Putting a brand new kitchen into a house isn’t something we do on a regular basis.
It’s a big commitment both of finances and time, and if you get it wrong, you will have to live with a poorly designed kitchen until you can save up to replace it again.
Most families spend the bulk of their time in the kitchen and it’s therefore vitally important to spend lots of time on the planning and design part of the process to make sure you get things right.
Audit Your Current Kitchen
It might sound odd, but the best way to start thinking about your new kitchen is by looking at your current one.
Look past the cosmetic aspects like those 1970s tiles or the old-fashioned cabinets, and think about more fundamental aspects like how you can move around the kitchen, whether the cooker is in the right place or if it would be better located elsewhere, where the pipes and electricity sockets are, and whether you have not enough or too much cupboard space.
If the layout of your current kitchen is good, there is no point in changing things for change’s sake.
It will cost you more, and you run the risk of ending up with a kitchen which is less practical and easy to use than your existing kitchen.
Also think about what you might be able to reuse; although most kitchen design companies are going to want to sell you a complete package of cabinets, worktops and white goods, there is no need to replace a perfectly good fridge freezer or dishwasher if you don’t want to.
Search for Inspiration
It’s never a good idea to march into the nearest kitchen shop and agree to buy the first one you look at.
There is just so much choice out there on the market though that the decisions can be baffling.
Look around online at kitchens and retailer websites and start collecting ideas about things you like and features which you would like to see in your kitchen.
Pinterest is the ideal website for collecting all of your ideas together but don’t forget the old fashioned methods of cutting pictures out of magazines and collecting them in a folder.
Once you have collected lots of ideas together it should be easier to narrow down the vast array of kitchens into the ones which are most appealing to you.
Set a Budget
Before you set foot in a kitchen showroom, have a firm idea of how much you are willing to spend on your new kitchen and equally firm ideas of how you are going to pay for it.
Remember that as well as adding in the basic costs of buying your new kitchen units, tiles, worktops and flooring you will need to also factor in costs for any plumbing work which has to be done, plastering, electrician fees and lighting, and any other incidental costs like buying new crockery or artwork for your kitchen walls.
These costs can soon mount up, so keep a record of everything you are spending and make sure things don’t spiral out of control.
Many of the larger kitchen companies will offer finance packages which will allow you to spread the cost of buying and installation of your kitchen over several years. If zero percent finance is on offer, this is a cheap way of financing your new kitchen.
Even if interest is being charged for the finance option, it can still be cheaper to take the retailer’s credit option rather than putting everything on an expensive credit card or personal loan agreement.
Get Help With the Design
Most of the larger kitchen retailers offer a free design service where you take them the measurements of your space and they suggest potential layouts.
Of course their aim is to sell you their particular range of kitchen cupboards and appliances, but few showrooms charge for their design service and you are under no obligation to buy anything from them after they draw up plans.
If you have the time, visit a few different designers to get their opinions on the best designs for your kitchen and then either choose the plans you like the best as a starting point, or take elements from a variety of different designs and then put them together to come up with your ideal kitchen.
Once you have settled on your final layout, you will have a better idea of how many cabinets you need, how much plumbing work is likely to be needed, and can start calculating how much flooring and how many boxes of tiles you will need to have.
A designer will also be able to help you with the practical aspects of design such as how many sockets to have and where to locate them.
White kitchens have been hugely popular in recent years, and before that, we all embraced wooden country kitchens.
Coloured units are currently fashionable, and it’s easy to be seduced by glossy red cabinets or orange work surfaces.
It’s vital though to remember that fashions change quickly, and going for a kitchen which is achingly fashionable at the moment might mean that in two or three years you’re stuck with something very dated.
Colour in the kitchen is no bad thing, but if you want that bright red or lime green, think about adding something like an acrylic splashback or painting a feature wall as this is far easier to change when fashion moves on.
Think About the Timescales
It sounds obvious, but remember that when you are having your kitchen replaced, you are going to be without cooker and other kitchen services for a certain period.
Bigger companies have more manpower which they can devote to your installation, keeping disruption to a minimum, but smaller firms may offer a more personal service and more flexibility.
Getting a new kitchen represents an investment of several thousands of pounds, so do your homework by researching local kitchen fitting companies and getting at least three quotes for the work before you commit to going ahead.
Always get all quotes and prices in writing, and never pay in full up front.