Zoe contacted Mad About The House to ask for help with choosing a new kitchen that wouldn’t cost the earth:
Q: We are trying to refurbish the house and I am desperately in need of some advice and inspiration. We are in need of a new kitchen and, having done the rounds, are staggered by the costs. Things seem to have doubled since we last did this about eight years ago. I was wondering about buying cheaper cupboards and perhaps customising the details as you have done but would very much like some help with this.
A: I’m a big fan of customising the details so that you don’t end up spending a fortune to have a kitchen that looks exactly the same as the one next door. This will involve a little more effort on your part as you will need to shop around and hunt down what you want but it can be done. But you will end up with a kitchen that is exactly right for you and how you live/cook and not one that fulfills the designer’s/architect’s dreams. And I have seen a few of those.
I visited a friend’s new kitchen recently – shortly before it was finished – and she was annoyed that the cooker hood was set too low and banged her head every time she leant forward. She said that nothing could be done as it had been fitted at the required height between the two adjacent cupboards. I suggested that the chimney part could be cut down (as I did with my own) so that it could sit higher up. This was duly done. I make this point just to show that you can, usually, customise whatever you want. Don’t just assume something can’t be done.
So, the cupboards. Well frankly, why not go to Ikea, or Wickes, for your cupboards? The Ikea ones are guaranteed for 25 years, which is long enough for a kitchen I think. After that your options start. You can have their cupboard doors. An awful lot of people do. Or you can buy the plainest doors they have and ask your builder to spray paint them in any RAL colour of your choosing. Then you can change the colours as you wish. How about dark grey under the worktop and a paler grey on the wall cupboards? Or shades of green, or whatever colour you fancy?
Next the handles. I think you really should try and customise these as nothing gives away an Ikea kitchen like its handles. Now, as I have said many a time, I’m a huge fan of Ikea but this is about customising and personalising, so the handles must go. I have black leather handles on my doors but there are plenty of other styles to choose from. Try www.courtyard-accessories.co.uk. They have lots of choice at very reasonable prices as do www.hollowaysofludlow.com and this site has lots of choice for all sorts of useful things that aren’t just handles www.handles4doors.co.uk.
When it comes to kitchen worktops, I have already written about this in detail here. I like the idea of mixing your material to suit the purpose. I didn’t though! My kitchen has stainless steel worktops because in the end we felt they were best placed to take the abuse of hot pans, sharp knives and spilt wine. They are becoming very scratched which adds a rather lovely patina to them. You might feel differently but just in case they came from here , were a very reasonable price and templated by extremely nice and efficient people. We chose the extra thick worktop, which didn’t cost any extra and gives a slightly more luxurious feel to the kitchen than the standard thin one would do. A thick wooden worktop also looks great but that probably will cost more. This company also supplied the kitchen sink. Franke has really good quality sinks.
Taps. Always buy quality and don’t scrimp in this area. Mine came from here . There’s masses of choice. I wanted a pull out shower lever and I like the fact that it has two water settings – normal and spray. Just make sure you have already bought it before the worktop is templated.
Splashbacks. Glass is fabulously fashionable and equally expensive. But it does look great. Tiles are more usual and more affordable. I don’t have a splashback in my kitchen but I bought my bathroom tiles here. If you have bought cheaper cupboards then you can perhaps afford to have a bit of fun with the tiles. After all, this can really be a place to show off your style and personality. Rockett St George have just started stocking some gorgeous floor tiles, although as I mentioned in a previous post I used floor tiles for the wall and it was totally fine. Check with your builder first though.
Finally when it comes to the inspiration bit then Pinterest is probably your friend. Make a board, have a look at other people’s. Browse about and work out what you like and what you don’t like. Also buy magazines for a couple of months and rip out the things you like to make a more physical moodboard. Even you feel overwhelmed by choice and end up asking a designer for help, he or she, will probably be able to spot a theme in the pictures you present even if you can’t.
And finally, finally, if you do ask a designer for help don’t be scared of disagreeing. Make sure it really is about what YOU want and like and if you are nervous about something or feel that it isn’t quite right for you then don’t be afraid to say so.