Transforming contract kitchens into desirable spaces

Sam Thompson, Contract Designer at Waterline Ltd, looks at how smart tweaks can make all the difference.

When a developer hands over the keys to a new property, the kitchen is often one of the most scrutinised spaces. It’s where families gather, meals are prepared, and memories are made. Yet, contract kitchens — those basic white slab spaces often found in new builds — can sometimes feel cold and uninspiring. So how can a few simple tweaks transform these uninspiring kitchens into desirable spaces that help sell properties? Waterline has spent decades facilitating the sales of homeowners’ dream kitchens and know how to recreate aspirational features for the contract market.

Let’s explore the key elements that can turn a basic kitchen into a sought-after feature.

Bring in the texture
Contract kitchens are typically minimalist, often defined by white slab doors and simple T-bar handles. This utilitarian approach might be functional, but it’s not exactly inviting. By adding texture, you introduce depth and warmth, stimulating both tactile and visual senses.

Think about incorporating open shelving or swapping plain end panels for textured ones. These small changes can transform a lifeless white kitchen into a warm and inviting space. Texture adds visual interest and creates a cosy atmosphere that resonates with potential buyers. Consider wood grain, stone patterns, or even textured metals to break the monotony of white slab surfaces.

A focus on lighting
Lighting is often the unsung hero of kitchen design. It’s not just about illuminating the space; it’s about creating ambience and highlighting key areas. Standard contract kitchens might come with basic under-cabinet lights and ceiling spots, but there’s so much more that can be done.

Consider adding lighting above wall cabinets to illuminate the often-dark space that looms overhead. A simple pendant light over a kitchen island or in a dark corner can add instant visual appeal. Think about task lighting for workspaces and accent lighting to highlight architectural features. These lighting tweaks can transform a basic kitchen into an inviting space that buyers will love.

Handles to handless options
Swapping traditional handles for handless options is a simple yet effective way to upscale a kitchen design. This minimalist approach creates clean lines and a modern look. Handless kitchens can also be easier to clean, adding a practical benefit to the aesthetic upgrade. It’s a small change that can make a big impact.

Have the end user in mind
Designing contract kitchens can be challenging because designers often don’t have direct contact with the house buyers. However, it’s essential to consider the likely occupants and their needs. For a one-bedroom apartment, you might expect one or two people, while a three-bedroom detached house might be home to a young family.

For smaller spaces, consider storage solutions that make the most of limited square footage. In larger kitchens, think about multi-functional areas and easy access for assisted living. By keeping the end user in mind, you can create a kitchen that appeals to a broader range of buyers.

Create visual interest with different heights or a focal piece
Walking into a kitchen with uniform cabinet heights and a standard hood can be underwhelming. To create visual interest, consider playing with different heights for wall and tall units. Incorporating a beautiful range hood or a unique backsplash can serve as a focal point that grabs attention when someone enters the room.

Design with the building in mind
The architectural style and location of a property play a significant role in kitchen design. A rural development with a countryside vibe might benefit from a more rustic kitchen, while a luxury apartment in the city might require a sleek, modern design. Understanding the context helps ensure the kitchen complements the property’s overall aesthetic, adding value and appeal.

Transforming a contract kitchen into a desirable space is possible by tweaking the design. By focusing on texture, lighting, handles, and visual interest, you can create a kitchen that resonates with buyers and adds value to a property. Keep the end user in mind and design with the building’s architecture and location in focus, and you’ll have a kitchen that stands out in any property market.

For more information visit www.waterline.co.uk or head to stand 4C22 at InstallerSHOW.

Register for your free ticket here.

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