," says Austin, "is to
install new appliances like an oven or dish-
washer. You could even take out the island
bench and put in a table and chairs instead
- add a few baskets and some fresh herbs
and it's a country kitchen."
Ultimately it doesn't matter if you're a
master chef or you can't boil an egg, the
kitchen is a social area to which people
naturally gravitate. Why wouldn't you want
it to look its best?
"A lot of people are scared to do a reno-
vation because it is expensive," McElroy
says. "But it can change the look of a prop-
erty dramatically. You can also just tart up
an old kitchen to make it look good again.
Whatever the extent you go to, it can cer-
tainly make the house a lot more saleable
and a lot more appealing."
Kitchens Get the wow factor
A $20,000 kitchen revamp is almost certainly
a good investment, but even a few cheap and
cheerful tricks can dramatically improve the
appeal of the most important room in
your house, writes Gina Morris.
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