10 things that could devalue your kitchen, according to kitchen designers

If financial return is your end goal, avoid these design choices to stand the best chance of adding value

Naked Kitchens wooden kitchen
(Image credit: Future)

When you’re planning your dream kitchen renovation, it’s so easy to get carried away with all the inspiring designs, products and ideas out there. But knowing what things could devalue your kitchen is just as essential. At the end of the day, designing a kitchen should be fun and your kitchen should reflect you, but balancing your choices with some financially savvy advice will ensure you're left feeling satisfied. 

If you think you might one day sell up and move onto another property, or you’re simply interested in seeing a return on your investment, then paying attention to what will add value and what won’t is key. We've picked the brains of kitchen designers to find out exactly what things could devalue your kitchen, to help you get the most out of your money. 

10 things that devalue a kitchen 

According to a ‘How much value does a new kitchen add to your home?’ report by kitchen retailer Magnet, on average, renovated kitchens can increase the selling price of a property by 5-6%. The report states that ‘when deciding how much to spend on a new kitchen, consider the demand for property in your area as this will determine the return on investment of your renovation project when selling.’ 

The good news is that from clever kitchen storage ideas and kitchen layout ideas, there are certain things that make the kitchen more appealing, even if you’re not looking to sell.

1. A lack of storage

Naked Kitchens wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

Storage solutions are key to improving the value of a kitchen. Not having enough is a big no-no. Ensure there is plenty of room to keep basic kitchen equipment, with a layout that is efficient and functional. 

This includes cupboards for pots and pans close to the cooking zone, sufficient crockery drawers where you might plate up and easy access to condiments and utensils. You may even like to include a wine storage unit close to the dining area.

‘Really make use of internal space so make sure you have plate stackers, corner mechanisms, cutlery drawer inserts so you can make the most of the space you have,’ says Rebecca Nokes, design director at John Lewis of Hungerford.

While larders, breakfast cupboards and pantries are very much on trend, it’s for good reason. These spaces provide much-needed and attractive storage space. 

2. Too many appliances on show

Kitchen with faux-oak cupboards and slimline dishwasher half open.

(Image credit: Future)

When planning which appliances to have as part of your kitchen renovation, be choosy about which you have on show. You might like to have an attractive range cooker as a centrepiece or a statement cooker hood. Whichever it is, make it the star of the show and keep as many other appliances – large and small – out of sight by integrating them behind kitchen doors. 

‘Budget appliances can really devalue a kitchen as well because people expect appliance quality to be the same as the cabinetry,’ says Rebecca. 

3. Not enough worktop space

Blue painted kitchen cabinets and dark handles, decorated kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

With more people using their homes to entertain and get family together as well as work from home, the kitchen is one of the hardest working parts of the house. 

Add in hobbies such as baking and cooking up a storm and the need for ample worktop space is key. Make sure you include plenty in your design around cooking and washing up areas as well as for prep and those extra pastimes. 

4. No room for seating

green seating area, wooden dining table and artwork

(Image credit: Future PLC/Bee Holmes)

‘Make sure your kitchen is fit for purpose and designed well. If you’re doing something unconventional, is it necessary? Does it help you use the kitchen? If the answer is no, then maybe consider a different option,’ advises Jane. 

This principle can be applied to seating. What we mean is by cramming seating into a small kitchen for the sake of it, you’ll hamper the use of the space and create an awkward layout where the seating isn’t used anyway. Or you might allocate too much space for seating in a larger kitchen that isn’t utilised and the footprint could be better used in another way. 

Carefully consider how many chairs or bar stools you can comfortably fit in and whether you can add a dining table, breakfast bar, or both. 

5. DIY disasters

Kitchen island with wood panelling

(Image credit: Dan Duchars)

There’s nothing wrong with a spot of DIY to update the look of your kitchen – but only if you have the necessary skills to make it look good. 

Daniel Copley, consumer spokesperson at Zoopla, as part of Magnet report, says, ‘We know kitchens are a key selling point for many buyers, and the centre of activity in many households, so DIY projects are often focused on this space. Getting this right can add value and make your home more appealing.’

If you don’t have the right skills or equipment to do it justice, call in the experts. Things like poorly painted units, uneven tiling and messy finishes will all devalue a kitchen. 

6. A dated look

White shaker kitchen with brass cup handles and a white belfast sink.

(Image credit: Future)

It’s hard to know what styles will be popular in years to come, but it’s easier to see which kitchen designs have stood the test of time and will continue to do so. 

‘Designing a kitchen that is heavy-handed in its use of modern, engineered materials such as laminate and stainless steel, may surprisingly look outdated in a number of years. Equally, a kitchen featuring heavy use of more traditional and rustic materials like wood and stone can age it from the get-go,’ says Sinead Trainor, kitchen category manager at Lochanna Kitchens

‘You really can’t go wrong with a traditional shaker-style or contemporary, flat-fronted cabinets in either a natural wood or painted finish as these have been in style for centuries and continue to be popular,’ she says. 

7. Brash colours

Kitchen with marble kitchen island and worktops, white colour scheme, open shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

While trending kitchen shades such as greens, earthy tones and yellow add personality, adding bright hues or patterns to your kitchen could put off potential buyers. 

‘Potential buyers will be thinking 'we’ll need to replace that immediately'.  Kitchens sell houses so it needs to be something that is fairly neutral and inoffensive so people can immediately imagine themselves living there,’ says Rebecca.

‘Light and neutral doors, worktops and decoration have been proven to help sell homes faster than their colourful counterparts,’ says Jane. ‘Make sure you design a kitchen that is classic and timeless. Don’t just follow current trends as it’s highly likely that in five years’ time, your kitchen may be unfashionable.’

8. Cheap handles

Black kitchen with brass bar handles

(Image credit: Future)

‘Putting poor quality handles on great cabinetry is a big no-no,’ says Rebecca. It can make the cabinetry look cheap.’ 

If you’re looking for ways to update your kitchen on a budget, why not elevate your existing units with good-quality new handles for a fresh look that won’t cost the earth?

9. Old fittings

Butlers sink set into pale grey kitchen cupboards, pale grey splash back and copper taps

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

The old adage of buy well, buy once really comes into its own when it comes to things like taps, sinks and worktops.

‘A poor quality worktop is a red flag for buyers, they want to know that you’ve opted for good quality products in your kitchen. The same goes for a low quality or cheap sink. Stick to good quality and hardwearing items such as a composite sink, which is strong, scratch resistant and durable,’ says Jane. 

10. Overspending for where you live

Open plan modern kitchen with table and crittall doors

(Image credit: Future/Douglas Gibb)

This one is important. Whatever type of kitchen renovation you’re planning, think about how much the work will cost in relation to the potential value added and the location of your home.

If adding value is your end goal, overspending on upgrades that exceed the ceiling price for properties in your area will result in a loss overall. 

How can I add value to a kitchen?

Despite what may devalue a kitchen in resale terms, it’s important to remember that value should also be measured by how much a kitchen suits you, your lifestyle and the enjoyment you get from it. It’s all well and good having a kitchen that will attract potential buyers but if it doesn’t serve you then the lifestyle value will be lost.

However, there are elements that are more attractive to the property market. Magnet’s ‘How much value does a new kitchen add to your home?’ report found that plentiful storage, cooking space and quality integrated appliances are all factors today's buyers prioritise in the kitchen.

‘Something we have found to have particular significance in recent weeks is out buyers wanting to have a full-sized fridge,’ says Fleur Marston, Earls Court sales manager at Foxtons estate agent, as part of Magnet’s report. ‘A few vendors have put in small, half-sized fridges in favour of having more worktop space. We have found that this has been a deterrent to buyers.’

Other features that seem to draw people in include a boiling-water tap and induction hob.

What should you spend money on in a kitchen renovation?

‘Keep in mind the quality and durability of the products you select and how often they will need to be updated,’ says Jane Thyeson, design lead at Smile Kitchens

‘For example, a quartz or granite worktop could last for decades and even into future kitchens. Painted kitchens are a long-lasting and practical choice as they can be sanded down and repainted whenever desired, ensuring you can update your home with future trends.’

Estate agents will often include details of appliances and kitchen brands if they are high-end enough as a selling point, so it may be worth investing in models that will appeal to potential buyers and in turn add value to your kitchen.