Utopia    Editor 01 Jul 2014

Budget Vs Specialist Kitchens: The pros and cons when shopping for your next kitchen interior


We’ve all seen the television ads from the big DIY stores claiming how cheap and easy it is to get the kitchen or bathroom of your dreams. With sinks, bathtubs or kitchen furniture at seemingly knock-down prices most of us could be forgiven for wondering why on earth people would pay more to go to an independent kitchen or bathroom specialist.

Well, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ certainly applies here. While everyone looking to buy a new kitchen or bathroom will have a budget to stick to of course, it’s important to remember that the service you get in terms of design, supply and fitting is a vital part of ensuring the best possible end result.

So before you find yourself tempted by those DIY store bargains, consider a few factors…

 Specialist know-how

Long-established retailers will have completed literally hundreds of projects over the years, amassing an impressive amount of knowledge on how to create the best solution for large or small spaces.


A visit to their showroom will demonstrate a small selection of what they may be able to offer, but ask to see their portfolio of past work for a real insight into what they’re capable of.

Tailor-made design

Just as an ‘off-the-peg’ suit won’t fit quite as well as one that has been made-to-measure, a kitchen that has been designed for you will take account of how you use what has become the most important part of the home for most households.

Remember, this is no longer a case of thinking in isolation about (for example) your cooking requirements – kitchens are increasingly being seen as a social space, one in which a lot more than just food preparation takes place. For this reason, the best kitchen designers will be asking you all about your home life – and not just to be nosey! Gaining an understanding of what makes you and your family tick is the foundation stone of a kitchen design that is going to meet your needs now and for years to come.

New horizons

It’s generally accepted that, on average, consumers will typically only buy three kitchens in their lifetime. Given the rapid pace of tastes, trends and technology, keeping up to date with what’s possible is no easy task. Any showroom worth its salt will be able to talk you through the various finishes and materials that are currently making kitchens and bathrooms an exciting world of choice, and talk you though the new technological innovations that are defining the 21st-Century home.

Kitchen showrooms should also be able to show you the wonders of induction cooking, steam ovens, clever extraction, and hot water taps for example, whilst bathroom studios have lots to talk about in terms of rainfall showers, digital controls, and style statement baths.

Seek and you will find

Whilst very few of us have the time to become kitchen or bathroom experts ahead of making the big purchase, do consider spending some time seeing as many of the different options as possible. Online or brochure photos simply cannot convey the reality of most modern kitchens or bathrooms so it is important to see, touch and feel a wide range of contrasting styles.

If London is within reasonable travelling distance, prospective kitchen buyers should consider a trip to Wigmore Street. Close to Oxford Street, it is known as ‘kitchen alley’ thanks to its line-up of some of the biggest and best kitchen and bathroom brand showrooms. There are also a number of dedicated appliances showrooms there too to give you some food for thought on what high-tech gadgetry you might want to include.

But if London is a step too far, there will certainly be showrooms near you that can fire the imagination and give you an insight into how to transform the most important rooms in your home. To start your search, see the Utopia Kitchen & Bathroom’s 2014 Showroom Guide for a wide selection of the very best kitchen and bathroom showrooms around the UK.