Examine the range of options and prices open to you when looking to renovate your kitchen, from budget to bespoke, to find out what new cabinetry and appliances will cost.
Image: Roundhouse Design
Buying a kitchen is a big investment with the average cost coming in at around £10,300, according to home design website Houzz. The site’s kitchen trends survey of nearly 5,000 respondents also revealed that 49% of us budget between £5,000 and £20,000, 19% spend less than £5,000 and 18% splash out more than £35,000.
But, apart from the price, what are the differences between buying a budget-friendly kitchen and investing in a one-off design?
According to market researcher JKMR, 44.5%of us will head to a DIY store, out-of-town retailer, or trade supplier to buy a kitchen. In this area of the market, prices start from as little as £1,000 (excluding appliances), with an average spend of around £8,000. At this price, units are machine-made and come in standard 300mm to 600mm widths. Often you’ll find there’s a choice of entry-level and more high-end appliances available from the same retailer.
Check that the carcasses are constructed from at least 18mm melamine-faced chipboard (MFC), and fitted with quality hinges and runners for durability. IKEA's kitchens include Blum fittings, which have a 25-year warranty. for example. Most budget door and drawer fronts are made of MFC or medium-density fibreboard (MDF), faced or wrapped in vinyl, laminate, melamine or veneer.
Many companies offer an in-store design service at the very least, but you will need to take your own measurements as home visits will not be part of the deal. Request several design options to cover all layout possibilities. If your budget allows, choosing more expensive worksurfaces, taps and handles will upgrade the look of the kitchen.
Flat-pack v ready assembled
Flat-packed furniture costs less than ready-made units, but the potential extra cost of assembly and installation should be taken into consideration when weighing up the pros and cons of either option. ‘Ready assembled designs are professionally finished prior to delivery, making them easier and quicker to install,’ explains Julia Trendell, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery.
Some DIY store flat-packed units can be taken home immediately. Otherwise, delivery only tends to take a few weeks, and installation can be arranged either through the store or independently. According to JKMR, 27% of people buy through a trade supplier, such as Benchmarx or Howdens. To do so, you’ll need to hire a contractor first, as purchases must be made via a trade account.
Further ways to buy on a budget include online suppliers and upgrading carcasses with custom-made doors. Abigail Ahern x Herringbone Kitchens offers a ready-made, modular kitchen from £5,000, which is supplied primed ready for painting. Investigate companies that create new doors in diffferent styles and more luxurious finishes for the carcasses of budget kitchen providers such as IKEA and Howdens. Try Custom Fronts or Husk, and expect to pay from £1,000-£6,000.
Image: Custom Fronts
If you have around £10,000-£20,000 to spend, there are a whole host of brands, some available on the high street, producing cabinet ranges that are hand-built to order and customised to fit your space. While not truly bespoke, because materials and styles will be limited to the ranges on offer, these tend to have a good choice of fixtures such as worksurfaces, internal fittings and lighting to choose from.
Carcasses are built from materials such as birch plywood or MDF veneer. Door fronts can be made from a range of materials including timber, wood veneer, birch plywood, MDF and high-grade laminate.
Access to an experienced designer, showroom consultations, site visits and a measuring service are all part of the package, and the fees for these services may be included in the total cost of the kitchen. The company should provide a complete experience and aftercare service, better suited for those not looking to have to manage the renovation. Delivery lead times will be in the region of 10 to 12 weeks.
Read more: 9 design ideas for better kitchen storage
Image: Mowlem & Co
When commissioning a one-off design, the kitchen is built to your exact specifications and precisely tailored to the space. All the cabinets are individually crafted, taking into account any structural anomalies and architectural features in the room. The client has a great deal of control over every aspect of the design, which will be unique to the project and of the highest quality.
Hiring an architect or interior designer is one way to do it. They may charge fees by the hour or day, so establish the level of service you want early on, from a design proposal to a complete project-management service providing detailed drawings, specifying suppliers and appointing contractors.
A specialist bespoke kitchen company is another way to go. Prices start at around £20,000, rising to more than £50,000. The process involves several meetings with a dedicated designer, and contractors making regular site visits.
Select an established company with a proven reputation for quality craftsmanship and materials. It’s also wise to use the company’s own fitters and, in many cases, there may be no option to do otherwise, especially when installing luxury or innovative materials and products.
This will not be a quick process. ‘Allow six months,’ says Iain O’Mahony, director for research, development and special projects at Smallbone. ‘One month for research, one month for the design and approval process, three months to build and one month to install.’
Many high-end, bespoke kitchen suppliers offer collections that adhere to the same design principles and craftsmanship as their main ranges, but on a supply-only basis. Sustainable Kitchens’ timber and ply Honest Kitchens and Mowlem & Co’s online Kin by Mowlem are two examples that include the option to customise units.
It's also possible to buy pre-used designer kitchens at a much lower price than from the original suppliers. Brands such as Used Kitchen Exchange buy kitchen cabinetry from luxury homes where the owners are replacing good quality kitchens for a new design. While you're limited to the cabinetry in its existing form, these brands still have design teams to help you design a layout and install the pre-owned kitchen in your space.
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