Kitchens are for eating, drinking and socialising, but the heart of the home also speaks volumes about our taste - as a glimpse into the kitchens of Prime Minister's wife Samantha Cameron and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson recently revealed.
While the cluttered shelves and blackboard for writing family messages create a homely, eclectic feel to the Downing Street space, Lawson's kitchen made a full-on feminine statement complete with fuchsia-pink cabinets and drawers, in her new London home.
It just goes to show - the recipe for a perfect kitchen is highly personal. There's no one right look. What matters is that this space suits you and the way you want to live.
"There are several factors to take into account when choosing a kitchen," advises Craig Burgess-Allen, UK manager for kitchen design firm Rational Kitchens.
"Consider the style of the rest of your home, especially if you have an open-plan layout with spaces flowing into one another, as you want to avoid choosing a style which jars with the rest of your design scheme.
"Equally, don't feel obliged in a period home to install a traditional kitchen. The priority is for a functional space, which is easy to work in and is visually appealing, and modern ranges can be hugely successful as a stunning, calm pared-back contrast, when the rest of the house is highly embellished with flourishes and detail."
A kitchen can make or break a property deal, and it's estimated that it can add up to 7% to the value of a home.
"Bear in mind that adventurous colour choices may look great in the showroom but can be hard to live with, and aren't generally advisable if you're considering selling a property," Burgess-Allen points out.
"If you feel colour-starved, play with colour in worktops and tiling.
"Always consider the natural light available, and opt for light reflecting surfaces if it's limited. On a practical note, avoid glossy kitchen doors if you're house proud and have small children, as they'll show up every smudgy fingerprint!"
Check out the essential ingredients for a kitchen to give even the most stylish celebs a run for their money - just season to taste.
There's a relaxed, informality about Samantha Cameron's kitchen, with its neutral colour scheme and mix of wood, steel and marble finishes. If you, too, want to avoid the contemporary, minimal look, read on.
"Kitchens are no longer the place to hide your personal possessions,” says Hayley Shaw, head of merchandising at Magnet.
It's time to express your personality and put your worldly goods on display for everyone to see.
Glass-fronted cabinets and open shelves make it easy to quickly locate kitchen kit and personalises the room.”
"The polar opposite of high gloss, in 2015 we're getting touchy-feely in the kitchen, by introducing rich textures to cabinets and worktops.
Mixing vintage materials with modern finishes adds instant character, and is extremely indulgent for those seeking cutting edge trends."
Top tip - This year will see the emergence of multi-functional kitchens.
Expect to see wall-mounted storage transforming into tables and cabinets into worktops, as designers develop innovative ways to maximise space, predicts Shaw.
A Magnet City White kitchen, incorporating clever storage solutions including a fold-down table, from £3,526.20, based on a typical 12-unit design (worktops and appliances excluded).
Get the look
Display collections of china, just like Samantha Cameron, in a glass-doored Hemnes Cabinet, £250 from Ikea.
If her ultra-fashionable range cooker appeals, John Lewis has its own affordable version, a Dual Fuel Range Cooker (JLRCBk105), for £999.
Habitat is a great source of lookalike Downing Street kitchen kit. The family sits around a white marble-topped table, but a more compact four-seater Lance Table, £150, is a cheaper option, while a Bip wood and metal Adjustable Floor Lamp, £200, is super-effective as zone lighting for a dining area.
John Lewis also has a versatile Selby Ceramic Rise and Fall Ceiling Pendant, £110, in its new, industrial-style Croft Collection. Keep an eye on the time with a similar functional clock to Mrs Cameron's; a Flap Large Black Analogue Wall Clock, £130, Habitat.
Nigella's kitchen hue undoubtedly puts an individual stamp on the space, but if that's cooking up too much of a colour storm, play safe by using colourful accents for easy-to-change items, such as wallpaper and accessories.
"Colour's great in a kitchen and massively on trend currently - green and deep cranberry pink are particularly popular. But remember that, although coloured fitted furniture injects fun, and vibrancy can make a statement in a key room, this could affect the saleability of a house," says Amanda Watson, head of design at Betta Living.
"Painted doors in more neutral colours, like sage, chalk and grey, with maybe a central island painted in a warmer stronger shade, delivers a modern yet timeless look, which might be more advisable for those hoping their kitchen will stand the test of time."
Top tip - Colour in splashbacks, wallpaper and fun paint effects could be the perfect ingredients.
"Coloured walls and accessories look amazing against gloss white or wood effect doors, and mean you can fairly inexpensively update or pick up on new trends," advises Watson.
Get the look
Rational's Onda Kitchen Range, from £10,000, comes in a Lipstick Pink that could make a celebrity chef swoon.
Alternatively, opt for neutral units, such as the Shaker Twist collection from Betta Living, currently from £4,149, and provide colour in wallpaper.
There's a suitably rustic look to the Dip Dye Wooden Boards wallpaper, £40 a roll, in a variety of colours, including soft pink, Decor Wallpaper.
Accessorise with hot pink products, like a Joseph Joseph Kitchen Timer, £10.06, The Design Gift Shop, or a Hot Pink Pantone Coffee Maker, £20, Berry Red.
Cook up a revamp
While our pockets may not be quite as deep as our celebrity friends, a simple facelift could be all that's needed to create the kitchen of your dreams.
"Replacing doors and drawer fronts can transform even the most outdated kitchen - there's often no need to even empty the cupboards - and could be around half the cost of completely replacing a kitchen," says Troy Tappenden, managing director of kitchen makeover company Dream Doors.
"There are also simple substitutions which can gain valuable extra space in an existing kitchen, such as corner pull-out cupboards and extra deep pan drawers.
Replacing a stained or damaged worktop is another easy way to refresh an old kitchen, and one popular option is to fit a new overlay over an old worktop. New handles and lighting will complete the transformation."
Top tip - Tiled splashbacks date a kitchen.
"Re-tile with classic white tiles and accent with a coloured grout for an up-to-the-minute look," advises Claire O'Brien, trend manager at British Ceramic Tile.
Try their Cookhouse Metro Tile in white, £25 a square metre, contrasted with a fashionable teal grout.
Get the look
Glossy white doors in the HG White - Lincoln collection from Dream Doors, are for those hankering after an easy-on-the-eye contemporary cooking and eating area. A local stockist will give a bespoke quote.
Another specialist in the field, The Kitchen Restoration Company offers 400 ranges and style combinations, including its Chatsworth Range, which has Shaker-style doors and fronts in Vanilla Buttermilk. Prices start from £2,000.
If your heart's desire truly is a designer kitchen beloved by the celebrities, consider bagging a bargain at Kitchensynch, a company which has ex-display and used designer kitchens at greatly reduced prices. Their range of high-end brands features style leaders such as Bulthaup and Poggenpohl.
Photo credit: Betta Living
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