A new kitchen can make a large difference to your house’s value and to the way you live. I am a trained kitchen designer and have even had kitchens I designed featured in magazines.
So, a few inside tips for you from one who really knows.
Planning the New Kitchen
How the layout of the kitchen is laid out will affect how easy it is to use for years so it’s important to get it right. Sadly there are more kitchen salespeople than designers. Ask them about working triangles and ergonomics. If they look blank, you know you’ve got a salesperson. Work with your designer to get a kitchen for your lifestyle.
You need to take into account existing power and water supplies, which can be very expensive to move but generally you want your cooking, storage and preparation areas within easy reach of each other.
Choosing the Kitchen Finish
A lot of this will be down to personal taste and your style of house. Few things look worse than wooden country doors in a modern house or high gloss finishes in a traditional house.
Avoid high gloss kitchen doors and worktops if you’ve got children. They show every mark and you’ll forever be cleaning. A laminate wood door is better than a cheap solid wood door. Cheap solid wood doors can expand and break apart whereas veneer wood doors do not.
Quality versus Cheap Kitchens
OK, here’s the truth we never told customers. All kitchen units are cupboards with doors on. Simple as that. Buying a solid wood carcase (the bit behind the door) is madness, the MFC cupboard will be easier to clean and less likely to warp or distort.
A quality kitchen may well last longer than a cheap kitchen but most kitchens are replaced after 7 to 12 years because fashions change. I’ve ripped out perfectly good kitchens because they look old fashioned.
What does matter is door hinges, they’re a weak point, and drawers. Even cheap units nowadays come with drawers that will last many more years than the kitchen is fashionable.
Where to Buy A Kitchen
My advice is never to buy from the direct sales companies who don’t have a showroom but do have pushy sales people who have a wonderful offer if you buy right now. Trust me, tomorrow they’ll have an even better deal.
DIY sheds and chains can offer reasonable value but their fitting costs are enormous. They view installation as a profit centre and charge you an arm and a leg. I knew someone who had an MFI kitchen. Their “expert installer” was just 18 and his apprentice was 16. Well, I warned them and the job was as bad as I feared,
Bespoke specialist kitchen stores. They generally offer good service and top quality but you pay for that service and quality. You will probably find they’re very good on design though and you can get some great ideas.
Builder’s Merchants. These are where the trade go. Generally excellent quality and value and many offer a design service as well. They won’t fit it for you but they will be able to give you a list of good tradesmen you can select from. Our kitchen came this way and cost a third of the price one of the DIY sheds wanted. Don’t be afraid to haggle a bit, it’s surprising how often they will drop a price rather than lose a sale.
If you’re buying new appliances, shop around and keep energy efficiency in mind. Built in appliances tend to be half as much again as freestanding appliances. With a white kitchen, freestanding white appliances look perfectly acceptable. Don’t forget you can get stainless steel and coloured freestanding appliances now. Make your economy into a fashion statement!
Don’t forget to check the energy efficiency of the new appliances!
Tiles, Floors and Decoration
Don’t forget you’re going to need new tiles, possibly a new floor and to re-decorate. When you’re budgeting, don’t forget these things. Incidentally, specialist tile shops often have the best value and beat the ‘cheap’ DIY chain stores.
Gas & Electric
Ensure any gas work and new electrics are carried out by qualified and competent workmen. It’s not just the law but your life at risk.
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