The kitchen is no longer just a food preparation area — it now has to act as multifunctional space, where family and guests congregate. As such, a new kitchen can take up a large chunk of your project’s budget.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve the kitchen of your dreams — there are plenty of affordable, quality ranges out there.
We share the nifty tricks for shaving the costs involved with this all-important room, while explaining where your cash is best spent.
Kitchens are predominantly made up of units or cupboards. A kitchen unit is made up of a ‘carcass’ and a door, or drawer fronts. The carcass is the part you don’t see when the door is shut, comprising the sides, shelves, back and base panels and so on.
Some companies sell entire units, fitted with doors or drawer fronts, while others sell the doors and carcasses separately. Others supply flat-packed kitchens, where you or your fitter assemble the whole thing and fix it into place.
Ikea’s Metod base units cost from £23, whilst the Bodbyn doors shown here start from £46.
At the cheapest end of the market lie standard, off-the-shelf kitchens, supplied flat-packed. Carcasses are usually made from melamine-faced chipboard or similar, and doors will be faced or wrapped in vinyl, PVC, laminate or melamine.
A good example of a flat-pack kitchen is the Dakota White Matt Slab kitchen from the ‘Ready-to-Fit’ range from Wickes. For as little as £408, you can pick up a complete kitchen, including carcass, door, handles and fixings.
While this type of flat-pack kitchen offers a very low price tag, it is important to look at the cons too. Any damage to the units will be difficult to repair, and you will need to factor in the time and costs associated with fitting it yourself.
For a cheap and quick kitchen update, consider just replacing the unit doors — or give your existing doors a fresh coat of paint.
Unpainted Timber Kitchens Can Save Money
If you are set on the idea of a timber kitchen, but have a tight budget, an unpainted kitchen is a great option, providing you are prepared to put in some elbow grease.
Companies such as Pineland will come up with a plan and supply a kitchen, assembled, yet unpainted. A 600mm unpainted base unit will cost in the region of £315.
Bare wood units need to be treated with knotting solution, primed, sanded and given a couple of coats of your chosen paint before you can even think of fitting them. On the plus side, any knocks and scratches can be sanded out and repainted.
Buy a Recycled or Ex-Display Kitchen
Companies such as The Used Kitchen Company have a huge range of ex-display and second-hand kitchens available for just a fraction of their original price — often around 50-70 per cent off their RRP.
Do bear in mind that collection will be your responsibility (you may have to dismantle it yourself), as will the fitting once you get it home.
It is also always worth asking in builders’ merchants and kitchen showrooms whether they have any ex-display kitchens available. Even if they don’t at the time, you can often leave your details for when they do.
A simple way to make a significant saving is to shop around for worktops. It might be convenient to use the work surfaces supplied by your kitchen company but online worktop companies, local timber merchants and stone masons often offer far better prices.
If you are looking at stone worktops, composite options are often cheaper. Another option is to mix and match. Splash out on areas where the worktops will have the most visual impact – island tops for example – and go for something cheaper in the areas that are more hidden away. Some timbers are priced very reasonably and providing they are properly treated and maintained should perform well.
Don’t be led astray by cheap laminate worktops. If you are choosing laminate, go for a high quality option — it is a false economy to buy something that is not heat or scratch resistant as they can’t be easily repaired and will require full replacement.
(MORE: Modern kitchen design ideas)
The cheapest kitchen sinks are usually made from stainless steel. While a ceramic or composite sink may be high on your wishlist, they tend to cost more and can succumb to scratches, damages and stains. There is a good reason why most commercial kitchens opt for stainless steel. You can always dress it up with a stylish tap.
If there is one aspect of buying a new kitchen that you should not skimp on, it has to be the quality of the fixings. It is these details that will ultimately dictate how long the kitchen lasts.
Wall hanging brackets: These attach wall cabinets to the wall. Good quality brackets should be adjustable and concealed.
Shelf adjustments: Look at the number of pre-drilled holes in the sides of the cabinets. These enable you to reposition your shelves at different heights — some of the very cheapest cabinets have less than three positions.
Hinges: Opt for the best hinges you can afford. Most kitchens come with soft-close hinges as standard, but if not, check how much more it costs to have them. Experts at Pineland say that a soft close hinge will add £20 per door and £35-£50 per drawer.
Choose adjustable hinges which allow you to tweak height and opening area of the door. Finally, choose a hinge which allows you to fully open the door and opt for a concealed hinge as opposed to surface mounted.
Adjustable legs: Base units really need height adjusting legs. These compensate for differences in floor levels and make the kitchen easier to fit.
Drawer weight limit: Check the weight limit of base unit drawers — some very cheap units will not hold the weight of heavy pots, pans and crockery.
Shop around for kitchen appliances. Plumping for those included in a complete fitted kitchen quote is rarely the cheapest option.
Bear in mind that built-in appliances such as fridge freezers and dishwashers usually cost a little less and you save on flooring as you do not have to tile underneath them (although you should ensure you have a waterproof covering below in case of leaks).
Kit Out Your Kitchen
If you’re looking to update your kitchen appliances, then check out these best buys from RealHomes.com
How to Dress up an Inexpensive Kitchen
Ikea’s Metod kitchen are here shown with Veddinge doors, which start from £13. Using freestanding open shelving is a great way to gain extra storage for little cost.
Customisation and attention to detail is crucial in getting the kitchen you want for £5,000.
Knobs and handles: While most standard kitchens come with handles or knobs included, you don’t have to use them. Select your own separately, from sturdy wooden knobs to brushed steel cup handles for drawers.
Worktops: Mixing and matching worktop materials not only looks great, but it can also save money. Using a more expensive solid stone for an island and more cost-effective timber elsewhere gives you the best of both worlds.
Lighting: Consider your kitchen lighting. Little touches such as inexpensive LED strip lights concealed beneath units brings the room to life.
DIY shelving and breakfast bars: Adding open shelving gives a bespoke finish, while building a simple breakfast bar with painted timber cladding is an easy yet effective job that will save money.
Adding a tiled splash back will add instant visual interest for very little cost. These Fomenter Geo Blue tiles from Tile Giant cost £45/m².
It is a fairly simple job to fit a kitchen on a DIY basis — particularly if you have opted for a flat-pack kitchen.
However, whether or not you decide to fit your own kitchen really comes down to time and DIY skills. Just bear in mind that a fitter will charge you anything from £250 for fitting pre-assembled units, up to around £1,000.
Buying a Kitchen Online
As with almost all products these days, searching the web is a quick and easy way to find a cheap kitchen.
It is quite possible to plan and order a complete new kitchen online, but unless you can go and see the kitchen in person, you will not know its true quality until it arrives.