Always look at bigger picture
YEARS ago I worked as a graphic designer for the late Alan Hickinbotham. Spending time with the head of one of South Australia’s biggest home building companies was interesting and one piece of his wisdom has stuck with me more than anything else.
Make the kitchen the hub of a family home, he would say. This allows the cook to be part of the action when entertaining or preparing family meals.
Fast forward to today and kitchens appear to be under threat in some places.
First we have the hot new trend of butler’s kitchens – also known as a butler’s pantry or their old-fashioned term, scullery – where people are banished to a poky room to do the dishes and other unpleasant things.
Second, the race for limited space is seeing some apartment kitchens resembling just a small shelf on a wall, just like laundries have been shrunk dramatically and pushed behind cupboard doors in many units and even some houses.
Is this the end of the kitchen? What would Alan Hickinbotham think?
I personally doubt that kitchens are endangered and the success of TV cooking programs, such as has brought them back into vogue.
But it does illustrate that homebuyers’ tastes change and we’re always around the corner from a new trend.
This is a key issue for residential property investors. Do you buy the latest trend or fad, or do you stick with what you know?
The answer, as always, is location, location, location.
A huge kitchen may not be necessary for an apartment in the city where your tenants are going to spend much time eating out but if it’s a family home in the suburbs, it should be suited to a family.
When looking at a potential property, investors need to focus on more important things, such as proximity to public transport, shopping centres, schools and other facilities that tenants would appreciate.
A trendy new kitchen or bathroom certainly can help but it’s unlikely to be a deal maker or deal breaker.
Investors who are building a new property should ignore their own tastes and focus on what will appeal to their target market – usually the masses. Forget the hot pink feature wall and stick with neutral colours.
On the taxation front, you cannot claim an instant tax deduction for spending thousands of dollars on property improvements – these have to be depreciated over time.
A broken appliance or fitting can be written off as a repair or maintenance.
Landlords should look at their investment properties as a business deal and leave the emotional decisions for their own homes, and their own kitchens, if they have one.