How to create a luxury kitchen on a budget

Clever planning and savvy shopping can create a designer look without blowing the budget.

By Rachel Ogden | 28 June 2017

Clever planning and savvy shopping can create a designer look without blowing the budget.

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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. ‘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; ‘An island can be multipurpose, as there is the potential to include a hob or sink, plus space for storage and dining.’

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Surfaces Matter

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; ‘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.