Granite, composite and solid surfaces are all good investments as they are tough, durable and will give your kitchen a luxurious finish. Next, make sure your cabinets are of good quality. Don't be tempted to skimp on thin carcasses, as they'll not last very long. You want at least a 15mm thickness all round – if not more. Think about savings on your choice of doors. We can't all afford rich wood veneers, so why not recreate the same look with a laminate or PVC foil finish instead? Even hi-gloss doors come in different price brackets depending on whether they are lacquered or laminated. ‘While they all essentially look the same, a lacquered kitchen can cost considerably more than the laminate equivalent,' explains kitchen designer Paul Bagguley from In-Toto Batley. Spend wisely on appliances, too, buying the best oven and hob you can afford – but perhaps consider a less expensive brand for the laundry and do without the coffee machine and wine cooler. It's all about compromise if your budget is under strain, so make sure you spend on the things that matter – you can always add luxury small appliances and accessories in years to come.
Keep the feel relaxed with a large, sleek and glossy island unit. This prime example sits serenely at the centre of its light and bright surroundings, complementing the modern kitchen scheme beautifully. The island provides a welcoming place to sit, eat and talk, with its extended bar and matching dark-chocolate seating. Keep your island worktop clean and uncluttered and add a pop of colour with bright lampshades suspended above. If you've got the space, why be afraid to use it? At the heart of this spacious open-plan kitchen is an immense island with a glossy white worktop and dramatic dark grey Shaker-style cabinetry. This multifunctional unit has everything, including the kitchen sink! There's infinite space to prep food, abundant storage and even an integrated dining area. If you have a generous kitchen that craves a show-stopping centre piece like this, think big, useful and above all, striking.
An island unit has lots to bring to a kitchen design. It can provide extra prep space and form a boundary between the cooking zone and the living/dining area. A shaped island unit can also help direct the flow of traffic away from busy hotspots. Functions aside, the change of pace offered by a kitchen island often encourages a variation in material. You can afford to be braver here with a bolder finish or colour, or perhaps a more expensive material that would be prohibitive across an entire room. An island will define a kitchen, forming a division between dining and living spaces. For this reason, at least the facing part of the island should be in warm and welcoming materials to make a transition from efficient kitchen surfaces.
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