Improving your kitchen doesn't have to be a big and expensive job, says Julia Gray. Follow her top tips for a quick and easy fix
It's often said that the kitchen is the room most likely to persuade you to buy a property - or the room most likely to put you off, depending on what it's like, so it goes without saying that if you're considering putting your home on the market, it pays to make sure the kitchen is up to scratch.
Even if you're not selling, an attractive, well-organised and functional kitchen adds to the value of your home and makes it nicer to live in.
Of course, the thing about new kitchens is that they cost money - lots of it.
Gutting the room and starting from scratch is a great way to create your dream kitchen, but only if you have the cash and time and are prepared to put up with the disruption.
If you want a quick fix, however, there are lots of inexpensive things you can do to make your kitchen work and look better.
The obvious starting point is repainting the walls and ceiling, but changing the unit doors is also easy to do - B&Q has a good selection of doors.
You could even fit (or get a carpenter to fit) a new worktop - try eBay for inexpensive wooden ones. Retiling the walls (or painting the existing tiles) and laying new flooring will make a big difference, too.
If lack of worktop space is a problem, think about how you can make what you've got go further. Use microwave brackets to get your microwave off the worktop. Are there any small appliances you hardly use that can be put (or given) away?
Another solution to lack of workspace is to install an island unit - if there's room. If there isn't, maybe a slimline table or breakfast bar will give you more workspace and still allow you to move around the room easily?
Billing your kitchen as a kitchen-diner when selling your home is a big plus. Hinged tables that fold flat against the wall when not in use are a great idea if space is tight - try the Bjursta or the Norberg, both £29 each, Ikea.
Got nice glasses, crockery and pots and pans? Fit shelves to display them on - floating shelves are still fashionable. This gets them out of the cupboards, freeing up space, and you can make a nice display out of them.
Alternatively, saucepans and utensils can be hung from wooden or metal hanging or wall rails to get them out of the way
If your kitchen has high ceilings and you're happy to change the wall units, invest in extra tall ones. Failing that, stack attractive baskets or boxes on top of the existing wall units to make the most of the space. However, don't store anything heavy up there.
When you're replacing a kitchen, it's easy to incorporate clever design ideas for awkward and small spaces, but if you're making the best of what you've got, it pays to think laterally, especially when selling your home.