It’s a weekend and you are on the hunt for a new kitchen so you hit the stores. Understandably, you head straight for the large chain store that is at the front of your consciousness. You’ve just seen their glorious advert on the TV and couldn’t miss their full-page advertisement in the national press. The images are stunning and the copy includes words like “SALE, DISCOUNT, FREE and BUY NOW PAY LATER”. When you get to the showroom one sales person bombards you after another. There is a very simple reason for this. It’s nothing personal, it’s simply business. And that’s the key issue. It’s nothing personal, it’s simply business. OK, so not all chain store sales people are the same. You can find genuinely talented, focused individuals in the large stores. But there are many major differences between a chain store kitchen and one that’s been independently designed.

Sales and targets

No matter what you are told, a chain store kitchen is basically an exercise in volume sales. If it were a jigsaw puzzle it would be aimed at under five’s. It’s all about selling as many units as possible and hitting targets. High volume and individual customer requirements simply do not mix. They have a limited number of different sized pieces that the store’s employee will place into the layout of your kitchen until they achieve something that “fits”.

Sadly, what I regularly see is that this 'jigsaw puzzle' doesn’t always fit and you are left trying to resolve a highly stressful situation. More often than not, a chain store kitchen comes with a “that’ll do” attitude. It’s all about compromise to suit the store’s processes. It’s nothing personal, it’s simply business. Store kitchens have their place; they are of course an economic alternative. When finances are very tight, it’s definitely the way to go. But if you have room in your budget and the desire for more than the most basic replacement, you should consider an independent kitchen company.

Why the independent is different

An independently designed kitchen is a different kind of investment. It takes time to get right and takes your individual needs into account. If a kitchen from Your Space Living were a jigsaw puzzle it would contain a thousand pieces. You’d definitely need to start from the edges. A truly designed kitchen cannot be an exercise in volume sales. It’s not a simple enough product; it has to blend to every angle, quirky feature, and imperfection your kitchen space may bring. The look of the kitchen should fulfil your desires. Its functionality should match your needs. It should be made from the highest quality materials and components because independent kitchen designers value their reputation. They can’t afford to upset their clients. They have to deliver a product and a service that delights in every way. The resulting finish will be nothing less than perfection because an independent designer will not accept any less.

Building trusting relationships

Independent designers need to build relationships with their clients. It’s the only way to discover what the client needs and how to match up the design to the client’s lifestyle. Getting to know you and your family, how you use the kitchen and what you like to do in it are an important part of the design. It can influence the layout, the flow and also the materials used. I love to deliver the personal touch. I make sure that as design director at Your Space Living, I explore all of the design options. I never look to simply ‘rip out and replace’ an existing kitchen. So many kitchens I see are designed poorly, often by building firms whose sole purpose is to complete a house quickly and cheaply. Once the new layout is on paper, I look for those little gadgets or accessories that not only meet the needs of your family, but also your lifestyle. A truly designed kitchen is thoughtful, innovative and full of the wow factor.

Project management service

Installing a kitchen is a complicated process. It often involves a variety of trades that have to be coordinated. This is something that can be difficult for the larger chain stores. In my experience, they charge very high installation price to cover the inevitable difficulties they will run into. Many offer their customers the option to find their own fitters or ‘do it themselves’. This is known as ‘supply only’. This can be a great option if you know a good fitter, plumber and tiler. If not, you can run into huge difficulties as the various trades attempt to shift blame when things go wrong. At Your Space Living I don’t offer a supply only option without a clear understanding of who is to fit the kitchen we are supplying. Project management is one of my strengths. I’m very hands on during the installation, coordinating my team and facing challenges head on.

Before you naturally head to the big kitchen stores (you know who I mean), why not take a side step to see how an independently designed kitchen can change the way you live whilst creating a space you will love for many years to come. With Your Space Living it’s extremely personal and it’s never simply business.