Creating Kitchens That Drive Sales for Residential Developments

Matt Hollis from Commodore Design, the specialist in quality kitchens for residential developments, discusses the role of future trend analysis in aligning kitchen specification with style influences that appeal to buyers when properties are ready to market.

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Whether developers are targeting hipster buyers who devour new trends, or they anticipate a more traditional audience for their project, the first rule of kitchen design is that we are all influenced by trends.

Buyers may not consciously look for a property that’s ‘on-trend’, but their tastes will be shaped by what they consume in all aspects of their daily life, including what they wear, what they drive, the tech in their pocket and the programmes they watch on TV. That’s why trend analysis is such an important part of kitchen design and such a powerful tool for selling more homes.

Using trend analysis to differentiate

When we talk about trends, we are not referring to everyone jumping on a single bandwagon and responding with a homogenous product. It’s much more subtle than that. What we’re referring to is tapping into a shared consciousness of influences that affect us all.

For homebuyers, the home environment makes a statement about who they are, with the food culture and social space provided by a stylish kitchen sitting at the heart of that philosophy. The challenge for specifiers and developers is to look beyond the consumer trends that excite people now and identify those that will define consumers’ sense of style and lifestyles in the future. Translating elements such as colour, shape, texture and technology from those trends into kitchen design ensures buyers can step into a show home and experience a kitchen that feels instantly in-tune with what they like and how they live.

But lead times on residential developments mean that we have to do more than take design cues from current FMCG trends. Kitchen designers that rely on what’s on-trend now may deliver something that looks modern and follows contemporary kitchen design lifestyle factors, such as open-plan living/dining, for example, but are likely to deliver a me-too, generic design, which will no longer be attractive to buyers when the development is completed. The only way to ensure a kitchen design is not outdated when the marketing suite showcases a development to buyers is to analyse future trends.

Where do we find future trends?

The best way to understand how future trend analysis works is to take a step away from kitchens to consider how design trends migrate from sector to sector. A good example is the influence of iconic technology on the most popular colours of car.

Back in 1999, the most aspirational car colour transitioned from blue to turquoise, echoing the turquoise of the ground-breaking iMac computer. By 2004, everything from cars to washing machines was silver, reflecting the explosion in consumer technology and, by 2010, this had changed again to black, influenced by the launch of the black iPad. The launch of the white iPhone in 2012 prompted another shift in popular car colours, this time from black to white. Now, the story continues with cars sporting matt grey, taken from the ‘Space Grey’ MacBooks, and colours referencing the shades used by Apple, giving us a new take on grey across everything from cars to PVC windows.

There are no coincidences here. The shift in car colours hasn’t happened because manufacturers and consumers have independently shared the same epiphany, but because aspirational consumer goods trigger a response to similar design cues in other consumer categories, including property and kitchen design.

It’s just one example of how different aspirational and status-driven products influence each other. Whether homebuyers see themselves as a trend-setter, a trend-follower or a trend-avoider, the extent to which a kitchen designer leverages those influences can dramatically affect a development’s sales potential.

What’s nextfor kitchen trends?

Design cues from everything from architecture to technology will continue to influence buyers and must, therefore, also influence kitchen design.

Understanding lifestyle and consumer agendas are also key, and it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a factor in this. During lockdown, the experience of being in the home and isolated from green space and nature has reiterated the importance of the outdoors to consumers’ health, wellbeing and lifestyles. As the hub of the home, the kitchen is a key area for bringing the outdoors into a property and biophilia is set to be a major trend with the potential to create a sense of connection with nature in the use of colour, texture and natural light.

Self-care, solitude and introspection have also become essential elements of our holistic wellbeing, and a serene home acts as a detox from outside noise and distractions. The quest for a ‘quiet home’ which doesn’t overload the senses means that quiet, unobtrusive tech, soundproofing and zoning are on the rise.

How to spot kitchen design trends for your development

Working with a kitchen specialist that can tailor design influences to the customer profiles of a specific project is central to creating a look, feel and layout that anticipates future trends while answering the lifestyle needs of target buyers.

Trends determine much more than aesthetics, and 2020 has reminded us of the fact that a kitchen is often much more than a place to cook and eat; it’s the hub of the home which is often also the main family space, social space and, latterly, even an office space.

The goal for residential developers and specifiers should be to aim for a kitchen design that is beyond anything their buyers can find on the high street, using future trend analysis to deliver an aspirational environment with an instant wow factor. In this way, the kitchen will play a central role in securing more sales.

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