If you’re after a one-of-a-kind kitchen, then going bespoke is the perfect solution, designed specifically with you and your space in mind.
Take your first steps towards a full makeover with our kitchen ideas
We've come up with the ultimate guide to buying a made-to-measure kitchen. And because it's not easy to know where to start when commissioning a bespoke kitchen, we've asked the experts to offer some simple guidance...
What is a bespoke kitchen and where do I start?
A bespoke kitchen means that it will be built around how you want it to work rather than you having to adapt your ideas to what is available off-the-shelf,' says Sam Hart, designer at Roundhouse.
Do your research first, so you’ll have a better idea of what you want before contacting any kitchen companies. Look at magazines, kitchen brochures, showrooms and online – Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of inspiration, and you might even want to take snaps of a friend's kitchen that you love.
Then put together a mood board of styles, colours, finishes and materials you like. Make a wish list of appliances, plus what you want from the layout, this will give you a good starting point for when you meet the kitchen designer.
'You may not know exactly what you want, but all this is a great starting point for discussion,' says Richard Moore, Design Director, Martin Moore & Company. 'If you have a floorplan of the room then that will be helpful, too.'
How much does a bespoke kitchen cost?
Prices vary considerably. A bespoke kitchen can start at anything from £18,000 to upwards of £50,000. Always have a plan of how much you want to spend at the outset - and be upfront about this – your designer can help you choose what you should invest in and where you may be able to save.
Once you've planned your kitchen, always get a written quote (not an estimate) as this is the final price you’ll pay. It should include a detailed breakdown of the work, materials, labour costs and the agreed timeline.
What's the best bespoke kitchen company to use?
Always choose an established company with a reputation for hand-crafted joinery, whether it’s a small independent or a larger specialist kitchen company.
Nothing is better than hearing about the company through word of mouth,' says Richard Moore. 'Ask family and friends for their experiences and speak to companies who provide a bespoke service in your area.'
Also ask companies if you can visit previous projects to check the quality of work and aftercare service.
'Involve your designer/cabinet maker from the word go,' advises Paul Walton, Senior Designer at Halstock. 'If using an interior designer, architect or builder, put your designer/cabinet maker in touch with them straightaway. It will avoid rethinks, saving time and money.'
TOP TIP: Trustmark.org.uk is a government endorsed quality scheme covering work carried out in or around the home – find useful tips, advice and an online directory of registered tradespeople.
How much design input will I have?
Finding a designer that you’ve got a rapport with can make all the difference. After talking through your requirements, measuring up and advising on what is and isn’t achievable, they’ll put together a detailed brief and draw up a plan.
Be clear about what you do and don’t want and don’t be afraid to ask questions – the more input you have at the design stage, the better.
Do you have any design tips for bespoke kitchens?
'Choose the worktop colour before the paint colour, it's a much easier way around in the long run,' says Karan Main, Director at The Main Company.
Take samples home to look at them in the light of the room, try to hold them the way they will really be, so the granite would be horizontal and the unit sample colour board be vertical, try to have your flooring sample on site at the same time if possible.'
Karan's other tip is to 'consider running down into a fitted settee or window pew at the end of a run if space allows to create an alternative social area to a breakfast bar.'
'Look at painting cabinetry or walls in a unique colour,' suggests Kiran Noonan, Marketing Director at John Lewis of Hungerford. 'Painted kitchens endure as a really popular option because they are so versatile. They can be adapted to suit pretty much any space, taste or style and are very easy to live with.'
'In large kitchens, group the main sink, bins, crockery and cutlery in one zone,' says Paul from Halstock. 'The fridge, dry food storage, hob, ovens, pans and utensils should be located in the 'prep area', but don't have the main sink too far from the hob. Consider what pantries and utility rooms will be used for.'
'Build in appliances – don't compromise on the quality of your appliances and keep worktops clear by creating a space for everything from food processors to bread makers. Work out where any 'extras', such as a chill blaster, vacuum sealer, boiling water tap, wine fridge or a second dishwasher, will go.'
How long does it take to plan, design and fit a bespoke kitchen?
Allow six months. It is a mistake to rush the planning process, which often takes longer than creating and installing a kitchen. But for a quick result, everyone involved needs to sign up to a fixed timeline.
What happens if something goes wrong?
Keep all paperwork (design briefs, quotes, plans and correspondence), so if there are any issues once your kitchen is fitted, it can be resolved amicably.
Choosing trades accredited by Trustmark, the Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA) or the Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installers (IKBBI) can help resolve issues, as you can approach them directly for a dispute resolution.
Avoid paying the full balance before completion and pay by credit card if you can, as it will give you extra rights if you encounter problems later on (for purchases over £100). Kitchen guarantees vary, but its worth checking with individual companies beforehand what theirs covers.
What is a semi-bespoke kitchen?
For a more affordable alternative, look at kitchen companies who can tailor existing ranges – such as Neptune’s Chichester and Suffolk kitchens - while not strictly bespoke, the furniture is still built to order and tailored to fit.
Best bespoke kitchen companies
This Framed Classic bespoke kitchen is painted in matt lacquer Farrow & Ball Manor House Grey and Strong White, and demonstrates how partnering grey paintwork with cool marble can create a classic look.
2. Life Kitchens
For an up-to-the-minute look, go for sleek flush-front doors in a chic charcoal and blush combo.
3. Harvey Jones
Keep it trad with these Arbor panelled doors in a smart bottle green. Harvey Jones has branches across the country, and is a good place to start if this is your first time going bespoke.
4. Martin Moore
Team classic blue and white for a timeless look.
Prices from £35,000, Martin Moore
Pair wooden worktops with a unfussy white-painted Classic English cabinets.
Follow our advice and you'll soon be cooking and entertaining in the kitchen of your dreams.
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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