Kitchen recommendations please


I hope forum members can help, it seems learning about kitchens is more difficult than hifi! I did do a subject search but it seems not something people have really discussed here. There seems to be lots of misinformation and contradictory advice out there with lots of vested interests. I think I have more faith in Naim forum members than posting elsewhere!

I am looking for a modern handleless design. It seems the German manufacturers seem to be better at these designs. I don’t have a budget. I guess like a lot of us, we ended up spending far more on Naim hifi than we originally intended! Of course I am looking for value for money. I would rather have a modest quality kitchen than lots of cheap cabinets everywhere!

Many thanks for any help in advance.

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Are you in the U.K. or the Netherlands?

We had a Magnet kitchen, it was OK but wanted to renovate the kitchen. The builder suggested Howdens…
We chose a range and he fitted after making the various building changes. The builders like them as if there is a problem Howdens like to keep the trade…sweet. By comparison Wren etc can be a nightmare. We had a minor flood which knocked out a few led lights near the floor about a year after installation Howdens replaced the whole chain of lights and transformers. Unless you are going to pay for real wood, bespoke kitchen, its all mdf etc? Like everything it can be about relationships, my builder likes the Howdens in Clacton, but not Colchester where i live. So the guy from Clacton took the measurements did the design, we chose the range by looking in the Colchester showroom. Howdens only deal with the trade…the builder paid the bill.

There’s “handleless” as in absence of handles as such, instead a moulding into the top or bottom of the doors into which you hook fingers, or handleless as nothing for hands at all, you press the door and it springs open. Did you have a specific type in mind?

We looked at the former, and acrylic doors, but cost ruled out, and all gloss we saw other than acrylic (or glass faced). not meeting our desire for a glass-flat finish, so we abandoned the idea of gloss. Ended up with something not handleless but just as neat, with flat wood finish doors (light oak veneered, horizontal grain).

The problem with handleless doors is that if you have wet hands, or they are covered in egg or something, and you quickly want to open a drawer, you either have to wash and dry your hands, or get egg all over the drawer. With handles it’s so much easier just to use your little finger.

We had our kitchen done about four years ago. We went to a local kitchen company and they gave a quote for fitting. They measured the room and said they’d order the granite worktops at the same time. We’d need to arrange our own plumber and electrician.

We then spoke to the lovely builder who we’d used for other stuff. He laughed like a drain. Granite needs to be laser measured once the units are in. If you are redoing the electrics it’s easier to pull down the ceiling than chase the walls.

He also recommended Howdens. Their list prices are something nobody actually pays. So we bought direct from them using his trade account. The units cost about £4,000. We ordered the granite from a local stone company. That cost £4,000. We bought the sink and taps online, and the Neff stuff from John Lewis. Howdens knobs are a bit basic so we bought lovely solid brass, brushed nickel plated, from a company in Birmingham who have been in business for over a hundred years. We bought the flooring from Topps Tiles, who give a nice discount if you ask nicely. The builder arranged the electrics and plumbing and managed the whole lot, laid a new floor and so on.

Howdens have massive stock so if you change your mind as you go you can return bits and put the new bits in the car. There is no waiting weeks and weeks. Our neighbour just had Wren and when everything arrived it didn’t fit. Absolutely useless. So, Howdens units and nice floor, worktops, door furniture and the like is a good way to go. With all the work, the units, granite, floor, labour I think we paid about £20,000. We did look at a posh place in Chichester and an equivalent would have been about £50,000 or more.


Err…could not agree more, strangely our kitchen/ utility was £20 k…and yes the ceilings came down too.

I can recommend wickes.

They have both handles and handle less kitchens ar different price brackets.

If you are doing any building work- they also have a team who can do the work for you.

This means it is all under one roof and cannot delegate blame for any issues.

We had a supporting wall taken down with rsj being used.

New ceilings installed and plastered.

The fitted the units and all the appliances that I bought from elsewhere.

So much is in the quality of the labour. A good builder who can lay the floor, plaster the walls and fit properly is worth their weight in gold. No house is dead square. I came home once and they had a red laser line across the wall to get the wall units dead level. Most people wouldn’t take that level of care.

The only risk is that you have no guarantee of the quality of the builders. I’ve heard terrible stories of the people sent by the shops. There is also no transparency over the price of units, worktops, labour etc. On balance I think it’s best to get your own builder.

I designed and installed my kitchen, doing everything other than the granite worktop fitting. Cupboards I bought as ready assembled, from a company in Cannock. However, some larger ones I had them not assemble to enable me to pick up with a hightop Transit. They were happy to modify a couple of cupboards during manufacture, one reduced in width, another in height. Doors came from another supplier. Handles took a lot of searching, but found things we liked in the end - I had to buy a router to fit them.

Our house is quite large and started out as a 1930, s bungalow…there are parts that are way off square. The builder is my wife,s best friends husband…always a good job for a fair price…they need to live too.

Our builder is my wife’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband. He’s just brilliant.

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For my kitchen I used a local company to make a bespoke kitchen and am very happy with the result.

I haven’t used them, but Kutchenhaus have a good rep so that may be a reasonable option if you want to go for a German kitchen. Personally I would avoid places like B&Q, Wickes etc and especially suppliers like Howdens who have to finish quickly to make max profit and can do shoddy work. There is nothing wrong with IKEA, in fact the units are good quality and include many neat ideas, but avoid them for self closing doors, since that system doesn’t work well. Also don’t use installers attached to retailers, much better create a job on mybuilder or some such, where you can check the rep. Just my N2HOPs.

Take a look at British Standard Cupboards. They are part of Plain English which make the most beautiful quality kitchens I’ve seen.

While a fully designed and fitted Plain English kitchen can cost more than £80k the British Standard brand is a brilliant cost effective alternative which, if fitted properly, can look just as good as the full fat Plain English.

The reason it is less expensive is that they strip out all of the design, delivery and fitting cost so you design it with your fitter / builder, you order it online and collect the units etc from Suffolk. The quality of the joinery and materials is the same as the top end Plain English. We made a weekend of it in Suffolk and hired a van to collect it and had a brilliant joiner we’ve used for years fit it for us. I then painted the units myself:

It may not be the super modern look you are after but certainly worth a look.


I’m not sure what you mean about Howdens finishing quickly. All they do is supply the cupboards. You employ your own builder.

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That’s lovely. If I had an old house that’s the sort of thing I’d want.

I’m probably not the best person to offer advice here, as I have a particular aversion to MDF, and now have a house that is entirely free of it (apart from speakers!)
Our kitchen consists entirely of furniture we bought from a couple of nearby antique furniture shops. The exception is a 3m worktop, the only new wood we used, which is a pretty expensive bit of American black walnut. The cupboards below are made from doors reclaimed from an old chapel. Total cost about £5k. Probably not what you’d want in a modern house, I admit, and the doors all have handles.

Thanks Nigel.

Budget does become critical. You do generally get what you pay for but at a certain price, you will get the same stuff but be paying considerably more for it. We put John Lewis of Hungerford, not John Lewis of the department store fame, into my house and they were and are very good. We have units that have a slot for fingers rather than handles. That said we paid for it. As an architect I have worked with clients who have chosen Wickes, Magnet, Howden etc. and my general experience with particularly the last one would not to touch them. Generally the box is much the same and it will come down to the quality of the fixing of the doors into the box and the wear of that fixing/hinge. I remain of the view that one of the best value for money unit range is IKEA. The issue with them is that the depth of the unit does contain a prepared pipe void. Some units with have a 100mm zone at the back to run pipes in. IKEA don’t. The back of the unit is the back of the unit against the wall. That said, I still think they are excellent value for money and as I have used them personally, have lasted well with tolerable family abuse.

One thing I have also learned from experience is to check the actual temperature your new oven can reach. Some only go to 200c and yet you will have recipes for 230c etc.