Talking Property


It's the return of the kitchen revamp, writes ISABEL MORTON

AS IF things weren’t grey enough already, they are now becoming greyer, as grey, I am reliably informed, is the new neutral.

It has taken over from cream, as the top colour of choice, for kitchens anyway and although pretty much any shade of grey will do, the top “on trend” hue is a soft French grey with a subtle pearl sheen.

Even Aga, has introduced “Pearl Ashes” to complement designer bespoke hand-painted grey kitchens, although Aga admits that cream is still number one followed by pewter (a charcoal grey/black), which they say has now replaced black. (You’d be worn out keeping up with it all.)

But keep up with it I must, as fashions change so quickly., Some things, however, never take off or if they do they often die a sudden death – such as the, for example, boom-time “warming drawers”.

I thought we’d given up on all those newfangled designer gadgets and gone back to one-pot meals and filling flasks, but it seems that kitchen revamps are back as people resign themselves to staying put for the foreseeable future.

But, our new-age approach dictates that everything is environmentally friendly, eco-pure, home grown, homemade, organic and recyclable. Utility rooms are cluttered with recycle bins.

And, although it’s hard to imagine that there is a single kitchen left in the country that hasn’t already been extended to gargantuan proportions and kitted out with the best of everything, there must still be a few.

I’ve just completed one and I have a few more on the drawing board and I can tell you that even now in these recessionary times, kitchens can never be big enough or good enough for demanding Irish women.

(And yes, I am being sexist here as I’ve yet to meet a man, regardless of his culinary skills, who is as pernickety or as possessive about his kitchen.)

At the risk of generalising, I suspect that women regard their kitchens in much the same way as men regard their cars; as a reflection of their personalities, their status, wealth and abilities.

And indeed, more than any other room in the house, the kitchen usually tells a lot about its owners and their lifestyles.

So, now that bling and brash are no longer politically correct and it’s all about low-key understated luxury, high gloss units are being replaced with solid (eco-friendly renewable) hand-painted timber and appliances must be soundless, energy efficient and use minimal water.

Gone are those ridiculous phallic taps, whose size and shape dominated the kitchen, to be replaced by simpler designs, which include filter taps, (both for hot and cold water) and discreet spray nozzles for rinsing off plates, before they are washed in the ultra-silent, super-speedy dishwasher drawers.

And talking of taps, as we’ll soon be paying for every drop of water we use and already pay sky-high electricity bills, the “boiling water tap” is gaining popularity, now that some have been fitted with childproof handles.

However, as they cost the best part of €1,000 each, I wonder how many times you would have to boil a kettle in order to claw back the cost of the initial outlay?

However, that’s minor compared with the cost of keeping your food fresh for longer in the new must-have SubZero fridges, which start at about €7,000 and go up to the unbelievable sum of €20,000. Should we not instead shop more often for less and then we wouldn’t have to worry about long-term preservation, except of ourselves?

But expense is not the only issue – these days you almost need a masters degree in computer programming in order to roast a chicken, so you’d better know the chicken’s name, date and place of birth, breed, lineage, pedigree, weight (with or without stuffing) and establish which particular temperature it might like to be roasted at, as all of that information and more, is required before the oven will do the decent thing and turn itself on.

And, now that kitchen wall space is at a premium, with internal walls removed to open up into living and dining spaces and others entirely glazed, to give views of the garden, kitchen islands are becoming central (literally and otherwise) to kitchen layouts, as users realise how much more pleasant it is to work facing into the room rather than facing a wall.

According to one friend – who has no qualms about facing her audience as she cooks – she is so pleased with her new kitchen she describes it as similar to having “a full face-lift”, which she was proud to show off.

Following her analogy, I couldn’t resist remarking on the greyness of her taut new “face”.

Isabel Morton is a property consultant

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