The ultimate guide to designing a bespoke kitchen

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Remodelling any part of the house for the first time can be a daunting task. For every choice you make, you have to consider how a room will look, function, and affect your budget. These considerations are especially important for the kitchen — the average Brit will spend three years of their life cooking, so this is a room that needs to be customised for you and your lifestyle.

This is why so many see designing a made-to-measure bespoke kitchen as the way forward. In doing so, you can collaborate with expert designers to tailor every detail, from the layout to the work surface and appliances. If you are unsure where to begin, look no further: this is our ultimate guide to designing your dream bespoke kitchen.

  1. Get inspired

Before you approach a designer, it can be helpful to have a clear vision for the room that you want them to create for you, and research is the all-important early work to prevent any upsets further down the line. Firstly, you’ll want to find your aesthetic. There are a number of places to look for inspiration, such as designer brochures, social media, magazines and websites. On their site, kitchen fitters Harvey Jones list a number of classic styles that are popular in remodels — such as Shaker, Arbor and Linear — with each design providing the foundation for customisation.

Visit showrooms to look at these various styles in-person and determine which you like the most — do you prefer a sleek streamlined finished or more intricate detailing for example? Different cabinetry and work surface options will have varying finishes, so take this opportunity to feel for the texture and quality of any selections.

Once you have an idea of the style you’re after, platforms like Pinterest can help you to create a mood board for potential colours and materials.

  1. Think about your needs

Next, think practically: what are the essential ingredients for your perfect kitchen? No, not the kind you’ll find in the cupboards, but components like the appliances, seating, and storage space.

At this point, you might want to clear out any unused crockery and tools that have been filling your drawers, so that they have no unearned influence on your new design. Once you have a blank canvas, consider what you use your kitchen for and put together a wishlist. For example, if you have a large family, you’ll need plenty of seating, and maybe even an extra fridge — whereas if you’re into your cooking and food prep, you might consider space to fit pot filler taps or a chill blaster. A list of your essential ‘needs’ and more luxury ‘wants’ will help your designer understand exactly what to prioritise in your remodel.

  1. Select a layout

Similarly, your lifestyle will dictate the kind of layout that’s best for your kitchen. Take all the essential measurements to understand the square footage you have and how much of it you’d like to commit to cabinetry, worktops, and open space. There are some common layout themes that are worth considering, based on how you plan to use your kitchen:

  • Galley kitchens are long and narrow with a central aisle, ideal for those with limited space. 
  • U-shaped kitchens feature three walls lined with your cabinets and appliances, leaving a wide central area for worktop space. 
  • L-shaped kitchens are composed of two functional cabinet and appliance walls, leaving floor space available for seating. 

Of course, a handcrafted kitchen means that all your fittings will be made to measure for your space — so the layout can be as classic or unique as you like.

  1. Choose a professional kitchen company

Now that you have a plan for your kitchen, you can shop around for the company to design and install it for you. When making the final choice, select a reputable business with a strong portfolio of previous work. Start by asking your friends and family for recommendations. This way, you can hear first-hand how the company works, and take a look in-person at their end result. Online, look to websites like TrustATrader and TrustMark for customer testimonials and photos to help inform your decision.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s a good idea to visit the workshop for a no-strings consultation, to learn about their design process, from planning to execution. Each will work to a different timescale and with varying levels of collaborative input, so compare the initial meetings and go with the best fit for you.

  1. Crunch the numbers

At this point, there’s likely to be one factor on your mind: cost. Unfortunately, premium comes at a price, and builds can vary wildly from £10k to £60k for larger kitchens. This is because the expenses of tailor-made cabinets, worktops and fitted appliances add up (not to mention those incurred from a surplus of tea and biscuits for your builders!).

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. A high-spec kitchen will add value to your home, giving a substantial return on investment if you can stomach the upfront cost. The Property Centre advises that you budget up to 8% of your house value when remodelling the kitchen, for up to 10% of value increase when it’s complete.

Whatever the budget, it’s vital that both you and your design company are working from the same number, so that they can allocate your money appropriately. Before building begins, you should receive a quote for the full process, with a detailed breakdown of where each cost is coming from. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to a hitch-free bespoke build that fits your needs.