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There’s an enduring appeal to the built-in kitchen. Banks of cupboards look sleek, conceal clutter, and can be tailored to find a home for anything, even the ironing board. You can also have the practicality of drawers and shelves, but cover them up with flush cupboards. Built-in cabinets can stretch from floor to ceiling, maximizing wall space if floor area is in short supply, or be built across awkward alcoves for a uniform finish. Use recommendations to find a good kitchen specialist (some companies don’t offer quite the custom service they promise), or hire a carpenter to build to your own design.
Visually, do try to avoid overpowering banks of wall and base units, especially if they are on two or more walls. These days, the most modern option is to combine a full wall of cupboards with an island unit, or create a galley-style run of units just down one wall. Once you’ve sorted the internal layout, major decisions will concern door styles. Whether you pick painted board, lacquer, sand-blasted glass, stainless steel, or wood, remember that the surface will set the decorative tone in the room.
For those after a more relaxed look, consider mixing a large freestanding piece such as a traditional hutch, sideboard, or serving table with drawers, with built-in shelves and freestanding appliances. Visually, such furniture gives the kitchen “room” appeal, while still offering practical storage. Key pieces can be teamed with mobile furniture such as a butcher’s block, metal catering trolley on wheels, or a trestle table. Not everyone wants to hunt secondhand stores for appropriate pieces. If you want the practicality of purpose-built units, but a flexible layout, check out freestanding-style kitchen ranges: big-box stores have some excellent variations.
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Above: Table-style sink units blend easily with casual freestanding storage. Also look out for industrial-style kitchen counters, conveniently equipped with appliances but with a freestanding look.
Above: If you need to build in units to get the most out of a small space, yet still want a freestanding mood, combine built-in base cupboards with casual storage such as a ceiling pan store and wall-mounted plate rack.
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