BESPOKE HANDMADE KITCHENS: FINDING THE REAL THING.
15th March 2012
Negotiating the minefield
In an age of information overload and the incessant demand for instant gratification, it is not surprising that consumers rarely search beyond the first page on the major search engines. Sadly, the first page of the search results for general terms such as handmade kitchens and bespoke kitchens tend to be full of companies specializing in how to appear on the first page, rather than experts in the field of bespoke handmade kitchen design. There are many despicable and fraudulent ways to appear high in the rankings, so the first page is not a good starting point. For generic searches, start at page at page 20 and work back. Alternatively use highly specific search terms; for example, 'beautiful bespoke kitchens uk' . This approach will throw up more specialized companies who's emphasis is on the quality of the product as opposed to search engine ranking.
Beware The Brands
People tend to trust brands, particularly during a recession, perhaps in the belief that they represent integrity, quality and a safe pair of hands. With bespoke handmade kitchen design this could not be further from the truth. Apart from paying for the presentation and not the product, the brands are simply not flexible enough to cope with individual idiosyncratic desires, preferring to sell a more rationalized product rather than offering a true bespoke service.
Small is beautiful in every sense of the word. Only a highly specialized small bespoke kitchen furniture making company can provide a personal service flexible enough to cope with every imaginable permutation within a bespoke concept.
Choosing The Right Bespoke Kitchen Company
Having trawled through the sea of mundane, prosaic lookalikes, you may have been lucky enough to find one or two companies specializing in highly individual handmade bespoke kitchen design. This is the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole project, but well worth the effort, in the long run it will save you a great deal of money and heartache.
Demand an original design, a true one off, the only one of its kind. This will test their true metal, a genuine company will look on this as an opportunity to be creative and relish the chance to come up with an original handmade bespoke design rather than selling you on the usual commercially produced nonsense. Look very closely at very aspect of the work, if its not made by hand and it looks similar to everything else on the market, simply walk away.
Designing to suit the architectural peculiarities of the property, along with considering the practical and emotional needs of the client is an absolute prerequisite to a successful bespoke kitchen design. Close liaison between the client and designer is imperative at the design stage. This fusion of practical client requirements and professional know how on the part of the designer is the hallmark of a true bespoke kitchen.
Always get involved at this stage, don't be shy, this is your dream.
Choice Of Wood
Always insist on wood from the U.K. or Northern Europe, the colours of which suit the light conditions of the U.K. perfectly, and you can also rest assured that it is from managed forestry. Avoid tropical wood, you can never be sure of the source.
The choice of wood used depends upon three factors :-
Type and age of building - For a 16TH century farm or manor house, English Oak would be the ideal choice. This would harmonize with, and reflect the structural elements within the building. For a Georgian or Victorian house a closer grained fruit wood could be used like Pear or Cherry giving a more sophisticated feel. For contemporary buildings Sycamore would be an ideal choice because of the pale colour and lack of discernible grain.
Available light - Dark woods like Walnut can create dramatic effects especially in open airy spaces with plenty of daylight but in small areas with low levels of daylight, always choose a light wood.
Client Preference - Always the most important consideration and eclipses all of the above.
Choice Of Worktop
Wood - The most beautiful and authentic of all work surfaces. Wood is naturally warm and has a timeless traditional quality, but never goes out of fashion. The ultimate wooden surface for the kitchen is Sycamore, used traditionally in milking parlours because of its sterile nature which prevents the proliferation of bacteria. Very close grained and hard, the Ivory colour reflecting light perfectly. Maple is a good cheaper alternative but Oak should never be used for kitchen worktops it is far too open grained.
Granite - The most robust of all work surfaces and far more practical than wood, particularly around the sink and cooking area. Dark Granites are great for adding drama but also absorb light so not so good for kitchens lacking natural daylight. Light Granites will reflect light, adding greatly to the light intensity of the room, so good for small kitchens. Available highly polished or honed. Polished granite has greater colour intensity, but honed Granite is more natural and subtle.
Marble - Far more beautiful than granite, although considerably softer. Only two marbles are suitable for kitchen worktops, pale Carrara Marble and the dramatic dark brown Marrone Imperial.
Man made composite worktops - Avoid at all costs. A beautiful handmade bespoke kitchen and a man made worktop go together about as well as strawberries and creosote.
Having suffered both the pre and post purchase trauma, you can now relax, your new handmade bespoke kitchen will add value to your home and should provide years of happiness.