Before you start shopping for a bespoke kitchen or even considering a renovation, make sure you read the following guide that our team at Holland Street Kitchens has put together. It takes you through the step-by-step process of making key decisions about your new kitchen. Including what you should consider before approaching a kitchen designer, how to select the right company, how to select the right products and what to expect during the actual kitchen renovation.
Let’s start by bringing some clarity to the notoriously confusing term ‘bespoke kitchens’. Nowadays, the word ‘bespoke’ is frequently overused as there is no clear guideline to what it does or doesn’t apply to. For us at Holland Street Kitchens, this means no set sizes, pre-made stock templates or ready-made cabinetry. Instead, we start each kitchen project completely from scratch and figure out how to make the best possible use of the available space – while creating beautiful cabinets which neatly store every pot and pan.
Is it worth investing in a bespoke kitchen? We believe that it is. Having a kitchen which is designed and precisely configured around your space (and not vice versa) makes a huge difference, especially if you need to work with irregular dimensions. We have been working with local homeowners in London for over ten years and have seen our fair share of unusual, quirky and tricky kitchen spaces. They are usually the ones for which bespoke solutions are the only way to get the maximum use out of their kitchen area but also can increase the value of the property and make it more attractive for future buyers.
Everything you need to consider before visiting the bespoke kitchens designer
Part of a kitchen designer’s job is to ‘get inside the client’s head’ in order to create a kitchen plan that makes the best use of the available space, looks great and seamlessly works for you and your family. The following exercises will help you gain clarity to know both what you want and need from your kitchen space. Not to mention – they are quite fun!
Create a ‘dream kitchen’ list and divide what is a ‘must-have’ and a ‘nice-to-have’
When planning aspects of your new kitchen, it is easy to keep adding to the list without considering how much space you actually have available and how it will all fit in. However, feeling excited about the project is very important. Therefore, we recommend you to start by allowing yourself to write down every single idea you have. Did you always want a marble kitchen island, a wine fridge for your collection of reds, or a breakfast bar which has the perfect height for you? Write it all down and make a list.
Now, come back to the list a couple of days later and start assigning a number to each item based on its importance, where ten is a must-have and one means you can happily live without it. While marking, keep comparing different item’s numbers and feel free to modify until you are completely happy. Put on side items which ranked under seven then divide everything above eight between ‘must-have’ and ‘would-be-nice’. The trick is that by assigning the numbers to your kitchen ideas and comparing them, it forces you to use the analytical part of your brain rather than the emotional part. The result is – you will be more likely to make your decision faster and be satisfied with the result.
List everything you need to store – from kitchen appliances to the last pot and pan
The next list we recommend you make is of everything you will need to store. Start from larger appliances and work your way down to cookware and tableware. List down all your favourite glasses and mugs, cutlery, knives, utensils, storage containers, etc. Continue by assigning items in each section to a number between one and five based on the frequency of use, where five means you use the item every single day (like a mug), and one means you use the item only occasionally. A great example would be a roasting pan for a Christmas turkey or a baking tin for birthday cakes. It will help your kitchen designer come up with a more personalised kitchen cabinetry design where you have everything important at hand.
Consider different bespoke kitchen storage ideas
Good kitchen designers will always advise you about the best storage solutions. However, as there are so many different ways you can store the same items, it is good to have an idea of what you prefer and what you like or don’t like as it takes the guessing out of the process. As a starting point, visit our Pinterest board, where we have some of our favourite kitchen cabinet ideas and pin away!
Think about how you cook and make notes of your kitchen workflow
There are many aspects that will shape the way your future kitchen is going to look. The space you have available, what would you like to have in your kitchen, which materials and styles you prefer. However, one of the most important aspects is how you like to cook and how you move around your kitchen – simply your ideal kitchen workflow.
It is essential to take time to examine how you interact within the space, as that allows your designer to create a kitchen layout that is intuitive and seamless for you. We, at Holland Street Kitchens, think this is one of the most important aspects of a truly bespoke kitchen. Start by consciously observing how you move around in your kitchen. Anything, which doesn’t feel smooth or creates unnecessary interruptions (e.g. bin too far from your chopping board) goes straight to the list of ‘things that annoy me in my current kitchen’.
Compare different bespoke kitchen ideas and define what is it that you like
Creativity knows no bounds and when it comes to kitchen design ideas, this is no exception. From rustic farmhouse kitchens to sleek contemporary style kitchens, there is so much to choose from – plus you might like a combination of aspects from multiple styles. Add in the pressure of knowing that you need to select a kitchen style which you will still like in ten years and no wonder many people get stuck. Let’s take it systematically and start by defining what different kitchen styles and types are available.
Depending on how in-depth you go in defining each kitchen style, there could be over 50+ different, more or less established kitchen styles. However, the following six types are the most popular ones, which are a good starting point for your search.
Often referred to as a ‘contemporary kitchen’, it is one of the most popular styles worldwide. It is defined by strong horizontal lines, sleek and simple hardware and uncluttered open spaces. It keeps ornamentation to the minimum, which both highlights the quality materials used and remains timeless.
Also called ‘classic kitchen’ it is an umbrella term for a variety of different styles which take inspiration from the past and encourage ornamentation, in order to create an individual character for the kitchen. Some popular examples include shaker kitchens and Georgian or Victorian-inspired kitchens.
Frequently called ‘farmhouse kitchen’ or ‘rustic kitchen’ it’s main features include wooden cabinets, traditional-looking appliances, rustic worktops and traditional style knobs and handles. The idea is to create a space which feels warm, comfortable and lived-in like a weekend at a countryside getaway.
This type of kitchen is all about scaling back to keep the space clean and uncluttered according to the mantra ‘less is more’. Colour palettes are often monochromatic with the occasional pop of natural texture or greenery. There are versions which are more sleek and contemporary, whereas Scandinavian inspired kitchens are more rustic with organic materials and dry textures.
Inspired by professional kitchens, its most recognisable features include exposed brick walls or pipes, open shelving, overhead pot and pan racks, monochromatic colour palettes (except for red sometimes used as an accent) and various other industrial-inspired accents and accessories. The Industrial kitchen style imitates the restaurant look and therefore ages remarkably – some argue, it even gets better with years!
Formed by combining various elements from several other kitchen styles, eclectic kitchen looks unique
and different every time. Think traditional shaker kitchen in modern colours or an industrial concrete worktop in a rustic style kitchen etc. If you are thinking of getting a kitchen that looks eclectic, we recommend getting kitchen designer early in your planning process as without their steady hand it can quickly turn from effortless into a chaotic riot of competing elements.
How to find inspiration for your bespoke kitchen design
Pinterest is a fantastic tool for modern scrapbooking as it allows you to keep all your ideas in one place and even invite others to comment and contribute. Start by creating a new board and saving any images you find inspiring. You can always start pinning from one of our Pinterest boards, where we already curated some of our favourite kitchen ideas. But don’t limit yourself to only to the images that are already available on Pinterest! You can also upload to your board images that you saved from various other websites. Here are some of our favourite ones, where you can find inspiration for your dream kitchen:
- Ideal Home
- House Beautiful
- Good Housekeeping
- Elle Decor
- House & Garden
- Country Living
- Architectural Digest
- Real Homes
- Homes & Gardens
Once you have created a board with at least 30 images, go back to each one of them and think about what made you add them to the mix. Is it the colour of the cabinets? Did you like the tile used for backsplashes? Or rather the worktop stone? Write notes next to your images. It will help you to precisely identify what you are looking for in your new kitchen look.
Elements to consider when planning a bespoke kitchen
Many different aspects will impact the way your new kitchen will function and look. A good kitchen designer will help guide your selection in order to create a beautiful looking kitchen which is a joy to use. We have listed the most important aspects to consider below, together with overviews and helpful links.
Before deciding what style of kitchen cabinets you should choose, determine what cabinet carcass material is the best for you. Kitchen cabinet carcases are well-built wooden boxes that provide storage and have attached cabinetry doors. They are invisible most of the time however, this is often where the real quality is as premium materials can provide more stability, strength and longevity.
Materials used for mass-produced kitchens include MFC (Melamine-faced chipboard), MDF (Medium-density fibreboard), which sometimes have timber wood veneer in to create a more high-end look. While solid wood is often discouraged due to common issues with warping over time, plywood is a tremendous material used for bespoke kitchens. It is very stable and virtually indestructible. That is why our team at Holland Street Kitchens build only from premium quality FSC certified birch wood, to create cabinets which not only look beautiful but also stand the test of time.
When it comes to choosing the right kitchen appliances, there are many factors to consider – price, quality, performance, and design, just to name some. Large kitchen appliances tend to fill a large part of your kitchen budget; therefore, it is a good idea to take time to research what the best kitchen appliances are for your home. We recommend starting your search at one of the product review portals to get a better understanding of what you need and how much you should expect to spend, then take it from there:
- Good Housekeeping – Product Reviews
- Expert Reviews
- The Wirecutter
- Serious Eats
- Best Reviews
You will quickly notice some brands repeating as they are recognised for their distinguishable qualities. The ones we successfully used in our past projects in include AGA, Lacanche, Sub-Zero & Wolf, SMEG and Miele.
When you cook, the chemical reaction causes small particles of water, oils and food to separate, leading to a release of moisture, grease and various aromas in the air. In order to prevent these from building up, it is crucial to put in place proper ventilation that will take care of the problem. There are three different types of kitchen ventilation systems – a ventilation hood, a range hood and an exhaust fan. Based on what stovetop you have selected, the kitchen designer will be able to recommend you the one which is best for your home.
We have recently published an article which talks more in-depth about how to choose the perfect stone kitchen worktop. However, if the stone is not a material that fits within your kitchen style (or budget) other popular choices include: hardwood worktops, composite worktops, laminate worktops, but also glass, Corian, stainless steel and concrete.
Frequently referred to as ‘kitchen jewellery’, handles and knobs help establish the style and mood of your kitchen space. Again, there is an abundance of different materials, styles and finishes from which you can choose. However, don’t only look at the style. Make sure that the handles and knobs are good quality and easy to handle for everyday use.
There is so much to cover that we could write a whole post about this topic alone! Having a great lighting scheme for your kitchen that will separate areas to create different ambiences can make-or-break the project. Make sure your kitchen lighting plan includes the general light to illuminate the room, task lighting for cooking, but also mood lighting for your dining space.
While kitchen flooring can sometimes come as an afterthought, it is likely the largest surface area in your kitchen and as such, it deserves careful thought. The most popular approaches are to either match it with your worktop or create a contrast – either with colour or finish (matt or gloss). You can choose from a wide spectrum of different flooring materials and finishes. The most popular ones include porcelain and ceramic tiles, stone flooring, hardwood flooring, engineered wood or laminate flooring, but also bamboo, concrete, linoleum, or rubber.
‘Backsplash’ refers to a space between the countertop and kitchen cabinets. It usually starts at the sink and frequently stretches to the entire length of the counter. Their purpose is to protect the wall from any water damage. However, it also creates an opportunity to inject into your kitchen some personality though your selection of materials, colours and textures. There is a vast number of different materials and finishes from which you can choose, but we recommend to decide on the colour of your kitchen cabinets and worktops first.
Selecting the right sink for your kitchen can not only enhance its functionality but also tie together its look. The most popular material for kitchen sinks is stainless steel as it is heat resistant, stain-resistant and comes in a variety of different styles and finishes. Composite granite or fireclay are other popular choices for kitchen sinks since they both look incredible and are highly resistant to scratches and stains. Other materials you can select from include: cast iron, natural stone, quartz or copper.
Kitchen taps are another key element of your kitchen functionality. You can find quality taps starting from about £35 with some high-end ones coming up to several hundred pounds. Considering how frequently will you be using it, it is worth a little bit of investing. Modern taps often include advanced water purifying systems and can even disperse boiling water. There is a vast range of different designs available on the market which can enhance any kitchen style.
Bespoke kitchen renovation – frequently asked questions
Do I need a builder?
Yes! Whether or not are you moving any plumbing or electricity, you will need a builder to prepare the kitchen shelves before cabinetry can be installed and appliances connected. Our team at Holland Street Kitchens has an in-house contracting team of trusted plumbers, electricians and builders, who can undertake the entire project from the initial design to the completion of the build. Whether it is simple kitchen reconfiguration or complex kitchen extension, our clients have a dedicated construction project manager who takes clients through the entire build process.
Do I need planning permission?
Unless the kitchen is part of house extension, planning permission is usually not required. There could be some exception if your house is a listed property, in which case you should consult with your local planning authority.
Why get a bespoke kitchen?
Our passion for made-to-measure hand-built kitchens is based on the simple question of why should you settle for an ‘off-the-shelf solution’ when you can have bespoke?
Choosing the right partner for your bespoke kitchen renovation
Starting your kitchen renovation is when you really appreciate having the right partner by your side as delivering great work is only one part of the task at hand. When selecting the right kitchen company, it is vital to choose somebody who helps you to navigate all critical decisions, is transparent about the cost, transparent about timelines and keeps the hustle of the kitchen renovation process to the minimum. That is why our team at Holland Street Kitchens goes one step further and offers not only beautiful hand-built kitchen cabinets but also an option to save you time and take care of the entire process – start to finish.