Category Archives: Kitchen

Wellness and the Home

Over the last few years, Wellness has become a word many have heard all too much. It is something we see on social media, on the news, and in magazines, and is now a word hard to escape from.

With various industries across the spectrum capitalising on it, a look into what Wellness really is, and what it can do for us, is long overdue. Holiday companies are selling out of mindfulness and yoga retreats, health-food accounts on Instagram are monopolising the web, and spa treatments are more popular than ever.

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Why are experiences more valuable than possessions?

Seeking out experiences rather than purchasing more stuff has been a trend lurking in the corners of psychology for the last few years.

Research in 2014 by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor from the University of Cornell, concluding that “experiences are the glue of our social lives”, mattering much more than the latest i-gadget.

Why do experiences matter?

  • Experiential purchases enhance social relations more readily and effectively than material goods
  • Experiential purchases form a bigger part of a person’s identity
  • Experiential purchases are evaluated more on their own terms and evoke fewer social comparisons than material purchases.

Studies also suggest that the anticipation of an experience is also crucial. Thomas Gilovich’s research showed that people reported being mostly frustrated before the planned purchase of a ‘thing’, but mostly happy before they bought an ‘experience’.

As that happy feeling is tied up with a memory, it lingers longer. Colin Strong, head of behavioural science at market research group Ispos, calls it the ‘hedonic adaption’, claiming that the hedonic payoff of experiences is much greater than material purchases.

The Experience Consumer

We are now seeing how this trend is affecting our spending habits and the way we consume, such as a 55% increase in ticket sales to events and live experiences, as research by the world’s largest event technology platform, Eventbrite, found.

And according to Barclaycard, which processes about half of all Britain’s credit and debit card transactions, their figures for April 17 show a 20% increase in spending in pubs compared with the same month last year. Spending in restaurants went up 16%, while theatres and cinemas enjoyed a 13% rise. Meanwhile, department stores suffered a 1% drop, vehicle sales were down 11% and spending on household appliances fell by 2.5%

Clothes retailer Next claim their first fall in profits in eight years is due to the experience economy, and Ikea’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard, is of the opinion that consumption of many goods has reached a limit, referring to this limit as hitting ‘peak stuff’

Building a Brand Experience

Fuelled by social media, the experience economy is a trend that will continue to grow. Instagram accounts used to be about our new car, handbag or pair of shoes, but now that seems slightly vulgar compared to our friend’s yoga holiday or sky-diving weekend.

Building a product brand that taps into the experience economy involves going beyond a ‘sell and forget’ mentality. When Meile launched their revolutionary steam oven, they also developed a set of cookery courses for their steam oven customers. After completing a hands-on steam oven cookery session, attendees proudly tweet, instagram and facebook the results to all their contacts, turning them into a very effective sales force for Meile, without even a mention of a Meile product.


What homes do the over-55’s buy?

The over-55s are an important and growing segment of the new-build housing market.  In their  report ‘Moving Insights from the Over-55’s‘, The NHBC Foundation looks at the reasons why the over-55’s move and the types of homes they buy.

The research is based on a sample of almost 1,500 homeowners aged over 55 who moved to their current new-build home between 2010 and 2016.

While equity release is a key motive for some, 46% of those surveyed invested more money in their home when making the move, and just under a third upsized to a home with more bedrooms. At the same time, hidden deeper in the evidence, is a strong demand for two-bedroom homes among those choosing to downsize.

Overall, a large proportion of households (40%) in this study moved either down or up to a four-bedroom home, making this the most common home size purchased by the over-55s.  The findings challenge the assumption that older home owners normally downsize to smaller properties, and instead highlight a diversity of moves: in terms of size (bedroom numbers) 39% of households downsized, many upsized (28%) and a third same-sized (33%).

While much of the evidence reveals a wide range of different motivations among the over-55s thinking of moving home, some key themes emerge with important implications for house builders. Older purchasers considering downsizing are about 20% more likely to choose a new-build home, and are particularly attracted by the prospect of living in a home which is easier to manage and enjoys lower maintenance and running costs, manageable gardens and a new home warranty – features which are high priorities for this age group.

Although new-build homes are particularly appealing to the over-55s, the report finds that they often feel that new build marketing is directed at families or young people and argues that more should be done to reflect the needs of older home buyers in this sector.  There is a strong antipathy among those aged 55 to 75 to being described as ‘old’ and there are important lessons to be learnt for marketing to this age group.

The NHBC Foundation was established in 2006 to provide high-quality research and practical guidance to support the house-building industry as it addresses the challenges of delivering 21st-century new homes.

Moving house over-55s

Download the full report here >>

Source:  The NHBC Foundation

Kitchen Worktop Performance Report 2018

This report identifies consumer needs and expectations with regards to the performance levels of worktop, assesses worktop usage within the kitchen, and evaluates the price versus performance ratio for worktops

The study is the result of an online survey carried out with 1000 UK homeowners

This research has been undertaken in partnership with Wilsonart, the UK’s largest manufacturer of laminate worktops.

Available to download from June 2018

If you are a Surface category Insight Partner, this report will automatically be added to your account

Kitchen Brand Tracker Report

The long purchase cycles and disparate routes to market for kitchen, bathroom and surface products has historically meant low brand awareness for these categories.  However, this is changing with the rise of influencer platforms using social media to promote home improvement brands directly to the consumer.

Our brand tracker is a valuable tool to understand how consumer awareness and brand perceptions are changing over a period of time and in comparison to competitor brands

If you are a Kitchen Category Insight Partner, your brand will be included in the tracker and this report will automatically be added to your account

How much living space do we really need?

Mini Living Urban Cabin

As part of the London Design Week, a collaboration between the car brand Mini and architect Sam Jacob attempts to answer the question of how much living space we really need with the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin.

MINI created the Urban Cabin as part of its ongoing MINI Living project, which is exploring new forms of urban living.   Designed for a future when homes become a shared resource and with modern city living in mind, the Urban Cabin demonstrates how to maximise your living space on a small urban footprint, applying creativity and innovation to a limited space.   Although limitation can have a negative connotation when it forces us to do without the things we believe we need, the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin offsets this by showing that it is simply a matter of creatively exploring possibilities.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

At just 15 sqm, the Urban Cabin is a compact micro-house demonstrating clever alternatives to space-saving. Externally, the design is inspired by London’s rich history of geometric facades, emulating the surrounding architecture by reflecting them back with mirrored surfaces

Inside the imaginative space is a homage to British eccentricity and houses an innovative blend of areas for social gatherings alongside space to take stock and have moments of calm and privacy.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

Equipped with a shared kitchen and micro-library, the miniature space is intended to foster communal exchanges.  The kitchen for example has been created with London’s food markets in mind, aiming to bring their culture and diversity into the home, whilst the micro-library suggests the importance of preserving public spaces for people to read.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

White materials are predominantly used to create a light and airy feel, combined with modern touches.  And the whole space has been designed with versatility in mind, for example the table can spontaneously be moved outside to take advantage of warmer weather.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

Mini Living Urban Cabin

The Urban Cabin is the latest in a series of structures that MINI has built as part of MINI Living. The first was an installation at Milan design week in 2016, which also explored the idea of shared living spaces.

Four Smart Home Trends Spotted at IFA 2017


IFA, the international trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, is well known for showcasing the latest innovations. This year’s show, held in Berlin from 1 – 6 September 2017, attracted 2,000 exhibitors and 253,000 visitors – and Trend Monitor was there to check out the latest smart home trends.

#1 Look whos talking

Only time will tell whether consumers really want to ‘talk’ to their appliances. All the same, Candy is getting a head start on the competition with Bianca, a washing machine that you can communicate with by talking to Candy’s simply-Fi app.

For example, you can ask Bianca to start a cycle or request help choosing the right washing settings. Bianca will also dispense tips and tell you if it needs maintenance.

Candy Bianca Washing Machine
Candy ‘Bianca’ Washing Machine

Samsung has also joined the voice-activated appliance war. Its Family Hub fridge, already on the market, has been upgraded with Samsung Connect, a cloud-based voice function that you can use to interact with it: ask for time and weather updates, search the internet, read news articles, play music and radio and add items to a shopping list.

Samsung Family Hub Fridge
Samsung Family Hub Fridge

Not to be outdone, Bosch presented Roxxter, the first robotic vacuum cleaner that can be controlled via Amazon’s Alexa. Just say, ‘Alexa, tell the Home Connect robot to clean the kitchen’ and your helper will be on its way.

Roxxter comes with RoomSelect, which lets you schedule cleaning for individual rooms. Plus, there’s an integrated streaming camera so you can keep an eye on your home via the app when you’re not there.

Bosch Roxxter vacuum cleaner
Bosch Roxxter vacuum cleaner

It’s not just appliance manufacturers that are taking a punt on voice control: Sony has launched the LF-S50G wireless speaker powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant that can engage in two-way conversations. Want to know what the traffic will be like on your route to work, set a wake-up alarm or retrieve the flight booking details for your next trip? Then bring the speaker to life by saying, “OK Google”.

The LG-S50G doesn’t work alone. Google Assistant can also voice control other smart devices from compatible platforms, including Chromecast built-in, Nest, Philips Hue and IFTTT, so you can adjust many aspects of your home environment with voice commands.

Sony LF-S50G Wireless Speaker powered by Google Assistant
Sony LF-S50G Wireless Speaker powered by Google Assistant

Elsewhere, Panasonic has partnered with Google to produce the first hi-fi speakers with Google Assistant built in. The idea is that you can treat the SC-GA10 like your virtual personal assistant: for example, you can request a favourite music track or ask questions.


Panasonic SC-GA10 with Google Assistant
Panasonic SC-GA10 with Google Assistant


#2 Winning the war on waste

If all this sounds – dare we say it  – gimmicky, then perhaps you’ll find the Smarter FridgeCam more useful. The first wireless camera to fit inside any fridge, the FridgeCam allows you to see the content from anywhere via the Smarter app. You can also track expiry dates and get recipe suggestions based on the food in your fridge.

The question is, why? Well, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year. While a fridge camera isn’t the only solution, it may go some way to improving the situation.

Smarter FridgeCam
Smarter FridgeCam


#3. As safe as houses

Home security systems are hot right now. Armed with just a smartphone and an app, you can control door locks, monitor and control cameras and double-check door and window sensors wherever you are.

Solutions on show at IFA included the Fibaro Intercom, which allows for video calls between a smartphone and whoever is ringing the doorbell. A Full HD camera with a 180-degree recording angle provides a wide field of view, while IR (infrared) LEDs are automatically activated at night.


Fibaro Intercom
Fibaro Intercom

Smart locks are also enjoying a moment. Negating the need for a bunch of keys, a smart lock will lock and unlock a door when it receives instructions from an authorised smartphone.

And that’s not all. Models such as Nuki allow you to share access permissions and change them – ideal if yours is a rental property or if you care for relatives whose home you need to enter in emergencies.

The added bonus is that an elderly parent doesn’t even need a smartphone: he or she can keep using a key to lock and unlock the door from the outside and can turn the smart lock manually from the inside.

Nuki Smart Lock
Nuki Smart Lock


#4. Save energy

Just in time for the winter, tado° has launched Smart Climate Assistant, which adjusts the temperature of your home based on both environmental factors and your own needs.

Features include open-window detection, which automatically adjusts the heating if a window is opened, and weather detection, which turns the heating down when sunshine is predicted.

Geofencing is another feature. This ensures that the heating is automatically turned down when the last person leaves home and that it’s turned on again when the first person is returning. You can now manually adjust the geofencing radius when tado° switches to home mode. Plus, you’ll get a monthly energy savings report so you can see tado°’s impact.


Tado Smart Climate Assistant
Tado Smart Climate Assistant


Fitted on hot-water radiators, Netatmo Smart Valves allow you to control your heating on a room-by-room basis, whether you have individual or collective heating. The valves set a heating schedule for each room, and you can customise the temperature of each room via the app.

For example, you could heat the bathroom to 21°C in the morning and cool it while you’re out for the day, while keeping children’s rooms at 19°C from 5pm on weekdays when they come back from school.

Designed by French design studio Starck, the Smart Valves work with Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant.  Could Alexa support be next on the agenda? Watch this space.

Netatmo Smart Radiator Valves
Netatmo Smart Radiator Valves



The Rise of Home Workers

A desire for a better work-life balance, coupled with converging technologies and the digitisation of products has led to 4 million people leaving the office behind to work primarily from home, with a further 1.8 million of us wanting work from home if we could.


Working from home trend
Infographic produced by Sage


Trend-Monitor’s own research into kitchen purchase behaviour and the motivations behind the purchase of kitchen products found that over 40% of UK kitchens have to double up as a home office space.

According to Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at global job site Indeed, said: “Flexibility is high up the wishlist for employees of all ages – from new parents who need to juggle work with childcare, to older workers.

“But younger workers in particular see it as essential. Digital natives often expect to be able to harness the flexibility that technology provides, to enable them to work whenever and wherever suits them.”

In 2014 The Office of National Statistics investigated the characteristics of home workers.  Their key findings are as follows:-

  • Of the 30.2 million people in work in January to March 2014, 4.2 million were home workers, giving a home worker rate of 13.9% of those in work.  This is the highest rate since comparable records began in 1998.
  • The number of home workers has grown by 1.3 million and the rate by 2.8 percentage points since 1998
  • Home workers tend to work in higher skilled roles than the rest of the population and consequently earn on average a higher hourly wage.
  • Almost two-thirds of home workers were self-employed in 2014.
  • Using the home for work is most prevalent within the agriculture and construction industries.
  • Working from home is more prevalent among individuals who are older.
  • The South West was the region of Great Britain with the highest home working rate at 17.1%.

More recent research by the TUC, published in May 2016 to mark National Work from Home day, found that the number of employees who say they usually work from home has increased by a fifth (19%) over the past decade, with nearly a quarter of a million (241,000) more people working from home than 10 years ago.

The biggest growth in regular home working has been among women employees, with 35% (157,000) more working from home in 2015 than in 2005.

However, men still account for the majority of homeworkers, with 912,000 regularly working from home in 2015, compared to 609,000 women.

Older employees are more likely to work from home, with 454,000 in their forties and 414,000 in their fifties home-working.


Source:  The Office of National Statistics, Sage, The TUC


Designing Homes for Multigenerational Living

Multigenerational living trend

Nearly 7% of UK households are multigenerational, the equivalent of 1.8 million households, and yet in the UK this concept is not well-understood and there has been little development of new home designs to suit the needs of families that would like to live in a multigenerational household.

Households are defined as multigenerational where there are three or more generations of the same family living together, or two generations of the same family living together, consisting of parents and one or more adult children (over the age of 25), or two generations of the same family living together consisting of one or more adult children (typically middle aged) and their elderly parent(s)

New research by The NHBC Foundation identifies a growing trend towards multigenerational living.  Their report, Multigenerational Living, An Opportunity for House Builders?,  analyses the scale and types of multigenerational households currently found in the UK and explores the experiences of British families living in this way.

Multigenerational living was also discussed with a range of house builders to understand their perspective on this market, in terms of their perception of both opportunity and risk.

The research provides evidence that challenges some myths about multigenerational living in the UK and suggests that it is not just ethnic minority families who choose to live in multigenerational households,  it is not just a response to care needs or housing affordability problems and it is not just about living in properties with annexes.

Key Findings

  • The number of multigenerational households in the UK has been increasing, driven by greater numbers of adult children (aged 25 or over) living in the parental home.
  • Four out of five multigenerational households in the UK are White British, although some ethnic groups (predominantly Asian families) are more likely than White British people to live in multigenerational households.
  • Multigenerational households tend not to be large and typically much smaller than often portrayed. Approximately one-quarter of households with grandparent(s) present contain three people, just over 20% contain four people and a similar proportion contain five people. Two-adult-generation households are generally smaller and are most likely to comprise just three people.  Average-sized homes with little or no modification may therefore provide satisfactory accommodation for many multigenerational households
  • Multigenerational households are most likely to live in three- or four-bedroom homes that they own, and the households, in general, are not living in poverty.
  • Multigenerational households predominantly live in ‘standard’ properties, and not all have annexes or extensions to accommodate household members separately

Requirements for Multigenerational Living

The research showed that, in terms of the design and use of space in the home, privacy is important but so is the ability to flexibly use any ‘additional’ space.  The best model included some shared spaces, open-plan dining and
an element of private space. For example, there needs to be space for interaction, such as family meals, but some privacy, such as separate rooms to entertain guests or watch television.

A limited number of bathrooms can cause tensions if everyone needs to be ready at the same time of day, so en-suites or multiple bathrooms were welcomed.

The flexibility to adapt properties over time to suit different family arrangements was welcomed. Such future-proofing might, for example, enable easy adaptation of a downstairs room (with access to a WC) into a bedroom.

Adaping New-Build House Designs for Multigenerational Households

A design review by The NHBC Foundation identified various existing common new-build house designs that are suitable for multigenerational households, or which could easily be adapted to be so.

  1. Suitable without change
    These are typically designs in which one or two bedrooms and a bathroom form a relatively separate suite of rooms on its own floor (typically the top floor of a three-storey house). These house types offer the possibility of immediate use of this suite of rooms, either by an elderly relative or by adult children, without any alteration or conversion of the existing plan.
  2. Adjustment of existing plan layout
    The second type of newbuild design identified by the review comprises houses in which the original plan offers a particularly large double bedroom, usually with an ensuite bathroom, often located above a double garage or a ground floor wing. In these cases the layout can often be changed to provide a self-contained space with a living room, double bedroom and ensuite bathroom, plus the option of a kitchenette.
  3. Opportunity to extend
    These are houses which offer the opportunity to provide a separate self-contained extension to the original house. Such homes might be marketed either with planning consent and designed to comply with Building Regulations, leaving the purchaser to engage a contactor to carry out the work, or as an ‘off plan’ option in which the house builder would complete the extension as part of the main work.
  4. Ground-floor alteration
    Where the existing ground-floor plan has a large bedroom or family room, this may be suitable for conversion into a self-contained living area with its own entrance.

NHBC Foundation Multigenerational Living

The full report from The NHBC Foundation can be downloaded here >>

Source:  The NHBC Foundation “Multigenerational Living, An Opportunity for UK house builders” Report


Where are washing machines kept in the home?


Following on from the furore caused when Kirstie Allsopp suggested that  it is “disgusting” to keep washing machines in the kitchen, we thought we’d ask our mini-pollers where they keep their washing machines


Trend-Monitor mini-poll

As the chart shows, a resounding 69% of people keep their washing machine in their kitchen, with 24% of people having the space for their washing machine in a laundry or utility room.  Only 1.3% of our mini-pollers keep their washing machine in the bathroom as suggested by Allsopp.

The row in social media was sparked by Kirsty’s response to a journalist’s comments about Americans finding the British way of placing washing machines in kitchens confusing.  Washing machines in many parts of the US and Europe are placed in the bathroom or separate utility rooms, but in most UK homes they are usually found in the kitchen, in part because in the UK there are no electrical sockets in the bathroom and most UK bathrooms could not fit a washing machine.