Be bold in a small space, with dark-wood kitchen units and bare white walls. If you can pare back cupboards to the minimum, you may find you have capacity for a table and chairs. This smart kitchen has a look all its own and demonstrates a very individual approach to kitchen design, making the space feel fresh and special. Turn a galley kitchen into a U-shaped kitchen by using the third, short wall to house an appliance, such as the range cooker shown here. Continue the run of wall units on this third wall for a defined, well designed space that makes the most of all available space without feeling cramped. This is helped by a predominantly white colour scheme tempered by the warmth of wood.
If you're planning a larger refit or build, you may also need Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval. Visit the Planning Portal (planningportal.gov.uk) for further information. Often your budget will dictate how much project management is needed. If you're buying off the shelf from a DIY store you'd expect to have to employ and co-ordinate an variety of craftsmen including builders, plumbers and electricians. A number of mid-price kitchen companies provide fitting services but often you'll have to get them to liaise with other trades for work outside their fitting remit. Always check with your kitchen company at the start about which services they can and can't provide. Even many bespoke companies will not undertake first-fit electrics or plumbing so you will have to co-ordinate these elements yourself. Some of the high-end bespoke companies do offer ‘turn key' services, where they will co-ordinate all building plumbing and electrical work but be prepared to pay a premium for this service.
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.
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