Free-standing furniture in the kitchen can take the room from customary to custom-made. Bespoke cabinetry can inject both personality and functionality
There has been a trend towards free-standing kitchen units in recent years, and this flexibility can lead to a completely personal feel at the heart of the home.
There are many options available to include a tailor-made piece, and Lee Andrews, from Lowe and Bespoke in Crediton, believes the desire to bring cohesion to the home is driving customers to invest in bespoke craftsmanship. “I feel that the home owner wants to build a place that has continuity throughout their home, so having a free-standing kitchen enables a space to link to the other rooms, which creates a feeling of non-separation.”
If the cabinetry is well made initially, it can last for years, without the main bulk of the furniture needing to be replaced. “You can repaint in 10 years and change the door furniture, and maybe the worktop, and you have a new kitchen again,” says Lee.
Robert Clarke, Designer at Treyone Woodcraft in Kingsbridge, can also see the benefits. “Free-standing items fit in with the increased use of large appliances such as range cookers and American-style fridge-freezers, which are not always easy to integrate into a fitted kitchen layout.”
Individual items can define various zones, such as prep work, storage and serving, and potentially they can be moved around the room.
Kim Whinnett, Company Director at Barnes of Ashburton, champions the perks of custom-made pieces. She advises mixing fitted furniture with free-standing pieces, to move away from the uniform look. Popular choices are central islands, butcher’s blocks, dressers and pantry-style cupboards. “Pantry cabinets can be made so you can actually work at them, including power for worktop appliances, granite shelves, cold shelves, storage and internal lighting,” she says.
Making the items movable offers flexibility and they can be repositioned depending on how and where they are needed. Robert uses heavy-duty castors on smaller central island units so they can be moved around the room with ease.
A popular request from Lee’s customers is a sink cabinet with an integrated dishwasher on one side and a base cabinet on the other.
Lee advises customers to talk to their cabinet-maker when choosing the material – he favours tulipwood, and birch ply for the carcasses and shelving, ensuring the finished product is of sturdy, good-quality construction.
Robert finds his customers mainly want wood assembly, with metal surfaces, such as distressed zinc, becoming more popular. As for the finish, the wood can be limed, natural or painted.
“Framed cabinetwork should always use hardwood for the framework, doors and drawers – this is the style we always favour for our free-standing pieces,” says Kim.
Colour-wise, this is a very personal choice, with some wanting the unit to blend in with the rest of the room, whilst others favour a bright pop of colour to draw attention to the stand-alone piece. Lee’s customers favour muted Farrow and Ball colours, whereas Kim’s clients opt for bolder and deeper colours.
Lee’s final piece of advice for introducing free-standing items into the kitchen is to avoid too many wall cabinets to keep as much light bouncing off the walls as possible. This, together with hiding clutter in customised storage, will give a functional yet relaxing space.
“Free-standing items fit in with the increased use of large appliances”
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