I’m sure you’ve read plenty of other guides that proclaim to offer the ‘top 10 tips’ for something or other, that, in the end, turn out to be lists of highly generalised, unhelpful statements about things that you already knew i.e. “Remember to set a budget, and stick to it!”, as if you were deliberately going to set a budget and then do your utmost to spend more than you intended.
So today, I hope to outline some helpful pointers that you may not have previously considered when buying a new kitchen, some might be obvious at first, but they’ll lead in to more interesting and useful territory as you read on.
First, design your kitchen for timeless style and the future, not fashion. Most of us are aware that kitchen fashions come and go; we don’t want to be spending thousands on a kitchen that will last a decade when its fashionable style will barely make it to the end of the year. This is reasonably obvious. The point I’m trying to make, is that kitchens are expensive, and given how long they last… you will probably want to update and change it. So if you latch on to a fad fashion, your chances of getting matching, or at least similar doors and accessories is unlikely. If you stick to say, a type of style like a minimalist, colonial or rustic one, in five years’ time it’s more likely that you will find parts of other kitchen ranges that you can blend into your own; this is particularly important if you decide to upgrade from an oven to a much larger range cooker, or switch to other appliances where much of your kitchen will need to be hacked away or replaced to accommodate it.
Be wary of kitchen gadgetry! The really keen consumer will likely attend a number of kitchen shows and showrooms before deciding on a kitchen. During that time they’ll probably see a myriad of gadgetry that looks great at the time, and they’ll want to add this to their own kitchen; one example of this is the ‘Intelligent Fridge’ that was supposed to order your groceries for you, warn you when you were running low on some items and more. Intel said that ‘it will rule the roost’ back in 1998, whilst The Independent reported on it in 2000 to say that they’ll become a mainstay in future homes. 11 years later, is it that popular? No. In fact many would argue that it went the way of the dodo. They cost some $3,499, that’s £2,248.84 to you and I. Why pay that when you can get a modern fridge freezer for under £1000, and buy a special case that allows you to stick your iPad or tablet to vertical surfaces? This would provide you with greater functionality, for a lower cost and you can move the iPad or tablet around the kitchen while you cook or clean. The lesson here is to think about the alternatives and wait… not all innovations catch on.
Define your capabilities! If you’re a god cook, or genuinely want to be a good cook, the quality of your appliances will matter greatly to you. Many typical modern kitchen installations will usually come with a free or discounted appliance deal that will fit nicely into their kitchens. For some, these appliances simply won’t do and this complicates things; as the kitchen is usually built to take particular unit sizes. It is therefore important to discern whether you want to buy the quality appliances first, and built a dream kitchen around them… Or buy a new kitchen and take whatever appliances will fit it. If you go for the latter, and find you want the former after the kitchen has been fitted, you’ll be very sorry. Again, if you stick to the first point, you could always substitute bits of similar styled kitchens in to accommodate new fittings and then just replace all of the cabinet doors with one type.
Go to shows! I’ve worked in the kitchen industry for years and yet, nearly every show I go to shows me some new kitchen innovation that I had never previously imagined. Many of the people we speak to talk of having viewed a kitchen showroom, picking a really nice kitchen to have installed, only to see their dream kitchen at the same or lesser price elsewhere. Shopping around and doing your research is important; new innovations appear first at shows, i.e. the Ideal Home Exhibition, 100% Design and the Grand Designs road show. When they do, it takes a while before they are widely publicised and so going to shows is the best way to find out about new kitchen innovations. This is also particularly good, because many exhibitors will sell off their display items for less than the retail price to avoid carting them back to their warehouses and many others provide discounts to people who wish to get quotes from their stands.
Experiment with materials! Lately, a range of innovative materials have hit the kitchen industry that have allowed for all kinds of miniature revolutions. Corian is one such material; it’s incredibly hardwearing and can be moulded into practically any shape or texture, allowing for glossy scratch-proof surfaces and worktops that seamlessly includes sinks, features, ridges and other useful elements of design. To show case the possibilities, the inventors of Corian teamed up with the designers of Disney’s TRON to create incredible, futuristic home interiors purely out of the one material and an extensive use of blue LED lighting. It’s not uncommon to source amazing Corian features and work tops and then ordering separate units from say, a German Kitchen and then combining the two. Honestly, look up the ‘Corian / TRON’ exhibition it’s something special.