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Could a new kitchen get things cooking all over the home?

IKEA worldwide kitchen survey reveals link between kitchen satisfaction and happiness with spouse, kids.

IKEA, the world's leading home furnishings retailer, today announced the results of a worldwide GALLUP survey about kitchen use. According to the survey, the kitchen truly is the heart of the home, with nearly 60% of respondents across the globe citing it as one of the two most important rooms in the home. Despite the importance of the space, more than half the world expressed dissatisfaction with their kitchens -- 57 percent wish they could get a new one.

The survey was conducted by ISOPUBLIC (a member of GALLUP International) via telephone and in-person interviews with 14,000 people in 28 countries from five continents including Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East and North America. Respondents were asked about general kitchen use, habits, needs and wants.

Nearly a fourth of worldwide respondents spend more time in the kitchen than any other place in the home with uses and activities expanding far beyond cooking. In fact, only 24 percent of respondents use the kitchen solely for the preparation of food. Thirty-five percent use the kitchen regularly for family discussions (including heated ones!), 35 percent for socializing and entertaining, 16 percent for hobbies, and 15 percent for playing with their children. As respondents grow older, the kitchen becomes increasingly more significant -- after the age of 35, the kitchen beats out the bedroom in importance for both singles and married people.

"Clearly, the kitchen has practical importance in every day living, but our survey really demonstrated that the kitchen can be a key factor in the happiness of the home," said IKEA design specialist, Janice Simonsen. "We found a strong connection between overall satisfaction with the kitchen and harmony in relationships with spouses and children."

Respondents in countries with a significantly high kitchen satisfaction also expressed the greatest overall family happiness. Respondents in the Netherlands, for example, who indexed at the top of kitchen satisfaction (75 out of 100) expressed the highest satisfaction with their spouses and kids of any other country. On the flip side, Russians, who indexed near the bottom of the list for overall kitchen satisfaction, seem to be the least happy with their family relationships. Americans express average satisfaction with their kitchens and family relationships.

"Respondents told us over and over that their dream kitchen is a pleasant space for spending time with others," said Simonsen. "A full 57 percent of those surveyed worldwide would re-do their kitchen if money were no object. At IKEA, we know that people don't want to have to compromise when it comes to the kitchen. Our goal is to show people that money doesn't have to be the barrier. We want to be the inspiration and one-stop resource for helping create a quality kitchen you and your whole family can really live with... and love."

Perhaps all this dissatisfaction with the kitchen explains why only 11 percent use it for sex and romance. The Swedes and Japanese, however, are more than twice as likely to "heat things up" in the kitchen: 22 percent say they use it for romance, while only 9 percent of Americans find love between the pots and pans.

Dream kitchen defined
Women across the globe define their ideal kitchen as a "cozy and warm" meeting place while men seek a space fully loaded with gadgets and electronics. The most coveted kitchen feature worldwide is an island - 41 percent say they would add one. And, those with an island in their kitchen are twice as likely to be happy with the space as those without. Additional counter and storage space also top the list. Fifty-four percent of people who are unhappy with their kitchen say they wouldn't change it because the task seems too overwhelming.

Who's cooking?
The women's movement hasn't gotten them out of the kitchen: women worldwide do 77 percent of all cooking and 84 percent in households with children. Only 15 percent of men, single or married cook at all. In China, men cook far more than their counterparts around the world -- 25 percent of them do most of the cooking for the household. Women in the U.S. spend about an hour longer in the kitchen each day, than men. Italians spend by far the most time in the kitchen -- nearly one hour longer each weekday than the worldwide average of 2 hours, and in China they spend the least (just 45 minutes a day).

Kitchen conversation...during commercials?
While watching TV, forty-four percent of worldwide respondents eat dinner with above-average frequency in Italy, Portugal and Japan. 80 percent of Japanese families dine together with the TV on, which is more than twice as high as in the U.S.

Kitchen "wear"
Twenty-six percent of cooks around the world wear aprons with Portuguese being the most fastidious chefs - nearly 60 percent of them cover up for cooking. Meanwhile, 16 percent of worldwide respondents admit to having cooked in the buff: 12 percent of women and 21% of men have been a "naked chef." Cooks in Finland especially like to be "free" in the kitchen - more than a third of them have cooked "au natural."

Kitchen "secrets"
34 percent of respondents globally admit to drinking directly out of the carton, and 24 percent admit to "double dipping" - eating with a utensil and then putting it back into a container. Forty-four percent of men slurp from the source while only 28 percent of women confess to doing so. Only five percent of Malaysians will own up to this act, while cooks in the Czech Republic are by far the most likely to sneak a sip (68 percent). Nearly half of the world's kitchens have a "junk drawer." Americans are among the least likely to own a complete set of matching dinner plates (53 percent) and, perhaps as a nod to heritage and tradition, Hungarians are the most likely to have fully matched dining ware (94 percent).

What's cooking?
The worldwide favorite cuisine is Italian (28 percent) followed by Chinese (16 percent). Four percent said American food was their favorite. Ten percent of respondents around the globe say they are vegetarian. Belgians like American cuisine more than any other country on earth, even the U.S.!

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