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Prone to bouts of 'kitchen envy'? Perhaps it's time for a make over...

Simmering with jealousy at your pal's new investment? It may be time for a makeover

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Kitchen lighting from Fritz Fryer

Kitchen lighting from Fritz Fryer

Neptune Carter shelves

Neptune Carter shelves

Kitchen colour scheme from Little Greene

Kitchen colour scheme from Little Greene

The Panelling Centre Madison kitchen

The Panelling Centre Madison kitchen

Neptune Suffolk Pantry

Neptune Suffolk Pantry

Neptune Carter Larder

Neptune Carter Larder

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Kitchen lighting from Fritz Fryer

So your sister has a new kitchen and she's keen to show it off. Of course she is. Kitchens are a big investment and she's put a lot into making this happen. Mind you, she's not admitting where the money came from. You suspect she tapped mam and dad for a loan. Or maybe mortgaged the children.

Anyway, she's been banging on about white Carrara marble all summer and you know that her kitchen's going to look amazing. But you're dreading going to see it because you know that the minute you set foot in it you're going to want one too.

Kitchen envy isn't the noblest sentiment in the world but, according to a survey carried out by the Panelling Centre, it's a strong motivator. Ninety-four per cent of respondents admitted to being jealous of other people's kitchens and more than three quarters wanted to revamp their kitchen after seeing someone else's. This wasn't a comprehensive survey - it was carried out this summer among 301 Irish adults (95pc female) - but by my experience it's got more than a ring of truth to it.

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Neptune Carter shelves

Neptune Carter shelves

Neptune Carter shelves

"We get a lot of people coming into the showroom with a photograph of a family or friend's kitchen that they love," says Carmel O'Flaherty of the Panelling Centre. "But it's important to remember that choosing a kitchen is a very personal choice and what looks good in one person's home may not suit the layout or space in someone else's." Eighty per cent of the survey participants admitted that they were unhappy with their existing kitchen.

The top three reasons for their dissatisfaction were: outdated kitchen units; lack of counter space; poor layout and awkward design. Three quarters were prepared to sacrifice space in other parts of the house to make room for a larger kitchen. Most people (75pc) longed for a kitchen island; 49pc wanted a pull-out larder; and 46pc wanted an American-style fridge freezer. More than a quarter aspired to replace the kettle with a boiling water tap, and one third dream of a Belfast sink.

Kitchens from the Panelling Centre are accessibly priced and range from €1,500 to €15,000, with most customers spending around €5,600 (excluding fitting). Move up the price ladder and you'll find companies like Neptune where prices start at €12,000 for a compact Chichester kitchen in tulipwood and plywood and go up to around €32,000 for a large Henley kitchen in solid oak.

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The Panelling Centre Madison kitchen

The Panelling Centre Madison kitchen

The Panelling Centre Madison kitchen

Neptune kitchens are made from painted wood. It's not an ultramodern aesthetic and their designers have taken a tip from the Victorians and reintroduced a version of the larder. Or pantry. As far as I can work out, the terms are interchangeable.

While a walk-in larder would be ideal, you'll only find these in very old kitchens and the homes of the super-rich. The modern version is a compromise that involves a cupboard with storage racks on the inside of the cabinet doors. It's a much more efficient use of space than a deep cupboard from which things only emerge when they're long past their sell-by date.

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Neptune's Suffolk larder unit costs €4,160 but you can also buy smaller and more affordable versions of the same storage concept. Nobody's immune from kitchen envy. It doesn't matter if your kitchen budget is €3,000 or €30,000. It's human nature to want more than we have.

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Neptune Carter Larder

Neptune Carter Larder

Neptune Carter Larder

So how about a second dishwasher? That's what people are going for at the upper end of the market. "It really makes sense for a family of four plus when you find that you're loading the dishwasher several times a day," says Liza Jones, one of the owners of the luxury bespoke kitchen company, Porter & Jones, where kitchens start at €30,000. "Other people like to install a dishwasher drawer and keep it just for stemware."

Dishwasher drawers operate independently of each other so you can clean heavy pots in one and fine crystal in the other. A single dishwasher drawer by Fisher & Paykel costs €755 from Donaghy Bros. That or you could just teach the children to do washing up. Just saying.

Another trend in the luxury market is for hidden power sockets. An Evoline Backflip socket can be installed in the worktop where it presents as a plain black glass panel with a small sign saying "push". When you do so, the cover flips back to reveal two standard plug sockets and a USB port. Once it's open, the sockets are raised above the surface of the countertop to avoid the dangerous combination of split liquids and electricity. One of these sockets costs €195 from Future Habitats.

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Neptune Suffolk Pantry

Neptune Suffolk Pantry

Neptune Suffolk Pantry

But the thing that everybody seems to want, at both ends of the market, is a boiling water tap.

"I couldn't do without it," Jones admits. "It's a small luxury, but it's the one that all the clients rave about." There are several companies making boiling water taps but the one that she recommends is Quooker, which is the only one that emits water at 100°. Expect to pay €1,735 for a tap that produces boiling water, filtered water, or normal water. That's a good way of keeping up with the Joneses!

Aside from this, it's probably best not to dwell too much on kitchen envy. The kitchen that's best for you is a very individual thing and probably quite different from the one that you see in someone else's house.

Besides, the people who've just installed a new kitchen will always present its most idealised aspect. They're probably not telling you that the underfloor heating doesn't work properly and that their kids have already stained the white Carrara marble countertop with play slime.

panellingcentre.ie, neptune.com, porterandjones.com, donaghybros.ie, futurehabitats.com, quooker.ie.


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