How to plan your perfect kitchen

With a new year upon us, now is a good time to look ahead to the home improvements you want to make this year. For many of us, a kitchen update tops the list; but how do you go about planning your perfect kitchen and what should you consider? Read on for our top tips…

Work with what you have… Begin by evaluating your current kitchen. What do you like and what really frustrates you? If you’re happy with the layout as it is, don’t stray but consider which areas of your kitchen you use the most (usually the oven, fridge and sink) and make sure these are easily accessible in your new layout.

What do you need..? Thinking about what you want from your kitchen will help you in deciding everything from the layout to the appliances. For example, will you be using your kitchen solely for heating up ready meals or do you love to spend time cooking and experimenting with different dishes? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of work surfaces for this. Are you looking to make your kitchen the social hub of your home? Your might want to consider incorporating a breakfast bar or island with seating into your design.

Storage is king… Are you desperate for more space? Look for every opportunity to maximise storage when browsing kitchens. Be on the look-out for pull-out larders, sturdy pot & pan drawers, double-shelved cupboards etc.

Think long-term… Of course, you want to put your own stamp on your kitchen, but you also want to make sure it doesn’t date quickly. Should you want to put your house on the market in future, you don’t want the design choices you make now to have a negative impact on your property’s value. Cabinets in classic shades of neutrals, monochrome and grey will stand the test of time and allow you to get creative when it comes to paint, tiles and splashbacks; which are easier to update and most importantly, less costly!

Shop around… You may fall in love with the first kitchen you see but still go and look at some more so you can be confident in your decision. Also, factor in more than just the price: what finance deals are on offer? What’s the guarantee? And pay attention to detail when it comes to quality (read more on how to determine the quality of a kitchen). You can start browsing the different kitchens from the top UK retailers and comparing price, quality and finance deals today via our independent comparison tool.

 

2017 Kitchen Design Trends

With the start of a new year, there comes an abundance of new trends to get excited about. Here are our top kitchen design trends to look out for in 2017…

terracotta-wall-tile(Photo: Villa Mammerhills)

Terracotta

This 1980s favourite is making a comeback this year. Rather than a solid wall of floor of terracotta, this time around the trend is for feature walls with a matte finish. It’s a great way to bring a little warmth to your kitchen.

metallic-kitchen-trends-2017(Photo: Megan Winters Interiors)

Metallics

Replacing the pretty pastel shades that dominated the market in 2016, metallic are the new top trend for kitchen accessories. Think cool, crisp tones in particular such as silver and metals.

tuxedo-cabinets-monochrome-kitchen(Photo: Inman.com)

Tuxedo Cabinets

Who said all of your cabinets had to be the same colour? Mix it up with two complementary shades. Tuxedo cabinets are where your lower kitchen cabinets are darker, in contrast to lighter top cabinets and shelves. Opt for a classic monochrome combination or experiment with other subtle shades such as deep blues and grey hues for a modern twist.

multi-material-surfaces-kitchen-trends-2017(Photo: HGTV)

Multi-material Surfaces

As with tuxedo cabinets, 2017 is all about the unexpected when it comes to design. From work tops to appliances, search for surfaces with varying finishes and textures such as marble, stainless steel and gold, to add depth and dimension to your kitchen design scheme.

grey-kitchens(Wickes Milton Grey Kitchen)

Grey

Grey kitchens rose in popularity in 2016 and this year, they’re ready to cement their status as the new white. From dark grey contemporary styles to super-soft grey-hued shakers, you’re sure to find a kitchen in a shade of grey to suit your taste. Find more inspiration on 2017’s kitchen trends on our Pinterest board.

Now you know the trends to watch out for, browse the latest kitchens from the top UK retailers (and most importantly, compare their prices!) over on our website.

(Images from header sourced from Pinterest.)

Kitchen Finance Deals Explained

If you can’t afford to pay for a new kitchen in full upfront, then you’re certainly not alone! Thankfully, most kitchen retailers offer a number of flexible finance deals to help you spread out the cost. While many people don’t hesitate to shop around when it comes to finding the best price for their kitchen, we recommend you also take good look at the finance plans available as these can make all the difference to your final decision.

The types of finance deals can generally be broken down into three: interest-free credit, “buy now, pay later,” or a standard interest-bearing loan with fixed rate interest. Read on to find out what each plan offers to help you decide which is best for you…

Interest-free

This loan is exactly what it says: you pay no interest and the cost is divided by the number of payments or time frame agreed e.g. 6, 12 or 24 months – similar to a mobile phone contract. This is a fairly popular option as you can budget for a set amount each month to make the payments more manageable.

Buy now, pay later

Also known as a deferred interest agreement, this tends to be the plan that causes the most confusion.

With this type of plan, you tend not to start making payments for a set period, for example 12 months. (Look for phrases such as “take a 12-month payment holiday” or “buy now, pay 2018.”) More often than not, there will be a minimum spend required to qualify – usually starting at £1,000 but it can rise to £3,000. Once the initial period is up, you can pay the loan off without any interest charges (a small settlement fee of around £30 is usually needed.)

The most common problem here is when consumers forget to make the final payment on time. Once you miss the deadline, interest will be charged back to the first day of the loan – unsurprisingly, this can end up very expensive. Frustratingly however, retailers aren’t legally obliged to let you know when your interest-free period is almost up so this is an easy mistake to make. If you’re going down the buy now, pay later route, make sure you are clear from the start what the plan includes and the date for final repayment. 

Interest-bearing loan

Another option to look at is a fixed-rate interest loan. Here, a standard loan is offered over a set period such as 3 to 5 years with your interest fixed for the duration.

We check the finance deals on offer from the top UK retailers on a daily basis, including B&Q, Homebase and Wickes, so you don’t have to. You can find the most up-to-date details of each retailer’s finance plans on our website including interest rates, required deposits and repayment terms so you can secure the best deal to suit your needs.

 

Kitchen Design: How to get a Luxury Kitchen on a Budget

The festive celebrations can make saving and budgeting seem near impossible, but if you’re dreaming of a new kitchen for the New Year, don’t despair! It is possible to get a luxury feel to your kitchen without breaking the bank. Check out our top tips and you’ll be on your way to bagging your perfect kitchen before you know it.

diva-glass-kitchen-splashback-1

Diva Glass Splashback

It’s all in the detail… you can add a touch of luxury in an instant by selecting interesting and attractive shapes and textures. From curved work surfaces or textured wall tiles to colourful splashbacks or an eye-catching pendant light, there are so many ways to transform your kitchen without over-spending.

 pe361954

IKEA Metod Ringhult White High Gloss Kitchen

Think classic… Most of us live with our kitchens for at least a decade before considering a refresh, so it’s important to choose colours and styles you won’t grow tired of. Sophisticated monochrome is always a good choice: black and white cabinets are brilliantly versatile so you can incorporate quick updates to your kitchen with ease, such as a fresh lick of paint, to stop you getting bored.

cl_kitchen_carisbrookeivoryframed_roomsetmodel

B&Q Cooke & Lewis Carisbrooke Ivory Framed Kitchen

Add an island… If you’re blessed with a larger space for your kitchen, definitely consider fitting an island. High on the kitchen wish list for many of us, it will make your kitchen the envy of your friends. Not only will an island give you extra storage space, but it will also act as a sociable point where your guests can gather – perfect if you enjoy entertaining. You could even consider incorporating seating into your island design to cement your kitchen’s status as the hub of social activity.

homebase-sanvito-latte-fitted-kitchen-444948-1Homebase Hygena Sanvito Latte Kitchen

Choose stainless steel… The association of stainless steel with professional kitchens can immediately increase the perceived value of a kitchen. From the sink and oven to the kettle and toaster, there are so many stainless steel appliances, fixtures and fittings on the market that won’t blow your budget.

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Pick your kitchen wisely… Once you’ve found a kitchen that suits your style, don’t purchase it until you’ve searched the market fully and are confident that you’re getting the best deal. We’ve made the process super easy for you – simply head to kitchencompare.com and use our independent price checker to compare the costs of kitchens from the top UK retailers, including John Lewis, B&Q and IKEA.

What are your top tips for creating a feeling of luxury in your kitchen? Share them with us on Twitter: @kitchencompare.

5 Signs it’s time for a New Kitchen

Not sure if it’s time to think about getting a new kitchen? Do you think you could get away with a fresh lick of paint rather than a full refit? Take a look at our top five signs it’s time for a new kitchen to help you figure out where you stand.

Chopping boards are a thing of the past

Remember how nervous you used to be about scratching your work surfaces? If you’ve become so used to the chips and scratches that the thought of chopping vegetables straight on the worktop doesn’t faze you, it’s probably time for an upgrade…

There’s always a problem

If barely a week goes by without the washing machine leaking or the microwave going kaput, you’re long overdue a replacement.

Your cupboard doors have seen better days

If you can’t remember the last time your cupboard doors were straight or if they’re missing handles… or just missing full stop, it’s definitely time for a refresh.

You’ve started calling your kitchen retro

Whatever label you’re choosing, it’s unlikely that “vintage” kitchen is going to come back into fashion. Unlike clothes, cars and furniture people don’t seem so fond of collecting old-school kitchens! Don’t live in denial; start your quest for a kitchen you’re proud to show off.

You have kitchen envy

And not just the kind where you admire your friend’s new spiralizer or paint refresh. If you’re positively green with envy every time you watch a home improvement show or you’re so consumed with jealousy over your friends’ kitchens you can think of little else when you visit, it’s definitely time to treat yourself to a new one of your own!

Browse the latest kitchens from the top UK retailers and compare them by style and price using our independent comparison tool.

Kitchen Design: How To Avoid Fads

A kitchen packed full of the latest gadgets, appliances and design trends may seem like a dream but when choosing a new kitchen, it’s important to focus on the long term. Will those brightly coloured cabinets still look great in ten years’ time? Do you have space for an island or will it ultimately get in the way?

Do your best to avoid kitchen fads with our top tips…

Avoid super trendy styles

The kitchen is often the most expensive room to make over so you want to make sure it stands the test of time. Cabinets in neutral shades will stop your kitchen dating quickly. If you want to add a splash of colour, experiment with bolder paint on the walls – this is easier and less expensive to update when the shade is no longer in fashion.

Choose quality

The cabinets form the basis of your kitchen so this is where we’d recommend spending a little more of your budget. Look for soft-close hinges and drawers that open smoothly. Think practically when it comes to your work surfaces too. Glass looks ultra-modern and slick but only if you maintain it. Stains, streaks and fingerprints show up more easily on glass, so if you have young children or a busy lifestyle, you’re probably better off choosing a less high maintenance material like granite or marble.

Honour the triangle 

The triangle is the foundation of all good kitchen design. The three points to consider are the fridge, the oven and the sink – you don’t want to obstruct the flow between them as they are the most-used spots. Also, be careful when adding in a kitchen island – aim to allow at least one metre of space around it or your floor space will become too restricted.

Maximise storage

Don’t miss out on the opportunity for extra storage. The space above the refrigerator is one of the most commonly wasted storage opportunities: fit shelves here to make the most of the space. (See more kitchen storage ideas here.)

Don’t do it all yourself

The home improvement trend has seen many homeowners taking on the role of project manager. This is great for keeping costs down but it’s also important to know when to call in the experts. When dealing with gas, electricity and plumbing, you don’t want to risk potentially dangerous mistakes occurring. Handing over the job to a professional will ensure the project runs smoothly and give you peace of mind.

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to start searching for your perfect kitchen! Compare kitchens from the top retailers using our independent price checker.

Kitchen Installation: How To Deal With The Unexpected

The key to a smooth kitchen installation is first understanding the correct process (get clued up with our installation guide here.) Once you’re familiar with the process, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for any problems that may occur so you know how to tackle them.

We’ve compiled out list of the most common kitchen installation problems with a few suggestions on how to resolve them:

Delays

This is by far the most common problem encountered: your fitter takes too long to do the work. According to consumer law, you can expect a kitchen fit to be done within a reasonable timeframe or by the date you agreed with your fitter. Any completion date you agree is a contract by which you can expect the work to be finished. If your fitter misses the date, we’d recommend negotiating a new date in the first instance. If it becomes a continuous problem, do not hesitate to seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau regarding your consumer rights.

Remember: having a lot of work on is not a valid excuse as a fitter is expected to be able to manage their jobs to ensure deadlines are met.

Receiving the wrong kitchen

It shouldn’t happen, but it does: you order a kitchen and find some of the components received are different from what you ordered. If you order a wooden work surface for example, a supplier should not deliver a laminate one – it really is that simple. Again, consumer law is on your side here and if the item isn’t what you ordered or doesn’t match the description, you should have the right to return it and receive a refund.

When goods are faulty

When you purchase goods such as a fitted kitchen, they are required to be of satisfactory quality. If any components of your kitchen are damaged or faulty when you receive them, the trader is responsible for putting things right. The resolutions may vary but you can expect a refund, repair or replacement.

Finding a reliable fitter

Before deciding on your fitter, always obtain at least three quotes so you can be sure of the going rate and average length of time for the job. Reviews and recommendations from previous customers is always a great indicator of a tradesperson’s professionalism and reliability. Websites such as RatedPeople.com let you check out the ratings of tradespeople given by other homeowners. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your fitter for details of previous customers who would be willing to act as a reference for them and to see photos of their previous work. Quality fitters will be prepared for these questions to ensure you have total peace of mind with your decision.

It’s important to note that anyone fitting a gas or electric cooker must be suitably qualified. You can use the Electrical section of the Registered Competent Person website to find local electricians who are either ELECSA or NICEIC members. If you require a gas engineer, bear in mind that they must be registered by law to work with gas. Gas Safe registered engineers can be found via Yell.com or by contacting the Gas Safe Register. When the engineer comes to carry out the work, remember to ask for their Gas Safe ID number too.

Asking friends and family for recommendations is a good idea but make sure you also check out their accreditations yourself to ensure your fitter is fully qualified.

Have you experienced any kitchen installation problems not on our list? We’re always keen to hear your stories – Tweet us @kitchen-compare.