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When new kitchen furniture is right for you

When new kitchen furniture is right for you

If you intend to buy new kitchen storagecupboards, they will either be custom designed (by you or your architect), or they will be bought from a proprietary range of which there are many on the market. It is also possible that you are considering some hybrid arrangement made up of old cupboards originally intended for some completely different use, as described under the heading �The non-kitchen`.

Proprietary brand units These can either be bought ready-made, and probably installed by a representative of the manufacturer, orthey can be seIf-assembled. They will generally consist of variations on the following components: floor cupboards, wall cupboards, tall (broom) cupboards, housing for cookers and refrigerators and floor cupboards tc take sink units. Many cf the floor-standing units incorpcrate drawers of varying depths. Within that simple list lies a multitude of different possibilities, immensely bocsted and stimulated in recent years by the influx of products from Europe. Not all of these are good. Some are overdecorated and vulgar beyond belief, but at their best (generally from Italy) they are of superb design and have pushed British manufacturers into reconsidering and improving their often tired and uninspired-cooking ranges.

A big change has been the transferral of popularity from laminated plastics finishes to wood finishes. Laminated plastics (Formica, Melamine, etc.) are still available in plenty, of course, and on many of the top-quality ranges of kitchen furniture they Iook and functicn well, but the feeling for wood is strong. There is bak, cherry and pine, the latter sometimes stained in soft colours. Ash is a beautiful wood which in at least one manufacturers range is available lacquered in strong pure colours, and amongst the cheaper products good old unpainted whitewood allows the more creative kitchen planner to deccrate in an imaginative and individual fashion.

A splendid range from Italy has toughened glass doors set into hand-finished wooden frames, and one of the best English ranges is also available with glass doors. Some manufacturers have tried to get the best of both worlds by facing their units with laminated plastics which simulate wood, not generally a very satisfactory ploy since it betrays the excellent characteristics of both materials in the attempt to keep prices of the kitchen furniture down. But it would be wrong to assume that only the expensive ranges are worth having. There are good buys at all levels, including kitchen units which are bought packaged flat and then assembled at home. However, when you have settled on your price level and are investigating what is available, watch for the following points;

1) If you are buying self-assembly kitchen furniture make sure the instructions are clear and full.

2) There should be a good, solid, wood carcass construction.

3) lf the doors have wooden frames with cIip-on laminated plastics panels, as several ranges do, be sure these are sturdy and stable. One particular range has panels which are so flimsy they can be easily pushed free at the corners. Small children would delight in pushing them to the limit and breaking them.

4) If you opt for wood-finished doors, choose a simple. elegant design rather than something so bedevilled with mouldings, flutings and foldings that it not only looks like something from a bygone age but will make your kitchen look dark and heavy, and be difficult to keep clean.

5) lf the floor cupboards are not wall hung, choose a range where they stand on adjustable steel legs. This gives a small amount of height flexibility as well as coping with uneven floors.