News Archive

Kitchen Trends 2018 – Our View of Houzz Survey

According to the 2018 Houzz Kitchen Trends Survey, more than a quarter of kitchen upgrades are driven by a recent home purchase. No surprise that kitchens are a major factor in our choice of home and the first thing we look to upgrade if the kitchen falls short of expectations! But we have delved a little deeper into this survey and looked at buying trends amongst our developer clients, plus upgrade choices by purchasers, to translate how international kitchen trends impact on the contract kitchen market.

What we found most interesting about the Houzz survey, is that when you analyse customer choices, we all want the same things out of our kitchen. Storage and style are the key drivers that determine which kitchens we choose and how we personalise them.

Our developer clients need to not only offer kitchens with broad appeal, but they need to exceed customer expectations with regards to style and functionality. Our job is to stay one step ahead of trends, anticipate future needs and continue to ensure that our kitchens tick all the right boxes with purchasers.

The Houzz survey found that style and storage matter above all, with ease of working, playing, living and entertaining not far behind. Aside from function, style and beauty are considered the most important aspects of a well-designed kitchen.

Worktops are a key feature and also the item that homeowners chose to spend on the most. Corian is, for the first time in 3 years, the most popular worktop material (43%), knocking granite off the top spot (34%) and far surpassing butcher block or wood slab (13%).

Project Kitchens Designer Lizzie Plank-Watson comments,

“White is becoming increasingly popular for worktops, cabinets and backsplash tiles and is also the second most popular colour for walls, behind grey.

“Corian is by far the most widely used worktop material amongst our customers and Glacier White is the most popular colour. We offer our developer clients and their architects and designers a wide range of options to suit the look and feel of the property and development as a whole, but white is most definitely on trend! It is a colour that doesn’t date easily, which is perhaps why it is so popular.”

The main functional additions that purchasers enquire about through Project Kitchens are often those that we have included in the show apartment. These are designed to make life in a new kitchen just that little bit easier and include for example: Multimatic Provisions sets, herbs and spices holders, foil roll holders, paper towel holders, trays and rails.

The options to personalise a new SieMatic kitchen are endless, so even when we have worked up a perfect kitchen design with a developer, there is still plenty of free reign for purchasers to add their own stamp. MultiMatic for example allows up to 30% more storage in a SieMatic kitchen and we train our clients’ sales teams on functionality and design, to make sure that purchasers end up with a kitchen that suits their exact needs.

Lizzie adds,

“Trends are fascinating and definitely have a place in the contract kitchen market, but that said, SieMatic kitchens are designed to be timeless and we want to create kitchens that last a lifetime. Trends come and go, but we have over 20 years experience in designing contract kitchens and many of our first kitchens are still very much in use today.”

Installing a Premium Branded Kitchen in a Private Rented Scheme (PRS) is a Market Changer

The Slate Yard, the first build to rent apartment scheme at New Bailey in Manchester city centre, is pioneering for many reasons. Devised and developed by the English Cities Fund – a joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal & General and Homes England – this award winning apartment block is the first institutionally funded, custom built PRS scheme to be delivered in Greater Manchester.

It is also the first PRS scheme of its kind to incorporate high-end fixtures and fittings, including SieMatic SC10 kitchens, designed and installed by the team here at Project Kitchens.

Belinda Sewell, Managing Director at Project Kitchens comments,

“Incorporating branded kitchens such as SieMatic in a PRS scheme reflects just how far this market has come. Gone are the days when the private rental market was perhaps seen as the poor relation to build for sale developments. Large institutional investors such as pension funds and property companies continue to see it as a long term, sustainable investment vehicle.

“Of course there are often different financial parameters on PRS developments, but The Slate Yard is proof that pioneering and forward thinking developers can achieve a luxury finish even within the boundaries for PRS schemes. Each SieMatic kitchen has really helped this development stand out from the crowd.”

Phil Mayall, Development Director at the English Cities Fund, firmly believes that quality fittings equal happy tenants. He said,

“We installed SieMatic in each of the 90 apartments within the first phase at The Slate Yard for a number of reasons: The kitchen design blended perfectly with the overall look and feel of the scheme, including our stylish residents’ lounge; we wanted to raise the bar in terms of what people expect from a private rented scheme; and we wanted to provide a product that looks the part and is built to last.

“In addition, the support we received from the Project Kitchens team – from start to finish – added value at every stage. Given their accreditation and longevity in the industry, you know you are in safe hands.”

Belinda concludes,

“We’ve worked with Simon Hourihan and Hollie Reynolds at Muse for many years and it is great to see the team thriving. We cheered them on at the recent NW Insider Residential Property Awards and the English Cities Fund were deserved winners of both the Public/Private Partnership of the Year category for Salford Central and Small Housing Development of the Year for Timekeepers Square. We also supplied kitchens for the successful Carpino Place development and look forward to hearing about their future plans.”

Retirement Without Compromise – Luxury Living (and Working) with Audley

Audley Villages, part of the Audley Group, owns a portfolio of 18 luxury retirement villages in the UK. In April 2016 the Group launched its new mid-market proposition Mayfield Villages, a new offering designed to meet a growing need for modern, mainstream retirement accommodation in the UK. Demand for the product is extremely high, driven by the increasing ageing of our population, and Audley Group has ambitious expansion plans to meet this.

We recently caught up with Kevin Hudson, Construction Director at Audley Group to chat all things retirement, residential and kitchens…

1. How long have you worked with Project Kitchens?

Almost 6 years.

2. Tell us about the relationship…

One of the main benefits of working with Project Kitchens is that they really “get” Audley – what we do and the market we’re building properties for. They are forward thinking and anticipate the future needs of our buyers, who are buying a “forever home” but don’t want to compromise on quality.

A luxury SieMatic kitchen conceived by Project Kitchens has all the functionality our customers may require in later years, but does not appear to have any adaptations at all. This may include for example: easy clean and easy to see surfaces, induction hobs for safer cooking and cleaning, slide and hide ovens, and aerated taps to reduce splashing.

Project Kitchens are an integral part of our team and the whole process is seamless, from initial brief through design, account management, project management and installation.

The in-house designers are very good at suggesting optimum layouts for a variety of different apartment/house footprints for the Audley villages. This is especially important for properties within listed buildings, as some of the kitchen spaces can be quite challenging to work with. The SieMatic product has deeper wall units than other brands and the shelf tracking means that there are more flexible options for storage – other brands simply cannot compete with this.

Following the approval of the designs, their project manager works very closely with Audley’s contractors to ensure that installation is well managed and that challenges are overcome together, to ensure that there aren’t any last minute surprises. The installation team understands the importance of a quality finish and as they use the same people regularly, who understand how we work, this results in very few snags during the handover stage.

Project Kitchens’ attention to detail and commitment is unbeatable – they take our team to SieMatic in Germany for training and constantly provide support and advice at every stage.

3. Your views on SieMatic? Does having a premium branded kitchen help sales?

Premium brand kitchens are key to any property, but as we position ourselves at the top of the retirement living sector, it’s even more important. Although some customers may know the brand name “SieMatic”, the most important thing is that the quality and design of the result reflects the standard a potential customer can expect from Audley’s villages.

With regards to the role the kitchens play in selling the properties, we use images of the SieMatic kitchens in much of our marketing material. Our marketing has to achieve a lot of things: promote brand awareness of Audley; explain what a retirement village is and why it’s not the same as a care home or other options in the sector; as well as showing the luxury quality of the villages. To do this, but still show that we’re selling properties – rather than being a hotel or a health club – we use the kitchen images. We also mention the “high quality fitted kitchens with corian worktops and integrated appliances” on all of our floorplans, website and third party property listing websites.

4. Which development has been the most challenging?

We are working on a large number of projects with Project Kitchens, all of which have their own challenges. Audley St George’s Place in Edgbaston, Birmingham was particularly interesting because some of the properties in the final phase were very difficult spaces to design a kitchen for. The development incorporates two Grade II listed Regency Villas and a restored Victorian building Chains Court. The conversions created a wide range of room dimensions and character details to work with.

5. What is the future for Audley?

Founded in 1991, Audley has since established itself as a pioneer in the provision of high quality retirement living. The first Audley village was built fifteen years ago in Kent and today Audley owns a portfolio of eighteen across the country, all at varying stages of development and more in the pipeline.

There is an increasing desire for high quality, aspirational retirement housing options in the UK and we have a responsibility to facilitate this. Now, more than ever, we need to invest and create more of these alternatives, giving older homeowners the opportunity to downsize without compromising their quality of life.

As a result of this growing demand, we are not only developing more units and new villages, but also expanding our model to a broader demographic. In April 2016, we launched Mayfield Villages to complement the already established Audley model and we have recently exchanged contracts with the Watford Riverwell Partnership to develop the first site.

High quality facilities and beautiful, secure properties allow our owners to live in homes they can be proud of. As health needs change over time, dedicated care is also available so that they can continue to live on their own terms, but with the necessary support.

Project Kitchens is proud to work with Audley and we look forward to a continued successful relationship. If you’d like to find out more about our work please contact For information on current Audley retirement villages visit

Grafters Shortlist – Double Nomination

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for not one, but two Grafters awards this year.

100s of companies from the North West of England enter these awards to have their work recognised as the best across the property and construction sectors.

So to be nominated is a real honour and tremendous boost to the Project Kitchens team.

Voting closes on Friday 23 March and we are up for Best Specialist Supplier and Entrepreneur of the Year. The winners are announced at a Glittering Gala Dinner at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester on Thursday 17th May 2018.

Thank you to all our wonderful clients, suppliers and friends who have already voted for us.

Any last minute votes, please click here!

We look forward to seeing many of you at the awards and to celebrate the best of the NW.

How to… work with builders, architects and interior designers

Our Managing Director Belinda Sewell is in the news this week with her ‘How to..’ guide to working with builders, architects and interior designers. Produced by kbb Review for a special edition supplement distributed at kbb Birmingham 2018.

We are very proud to work with some of the best people in the property industry and love helping an architect or interior designer’s vision for a development become a reality.  To find out what we can do for your business email

Click here to download a PDF version of the kbb Review article.