If you have a kitchen like mine where it’s so small, you couldn’t possibly have the kitchen units anywhere different to where they already are, then why not consider keeping the carcass of the cupboard, and just replace the doors and work surfaces for an instant face-lift!
There are few decisions more important that what kind of work surface to have. If you are careful with your money and don’t go for the full refit, you can choose between a granite or marble work surface for a more top of the range feel. Having a total refit would probably mean making do with cheaper work surfaces. The work surfaces are naturally an area that you will prepare food on but they also make quite a large visual statement.
When deciding between marble or granite surfaces, there are a few differences to take in when deciding between the two.
Granite is one of the most durable and hardwearing surface materials available. Granite is not entirely impervious however. Granite is actually quite porous so anything acidic like lemon, vinegar or bleach can stain granite. When it is worked and when it is fitted granite is oiled to seal the granite, and you will need to oil it once or twice a year to maintain this barrier. Granite is extremely hard to scratch, chip or stain if properly treated.
Marble is extremely durable, and is one of the toughest work surfaces on the market and has become very popular over recent years. It can stain, and it is more porous than granite but again it is possible to seal in the same way as you would a granite surface, and it will also require regular maintenance, but it is a stunning work surface when maintained. Probably more so than granite.
Granite can look quite harsh and cold when compared with marble, which can look warmer and quite classical. Marble has been used in European countries for many years now especially in the Mediterranean.
Both of these surfaces make top quality work surfaces. The prices of granite can cost as much as £100 per square foot with installation included. If there is much of a difference marble can occasionally work out to be slightly more expensive than granite, but if you offset this against the cost of a totally new kitchen with cheaper work surfaces, the investment would be worth it.
Both work surfaces require maintenance but they both will look as good in 10 – 15 years time so ageing isn’t a big factor either, whereas a brand-new kitchen with cheaper work surfaces may well be looking very shabby, chipped and marked.
If you are planning to settle down in your home and are not planning on moving again, it is worth considering investing in granite or marble surfaces, and you can always change the cupboard doors as fashion dictates.
Turning the tables
The kitchen table – once a family meeting place, now more of a workstation.
The kitchen table used to be a place for the family to congregate for breakfast, dinner and for a Sunday roast, but times have changed dramatically. But while few families sit down together to eat, the kitchen table is far from redundant and still remains the hub of family life.
A study by insurer Legal & General entitled The Changing Face of British Homes reveals the extent to which eating regularly round the kitchen table has become a minority activity. Only 11 per cent of families have time to sit down for breakfast together before leaving the house and only 30 per cent have dinner together each evening. The traditional Sunday dinner remains a highlight of the week for a mere 17 per cent of people.
Ruth Wilkins, head of communications at Legal & General, says, “Our research shows that fewer than one in four (24 per cent) of British households is what is viewed as the traditional 2.4 family and that our homes are changing to meet our different lifestyles.”
So what’s happening at the kitchen table? The study asked over 4,000 people how they spend their time at the kitchen table. It may not host as many family dinners as it used to, but it still remains very much at the heart of the home.
The kitchen table is commonly used as a study zone for both children and parents, with 40 per cent of children using it do their homework and 22 per cent of parents joining them to catch up with home admin and paperwork. However, the kitchen may also act as a distraction to serious study, with one in five family members (19 per cent) playing games around the table.
Perhaps not being able to afford a home with a separate study, dual-income young couples with no children are most likely to work remotely from their kitchen table, with 18 per cent using it as an internet café, browsing the web and checking emails.
Older couples whose children have left home enjoy the odd tipple at the kitchen table. These older couples, along with the retired and multi-generational families, are the people most likely to be boozing around the table, with almost one in five (17 per cent) having heart-to-hearts over a glass of wine.
For these older couples, it is also enjoyed as a quiet zone, where 42 per cent like to read the newspaper – this is now the kitchen table’s primary use – and 13 per cent using it to write letters.
The survey also found that nine per cent of adults use the kitchen table to make love, proving that the kitchen table is the most multi-functional item in the home. Where else can you surf the net, pay your bills, have a glass of wine, read a paper, write a letter, occasionally eat something and make love?