Five questions you should always ask when considering a new kitchen

Many kitchen companies will offer a free design service and this can be helpful in establishing the options for your space.

However, it is important to remember that the glossy image on the computer screen or the rendered picture must not only look good but also be designed to support and complement how you function within your kitchen environment.

When you ask the correct questions, you will realise how much you already know about how your kitchen could be better. You are, in fact, the person who knows best what you need from your space.

Ask yourself these first four questions:

1) How is the kitchen space currently used?

This question must be explored to determine how your new design can best serve you.  Think about how often you cook a meal from raw ingredients. Can you easily find your herbs and spices? Where do you keep that special little pan you only use once every couple of months? Do you use the kitchen table when chopping the veg? Are there tasks that you currently do standing but would like to be able to do whilst sitting? Or maybe your kitchen is simply a place where you grab a quick coffee on the way to the office and only really spend time in when hosting guests.

If your kitchen is in a family home, then have a look at how others use the space. The way people use their kitchen is very personal to them, and it is important to research this as it should form the basis for your great new kitchen.

Make a list of how the space is used over the period of a few weeks.


2)  What are the current storage issues?

Does everything have a place, or are your work surfaces crowded with items that don’t need to be there? What about when you open your cupboards: are they all nicely ordered? Most people have at least one cupboard that is crammed full of all those items that they don’t know what to do with.

What about the pots and pans, the slow cooker or the blender, are they as accessible as you would like?Do you get frustrated looking for all those smaller items? All those kitchen utensils are only useful if you can find them quickly when you need them!

Make a list of all the storage issues you encounter over the period of a few weeks.


3)  How could good design use the kitchen space well and eliminate those storage issues?

This is the fun part – it’s time to be creative! Start with the room: is there a lot of wasted space where the cupboards aren’t the right size? What about above the cupboards? If they were taller, would that help with storage issues? Maybe the cupboards are taking up too much space, obstructing a view? How about when you open the doors – can you get to the back? When did you last see the items at the back of that corner unit? Do this for all your cupboards. Now do the same for the drawers.  Are there places where drawers would work better than cupboards? Fully extending drawers can be a wonderful way to take better advantage of your base units and allow you to get easily to the backs of cupboards.

Don’t allow your ideas to be restricted by what you believe is available, or what you think you can afford. For example, if five little drawers above two doors in one unit would be the perfect combination, then write it down. Think outside the box! These ideas should form the basis for your new kitchen plan, whether you’re installing it yourself or using it to give a designer the right starting point.


4) How much expert support do I need?

This will be different for everyone.  You may have all the skills you need to renovate a property and install a kitchen yourself.  Some, however, will want the services of a specialist company to design and install a kitchen for them.  This is probably the most expensive option, and paying more does not necessarily mean getting a better product.  Many companies actually purchase from the same handful of suppliers, and the extra you pay is for the services they add on.  An independent, skilled  kitchen fitter can often be a wonderful source of knowledge as they are not tied to purchasing from any particular companies. For a higher end product, it can be helpful to have the installation completed by a joiner as they often have a more thorough knowledge of materials and how they work best together. It is often far more economical to manage the purchase of cabinets yourself as companies will normally mark up the costs of materials substantially.  You might be surprised at the quality of cabinets you can afford when your money goes towards the product and not the middleman.


Now that you have asked yourself the four questions above it is important to ask any potential suppliers question number five:

5) How are the products constructed?

This last question is one of the most important. The kitchen industry has evolved to offer an incredibly diverse range of styles and add-on gadgets. But what many people don’t know is the amount of technical resources that are invested in creating these styles as cheaply as possible. Most people know whether they want a traditional or modern style, but which supplier to choose will often be decided by which sales person is most convincing.

There is a far better way – choose quality. To do this it is necessary to arm yourself with a little knowledge and ask some very specific questions.


Use the following information to help you work out what level of product you are looking for:

Types of door construction

Vinyl wrap: This is the process of wrapping a door-shaped piece of MDF board in a printed sheet of plastic. These cost just a few pounds to manufacture and provide an economical option. Some of the vinyls are printed to look like wood.

Acrylic slab: This is made by cutting up sheets of material and then bonding a matching or sometimes contrasting trim around the cut edges. The majority of these boards have an MDF core and are inexpensive to produce. The end result is a flat panel with a glossy finish.

Painted MR (moisture resistant) board: The sheet of material is first shaped by a computer-controlled router and is then painted in a spray booth. This process can produce a good quality stable product and is often used in higher quality contemporary styled kitchens.

5-piece wooden doors: This type of construction is used to create a traditional door, with the centre panel raised (shaped) or flat. These doors are available in many species of wood and are used in high quality kitchens. This style of door is often painted to create a beautiful effect.


Cabinet box construction

Cabinet or cupboard boxes/units are often referred to carcasses.

Specific questions should be asked to determine the quality as this can vary widely. The majority of kitchen carcasses are made from a form of chipboard, or MFC, which stands for melamine faced chipboard. Another term for this is particle board, or some of the better quality MFC products are often referred to by their trade names. There are many colours and increasingly more textures, with many now being produced to look like wood.



Now that you have asked yourself these questions, you need to decide what kind of kitchen you want.  There is a place for all the options above, depending on what is most important to you: quality, budget, overall look, environmental considerations, etc. However, it is interesting to note that many modern materials are made to look like wood, demonstrating its enduring appeal.

At the Natural Cabinet Company we use as much wood as possible, not just in the doors but in the cabinet and drawer boxes too.  We believe that the quality choice doesn’t need to be the most expensive.  Whatever choice you make, we can advise you and support you in purchasing your new kitchen cabinets.