Ask about a Kitchen Designer
To get the absolute maximum from your space, input from a professional kitchen designer can prove invaluable. Their experience and expertise will offer you plenty of simple ideas – as well as innovative ones – that you might not have even considered.
Kitchen designers will also have up-to-the-minute knowledge of products, fixtures and fittings, and can source everything on your behalf. Once the design has been completed, make sure you have a full quotation for the cabinetry and installation.
Set your Budget
Always be honest about your budget so that your designer can help you decide where to save and where to invest – even if you haven’t got large sums to spend. Open shelving is less expensive than closed cupboards, for example, while capacious low-level, pull-out storage may mean you need fewer wall units, which saves on cost.
It’s easy to get giddy when faced with a wealth of shiny appliances with countless programs and functions, so only invest in things you think you’ll genuinely use. And don’t forget to include installation fees, as well as the kitchen itself.
Finally, make sure your budget includes a 10 per cent contingency fund, to cover any unexpected extra costs.
If you’re in a bind about where to splash the cash, here are our top tips on where to spend and where to save:
Always go for the best worktops you can afford, as they are one of the most hardworking elements of any kitchen. Granite, composite and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are sturdy, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish.
Next, make sure your cabinets are of good quality. Don’t be tempted to skimp on thin carcasses, as they’ll not last very long. You want at least a 15mm a thickness all round – if not more.
Think about savings on your choice of doors. We can’t all afford rich wood veneers, so why not recreate the same look with a laminate or PVC foil finish instead? Even hi-gloss doors come in different price brackets depending on whether they are lacquered or laminated. ‘While they all essentially look the same, a lacquered kitchen can cost considerably more than the laminate equivalent. Spend wisely on appliances, too, buying the best oven and hob you can afford – but perhaps consider a less expensive brand for the laundry and do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. It’s all about compromise if your budget is under strain, so make sure you spend on the things that matter – you can always add luxury small appliances and accessories in years to come.
Call in the Professionals
So, you’ve found your kitchen designer, chosen your layout and style and you’ve paid your deposit. You need to find a team to install it.
It’s important to remember that the way your kitchen is installed can make all the difference. A lousy fitter can make any kitchen look terrible, but a good one will ensure even inexpensive units look amazing. It may be a simple refresh so you’ll only have the kitchen supplier and fitter to the coordinator. However, if it’s a big project, then there might be builders, electricians and plumbers to consider, too. It’s crucial at this stage to get some form of project manager in hand, whether that’s yourself, your kitchen company or an architect. Everyone needs to be clear about what needs to be done when, as delays and mistakes in kitchen planning can be costly.
Often your budget will dictate how much project management is needed. Some mid-price kitchen companies provide fitting services, but usually, you’ll have to get them to liaise with other trades for work outside their fitting remit. Always check with your kitchen company at the start about which services they can and can’t provide.
Even many bespoke companies will not undertake first-fit electrics or plumbing so you will have to coordinate these elements yourself. Some of the high-end bespoke companies do offer ‘turnkey’ services, where they will organise all the building plumbing and electrical work but be prepared to pay a premium for this service.
Choose your Finishing Touches.
Make your kitchen feel more coherent by subtly linking finishes – pair a timber breakfast bar with wooden stools, for instance, or upholster the seats with fabric that ties in with your splashback. Little details, such as cabinetry handles, can make a big difference and transform a simple white scheme.
Rather than buying everything from the same supplier, source furnishings and accessories from a variety of places, and mix things up to create an individual look. Unusual objects picked up on your travels, or gorgeous vintage finds will all help to create a homelier and characterful environment.