Buying a kitchen? Read this before doing anything else

Take it from someone who as A) done her own kitchen renovation and B) spoke to copious homeowners for the homes section in Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine, buying a kitchen can be a minefield of confusion. So, I thought I would break down each part of the room in bite-size chunks to help you create your dream space…

First up: Times have changed 

There’s no denying that the pandemic has changed not only the way we live, where we work, and how we socialise – it’s meant that we’ve had to adapt in other ways too – such as buying a kitchen.

Perhaps your first port of call will now be playing around with an online planning tool from the comfort of your own sofa, or your first consultation with a designer could be over an online call, rather than face to face.

This smart system really puts storage centre stage and is a must for anyone who loves things neatly ordered, byEggersmann

Why not prepare yourself by checking out our article on how to buy a kitchen in these funny times.

However, once things are back to normal, here are the basics you’ll need to think about.

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.

This Real Shaker kitchen by deVOL has space for an island, but the owners chose a chunky wooden table instead. It can be used to prepare food when required as well as 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 – which simply means your kitchen is customised to your exact requirements down to the very last detail – made to measure, or off the shelf. (This will largely be decided on what budget you have!)

Visit show rooms (when you can!)

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 important!

An island with sink

Moon white granite was chosen for this Martin Moore kitchen. Prices for Martin Moore kitchens start from £35,000.

Don’t forget about worktops

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

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

The Kesseler kitchen was supplied by 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 would be a disaster if you order something and hate it when it comes, trust me!

Shaker kitchen 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 in a kitchen?

If you’re not sure where to start, look at the type of kitchen cabinetry you are having, and search out floors that will complement them.

We have 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, or for something a bit more family-friendly consider vinyl, which can easily withstand spills and heavy foot traffic.

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

A contemporary kitchen-diner

This Roundhouse Urbo matt lacquer kitchen was designed for a project by Simon Whitehead Architects. Bespoke kitchens start at £35,000.

Buying appliances

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

For example, I love to host dinner parties, so I 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.

A green kitchen

This Neptune Suffolk kitchen, hand-painted in the brand’s Cactus shade. A similar design would cost £12,000.

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!), you can pick anything – from a small stainless-steel option paired with a boiling-water tap on a kitchen island – that’s ideal for food preparation – to a large white ceramic sink, perfect for family life.

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In terms of basics, most homes are fitted with a bowl and a half option, which 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.

A kitchen with extraction

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, the essential features to consider are design and extraction rate. Equally as important is the installation of the correct-sized duct, if one is needed.

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.

“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 is required 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 kitchen 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! And be sure to get in touch with me and the team if you have any questions. Or save this page and keep it as your little kitchen shopping bible.

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

Post updated on: 30/6/21

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  • Reply
    Karen Wallace
    27th November 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Lovely article ! Fantastic photos too – very inspirational !!
    There is always the option of designing with a freelance concept planner or independent kitchen designer , if you want to shop around with One Plan too . That way you can also compare like for like with companies.
    Saves you time, saves them time so should save you money AND you get a specific design to safely suit you and your space.
    Worth thinking about !
    Keep up the wonderful work !
    Kind regards
    Karen. ( at OnePlan )

  • Reply
    Matthew Parnum
    28th November 2019 at 10:11 am

    A great article with lots of helpful tips for starting out on your kitchen buying journey!
    At first it can all seem a little daunting but as a kitchen designer and business owner, I would say that a professional designer and kitchen retailer should assist you with making all of these decisions, and it’s never a case of one size fits all. There has never been more information available to the consumer in print and on line, so do your research and be honest at the outset with your wish-list and budget. The best kitchens are a result of a smooth collaboration between the designer and the customer working together. Investing in the best possible products will generally pay dividends in the long term, and not all kitchens are not all created equal.
    A new kitchen is not cheap and it could be your second or third largest purchase after buying property, and possibly your car. So find a company with a great reputation, and in my opinion the independent retailers will generally go the extra mile in delivering your dream kitchen, and they will treat you and your home with respect throughout the process.
    Good luck and the results are worth all of the effort!
    Matthew Parnum – ICE Interior, Lymington.

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