Millennials (born between 1982 and 1996) are officially joining the ranks of homeowners, and choice of colours isn’t the only thing they’re changing in the Maltese kitchen. This generation is the largest demographic group heading into the home buying and remodeling segments. Thanks to the internet, they’re also a lot harder to convince than their parents – for a business to attract their attention, ‘competitive prices’ won’t cut it. Long-held traditions are being replaced with new preferences, and the role of the kitchen in the household is evolving to accommodate for smaller spaces, hastened schedules, and shared lifestyles.

In this article, we’ll go over the 8 key trends that are distinguishing the new Maltese homeowner.  What do they look for? And what sets them apart from previous generations when it comes to renovating, using, and designing the kitchen?

1. Malta’s Kitchen Society

Friends sharing a noodle at a restaurant; 1960's inspired

Yes, surveys show that in Europe, 36% of people under age 30 opt for delivery, but the rest (64%) are actually giving precedence to cooking, both simple meals like burgers, and more complicated recipes that mix passed-down-from nanna dishes with recipes found on google.

On the whole, the Maltese kitchen, unlike in other European countries, has still retained its role as the place where long, traditional recipes serve big families and take a good chunk of a day’s hours. This might be because youths in Malta do not have to move out or live in dorms for University or college, and as a generation, we also tend to live with our family well into our twenties.

For young working adults in Malta who have moved out, one thing’s for certain: we refuse to be the microwave generation. It is said that cooking is only a pleasure when others join in eating, and millennials are taking this to heart. Hosting friends and family over for dinner has become a preferable social occasion to going out, even if the recipes have become significantly less time-consuming than what our parents are used to.

And on this note, the boundary between kitchen and living room has very much been replaced by a bridge – ease of access and remaining part of the ‘conversation’ when friends are over being the top reasons why.

2. Smaller budgets, bigger plans

Construction of a drawer as part of a DIY project

When it comes to renovating or designing a new kitchen in Malta, cost considerations are driving millennial homeowners away from high-end, finished products and towards DIY projects, upcycling initiatives, using plants to decorate (and naturally cleanse the air) in interior spaces, and stock and ready-to-assemble cabinets from international platforms.

On the other hand, the majority of Malta’s stores agree that durability and timelessness remain priorities for Maltese young adults. Youths approach remodelling with the goal to build a kitchen that is personal, but one they can utilise for a long time. With this in mind, they are more than willing to invest in designers. They want to work closely with someone who will take the time to get to know them. Millennials expect a designer to add value by helping them create a kitchen with who they are in mind, one based on their style, preferences, interests and lifestyles.

The need to adhere to a budget has coloured buying trends and is a driving factor behind the patterns we’re shedding light on in this article. For the sake of not mentioning budget restrictions under every heading, we decided to get this point out of the way early on.

3. A turn away from granite

The countertop is where all the action takes place. Before (for homeowners born before the 1980’s), look and feel (72 percent), and durability (53 percent) were the driving factors for choosing a countertop material. Granite, and then Quarts, were the discerning consumer’s most sought-after materials.

Now, the majority of kitchens in Malta that have granite and quartz countertops are owned by people 45 years of age and older. Millennials, on the other hand, seem to be split into two camps. Those who have the resources value the low maintenance and durability, those who are a bit more constrained are more willing to experiment with alternative, more budget-friendly solutions that explore possibilities with cheaper materials, such as laminate, wood, or concrete.

Click here to find out more about the different kinds of countertops available on the market in Malta, or if you’re willing to get your hands a bit dirty, keep an eye out on our facebook page, we’ll be publishing a guide to building a countertop that is stylish, durable, and personal using inexpensive materials soon.

4. Soft neutrals strengthen their hold but give bold ideas a hand

Utensils in the 2018 colour of the year: Ultra Violet

Lasting relevance is key, and for a millennial living in Malta, the priority is making sure that the style, colour palette, and materials used in the kitchen do not go out of fashion anytime soon. With this in mind, it follows that for a long while, greys and neutrals have been the most popular wall colour you will see in most showrooms in Malta.

On the other hand, small household appliances, pans, and pots are being used to introduce a pop of colour into the kitchen, with most opting for pastels to complement wooden countertops or warm colours to go with the neutrals.

More than ever, colourful and artistic touches are being used to relieve the sea of grey and white in new homes. Curious? Take a look at the crowned colours of 2018.

5. Decorative lighting over functional lighting

Under-cabinet lighting in a kitchen,

Lighting upgrades are always included in the great majority of kitchen renovations, and 2018 is seeing a shift towards decorative pendant lighting, organic lights (eco-friendly, cheap, lightweight systems that use organic compounds to generate light), and the inclusion of as much natural light as possible. That doesn’t mean we’re all knocking down walls and enlarging our windows, nor are we suggesting just one pendant is enough to provide adequate lighting for your kitchen. but you can follow this lighting design guide to take your kitchen away from the dark ages.

6. Built-in sinks

We couldn’t find the technical term for this one, but a picture is worth a thousand words – built-in sinks are constructed with the same material as the countertop to achieve a seamless transition between the two, creating a finish that is elevated and refined.

It is a popular option, but as we said, marble sinks and countertops are not the most affordable of combinations. Opting for concrete to create the countertop and sink area is more affordable and easy to customise according to personal preference, both in relation to colour and size. If you’re on a budget, we suggest you take a look at our DIY guides.

7. The siege over/of Kitchen islands

A clean, large kitchen island

One side says they’re a necessity for the millennial who values storage, the other – usually the older half – believe that it’s an obstruction, blocking off access, reducing valuable space, and causing nightmares when entertaining.

Why? It is easy for a kitchen island to turn into a hub – both for people to gather around, and for a limitless range of items to be placed haphazardly on it, from utensils to purchased goods to bank statements.

Whether you believe a kitchen island is the perfect answer to storage problems, or a magnet for mess, there’s no denying that the kitchen island is something a majority of millennials are adding to their kitchen.

Is space in the kitchen is a major issue for you? Check out these nifty (and easy to implement) ideas to breathe space into your kitchen – no matter how small it is.

8. Green *is* the new black

Although it is becoming a powerful design route, this doesn’t just include adding plants to liven the place up. With many feeling like Malta’s green sites are under siege by developers, homeowner are becoming increasingly more conscious of the need for a shift in our lifestyle – this includes opting for greener ways to running their household, such as using alternatives to chemical detergents.
Before you call this pursuit frivolous, it is worth noticing that in studies conducted across Europe, 150 chemicals found in the home have been connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer, asthma, and psychological disorders. In Malta, we have the highest rate of people suffering from asthma amongst the Mediterranean countries and the European Union.

The Aftermath

How do you feel about the direction the younger generations in Malta are taking with design and décor in their Kitchens? And what about you, taking a different road with your design?

We want to write future articles with what you tell us in mind. Take our short (4 question) poll to let us know where you stand, or comment below.

This article has been written with the intention to provide solid information to both brands and homeowners – we hope this helps you stay ahead of the curve!