PLANNING A BESPOKE HANDMADE KITCHEN
13th June 2012
AVOIDING THE PITFALLS
1, A truly daunting task :-
It looks like information overload, the web is heaving with bespoke kitchen makers, almost like a virus, clinging, suffocating and overwelming the consumer with promises of integrity and a unique ability to save the planet if you buy one of their bespoke kitchens. On the face of it there seems to be so much choice, in reality the choice is very limited and the consumer has to sort the wheat from the chaff and there is an awful lot of it out there.
Ask simple questions; is the owner of the business qualified in furniture making? Are the individual craftsmen qualified to advanced City and Guilds standard? How long has the business been established? Most importantly, is the company flexible enough to produce highly individual work above its usual comfort zone?
2, Avoid The Lookalikes :-
In an age of unlimited choice with so many bespoke kitchen makers to choose from, it is amazing how everything looks the same from the major brands to the small producers.
This lack of imagination is driven by an overriding desire to maximise profit at the expense of providing a genuine bespoke service. Bespoke should be highly personal to the individual, not the same as everyone else. If you are happy with the 'run of the mill', why bother going down the bespoke road? Choose a modular manufacturer, it is cheaper that way.
A good bespoke kitchen furniture maker should be able to work with the architectural peculiarities of the property and design requirements of the client to produce something absolutely unique and personal.
3, Check Out The Claims Of Handmade :-
Is it really made by hand? In the majority of cases things are not actually handmade, but produced on sophisticated machinery. People have a nostalgic view of all things handmade, naturally assuming the product receives greater care and attention, that it embodies the human spirit, and is aesthetically superior, all of which is absolutely true.
Manufacturers understand this and know they can charge a premium for kitchens and furniture labeled handmade. Ask to see the workshop, if it is full of machinery you can safely assume your bespoke furniture will not be made by hand. If a bespoke kitchen company is deceitful at the point of presentation, tread very carefully.
4, Is It Truly Bespoke :-
Bespoke means tailor made to the exact client requirements to fit perfectly within the given space. Not a series of standard modular sized cabinets haphazardly placed in a pseudo attempt at bespoke design.
5, Is It Really Solid Wood. :-
In many cases the the fronts (doors and drawers) will be made from solid wood but the inside will be made from a wood veneered mdf, chipboard or particle board ( particle board is a euphemism for chipboard and is used by many of the top brand bespoke kitchen makers). Wood veneers can be very convincing until the cheque has cleared and the underlying mdf or chipboard starts to swell from an ingress of water. Ask if the carcass, backs of the cabinets and in particular the drawer bottoms are made from solid wood (preferably oak) if not then it is not a solid wood bespoke kitchen, just another imitation of the real thing.
6, In-Frame Design :-
All quality bespoke kitchens should be of in-frame construction. A mortice and tenon solid wood frame should surround all doors and drawer fronts. This is the strongest form of construction and adds greatly to the overall aesthetic.
7, Beware The Sharp Suits :-
When the Armani suit walks through the door with the nicer than nice helpful attitude, you can be sure of one thing, this guy will not be making your bespoke kitchen. He is part of the presentation package along with the BMW and flash high street showroom, and that is what you are paying for, not the actual product.
Choose a small company, the guy planning your dream bespoke kitchen should also be the individual responsible for making it. This way nothing is lost in interpretation and all of your expectations should be fulfilled. Another dead give away to the get rich quick brigade of salesman is the SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH when they are confronted with a particularly difficult aspect of the anticipated design. Beware this sign, it basically means big bucks.
A good designer will look on unusual problems as an opportunity to be creative.
8, The Correct Planning Process :-
The bespoke kitchen planner should be able to empathise fully with the client, understanding the special personal needs of the individual and the practical requirements in terms of appliances and cupboard space, along with the ergonomics associated with the correct positioning of appliances within the given space.
The clients experience with past kitchen design inadequacies can be a valuble source of knowledge in avoiding future annoying design problems. The aesthetic design considerations are just as important as the practical ones. The main viewing positions must be carefully considered in order to create maximum effect and drama within the given space. Ask questions and make the designer fully aware that you will not accept the ordinary, always insist on the extraordinary.
9, Receipt Of Drawings :-
In many cases the client doesn't understand the drawings but is too afraid of looking stupid to question the design. A good designer understands this point and will spend a great deal of time explaining the finest detail. It is the clients absolute right to question, reject and make changes to the submitted design. A good bespoke kitchen designer will always be happy to work with the client's exacting idiosyncrasies, irrespective of the extra work involved.
10, Beware the scams :-
Sign on the dotted line today for a 20% discount. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Everyone likes a bargain but the price is probably loaded in the first place. A genuine company will give a fair price and keep to it and will not use incentive techniques to clinch a sale.
11, The Decision to go ahead :-
If the design is excellent, the price fair and the decision to go ahead is made, the client should expect to pay a deposit of 1/3 of the total, plus a progress payment of 1/3 when the kitchen is nearing completion. The final 1/3 should be paid once the kitchen has been fitted and meets with the client's every expectation. Some companies expect 100% payment at the start of the project, AVOID THIS LIKE THE PLAGUE.
12, Quality Control And Attention To Detail :-
Quality control and attention to detail, or lack of it, can make or break the overall design impact of the bespoke kitchen. The logs should be carefully selected for figure and grain, with the most beautiful figured wood used in the most prominent positions of the kitchen design. This can be the difference between something looking handmade and bespoke or just manufactured. Look at their past work, do they go the extra mile?
Carved wood design do go the extra mile and it shows in every aspect of the work.