Keeping up with the Joneses


We all like to show off a bit every now and again, whether it’s because we’ve splashed out on the latest gadget or gizmo or simply because our little one’s football team has won the premiership this season… but did you know that it’s this rivalry that is helping to keep kitchen manufacturers in business?

According to a national study* by Magnet, competition between neighbours is the main motivation for home improvement and a quarter of Brits spent up to £40,000 in the last five years, with half that spend lavished on the living room and kitchen.

The survey suggests that, as a nation, we are prepared to spend a small fortune and endless hours of hard graft to keep up with the Joneses. In the past five years, British households have invested an average of £17,810 on home improvements while 27% have gone even further, splashing out between £20,000 and £40,000, with the lion’s share – 50% no less – spent on kitchens and lounges.

Not surprisingly, it’s the kitchen where most of that money is spent with almost half the nation (48%) revealing that they spend more on their kitchen than any other room or item in their home.

The competitive spirit is even motivating us to spend an average of 6.5 hours per week slaving away around the home to keep it looking its best – although 25% spend between 10 and 20 hours per week painting and decorating, dusting, cleaning and gardening. Makes me feel tired just thinking about it!

Depending on my budget – raiding the bank balance or winning the lottery – here’s what I’d choose:

Magnet’s Astral kitchen in cream, which I would accessorise with a sparkly splashback and colourful small appliances for the worktop.

Magnet Astral kitchen in creamI also like the deconstructed look of NGI Design’s Kalea kitchen in pale rough oak and refined lacquered glass (

NGI Designs Kalea kitchen in pale rough oakBut if I was going down the bespoke route, I’d have the classic Suffolk kitchen from Neptune and throw a dinner party for the neighbours every day! (

Suffolk kitchen from Neptune

(*Study of 3,000 people by One Poll between 10 and 14 March 2012)

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About Hayley Gilbert

Hayley Gilbert is a freelance interiors journalist with 20 years’ experience in the industry. Specialising in all things kitchens, Hayley has contributed to a wide range of consumer titles such as Beautiful Kitchens, EKBB, KBB, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and Ideal Home, as well as national newspapers including The Sunday Times.... @HaylGilbert /

  Email:  Hayley Gilbert


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