Top tips when buying a new kitchen

Primo ivory gloss/American walbut German kitchen from Kutchenhaus

Buying a new fitted kitchen is something most of us do rarely – in fact, the average person will buy a new kitchen only once in ten years. So when we do make the commitment to upgrading or remodelling our kitchen space, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure we get the best possible quality and design for our money.

Here are our top tips for anyone preparing to buy a new kitchen:

Do your research

Before you move any further along the road to new kitchen ownership, it’s essential that you find out as much as you can about the options available to you. The more you know about kitchen components, materials, build quality and design, the less likely you are to be swayed by recommendations which aren’t right for you or your home when you come to speak to a designer. There is a wealth of information available online to help you with this, including kitchen blogs, consumer guides and reviews, downloadable product catalogues and kitchen retailer and manufacturer websites, so there is really no excuse for not doing your homework!

Work out what you can and can’t have

Is your kitchen space large and airy, or more compact? Is money no object when it comes to designing your dream kitchen, or do you have an agreed budget you need to stick to? These are all factors to bear in mind when you start planning your kitchen: it can be disappointing to have your heart set on a stylish central island only to discover your kitchen simply doesn’t have the space to accommodate it, or to lust after pure oak cabinets when your budget is low.

The good news is that there are compromises available to help you make the most of both your kitchen dimensions and your budget, and a design consultant who knows their stuff will be able to talk through these with you. If your kitchen is too small to accommodate an island, why not think about a stylish peninsula instead? Could an elegant oak veneer look just as good as the real thing? Always keep your options open and be willing to compromise if what you want isn’t possible.

Du white matt/Rio dark oak German kitchen from Kutchenhaus

Create a moodboard

Moodboarding is a technique for gathering together your design ideas and seeing which colours and textures will work well together. If you see something which inspires you – whether it’s the colour of a friend’s new top or the pattern on a restaurant napkin – try and get a sample (of the napkin, not your friend’s top!), or take a photo on your camera or smartphone if you have one. You can use the samples you collect to create a scrapbook-style board which will help you marshall your design ideas.

Moodboards can be physical or virtual: there are some great tools online for putting digital moodboards together which you can then save and share with friends. Services like Pinterest can be especially useful if you tend to find a lot of your design inspiration online.

Set your budget

Before making a shopping list that would make even a millionaire goggle, you will want to sit down and discuss how much you are willing and able to spend on a kitchen at this moment in time. Here are some things to take into account:

  • Will any structural changes be required to get the kitchen you want – for example, knocking down walls to create more space? If so, you will need to speak to a professional as early as possible to find out, firstly, whether these changes are feasible, and secondly, how much they are likely to cost. You can use these quotes to help set your budget.
  • What materials will you use for kitchen components such as flooring, cabinets, doors and handles?
  • Do you also need to purchase appliances for your kitchen – if so, which ones? Will these be integrated or freestanding?
  • What are your functional needs – lots of storage? Deep cabinets? Eye-level integrated appliances?

You may find you need to make some compromises to get a stylish kitchen within your budget. However, beware of false economy: purchasing lower-quality units and worktops may result in a saving now, but in a few years when the worktops begin to delaminate or cupboards to warp you will end up asking yourself if it was worth it. You may also find yourself stuck with a large bill for installation if you purchase time-consuming flat-pack units, which will cancel out any saving on the units themselves.

Shop around

It almost goes without saying that you will want to get quotes from a number of retailers to make sure you get the best deal on your kitchen. However, as usual it is “buyer beware”: prices for kitchens tend to vary widely, and usually when the price of a kitchen set looks too good to be true it’s because it probably is. Are there any hidden charges for design or installation? If the price quoted is a sale price, is everything included, or only certain items? Are the units solidly built out of high-quality materials?

Balance function and design

It’s easy on occasion to get so swept up in the design of something, you forget what it is that it’s designed to do! We’ve all sighed over magazine photos of perfect-looking home spaces like minimalist living rooms with pure white carpets and curtains, knowing full well they just couldn’t fit in with our lifestyle.

When planning your kitchen, think about your circumstances and make sure you choose the functions that fit as well as the design that dazzles. Pick a colour scheme that will work for you in the long term – those glossy neon pink cabinets might look bold and daring in the showroom, but will they give you a headache if you have to look at them every day? Make sure units are placed where they will be easy to access and not just where they’ll look most aesthetically pleasing. If you have limited time for cooking and cleaning, consider high-gloss units and laminate surfaces which can wipe clean in a jiff. If you have a lot of beautiful crockery you want to show off, open shelving might be a functional design element to consider. If you want your kitchen to be the social hub of your home, think about creating an open-plan space for you and your family to enjoy.

You should also think about who will be using the kitchen. There are hundreds of customisation options available for modern kitchens, including bespoke unit heights to prevent bending or reaching while preparing food; eye-level appliance integration which eliminates stooping; safety hinges which won’t damage little fingers, and slamproof soft-close drawers and cupboards (parents of teenagers will see why this is an advantage!). A good designer will be able to talk you through the customisation options available, ensuring you get a kitchen which not only looks the way you want but does what you want as well.

Focus lacquer, ivory ultra high gloss German kitchen from Kutchenhaus

Visit a showroom (or two!)

You can buy almost anything on the Internet these days and some kitchen manufacturers have now chosen to sell solely online, dispensing with the traditional showroom altogether. However, there is really nothing like visiting a real kitchen showroom to get a feel for the quality and design of the kitchens available. We recommend visiting as many as possible!

Kutchenhaus has over 250 complete kitchens on display in their seven UK showrooms – and as all our units are pre-built (not flat-packed), you can be sure that the units you see in the showrooms are the units you’ll get in your home. We’d love you to pop in and see us, or even book a design appointment with one of our knowledgeable consultants. Appointments are completely free, you’ll get a full quote and 3D mockup of your kitchen and there’s absolutely no obligation to buy.