After 10 fabulous years in the industry, I can safely say I've learnt a thing or two. I've designed hundreds of projects & met thousands of clients; which means I've also been asked millions of questions. Some reoccurring, some quite odd & some totally out of the blue. In this time I've also learnt a lot about the way people shop for kitchens, & some of the mistakes they make a long the way. So today, please allow me, your industry expert, to give you, my top 5 tips for shopping for your new kitchen!
Above: Cosdon - Our German Hybrid Kitchen. Find out more by clicking the image.
On a big project such a new build or extension, always get the kitchen designer involved straight away. You have the luxury of being able to design the room exactly as you want it & it's important that we understand how the room will take shape. The location of fixtures such as doors & windows are important to determine how your kitchen will be designed, & we can advise you if it's better to place it one place or another. This way the build & the kitchen can be designed in conjunction with each other.
One thing to avoid is to have your house/extension built THEN to start looking at kitchen designs. If you do it this way round the services for water/gas etc will already be in place & your new kitchen will be governed by their locations.
I had a client once who wanted a new kitchen (in 2 weeks time) & wanted the design to suit his completed extension. Pushing aside the lead time, he'd already had the gas & water put in place (on opposite sides of a 4m x 4m room) & the concrete floor had already been laid. I designed the kitchen appropriately but the client wasn't happy about the outcome. The final kitchen area was too big & was pricing over his budget; but there wasn't a huge amount more I could do. I suggested other ranges & other layouts that didn't require as many cabinets but he still wasn't happy. He also didn't want to dig up the concrete floor to move the services because of the additional costs that were involved, which is completely understandable; but this now left him a tricky situation. He has a build, & a finished room, but he can't afford the kitchen to complete it.
If this client would have taken the time to organise his kitchen alongside the build, the kitchen could have been half the size, & the room could have included space for dining too. So make sure you take advantage of the building process & design the room the way you want it to be.
It can take a few weeks to get all your final details confirmed & arranged for a kitchen. So to avoid feeling under pressure & stressed out, work backwards from your desired installation date & give yourself at least 12 weeks to research, plan & order your new kitchen. If you have longer than this then great; start even earlier. I've had clients come to me before 1-2 weeks before they need a kitchen installing & it just isn't ideal for anyone. Most good quality, made to order products take at least 4 weeks to be produced & delivered (not including European brands that take around 10 weeks); so trying to find a kitchen in a couple of days will really limit your choices. You will end up having to visit suppliers that stock kitchens in warehouses ready for next day delivery. Usually builders merchants & trade counters.
Shop Around (but not too much)
Choosing a kitchen supplier can be difficult. If you fall in love with the first person/product you meet then that's amazing & you can continue to work with them. But if you're feeling unsure the best thing to do is to see 2-3 different companies if you need too. (Yes, I'm telling you to shop around!) Going to more than 3 companies can leave you feeling confused, exhausted & out of ideas, so try not to see too many.
I met a lady once who said she'd been to NINE other companies, & by the time she sat down with me she was all kitchened out. She wasn't even interested in her own project any more. It was quite sad to be honest because the kitchen space was beautiful. She was just totally burnt out from kitchen shopping, but it doesn't have to be that way. Luckily I was able to restore some excitement in her & we saw the project through together.
It's important that you warm to your designer because there is a huge element of trust involved when ordering a kitchen. So visit a couple of places if you need too & meet a few people before you make any final decisions.
Don't forget the Independents
Always visit a local independent designer/showroom while you're shopping. I know they carry a stigma of being really over priced but you'd be surprised at how competitive we can be (when comparing similar or better quality products). Independent designers & showrooms also tend to have really high standards of design & incredibly high standards of customer service. They work really hard to gain world of mouth & organic recommendations as smaller companies thrive on this; so they will normally go the extra mile to make sure every client is satisfied. So when you're shopping be sure to see both high street nationals & local independents. This way you'll get a really good idea of what's available to you.
Trust your gut
The ultimate decision will come down to design & quality, but also to your gut feeling. If you're not comfortable with the product, the service or even your designer; don't let them pressure you into paying a deposit. The decision is 100% yours don't let anyone or anything (ie offers & sales) pressure you into buying if you don't feel ready to hand over your money. The kitchen design & the offers will always be available. As long as you have all the information you need to make an informed decision then it's totally OK to sleep on it.
If you found this advice helpful, share it with friends that may find it useful too! & don't forget, have fun while shopping for your new kitchen because it really is as fun & as exciting as it seems!
See you next time,
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