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High End Kitchens

We’ve all heard of the couple who spent more on their kitchen than the cost of a brand new luxury car, but what did they get for their money that they couldn’t have got for half that price? Did visitors know how much it cost? Did the owners frame the receipt and display it on the wall above the spice rack? Probably not, which begs the question, why pay more for a kitchen when you could get one for considerably less?

The Highs and Lows

How much would you expect to spend on a kitchen? £2,000? £10,000? The reality is that a new kitchen can cost anything between £1,000 to £100,000, with the average price being £8,000*. However, the most expensive kitchen to be launched in recent times is the Colesseo Oro by Marazzi Design with a price tag of, wait for it, £300,000. Gulp. But this is no ordinary kitchen. In addition to the 24-carat gold leafing on the units, the crocodile-embossed leather, the metallic Sub Zero and Wolf appliances and the Venetian ink-stained gold glass, the units and surfaces are finished with 12 coats of glittery lacquer and the lights are Swarovski crystal.

Not your average kitchen and certainly not aimed at the average buyer. The designer, Paul Marazzi, says: “I feel a kitchen should have a soul and presence, transforming the room into an emotional experience, a celebration of family life and convivial living, transcending the kitchen into the heart and soul of the home.” All very well, but should this come with a price tag exceeding what many of us would expect to pay for an entire house?

At the other end of the price scale, entire fitted kitchens, including worktops, units and appliances, can be picked up for under £1,000 (try the-kitchenfactory.co.uk). Ikea, B&Q , Magnet Trade, Howdens and Homebase all offer purse-friendly ranges and if you really want something with designer credentials, there are companies out there offering ex-display ranges from some companies held in very high esteem — The Used Kitchen Company had a Leicht kitchen, including worktops and appliances, for £8,950 at the time of going to press. Then there are also companies which supply kitchens ready to paint and fit, such as Pineland, whose average kitchen costs around £3,500 (pineland.co.uk). 

So Why Pay More?

Just what is the lure of higher priced kitchens? Is it simply brand snobbery? Or is there more to it? Andrew Langford, Marketing Manager at Second Nature Kitchens, whose kitchens start at £8,000 to upwards of £20,000, explains the advantages of using an independent kitchen specialist: “There are lots of reasons for you to consider an independent kitchen retailer. They are often family-run businesses and their local reputation is very important to them. Much of their business is from recommendations so high levels of customer service and getting the job right is imperative. They take the time to understand your specific requirements and can be surprisingly affordable.” So, perhaps paying a little more for your kitchen means better customer service and more in the way of advice.

But what about quality? Ikea kitchens, which can easily be purchased for £1,000 or less, come with a 25-year guarantee — which sounds pretty good, so surely these kitchens can’t be shoddy? Nicola Gosney at B&Q says: “We maintain low prices along with great-quality kitchens by staying on top of the latest trends and innovations. All of our kitchen cabinets come as modern flat packs which helps reduce their price.”

So a cheaper kitchen may require more input from the owner — something you wouldn’t expect when paying £10,000s. Mark Wilkinson, whose kitchens start at £35,000 and come with a lifetime guarantee, says that in terms of quality, you get what you pay for. “On lower priced kitchens, where the designer keeps cost to a minimum, they will use minimum-density particleboard for the cabinets, lower quality screws to fasten the hinges, handles and runners to the cabinets, and the cheapest possible drawer runners.” All of this means that, over time, doors will become loose and drawers will drop. “On our kitchens,” continues Wilkinson, “we use high-density particleboard, veneered on all internal surfaces, and screws specially made for us and tested to take 50 kilos of weight.”

There is also the matter of looks. Whilst the cheaper kitchens look great now, will they stay looking that way? Many strongly reflect the current trends and might not stand the test of time. They can also lack the individuality and detail that some of the top-end kitchens have in abundance — think curves, intricate carving and soft-close mechanisms. However, this is not a problem if you plan on moving on in a couple of years.

Some of the lower priced kitchens can look fantastic and if you are planning on moving on, then there is no need to spend a fortune. However, if your home is a home for life, it makes sense to pay more. As Mark Wilkinson says: “I want furniture that, once fixed into a house, stays there for many generations, I like classical rather than fashionable styles; styles that the grandchildren of the people who first had the kitchen fitted will still love. It actually spreads the initial investment over many decades and makes my ‘expensive’ kitchens real value for money.” 

Making Savings

Save in those areas which cannot easily be seen, namely the unit carcasses. These can be bought flat pack, for you to fit on a DIY basis, from £26 (try larkandlarks.co.uk). Worktops make up a big part of the finished look of your kitchen and so splashing out here is nothing to feel bad about. Even unit fronts can be an area to save on if you choose wisely and dress them up. Do not make the mistake of buying cheap fixtures, such as hinges and catches for your units — they will let you down in terms of durability. Many a cheap kitchen has come unstuck (literally) when doors fall off or drawers will not run smoothly. Most of us have an idea of what we want to spend on a kitchen and it is no good setting your sights on one that is out of your reach. Some of the best kitchens mix and match to get an individual look, good quality and durability at a good price. These kitchens often combine cheaper units with more pricy worktops or end panels and then ensure ‘wow’ with eye-catching details.

What’s Included in the Price?

  • Apart from the price you will pay for the units and worktops, you should factor in other costs (assuming they are not included in the price you have been given)
  • Installation is usually extra and can cost from around £250 up to £900. XX Then there are the appliances you will need — the washing machine, oven, hob, extractor, dishwasher, fridge freezer, starting at around £1,500 (based on budget buys)
  • Make sure you understand exactly what is included in the price you are quoted — what can seem like a good deal now may not seem quite as good once you realise that very little is thrown in for the price
  • Worktops, appliances, unit handles and even unit carcasses (which many people automatically expect to be included) are amongst the items often not included in the price, as are plinths, tiles and sinks.

In the Gallery

1. The Winchester from Homebase has a solid oak frame and is currently half price at £1,759 for eight units (homebase.co.uk)

2. The Gnosjo kitchen from Ikea. Prices for a door in this style start at just £8 (ikea.com)

3. Mark Wilkinson kitchens offer attention to detail and are built to last. They cost from £35,000 (mwf.com)

4. The Colesso Oro from Marazzi Design costs a mere £300,000 - perhaps not one for those watching the pennies

5. This cream Shaker kitchen is from Magnet. Prices are £308.50 per 600mm single base unit (magnet.co.uk)

6. Neil Lerner kitchens come in two pricing bands, with its Solutions range starting at £13,000 and its Designs range from £30,000 (020 7433 0705)

7. The Remo Beige kitchen from Second Nature. Priced from £10,000 (sncollection.co.uk)

8. This timeless Shaker kitchen from Harvey Jones starts from £17,000 (harveyjones.com)

9. The Zen Pearl Satin Glass kitchen from Über. A 600mm base unit costs £216.70 (01384 638700)

1 Comments

We have had a Smallbone kitchen fitted recently (owned by Canburg who also own Mark Wilkinson) in our flat, needless to say it was very expensive but the designs are fantastic. We had a Smallbone kitchen in a house when the Co. was owned by Charlie Smallbone and we have been really pleased with it. Our new kitchen however is a different story, a four week installation took 4 months due to poor workmanship and lack of detail. It had to be completely repainted, doors and shelves remade, mirrors replaced, they have no quality processes or checklists for handovers.
We really wish we had gone to a local craftsman, who not only understands design but quality of finish (probably a lot cheaper) as in the original Smallbone days.