4 Modern Kitchen Living By The Bower Team / In Home Improvement The kitchen is the heart of your home, but if yours is feeling a bit outdated then why not give it a facelift? According to Bower Retirement’s own data, more than a third of equity release customers are listing home improvements as their number one reason for unlocking some of the money from their homes. With the kitchen being central to everyday family life, it’s important we really make the most of the available space, even if you don’t have much kitchen space to speak of. And if you’re after a completely new look for your kitchen, then join the open plan revolution! With a bit of imagination and planning, you can bring a whole new lease of life to your home. Here we suggest some of the most popular kitchen design ideas sweeping the nation’s homes that will ensure you get the most out of your cooking space, whatever its size. Creating a kitchen diner Open plan kitchens don’t just make your living space appear bigger, they provide a multi-usage space in which you can cook, dine, entertain and socialise with your guests. Use an island, contrasting flooring and architectural divides to differentiate zones. If you have a separate kitchen and dining room, then consider knocking down all or part of the adjoining wall to create your dream open plan kitchen. The addition of an island or breakfast bar for your family and guests to sit at will make all the difference. For busy parents and grandparents, overseeing playtime or homework duties while you prepare food is a doddle with an open plan kitchen. And when it comes to hosting glamorous dinner parties or bringing the family together for Sunday lunch, gone are the days of cooking in solitary confinement while you miss out on all the fun! Once you have opened up your kitchen and dining space, the distinction between the two zones can be cleverly maintained with the use of an island or breakfast bar, contrasting flooring, and highlighting architectural divides such as any overhead beams where the wall used to be (see picture for an example of all three of these zone enhancers being used together). Let the light shine Your choice of lighting has the power to make or break your kitchen design. With careful planning, you can create the feeling of intimacy or space, depending on what mood you are trying to achieve. Carefully placed lighting can dictate the mood and define open plan zones. Light fittings installed directly over your island or breakfast bar is good for two key reasons. Firstly, and most practically, it will provide good lighting for those who are sitting there to eat or work. Secondly, it helps to visually divide your cooking zone and your dining zone. If possible, position your dining table where the maximum light falls. Near patio doors overlooking your garden will provide lovely views while you eat, and will reduce the need for artificial light while you dine or work. Create a display with your storage After you have designed and created your perfect kitchen, don’t let clutter detract away from your efforts. Incorporating beautiful yet practical storage solutions is key to this. When designing your kitchen remember to have lots of storage space built in. If you need more space than your kitchen units can provide, then one large and well-designed storage unit on a single wall always works well. Choose one that offers a number of cupboards at base level and cubby holes at eye level. This will maximise storage whilst doubling as a display cabinet for personal touches such as recipe books, your glassware, crockery and picture frames. Making home improvements in retirement Finding the funds to make larger home improvements can be challenging, especially when adjusting to a reduced income in retirement. To find out how equity release could help you make the home improvements you have in mind, speak to a member of the Bower team today to arrange your FREE initial, no-obligation home consultation. Call us on free phone 0800 411 8668. Remember, equity release will reduce the value of your estate and the amount of the inheritance you leave, so it is vital you speak to an independent specialist in retirement lending such as Bower before making a decision.