The expert’s guide: What you need to know before you buy a kitchen

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JD Kitchens
JD Kitchens

The days of the kitchen being the domain of the ‘help’ and utilitarian are long gone. Now kitchens are the heart of the home, used for evening entertainment, work and family rooms. 

It’s probably the most expensive room in your home, so it is certainly worth putting the time in to get it right first time. 

The choice is wide-ranging, it can almost be baffling. Traditional, shaker style, clean lines and then there’s the offers, how do you suss out what’s real and what you’ll pay for down the line anyway?

Here Dave Charlton, owner of JD Kitchens, shares his tips. They’ve been established for 17 years, and specialise in Schuller, Next125 and Mackintosh

The questions you should ask when you buy a kitchen

What questions should you be asking when you’re traipsing the family around the showrooms on a Saturday afternoon?

“A good kitchen should last you at least 17 years, and even then, we think it should still look as good as new – in fact we’re now being contacted by the people that we installed their kitchens for in 2002. There’s nothing wrong with them physically, they just want a change, so we’re refitting their old kitchens as utility rooms.” 

  • Explain how you hope to use the new space

Are you a busy family that has homework to consider whilst you’re getting on with the evening meal? Do you have a dog that needs to have their own space – yes, we’ve designed around the pooch before!  

If you and your partner cook equally, but you’re short and he’s tall – would it help if your cupboards could pull down so you can get rid of the step, or have different height worktops to both work comfortably? How about waist height dishwasher or washing machine to make life easy for both of you?

  • Have an open mind

A great designer will work with you to bend and flex ideas and come up with something that you might never have imagined! 

  • Open up

More often than not these days we’re removing walls between the kitchen and dining room to open up the space and create light and flexibility.   Can your kitchen company project manage this too?

  • What’s the latest in extraction?

The great news is that the new Neff extraction systems are low noise and can even simply filter your air when you are not cooking. 

We rate the Neff induction hob with integrated extractor. It’s a sleek way to ensure you’ve got design and functionality ticked off your wishlist, and with no bulky overhead extractor its sleek and stylish too. 

  • How sustainable is it? 

As well as the clean lines that you’d expect from a company that specialises in German engineered kitchens, we’re also talking to our customers about sustainability.

Schuller and Next125 kitchens are award-winning for their environmentally friendly production methods, and timeless kitchens that will last the test of time.  Whilst products like the Quooker Cube with its three in one fizzy water, cold-water filter and boiling water function save on single-use plastic and save energy too. It’s amazing.

  • What about the technology?

This is the most exciting and dynamic development in kitchen design, and just keeps getting better. Just this month Neff have launched their new range which come with an App. So you can switch on the cooker and change the temperature on the fridge from wherever you are. 

Whether you’re looking for bread proving drawers, chef standard equipment or just simply want an oven to throw your micro meal into (surely not!) the tech can be built in. Gadgets galore! 

Finally some tips for you

  • Don’t sign up before they’ve done a home visit

All too often we hear that the costs of a kitchen have risen, simply because no one had been out to do a site inspection before the plans and price were agreed.  Done right, the price you’re quoted should be the price you pay. 

  • What’s the aftercare like?

The last thing you want is to spend thousands on your new kitchen and be left with something you’re not 100% happy with. Members of KBSA provide each of their customers financial protection for your deposit and six years warranty on the fit – even if the company are no longer around. We love offering this to our customers. We call it peace of mind.

JD Kitchens, 4 Gorsey Lane, Warrington WA1 4PE , www.jdkitchens.co.uk. 01925 636997

How it works in a real kitchen – by JD Kitchens

Collier Kitchen 

The Brief 

This is the home of a busy couple with two young children and a 2. 4 family with much loved, and very large dog! They’d inherited the dark and impractical builders’ kitchen, with limited workspace. And found it a challenge to move around the space together, particularly during busy mornings, when the dog is at its liveliest! They desperately wanted a complete redesign to provide:

  • A practical, robust kitchen with dynamic cooking and food prep areas
  • More light into the dark and dreary kitchen
  • Flexibility of the dining area, with choice to adapt it for larger family occasions
  • More storage
  • Create and design a new boot room with access from the kitchen 

The Solution

Our first challenge was to redesign the space so that it met with the clients’ needs for flexibility of use and improved natural light.

JD Kitchens
JD Kitchens

We removed a walled archway that separated the dining room from the kitchen, to make the existing floor to ceiling window a principal feature, and increase the natural light available to both rooms. 

We then created a doorway into the existing garage, half of which was subsequently converted into a functional boot room (not included in this design spec). 

The couple wanted a stunning design feature at the heart of their kitchen but needed to ensure it was durable and practical for family life.   To meet their aspirations and match the prestige of their property, we installed an island using the largest possible single piece of 20mm Dekton (quartz, glass and porcelain) worktop measuring a weighty 3220 x 1440. With no joins or wastage, we certainly made the most of this beautiful and expensive material. 

Set into the Dekton clad island is an 80cm Neff Twistpad Fire induction hob, whilst two pop up plug sockets and USB ports provide further flexibility for its use as a home/work space and baking prep area.   Extraction and air quality filtering is maintained overhead, in a bespoke bulkhead that accommodates the motor and brings the extractor closer to the cooking area to maximise efficiency.  

Instead of traditional tiling, we designed the kitchen vertically, installing full-height recess cladding with a rail system continue around the kitchen, freeing up worktops for aesthetic and practical purposes.

Wraparound end panels and lava black grip ledge profiles provide dramatic effect and give the illusion that the worktops are floating, whilst matching plinths bring cohesion and quiet elegance and sophistication to the room.

The kitchen was designed with an aesthetic approach, with gentle grid lines and handless features providing structure and interest to the ergonomic, clean design lines. The black plinths both complement and contrast with the concrete and grey units, whilst beechwood accessories bring warmth and further depth to the design.

JD Kitchens
JD Kitchens

Every cupboard and deep drawer was carefully considered for storage, ergonomics and aesthetics. The tall fridge unit was mirrored with matching height cupboard doors which bely the range of drawers hidden behind.

Extra height tall units were installed to maximise the storage available in the kitchen and remove dust traps, reducing cleaning times.  Even the more practical elements of the kitchen, such as the Quooker fusion round tap and one and a half bowl sink are stylish and considered.  

One of the key requirements from the customer was to ensure that the new dining space was flexible and worked well ergonomically in the open plan space. We innovated and designed a dresser in the same materials as the kitchen, but at reduced depth to increase the floor space.  The dining room now has flexible storage, natural light and the flexibility to seat up to 12 people.  

The whole family are delighted with the flexibility of their new home. Even the dog gives his tail a happy wag, knowing he has plenty of room to move around! 

JD Kitchens, 4 Gorsey Lane, Warrington WA1 4PE , www.jdkitchens.co.uk. 01925 636997