Built-in kitchens: design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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One of the things most of us remember from childhood memory is food from home, whether it be mom’s famous meatloaf, or that perfect Thanksgiving turkey that only dad knew how to make. Kitchens are a huge part of our day-to-day lives, even if we don’t realize it. When we talk about a built-in kitchen, we’re referring to a kitchen which is fully integrated, usually with an island built in the center of the space, which provides some extra storage space. It also additional prep space for food, as well as specific areas for appliances and cupboards which minimise freestanding random objects in favour of set places and built areas for all of your cooking tools.

Why go for a built in kitchen?

Built in-kitchens are perfect for limited spaces, providing just enough extra surface to not be in the way and provide additional packing, preparation and even serving space. With a well designs built in kitchen, you can save on dining room space by having your family or guests eat in the kitchen.

How do I install one?

Putting in a central section to your eating and preparation space is no mean feat, especially from design and installation points of view. It would definitely be best for you to talk to a professional kitchen planner before looking into your kitchen design.

- With any modern kitchen, taking time to properly design the built area is going to save time and money in the long run.

- Look at the cabinets and wall units in your kitchen, and make sure that you try as best as you can to match them. 

- If you’re redesigning your whole kitchen, then you should match all of the cabinet units as best you can. 

- Once you’re confident you have all of these set, you can begin to build. Check your area, clean any surfaces that may need cleaning, and remove any free hanging crockery or cutlery before you start. 

- Start with your wall cabinets, assemble and hang them. 

- Once these are affixed, assemble and install your base and high cabinets. 

- Clean the cabinets off with a clean soft cloth to remove any dust or debris, and then start to install your worktop. If you have a stone top, be very careful not to drop it, as this can break the stone if it hits the floor at a bad angle. 

- Once these are done and you’re happy with the layout, install all of your drawers and units shelving and any lighting fixtures you’ve decided to use for the job. 

What are the positives and negatives?

The good stuff—Built-in kitchens are one of the best looking types of modern kitchen. Your cabinets, drawers and surfaces all have a set look and feel, making the kitchen aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well as ergonomic. If you’re truly building a built-in kitchen, then all of your appliances are also built in, either being neatly tucked away, or “built into” a wall or cupboard space, with much less free standing objects. This makes everything fit smoothly, and ensures that nothing looks out of place. The extra space left by all of the fitted appliances also means that you have more space for furniture like chairs or barstools, or whatever else fits with your vision for your kitchen. Simultaneously, they are very style friendly, with a multitude of ways in which they can be designed, which allows them to better fit your own interior design. Some built-in kitchen designs go as far as having the drives for preparation tools like blenders and kettles in one area, so all you need to do is attach the bowl or boiler, press a button, and away you go

The not so good stuff—Of course, having all of this space to play with and all of your equipment so neatly tucked away, requires design and building time, which doesn't come cheap, and free standing kitchens do have a significantly lower price tag. To add to that, if something goes wrong with an appliance, you can’t simply pick it up and take it back to the store or to an electrician to replace or repair it. If you make a very complicated system to work from, you also might find also yourself in a bit of a pickle, since the more complicated you get, the more electronics there are to consider both designing and using. Lastly, with food technology changing all the time, you may want to get something new, but the design of the kitchen may not allow it. And even if it does, it may require more work to reshape or redesign cabinets or spaces.    

Best materials for the job & prices

Melamine—Melamine is very easy to work with, made from chipboard (MDF) and covered with a veneer which can come in a variety of designs. This wood can be used for almost all of your surfaces and is light and easy to work with. The larges boards are usually around 0.5 feet x 8 feet, and will cost you about $50.00.   

Solid wood —Solid wood is everyone’s favourite, because it is so easy to shape, looks great and can last a long time it it’s taken care of. Whichever wood you choose, remember that you will have to varnish and protect the surfaces, especially from water or moisture, as this can stain or spoil the wood. Wood prices vary greatly depending on the type of wood you choose.   

Marble countertops—Marble countertops are quite expensive ranging in at an average of about $45.00 per square foot, but can be a little more depending on the dealer you choose to buy from. It is recommended to have someone install these because they are heavy and not easy to carry.   

White backsplash—Is a tile type, which is a bright gloss white to medium grey. Backsplash tile installation can cost up to $900.00 to be installed by a professional, but it’s well worth the look  and feel, especially in older homes.     

Medium toned hardwood—Is great as it’s very durable and hardwood is more resilient than other woods. It does however also need.  

Granite—Granite is a very similar product to marble, in that it’s pure stone, heavy, durable and also cost in the same region. This also means it may be best to get someone to install it for you.    

Various other popular industry products—There are various other materials to choose from, having your cupboards made from fiberglass, using formica tiles, bamboo instead of wood and thin metal tops. These are design choices you should make carefully and not rush into   

Built in kitchen seating   

Depending what you want to do with your built in area, you may have your family eating in the  kitchen, meaning your meal is prepared and everyone gets to eat almost immediately. You can seat people in this area in various ways.    

Stools and benches—Bar stools or short stools are a favourite, as they are small, take up very little space and can be moved around easily. Benches are also a fantastic seating arrangement as they can be used to separate your living room and kitchen if you have a completely open plan area.    

Slide in/out table—A table which slides in and out is great as it creates open space when it’s not being used, because it’s neatly tucked away.    

Use other seating—If you have window seating or any other seating already available in your kitchen area, you can use this for your designated seating spot, and design your table top so that it fits in with the area.    

Island with seating—If you have the island central in your kitchen, use this as your table and seat your family or guests around it, you can use any seating which enables people to use the surface comfortably.    

Built in cabinets   

What’s really great about built in environments is that they serve you ergonomically. Everyone likes a certain workflow, and a kitchen is no different,. With cabinets and appliances where you want them, a built in kitchen makes it easier for you to have what you want at hand, saving you time in you food preparation.    

Some things to consider   

- Your refrigerator size can have an impact on your design, so choose one which will suit your needs but try not to over cater on space.    

- Microwave ovens are pretty standard sizes, so you will very likely have a cabinet or area which perfectly fits the one you want or the one you have.   

- Keeping all of your appliances in cupboards means electrical wires are neat and tidy, not lying all over your countertops.   

- Designate areas for the most used appliances like toasters or kettles, this can save space and also make cleaning your kitchen easier.    

For designing your built in kitchen, we suggest talking to a professional for all of your needs, and seeing what they have to say  to advise you on the best building strategy.