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Exploring Kitchen Cabinets

Exploring Kitchen Cabinets

Essential tips for choosing the right cabinets for you

Cabinetry defines the look of a kitchen. It is the biggest decision to make in any kitchen refurbishment (after selecting your Shaws sink, of course!). With more options available than ever, the choice can feel bewildering. We’ve answered some of the key questions below to help you identify the right units for your new kitchen.

What style of kitchen should I choose?

The look of your new kitchen should be a very personal choice. What suits you depends on your taste, the style of your home and how you want to use the space. Whether you prefer a clean, contemporary design; a traditional cosy country look with a Belfast Sink; or timeless Shaker simplicity, there is a kitchen to suit every trend and budget. 

In our experience, some of the most modern and en vogue kitchens can look very dated after just a few years. Why not start by considering a classic, timeless design like a Shaker-style kitchen? Shaker kitchens come in an almost infinite variety. By choosing different materials and colours, and mixing open shelving with cupboards, you can create a truly bespoke space, with a familiar and recognised theme. Any of our Shaws sinks work well with Shaker kitchens, but if you want character, how about the Bowland from our original collection?


Why do kitchens vary so much in terms of cost?

Beyond style, the main influence on cost is the construction method and the materials. Consider how the cabinets are made, what they are made from and how they are shipped. As with any product, a hand-crafted, well-made kitchen will always command a premium - whereas mass-produced alternatives are cheaper to manufacture, and suit a smaller budget. You can elevate the look of a budget kitchen by adding good quality fixtures like DeVol handmade handles, a beautiful Perrin & Rowe tap, or any of our Shaws sinks. These timeless pieces will outlive a budget kitchen, but can be transplanted onto your next kitchen as trends change.

What construction method should I look for?

There are three basic structural components to the kitchen cabinet: the carcass, the shelves on the inside and the drawers. Each can be constructed in a number of ways. In the UK, cabinets are available in three forms: constructed at the factory and ready to install, flat-packed and ready to assemble, or partly assembled. 

With as much as 80% of the cost attributed to installing a kitchen, it can often work out cheaper overall to choose ready-made cabinets, even though they are more expensive than flat-packed to buy. 

Identify a reputable kitchen fitter. A budget kitchen can look premium with exceptional fit and finish, and for a luxury kitchen, a good fitter is simply essential. If you invest in a Shaws sink, your fitter will need to measure and install accurately – remember that every Shaws sink is handmade, and each one is marginally different. You can watch our ‘how to’ guide here.

Image Credit: Barnes of Ashburton

What materials are considered to be the best?

The visible parts of a kitchen, like doors and worktops, are available in every imaginable material. Wood is obviously a popular choice, synthetic and natural stones like marble and terrazzo feel luxurious, and polished concrete adds an urban chic. Metals like copper and stainless steel are the new fashion.

Do not neglect the quality of the carcass. Carcasses are the units onto which doors and drawer fronts are attached – the internal framework of a fitted kitchen. Your choice of carcass affects not just how much it will cost, but how long your kitchen will last. If the carcasses are well-made, you can update your kitchen in the future by changing only the doors.

Image credit: Matthew Shaw Styling 

What makes a good carcass?

The quality and solidity of the carcass material will determine the lifetime of your kitchen cupboards. Surprisingly, hard woods (such as oak) are generally not a good choice. Although great for doors, solid timber isn’t as rigid as man-made board and can warp with time. Bespoke cabinet makers prefer marine-grade plywood, a premium sheet material made from layers of hardwood. It’s incredibly stable and robust, and can be painted or laminated easily. You’ll see it in the cabinetry of luxury kitchen designers like Clive Christian (where a kitchen can cost upwards of £150,000). At the other end of the scale, low-density particleboard is the cheapest and most common material for budget carcasses. In the short-term it will be adequate, but it is fragile and can permanently warp in damp conditions. 

Image Credit: The Main Company 

Making that decision.

Choosing a kitchen is a very personal decision, where aspirations have to be balanced with practicalities and budget. It’s always worth looking beyond cosmetic appeal and seeking quality and longevity. Many of the most exciting kitchens now embrace an eclectic style, so use this design freedom to create something that truly works for you. 

Image Credit: Devol