Kitchen nightmares: Storage, space and layout the nation’s biggest kitchen complaints

Badly designed storage, limited space and poor layout are the top three kitchen bugbears in the UK, according to new research from Häfele UK.

When it comes to storage, 32 per cent of home owners said they didn’t have enough; 17 per cent said their storage is located too high for them to reach or that they find it difficult to access items in corner cupboards, while 13 per cent said they can’t store small appliances conveniently.

Meanwhile, 27 per cent of people said their kitchens are too small, with more than one in five saying their small kitchen leads to cluttered worktops. And when it comes to layout, one in seven say their kitchen is poorly designed, with one in 20 citing worktops that are too high and badly positioned cupboards as their main gripes.

As part of the research, one in five people revealed they don’t like their current kitchen. More than 85 per cent said their kitchen impacts their emotional and mental health, while two thirds said if their biggest issue was fixed in the kitchen, it would improve their quality of life.

Häfele questioned 2,009 consumers about the impact their kitchen has on their wellbeing as part of its Functional Spaces: Kitchens for Living campaign, which it is launching in partnership with architect and designer Laura Jane Clark, who stars on TV programmes such as BBC’s ‘Your Home Made Perfect’. Häfele aims to use the research to educate the industry on how to use fixtures and fittings to achieve functional spaces – those which maximise the usability, flexibility and value of a space, while balancing it with personal style and design trends, to improve the day-to-day lives of users.

Speaking of the findings, Laura said: “The kitchen is the hub of the home, but these findings show a real disconnect between how they are being designed, and how a homeowner needs them to function to their best potential.

“In even the smallest of kitchens, the right storage and layout can make a space feel so much bigger. But this relies on the right fixtures, features, and fittings being specified and installed so they’re actually useful and not just there because that’s what tradition tells us we should have in our kitchen. For example, the type of cabinets and where they’re placed should have a function beyond storage; they should make cooking a comfortable experience, with everything you need to make a meal in quick reach, and they should add to our lives rather than detract.”

Some respondents admitted to having downgraded their storage solutions when having their most recent kitchen designed; for example, one in ten downgraded the internal wirework storage installed to their cupboards. But having realised the subsequent impact on their use and enjoyment of the kitchen, more than one in five (21 per cent) said that next time they were purchasing a kitchen, they would shop around to get the best functionality for their budget. A further 7.6 per cent said they would change their overall design to prioritise storage – including internal wirework, corner cabinets and drawer inserts – to get better use from their space.

Laura added: “There’s no use having a raft of cabinets if what’s hiding inside them doesn’t offer any use. Deep cupboards where you can’t reach to the back lead to us collecting more things than we actually need, so clever wirework needs to be integrated into the design and installed to ensure we have full sight of what’s being stored.”

Overall, the top three most important factors consumers would prioritise in their next kitchen are functionality (60 per cent), more or smarter storage (32 per cent), and a better layout (29 per cent).

Natalie Davenport, Head of Marketing at Häfele UK, said: “Functional spaces should serve multiple purposes so if our kitchen’s storage, layout and space puts limitations on its usage, it can have a really big impact, affecting our mood and way of life. Some of the feelings our respondents said were triggered by poor kitchen design included sadness, stress, depression and anxiety, demonstrating that lots of kitchens in the UK aren’t necessarily meeting the needs of the people using it every day.

“The great news is that there is potential for our kitchens to achieve so much more. With our research, we’re aiming to thoroughly examine what makes or breaks a functional kitchen that helps enhance the user’s life. Doing so will put the kitchen back into the heart of the family home, with happy customers who’ll recommend their designer for making their dreams a reality, rather than a nightmare.”

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