The top 20 kitchen designers — and must-have accessories
Lottery winners persuaded to reveal their plans typically talk about upgrading the family car and going on a trip. That’s just to deflect our envy. Who cares about a new Porsche 911 and a fortnight sampling swim-up bars in the Bahamas? They are welcome to such transient treats. House-proud homeowners know the only way to blow the first £100,000 is actually on a spanking new, once-in-a-lifetime kitchen. When my numbers come up, probably this summer, I’ll be making an emotional speech to the nation on the subject of my kitchen-cupboard love. There will be much detail and possibly visual aids.
The kitchen is the room we remodel first when we move, the interior we spend the most time in, and the most money on. With all the care that goes into its layout, choosing appliances and finishes, it’s the area of our home that says the most about us. And, after a period of austerity, our kitchens feel like the rooms that deserve the first make-over.
When you decide to invest in a new kitchen, Lotto windfall or not, it’s worth starting with a look at current trends. You might imagine you should only consider classics, since a good kitchen will last for 10-15 years, but the kitchen is an interior that is constantly revised and improved by designers, and some of their latest ideas are keepers. For example? Smallbone’s Brasserie, reflecting the trend for informal, bistro-inspired cooking and eating areas; also the elegant, new-style breakfast bars, so minimal in design, as seen in Elmar kitchens from Laurence Pidgeon.
Some of the catchiest trends are the ones with historic roots. The open-plan kitchen has been the aspirational choice for so long that it’s been hard to imagine an alternative. But recently, dissenting voices on the subject began to suggest there is much to be said for corralling food smells, conserving heat and stowing TVs away in smaller areas. The problem is, nobody wants to lose the extra daylight gained by knocking down internal walls. The solution comes this summer from Plain English: glazed screens “reminiscent of a turn of the [last] century workshop” to divide spaces while sharing light.
Modular is also big right now, and it’s clever. Freestanding and flexible kitchens can be put together piecemeal, fairly inexpensively, but they are also the particular focus of the bespoke makers, design-artists such as Johnny Grey, who specialises in “living spaces in which you cook”. A kitchen island in the shape of a shoe? A family food preparation area complete with children’s workbench? Nothing simpler for Professor Grey, the man tipped to be the recipient of the first tranche of my winnings.
Holloways of Ludlow
This company’s bespoke kitchens start at £25,000. Designs range from industrial to glossy contemporary cabinetry. Holloways’ signature is fresh and informal, often with interesting use of tactile materials, including reclaimed timber and Corian.hollowaysofludlow.com hollowayskitchens.com
Bright colours, metal finishes and architectural forms come together in Laurence Pidgeon’s original repertoire. Kitchens are by the Italian firm Elmar and the German company Hacker. Highlight of the range is Elmar’s SLIM collection, designed by Roberto + Ludovica Palomba, inspired by a professional kitchen. Prices from £20,000.laurencepidgeon.com
Matt Podesta designs and makes bespoke kitchens, starting from £30,000. He will also update his designs a decade on, when they are looking tired, changing the colour of painted elements, adding desirable new features and reconfiguring kitchens for the way the owners currently live. podesta.uk.com
Roundhouse creates understated fitted kitchens with clean lines, often in Farrow & Ball colours, that make sense of your living space. Beautiful British-made kitchen furniture, in lacquer and veneers, with prices from £30,000. roundhousedesign.com
Best for contemporary
Some of the top-flight Italian brands are hard to track down. If you lust after a Schiffini or a Modulnova kitchen, a good place to start is at DesignSpace’s two London showrooms. The look is sleek and architectural; the cost starts at £25,000.designspacelondon.com
Famous for uncompromising design that works especially well in open-plan interiors, this celebrated German brand has just relaunched its St Albans showroom. Fans should look out for the new P’7350 Porsche Design Kitchen, available in Britain in October, priced from £30,000. poggenpohl.com
Harvey Jones kitchens are hand-built to order on hardwood frames. The firm has two classic styles, Shaker and Original. The most covetable range is Linear, a pared-back, modern option, available painted in tones from dark grey to the splendid shocking pink (far right). Prices from £18,000. harveyjones.com
Best for classic
Two of the best British firms for classic cupboard kitchens are near relations. Plain English (plainenglishdesign.co.uk, kitchens from £40,000, see main picture), is renowned for its Georgian-inspired cabinetry. British Standard, its daughter, sells similar quality cupboards online, but at a fraction of the price (britishstandardcupboards.co.uk; typical cost approximately £5,000).
A family company specialising in handmade kitchens that take their aesthetic from classic English furniture, Martin Moore offers kitchens from £35,000.martinmoore.com
John Lewis of Hungerford
John Lewis of Hungerford’s signature is painted wood furniture. Its online store offers freestanding furniture, including dressers and larders, to mix and match. A range of traditional Shaker-style kitchens cost from £20,000 and the smart new Pure, a mid-century design, starts at £12,000. john-lewis.co.uk
The kitchens at Fired Earth, in painted wood, are easy-living classics. The Bastide range is inspired by French country-house style, while Vermont gives the same simple aesthetic an East Coast twist. A freestanding kitchen costs from about £11,500, excluding appliances. Fitted versions start at about £25,000, excluding appliances.firedearth.com
Influenced by Arts & Crafts design and classical English architecture, Neptune’s signature look is understated and elegant: sturdy, solid wooden furniture, painted in subdued colours. The new Limehouse kitchen, in oak, is a star of the range. From £11,000. neptune.com
Best on a budget
Ikea’s celebrated budget kitchen, Metod, is a simple modular system, with more than 400,000 permutations. It’s great value — most Ikea customers buy a kitchen for £1,000-£2,000 — and the plain cabinets can be mixed in with the firm’s stone countertops and statement lights. ikea.com
Aimed at first-time buyers, John Lewis First Collection kitchens start at £7,000, including all furniture, appliances and fittings. johnlewis.com
Known for style on a shoestring, this high-street kitchen specialist has just launched a new high-gloss kitchen called Integra Astral Blue. £815 per 600mm base unit.magnet.co.uk
Vision is a new compact kitchen from this German firm. One module, measuring 183.6cm x 218cm x 76cm, combines storage shelves, deep drawers, a sink unit, a hob, an extractor, a microwave, a dishwasher, a fridge, and a pull-out breakfast bar. From £3,000, excluding appliances. rational.de
Best on a bonus
The purveyor of the world’s most expensive scent also designs fabulously sparkly Victorian-style kitchens, as well as sleek modern ones. The Metro, Christian’s top contemporary design, is exclusive to Harrods and costs from £65,000. clive.com,harrods.com
Johnny Grey’s kitchens are as much works of art as they are cooking areas. Specialising in improbably shaped cabinetry, creative kitchen islands and unusual timbers, his bespoke work starts at £50,000, and kitchens may cost more than £100,000, depending on features. johnnygrey.com
The folk at Mark Wilkinson, “Maker of furniture for the kitchen”, live for detail. The firm creates cabinets in its Wiltshire workshops and has its own teams of installers, and even its own paint range, developed for use in the kitchen. The typical price is about £40,000. mwf.com
Smallbone of Devizes
Smallbone kitchens (from £40,000) include the firm’s new Brasserie design, a collection of freestanding units in pickled oak, including an oversized dresser, island and sink unit and a hostess trolley. Low-key luxury. smallbone.co.uk
Get them while they’re hot
A staple of TV chef competitions, sous-vide is the new kitchen must-have. AEG ProCombi SousVide oven and VacSealer (£1,400 and £1,600) let home cooks vacuum-seal and steam food to perfection. johnlewis.com
Magnet’s new sound bar is a speaker set between kitchen units. Bluetooth audio streaming technology connects to the music device of the cook’s choice (£416.65).magnet.co.uk
You may think you don’t need these, but they’re surprisingly handy. The Stirio Pot Lid (£14.95), and Stirio automatic Pot Stirrer (£45.95) help prevent your pots boiling over and contents sticking. Good for risotto handpickedcollection.com
Plain English glass
An exciting alternative to open plan is… walls. Plain English has launched a line of screens, in glazed timber and metal. Inspiration include below stairs’ sculleries in Georgian houses and turn-of-the-century workshops. Raw metal screens from £3,000 per linear metre, plus VAT. plainenglishdesign.co.uk