Clever planning and savvy shopping can create a designer look without blowing the budget.
InHouse Inspired Room Design (01661 842 304; inhouse.co.uk)
There’s no need to forgo a kitchen with designer style if you’re sticking to a tight budget. Choosing clever combinations of cabinetry, worktops, lighting, appliances and accessories will make it possible to create an expensive-looking space at a lower cost.
The key is to decide where you can save and where you need to spend. Cabinetry is the best place to start. ‘Many of the finishes in top-end kitchens are available from more affordable suppliers,’ explains Tori Summers, head of design at Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery. ‘Matt cabinetry, for instance, gives a high-end look, but a number of manufacturers will have options that can replicate this effect at a range of price points. If you love the look of timber, wood alternatives can shave pounds off the cost. Look for fronts that are made in sections to echo joinery and foil finishes that reflect the individuality of wood grain.’ Manufacturers may also offer ranges of doors that vary in price according to the thickness of the finish or material.
thickness of the finish or material. Another way to create a luxurious look is to combine made-to-measure doors with affordable units. ‘The wear and tear on carcasses tends to be low,’ says Ewald Van Der Straeten, director at Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects (07495 083 593; b-vds. co.uk). ‘Selecting carcasses that meet minimum requirements can be a smart way to save.’ Always view units in the flesh to check that they’re well made, and choose a minimum 16mm thickness, preferably with a warranty. Check that the working parts, such as hinges and runners are robust, too, as these will be in constant use.
Avoid filler panels and obvious gaps in your design. Some suppliers make furniture to specific sizes, or you could add a wine rack or a pull-out to give a made-to-measure look. ‘Consider investing in furniture with dual functions,’ suggests Pete Sherry, kitchen category manager at LochAnna Kitchens (01204 328 720; lochannakitchens.co.uk). ‘An island can be multipurpose, as there is the potential to include a hob or sink, plus space for storage and dining.’
Benchmarx (01372 385 915; benchmarxkitchens.co.uk)
Worktops and splashbacks have a big impact, so it makes sense to buy the best you can afford. Natural stone can be expensive if you’re opting for a type that’s richly veined or rare. Fortunately, there are composites and solid surfaces that will replicate the look. ‘Shop around for worktops from lesser-known brands,’ advises Bryan Turner, director and owner of Bryan Turner Kitchen Furniture (01953 601 567; bryanturnerkitchens.com). ‘Colour options and finishes may be more limited, but this is an area where you can make savings. Minerva, for example, comes in a strikingly good Carrara marble, yet is relatively inexpensive.’
If your heart is set on a luxury worksurface, you could combine this with a more affordable material, such as timber, to help stretch your budget. You could also add a splashback in an on-trend material, such as antique mirror, copper or tinted glass.
Welchome (020 7610 9108; welchome.co.uk)
Personalise your design
It can be tempting to buy everything from the same retailer, but don’t be afraid to source parts elsewhere. These are the elements that will help set your design apart from standard schemes. As well as one or two luxury appliances, such as a built-in coffee machine or instant hot water tap, think about including a relaxed seating area or integral dining table to make the space feel more welcoming.
Introducing colour is an effective way to boost the overall finish. Allwhite can look clinical, so try to include darker hues, such as charcoal, indigo blue or aubergine. ‘Ask your paint supplier which colours are popular, and invest in a good-quality paint that will be resilient over time,’ says Katie Fontana, co-founder at British Standard (020 7870 7688; britishstandardcupboards.co.uk).
Appliances can make a difference to the finish and cost of your kitchen. If you’re planning to have them on show, opt for good-quality brands; statement appliances, such as range cookers and American-style fridge freezers are perfect focal points and will help to lift the overall look of a cheaper kitchen. Alternatively, choose an inexpensive dishwasher and fridge-freezer and conceal them within your units.
Devol (01509 261 000; devolkitchens.co.uk)
Just as jewellery can elevate a simple outfit, the details of your kitchen will take it up a notch in the style stakes. A tap in an eye-catching finish, high-quality handles and beautifully patterned tiles are easy design updates that improve the whole room.
There are several budget-friendly design options that will add extra impact. Plain metro tiles are timeless and easy to mix and match, but also lend themselves to being laid in patterns, such as chevron or herringbone. Try including a statement pendant light or wall lamps. Layering your lighting will have a dramatic effect, so include plinth lights or undercounter strips to highlight features and provide ambient lighting.
Masterclass Kitchens (01443 449 499; masterclasskitchens.co.uk)
Words: Rachel Ogden