I have always had my builder make my kitchens as i have never had the budget to use a specialist kitchen company and have never wanted to buy one ‘off the shelf’. If you have a good joiner and your kitchen plan is fairly simple, there is no reason why this is not possible, especially if, like me. You prefer the non-built-in look.
I find wall-fitted cupboards make the room heavy and i end up never using anything that is in them. i much prefer open shelves – although you have to be strict about not cramming them with stuff.
My kitchen has very little in the way of actual cabinetry. I have open shelves under my counters and the rest is mostly appliances hidden behind integrated doors. If you are using a standard kitchen from a company such as howdens, it is good to mix it with a custom counter;
A two-inch-thick corian or wood counter will elevate it from the ordinary. I also love formica;
We recently made a black formica worktop for a client, which was incredibly smart and well priced. Make sure you opt for a shiny finish with edges at a sharp 90-degree angle – i cannot bear a bullnose edge.
When determining your kitchen’s layout, think hard about how you will move around it.
You need to make sure that the dishwasher and bin are on either side of the sink.
I love the cutlery drawer to be away from the main action, (the stove and the sink) and ideally close to the dining area.
So it is easy to access for laying the table without anyone getting in the way of the cook or the person washing up.
I also like separating the hob and the oven. My hob is on a stand-alone counter with shelving underneath for the saucepans. I prefer to give an island a different treatment to the rest of the kitchen to save having acres of the same surface – mine is painted a different colour and has a stainless-steel top instead of corian. You might also choose to have an island higher than your counters to make using it more comfortable.
Visually, the most important thing is for the kitchen to be in keeping with the rest of the house. you don’t want to go into your kitchen and feel that, rather like mr benn, you have gone through a door and arrived in a foreign land.
A kitchen can feel slightly alien if a specialist kitchen designer is working on it in isolation to the rest of the house, so it is important to remain involved in all the details. Check the elevation drawings carefully.
As an example, kitchen counters come in a standard height to accommodate appliances. So make sure you know how they will fit with your windows and alter your design if necessary.
Do not feel you that have to have the entire package straight out of a brochure. You can bring your own style to the party: hang art, choose patterned tiles and interesting pendant lights rather than spots, hang wallpaper and leave space for furniture – a vintage dresser can look really great, even in a modern kitchen.
The french house and decorative collective are good sources. There are plenty of opportunities to grab back some personality while creating a slick, modern kitchen.
Rita’s picks: What to put in your Kitchen
‘Ideal for putting together your own kitchen.’ Stainless steel hob, ‘px140’, by linea, 39.5 x 100cm, £689, from smeg.
‘I love the wallpaper-like pattern of these.’ Terracotta tiles, ‘1903’ (bordeaux), £305 a square metre, from made a mano.
‘Much pricier than the smeg hob, but it does it all and is so beautiful.’
Stainless steel ‘alpes kitchen island unit’, by alpes inox, 92 x 132 x 125cm, from £15,485, from the conran shop.