Entertaining and exercising: Research reveals the need for multi-functional kitchens

Entertaining, working from home, and even exercising are among the most popular activities Brits carry out in the kitchen, according to new research revealing just how multi-functional the heart of the home needs to be.

While nearly all homeowners (91 per cent) use their kitchens for cooking, the latest findings show millions of homeowners are using the space for other purposes.

An estimated 4.55 million homeowners (26 per cent) use their kitchens for socialising and entertaining, 2.8 million (16 per cent) use the room to relax in, and 1.9 million people (11 per cent) use it as a playroom or homework area for children. The data shows 1.75 million homeowners (10 per cent) use the kitchen as a makeshift office when working from home and 700,000 homeowners (4 per cent) even exercise in their kitchens.

The findings from Häfele UK, which questioned 2,009 homeowners across the UK, found the need for flexibility was an important factor for homeowners when choosing a new kitchen, with 15 per cent saying they wanted to be able to change the function of the room, for example by closing off areas to hide mess or change the use of the space. On top of this, 13 per cent said they wanted to be able to change the mood of their kitchen, for example using lighting to create different atmospheres when cooking, working, entertaining or relaxing.

The data is from Häfele’s new Functional Spaces: Kitchens for Living campaign, which explores in detail how consumers use their kitchens, their biggest pain points, and what features, fittings and fixtures would improve their space and also enhance their quality of life and wellbeing. The in-depth study will provide manufacturers, designers, retailers and installers with unique insights to help them support their own customers with creating functional kitchens that maximise the usability, flexibility and value of the space, while balancing it with personal style and design trends to improve the day-to-day lives of users.

Commenting on the initial findings, architect and designer Laura Jane Clark from BBC’s Your Home Made Perfect, who has partnered with Häfele on the research, said: “Traditionally kitchens have been smaller spaces added onto a home with the main purpose of cooking, but that way of thinking isn’t fit for modern living.  Not only do we have more appliances, technology and features we want to squeeze into the space, but the way we live and interact in our homes continues to evolve. As Häfele’s research shows, we need our kitchens to be flexible enough for multiple purposes and suitable for everyone in the household. As part of this, we need to think about how to create physical and visual connections in the space, as well as carving out specific areas for designated purposes.

“Broken-plan design can be an effective way to achieve this, but there are lots of design and installation tricks to maximise the usability of the kitchen, depending on the needs of the household. For example, you can use sliding doors to create a hidden home office that you can shut away at the end of the day, or use drawer fridges and freezers to avoid taking up valuable floor space with large appliances.”

The research revealed one in five people don’t like their current kitchen and 86 per cent said the room impacts their emotional wellbeing and mental health. Among the negative connotations, people said they felt dissatisfied, sad, stressed, depressed and anxious.

Natalie Davenport, Head of Marketing at Häfele UK, added: “Many of us have spent more time than usual at home over the last two years and it’s highlighted just how important the functionality and flexibility of each room is. Get it wrong and not only does the space not work effectively for us, but it can negatively impact our day-to-day lives and relationships.

“Nearly a third (31 per cent) of the people we questioned said they need to upgrade their kitchen but are worried about getting the design wrong. With the kitchen needing to serve so many different purposes, it’s understandable that it can feel a daunting project for some. That’s why we’ve commissioned this research and partnered with designer and architect Laura Jane Clark so we can get a true understanding of how the industry can support its customers in getting the right design that balances function with budget and style.”

More findings from the Functional Spaces: Kitchens for Living research will be revealed at kbb Birmingham in March 2022. Laura Jane Clark will be joining Häfele UK to deliver two masterclasses exploring some of the top findings and offering design and installation advice on Monday 7 March on the Häfele stand (S70).

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