The Zero Stress Guide to Kitchens


What You Need To Know Before You Buy a Kitchen

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Bespoke kitchens

Top tips

  • Check that the supplier is offering a genuine bespoke service
  • Timescales are significantly longer than for ‘off the shelf’ units
  • Bespoke designers often specialise in a particular style

A bespoke kitchen is the crème de la crème of kitchen design – and often has a price tag to match! It is true that you can pay tens of thousands of pounds for this ultimate kitchen luxury but there are also plenty of reasonably-priced options that fall into the ‘bespoke’ category.

Bespoke kitchens

‘Bespoke’ means ‘specially designed to the client’s requirements and measurements’. So if you have a unusually-shaped kitchen with, say, curved walls or beams, awkward corners or unconventional window positions, you may choose bespoke out of necessity.

If you want a kitchen that is a true one-off and different from any other this is the only option. For the biggest benefit of ‘bespoke’ is that you get units and furniture designed specifically for you – to fit your kitchen and to comply with your wishes. You don’t have to compromise in any respect. Your options are limited only by your imagination, the shape of your kitchen – and the size of your wallet!

It’s worth sounding a note of caution here. Beware of companies that apply the term ‘bespoke’ to a kitchen that is, in reality, put together from their comprehensive ranges of ready-made units. These come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and the resulting kitchen may well be unique but it won’t be bespoke.

If you’re not sure whether you’re being offered a genuine bespoke service, you can check it out by requesting an item that doesn’t appear in the company brochure. If the company can’t come up with the goods, it is not offering a bespoke service.

Like their more modest counterparts, bespoke kitchens come in a variety of styles that range from traditional, solid-wood designs to hi-tech, contemporary sophistication – and everything in between.

Most bespoke designers specialise in a particular style so it pays to do your research and find those companies that produce the style – and work in the materials – you prefer. Take time to talk to the designers and the workmen to satisfy yourself that this is a company you trust to translate your wishes into reality. Ask if they have any customers who would be happy to show you their kitchens.

When choosing your design and materials it’s wise not to be too swayed by fashion. What is the latest word in kitchens this year could look totally passé within 12 months or so. Unless you are in the fortunate position where money is no object, a bespoke kitchen is a major investment that is being built to last – and look as stylish in five or ten years as it did the day it was installed. Remember that once you have the basic kitchen fittings you can ring the changes and add those touches of high fashion over the years by changing colour schemes and furnishings.

Bear in mind that bespoke kitchens take significantly longer to produce and fit than ‘off the shelf’ units. Ask the company for a realistic estimate of the timescale – and be patient. Craftsman-produced items come at a slower pace than mass-produced goods!

Modern bespoke kitchens are every bit the technical equal of their predecessors. The wealth of materials available has not diluted the quality – the veneers and composites used are rigorously tested to very high standards and, of course, many companies still use traditional methods such as mortice and tenon and dovetail joints.

Although craftsmen of all types are a diminishing breed, it is sometimes possible to find a skilled individual who is experienced in the art of kitchen design and fitting. With relatively low overheads they can often bring bespoke kitchens within the reach of customers who might otherwise not be able to stretch to such luxury. They are few and far between, though, and usually found through recommendation – and, of course, if they are good they are booked up well in advance!

Whichever route you go down on your search for a bespoke kitchen, remember to follow all the rules that apply to any kitchen purchase and don’t allow yourself to hurried into making a decision. It’s a major investment and, as such, deserves careful consideration.

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