The heart of the home

It is widely accepted in South Africa that the kitchen is the "heart of the home" so when homeowners undertake renovations they often start, or at least they should, with the kitchen.

When house hunting, a well-designed and visually aesthetic kitchen is often the deciding factor for sellers and can add substantially to the resale price of the home, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group.

"The modern kitchen is not simply a place to prepare and cook food, but often an open-plan space where families eat, entertain and do homework and hobbies — but before homeowners start to make changes, it is important to tap into what buyers are likely to be looking for."

The architectural design of the kitchen should be spacious with high ceilings and ample room to move around. "If homeowners are lucky enough to already have a large kitchen, then it is advisable to create more cupboard space so that utensils, appliances and crockery can be neatly packed away.

It is easy to become disorganised in the kitchen if the correct storage system is not implemented."

If on the other hand the existing kitchen is small, homeowners might want to consider breaking down an internal wall or two to incorporate it into a living area — and perhaps also create space for a separate scullery or pantry. "This will create a modern layout and make the kitchen appear spacious and inviting," says Botha.

As to the choice of fixtures and fittings, he notes that it is important to install worktops at the correct height for a healthy posture and that granite or marble tops are currently firm favourites among discerning buyers. A good idea is to add stainless steel or aluminium trimmings to these and opt for metal handles such as stainless steel or chrome on cupboards and drawers.

"Proper lighting is also essential, and it is advisable not to skimp on the quality of built-in appliances such as ovens, hobs and fridges. An extractor fan, although not essential, can also really add value for a buyer, especially in an open-plan setting, because it will eliminate any cooking odours or smoke."

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