There are many things that people look for in a new kitchen. Style is obviously right up there, as well as colour, materials, and, of course, cost. But are you thinking about sustainability and the impact on the planet too?
On average, people change their kitchens every 10-15 years, but it could be less than this if they’re in a state of disrepair or have become outdated. There are several quite significant benefits to making your kitchen last: it’s less disruptive, it means fewer discarded kitchens going into landfill, less of a carbon footprint associated with the manufacture and distribution of a new kitchen, and over the lifetime of the kitchen it saves money. If you are looking for a new kitchen, choosing one that has longevity should, ideally, be a priority.
There are a few criteria that you can apply when choosing a new kitchen that should help to guarantee a longer lifespan, and therefore, a more ethical choice.
The old adage is ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ and that can certainly be true of kitchens. Some kitchens, on the surface, may look quite similar but if they cost less, the savings have to come from somewhere and this will usually be in the materials, the construction, and the manufacturing process.
Doors may look comparable, but the difference will be in the detail. Rather than solid wood, it may be a laminate, ‘hidden’ aspects such as carcases and hinges will be lower quality, and you won’t get the construction details such as dovetail joints on drawers or soft close doors. These are the things that give a kitchen its strength. They make it robust enough to tolerate the daily use it gets.
So, look for solid materials and superior construction.
The durability of your kitchen doesn’t just rest on the materials and the design; it relies on how the kitchen has been constructed and installed too. You may save some money buying a flat pack kitchen to build up and fit yourself. However, unless you are really handy, you will never achieve the same standards of craftmanship as someone who has done this, and this alone, for many years.
Many kitchens fall apart, not so much because of their materials, but because they haven’t been installed well. Doors start to drop, handles fall off, drawers slip off their runners, or cupboards can literally start to fall off the walls. If you are investing in a kitchen, don’t take short cuts on the build and installation. Buy kitchens that have been constructed by the manufacturer and have them installed by a professional kitchen fitter.
One very strong reason for changing your kitchen may not be down to condition, but rather the style that looks outdated. Kitchen design does move on over the years and an aesthetic that seems bold and avant garde now may seem incredibly passé in 10 years. One way to mitigate this risk is to choose a classic style for your kitchen that has proved to be timeless. This could be the minimal lines of handle-less doors, or the ever popular Shaker style. You can add interest and personality through other aspects that are easier to adapt such as wall colour, splashback tiles, or flooring.
Don’t feel that you have to go for bland though, if you really want something striking; remember that if you have chosen a good quality kitchen, the carcases will last for 20+ years so will have the option of simply swapping the doors and drawer fronts, or have them painted/dipped to change the colour.
Over the last 20 or 30 years, we’ve all become accustomed to the cheaper prices we can secure from things being manufactured overseas and shipped across. That practice no longer represents a suitable option. Not only is the quality and craftsmanship often not there, but we also have to think about the ecological cost of the travel miles, the working conditions in the country of origin, and the practical considerations of recent events such as covid and Brexit impacting on the feasibility and cost of importing goods.
Choose British where you can, and if manufacture takes place locally to you, that’s even better.
Kitchens tend to be a major investment and something that people have to save up for or seek borrowing to fund. Even ‘cheap’ kitchens can cost several thousand pounds. Certainly, quality will cost you more; it has to in order to fund the higher standards of materials and manufacture. However, when you consider how long that kitchen will last and remain looking great, over the lifetime of the kitchen it will cost you less.
We know that our ‘throwaway society’ where you buy things cheap and just replace when you’ve grown tired of them has contributed to the ecological position we find ourselves in. Kitchens may not be as discardable as so-called fast fashion or food packaging but nevertheless, buying better and keeping longer has to be beneficial for the planet, and bulky kitchens take up more than their fair share of landfill space.
These are the values that we have always tried to live by at 3Style Kitchens. Long before we really thought about climate change and sustainability, we just knew the advantages that quality and craftmanship brought in terms of the end result and its longevity. Our kitchens are supplied by Daval Furniture, who manufacture just down the road in Huddersfield, so we tick the local box too.
If you are interested in a more sustainable approach to buying a new kitchen, or just want something that’s built to last, get in touch for a free consultation.