How to buy a kitchen, from sinks to appliances

buying a kitchen

Buying a kitchen can be very confusing. Take it from someone who has renovated her own kitchen and spoken to copious homeowners for the KBB homes section. So I thought I’d break down each part of the room in bite-size chunks. This should help you create your dream space…

buying a kitchen
Buying a kitchen: this smart system puts storage centre stage and is a must for anyone who loves organisation, by Eggersmann

Kitchen cabinets time

With many different styles and options available, cabinetry should be one of the first considerations you make when buying a kitchen.

Most schemes feature carcasses, base and wall units with cupboards and drawers, as well as tall housings for appliances, such as a bank of ovens and integrated refrigeration.

a rustic design
Buying a kitchen: this Real Shaker kitchen by deVOL has enough space for an island. However, the owners chose a chunky wooden table instead. Use it to prepare food when required as well as provide comfortable seating. The Real Shaker kitchen starts from £12,000.

Research which style you like – from shaker to handleless. Not sure what to go for? Why not try out our kitchen cabinets quiz!

Then decide if you want to buy bespoke. This simply means the company make your kitchen to your exact requirements down to the very last detail. Or perhaps when buying a kitchen you’ll choose made to measure, or off the shelf. (This will largely be decided by what budget you have.)

Visit showrooms

Visit different showrooms, from the high street to independent stores, and choose the type of kitchen that suits your lifestyle and taste. You might get a good vibe from a certain designer as well, who suggests things you hadn’t thought of.

Once you have an idea of what you’re after, book an appointment to start on your scheme. Don’t be afraid to shop around and get multiple designs and quotes until you’re happy – that’s very important!

An island with sink
A Martin Moore kitchen in moon white granite. Prices for Martin Moore kitchens start from £35,000.

Don’t forget about worktops

Worktops are a key element of a kitchen. The shape, material, colour, finish and thickness of your chosen surface can affect the feel of the space as a whole.

Have a look at our guide to each material to get to know what might work for you. Take into account whether your house is a busy household, or if you’re a keen chef.

buying a kitchen
The Kesseler kitchen, Summer House Interiors.

FYI, they can vary wildly in price – from laminates and stainless-steel options to premium natural stone and hard-wearing composite materials. So take the time and care to ensure you are selecting the right one for you and your budget.

See your chosen worktop in the flesh before making your final decision – either from kitchen studios, showrooms, or by visiting stone yards. If this is not possible, ensure you order samples. It’ll be a disaster if you order something and hate it when it arrives, trust me!

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Shaker cabinets
Mark Lewis Interior Design chose Hand Grade Neston engineered oak wood flooring, from £272.34 per sq m, by Havwoods for this kitchen.

What flooring works best when buying a kitchen?

If you’re not sure where to start with flooring when buying a kitchen, look at the type of kitchen cabinetry you are having, and search out floors to complement them.

There’s a great article here explaining all the different flooring options for your kitchen. In a nutshell, porcelain or ceramic tiles are a pretty safe bet, seeing as there are hundreds of colours, patterns, sizes and textures available – while also being durable.

If you prefer the industrial look, think reclaimed wood or concrete. For something a bit more family-friendly, consider vinyl, which can easily withstand spills and heavy foot traffic.

Get advice from your designer, or research similar kitchens and see what they have done.

A contemporary kitchen-diner
The Roundhouse Urbo matt lacquer kitchen, from a project by Simon Whitehead Architects. Bespoke kitchens start at £35,000.

Buying a kitchen: choosing appliances

From height, depth, and width to functionality, aesthetics, and smart features, spend time researching to get the right models for you. They can be a very personal purchase.

For example, I love to host dinner parties, so knew I wanted two ovens and a large induction hob. However, I’m no gourmet chef – so I didn’t need models with all the bells and whistles.

Consider the space you have, and how you’ll be using it. For instance, a larger family might want extra-capacity appliances from fridges to range cookers. Find our guide to buying appliances here.

buying a kitchen
The Neptune Suffolk kitchen in the brand’s Cactus shade. A similar design would cost £12,000.

Buying a kitchen: everything including the kitchen sink

I know what you’re thinking – surely a sink is a sink? But, with so many available (yep – we have an article on that too!), there’s so much to choose from. Perhaps a small stainless-steel option paired with a boiling-water tap on a kitchen island – ideal for food preparation? Or maybe you’ll decide on a large white ceramic sink, perfect for family life.

In terms of basics, most homes have a bowl and a half option. This means a second smaller bowl offers that little bit of extra space. Double-bowl sinks are ideal for bigger families as well as larger kitchens, or those in constant use.

And who says it has to be white or stainless steel? Popular at the moment are black, grey, metallic, and satin finishes. But whatever you do, make sure it works with your tap.

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buying a kitchen
Prices for Falmec’s Vetra start at £1600 for the wall-mounted model and £2000 for an island design.

Getting cooker hoods and extraction right

When choosing this type of appliance, consider the essential features of design and extraction rate. Equally as important is installing the correct-sized duct, if necessary.

Ducted-out models work by removing smells, steam, and grease through an external wall to the outside – so installing these should be planned in early in the project.

buying a kitchen
“The Tom Dixon lights work really well as they pick up the marble-effect on the island worktop – and with the hob being flush, it almost feels like a table,” says Roisin. See more on this project here. Induction hob, Siemens; downdraft extractor, Elica.

The position of your hob, as well as its design and whether it is gas or induction, will dictate where your extractor will go and what model to get.

Remember, the bigger the room, the more powerful your chosen design will need to be. Also speak to your kitchen fitter or electrician to see what you need for installation.

a hot boiling water tap
The Insinkerator 4N1 Touch tao is perfect for those looking to remove the kettle from the worktop. Available from around £1249.

Kitchen taps

Kitchen taps are getting sophisticated – I’m talking pull-out hoses, flexi sprays, hi-tech features like built-in sensors to automatically switch water on or off for hands-free operation with a single swipe motion.

Or go one step further still ­– the thing that seems to be on every renovators’ wishlist when buying a kitchen: a boiling-water tap. These can declutter the worktops and can be used to quickly brew up tea and coffee, blanch vegetables, and run jars underneath to loosen the lids.

Don’t forget – it has to work with your sink too!

A design with a concrete worktop
A strip of pendant lighting runs the length of this island, designed by Uncommon Projects. This kitchen design cost around £87,000 for the appliances, kitchen and worktop.

Don’t forget about kitchen lighting

This is something that needs to be planned in the early stages of your project. Ask yourself, do any lights need to be grouped together and come on and off at the same time? Do you want them dimmable or controlled by remote or sensor?

It’s best to approach lighting in zones, starting with task lighting, which is for everyday food preparation and eating. Under-wall cabinet lights that shine directly on the worktop are a popular choice, or consider pendants over the worktop or eating area. Then, get into the party or relaxing mood by, including ambient illumination.

This kitchen features a long radiator
A Bisque radiator has been used to heat this large open-plan kitchen. Priced from £412.80.

I hope this has been useful – and good luck with your project! Save this page and keep it as your little kitchen shopping bible.

Feature image: The cabinets in this Pluck kitchen have different colours and textures. Prices start from £10,000.

Post updated on: 30/6/21

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