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.
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.
Often, it's not possible to get rid of structural pillars,' says Scott Nicholson, ‘but sometimes you can move them, and even shifting by half a metre can have a huge impact in some rooms. You can usually convert something negative into a positive feature if you deal with it imaginatively – try building a pillar into an island to create an architectural feature, for example. L-shaped and t-shaped rooms can be effectively split into zones, dedicating one leg to dining or storage, and keeping the working kitchen in the other. If you buy a property with curved walls, such as an oast house, it's usually because you like its style – ‘so make the most of its quirkiness with cabinets that follow the curves,' Scott advises. Even if this means that you have to buy more expensive bespoke furniture, you may not need a large amount of it to create a dramatic effect.
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