UK kitchens lack space and storage, says Formica report

A new survey has criticised UK kitchens as too small and lacking food preparation and storage space.

These are among the findings of the ‘2019 Kitchen Report: 100 Years in UK Kitchen Design’ carried out by the Formica Group, which surveyed 2,000 people aged 18 and above nationwide. It said that kitchens today average just 12.61sq m compared with 15.73sq m in the 1970s.

It concluded that today’s kitchens have become multipurpose, multifunctional spaces and identified clear differences in how different generations used their kitchens.

It noted what it called the ‘Deliveroo effect’, where fewer younger people are using their kitchens for cooking. It revealed that while 96% of respondents aged over 55 and 90% of Generation X (baby boomers, born between 1965 and 1979) cooked in their kitchens, this fell to 72% for Generation Z respondents (born 1995-2015) and just 65% for millennials (born 1985-1996).

But using the kitchen for entertaining guests and spending time with the family was more popular with millennials (33%) and Gen Z (27%) than with over-55s (14%).

Oddly, in light of the above, the survey found that slightly more millennials preferred a closed kitchen (44%) than open-plan (36%).

The kitchen was also more popular as a work/study space among 25 to 34-year-olds (17%) than with those aged 45 to 54 (9%).

When it came to kitchen styles, Formica Group’s survey found that high-gloss kitchens were out of favour, with only 3% preferring that look, while 35% favoured a contemporary kitchen and 30% a shaker.

In terms of regional variations, Londoners were hungrier for contemporary kitchens (43%) than the UK average (35%), with shaker kitchens more popular in more rural parts, including East Anglia (28%) and the North-East (24%), as opposed to just 13% in London.

Colourful kitchens also got an emphatic thumbs-down, favoured by just 2% of respondents.

In terms of how often people are refurbishing their kitchens, the survey found that 12% of Londoners opted for a revamp every two to three years and 22% every four years.

Inspiration for homeowners, said the survey, came mainly from kitchens studios (36%) and magazines (24%). Among 18 to 25-year-olds surveyed, however, social media was the major influencer for 55%.

Encouragingly for kitchen specialists, 80% of those polled said they would prefer to use a professional for their renovation rather than do it themselves.

And while aesthetics are obviously important, just over a third of those surveyed said that functionality (34%) was more important than design (7%).

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When it came to the features people wanted in their kitchens, Formica’s survey found that 17% cited a breakfast bar or central island.

In terms of gender differences, the survey identified key differences between men’s and women’s kitchen priorities. It found that 80% of women were dissatisfied with the functionality of their kitchen, compared with just 70% of men. Also, women are more likely to entertain guests (24%) than men (14%) or regard the kitchen as a place to send time with the family (27% versus 16%) or work (13% versus 6%).

Commenting on the survey results, Formica Group UK design manager Nina Bailey said: “Kitchen trends are becoming increasingly more individual as we seek unique designs to make our homes more personal. The dominant trend now is a strong rejection of ornamentation in favour of simplistic sophisticated monochrome palettes. Consumers are choosing plain and practical kitchen designs that are easy to maintain and durable enough to stand the test of time.”

She continued: “These discoveries are particularly useful to kitchen sales teams who can use the results to help design their showrooms to suit their customers. Consumers are drawn to simple aesthetics and a design that will blend form with function. Innovative storage solutions are being used to create a minimalist impression while maximising storage capabilities where space is tight. There is also a growing nod to nature and the idea of bringing the outside in with an increased interest in textured, realistic wood-grain laminates and stone-like finishes without the colossal price tag.”

The report also shows a timeline of how kitchens have evolved between the 1030s and present day.

It highlights these milestones:

1940s: Role of kitchen evolving, with increasing functionality, but still with limited floorspace.

1950s-1970s: Separate dining room fall out of favour. Emergence of labour-saving inventions, such as microwaves and dishwashers.

1990s: Kitchen regains status as centre of the home and chefs like Jamie Oliver inspire quick, healthy cooking. Designs focused on neutral tones, far removed from bold colours of 1960s and ’70s.

2000s: Property prices rising, kitchens getting smaller. Studio flat in south-east London offered just 14.9sq m of floorspace. UK kitchens smallest in Europe. Homeowners finding innovative ways to do more with less.

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