If you are looking at getting a modular kitchen installed for your home, it is advisable to lay the granite counter after you meet with a modular kitchen specialist. In many Chennai homes/apartments, the kitchens are built with granite laid on top of a concrete slab. For a modular kitchen supplier, this is a concern because it restricts the space available for storage in base units. Also many good kitchen accessories which come in standard sizes cannot be incorporated in the design which could be a disappointment for many kitchen users. And installation is very tedious as each cabinet sizes need to be adjusted due to the height variation between the floor and the concrete slab. These kinds of kitchens are generally termed as semi-modular kitchen in India. The final output of a modular kitchen in comparison to a semi-modular is better.
Some say that a modular kitchen may not take the weight of the granite counter and hence concrete slab is necessary! Modular kitchen cabinets made with good quality plywood can support the granite counter top. Each cabinet are independent units and are joined together while installing and it will have adequate strength to support granite counter tops.
Some also say that a semi-modular kitchen is a cheaper option than a modular kitchen. If you are making full cabinets with shutters/drawers, then the costing for both remain the same. In fact the installation costs will be higher for semi-modular due to extra labour/man hours required. If you are only closing the front portion with shutters and frame work, then the costs are minimal but it cannot be considered as a semi-modular or modular kitchen.
If you intent to buy a modular kitchen, it is better to give an empty space so the kitchen designer can best conceptualise your kitchen space.
While there are many suppliers offering modular kitchen and most of them on the outset with similar finishes, prices, deliverables etc, the decision becomes difficult. How do you decide on your modular kitchen supplier? This would have been easier if there were clear differentiators!
First you need to clearly understand if the supplier is offering an actual ‘Modular Kitchen’! Even though there are many offering ‘Modular kitchen’ in india, most are not in real sense ‘Modular’! They use laminated panels which are cut as per size, brought to the site and joined together with nails, screws and glue as in a carpentry job, which is NOT a modular kitchen. There are fewer organised players in the market who can deliver a real modular kitchen; you should identify them first and visit their showroom.
It is important that the team at the modular kitchen showroom is knowledgeable and should be able to capture your unique needs. They should exhibit practical experience to provide viable solutions as per your requirements and site condition. The overall experience while visiting the showroom is a factor; their professional approach, the layout / range of displays, the way each is explained, accessories and appliances available, design and execution capabilities, warranties, after service, how your queries are handled etc. Assess if they have adequate personnel to handle different functions like design, coordination, deliveries, installation etc. You could also ask for references or see if you can talk to some of their customers to understand their reliability.
Overall buying experience can be a clear differentiator while deciding on your modular kitchen supplier.
Please click to read our post; Modular Kitchen – Inside vs Outside
How important are the finishes of inside your kitchen cabinets compared to the exterior of your modular kitchen?
This can be one of the clear indications of the overall modular kitchen quality and could be a clear differentiator. One is to have a closer look inside the kitchen cabinets displayed at the modular kitchen showroom. Many a times, we end up looking only at the external appearance and get distracted with all the accessories and ranges available. Also the more showrooms you visit and talk to people; you will be flooded with varied information and it can be overwhelming!
It is important to give attention to details. Each component like the internals, accessory provisions, hardware, exterior finishes have to be looked into keenly. The internal laminates have to be seamlessly pressed and edge banding to be fixed with machine precision for each panel. To achieve perfection the modular kitchen cabinets has to be pre-drilled with holes (for hardware and accessory fixing), and grooves done by CNC machines. This will ensure that the panels, hinges, channels and accessories are joined in perfection while installation. If these are done manually at site, it leaves pencil markings in the internals and the accuracy in fittings will be compromised. It is the fine tuning which makes a modular kitchen to stand out and seamless with perfect lines.
To make your modular kitchen perfect both in form and function, look into the details of both inside and outside of the kitchen.
In Chennai, there is a lot of misconception about the Modular Kitchen concept. This post is intended to clarify what makes a Kitchen, ‘Modular’?
In a modular kitchen, each kitchen cabinets are made as different modules and all those are brought in and assembled together to form the entire kitchen. The kitchen cabinets can be assembled / disassembled and moved to another location and reassembled again. Each cabinet itself is modular; which means if you would want to change just one unit due to normal wear and tear after some years (for example sink cabinet), it is possible. These are not fixed with nails or glue which makes it impossible to disassemble without damaging the panels.
If you are looking for a Modular Kitchen, ensure that you are getting one. There are many advantages in going in for an actual modular kitchen; which we will cover in the next post. – ‘Why buy a modular kitchen?‘
There are many facets to designing an exceptional kitchen. A good kitchen design must offer optimal storage with ease of access, efficient layout/work triangle, consider shutter design/finish options, material planning for better durability and overall heart warming aesthetics.
Typical storage in kitchens include basic groceries and essential provisions (daily use & bulk), pots and pans, dinnerware, waste disposal, water purifier, gas system, handy electrical appliancesetc. Efficient layouts should minimise movement between storage area, preparation/cooking/cleaning area and serving counter. Today, shutter finishes and designs are readily available to satisfy every individual requirement. Material planning is key, as it has a direct implication on the durability of kitchen cabinets. Depending on the customer’s budget, kitchen designs and material options vary accordingly along with type of kitchen construction, extent of modular cabinetries, accessories, lighting etc. Aesthetics is a function of the sizes of cabinetries with drawers/shutters, shades/combination used for the kitchen fascia, handles, counter top and back splash tiles, kitchen appliances etc.
A good kitchen designer is one who has an in-depth knowledge of all above factors and who could capture each customer’s specific requirements. H/She should be able to visualise, conceptualise with clarity and present you with a lasting impression.
CHIMNEY FOR KITCHEN
Chimney and Cooker Hood are terms used interchangeably in India. While you are finalizing on the new kitchen design and accessory details, you also need to decide if a chimney is required for your new kitchen.
Indian cooking involves a lot of masalas, oil and deep/shallow frying. This results in a lot of smoke, oily vapor and smell which you would like to get rid of after. The odour often spreads to the rest of your house/apartment. This can be quite embarrassing when guests enter your home. Your whole home/apartment will smell like the food that you have cooked. If these elements remain in the kitchen space, it could get deposited over the surface of your kitchen cabinetries, counter tops and other appliances. And if left unchecked, over a period of time the deposits will become stains which will be difficult to remove. Cleaning becomes a tedious job and the kitchen will never look the way you want it to. To avoid this and to keep the kitchen odour-free, fresh and clean, we would recommend installing a chimney according to your requirement.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHIMNEYS
1. Duct type – Requires piping from the hood to the wall vent
2. Ductless – Uses charcoal filter which absorbs the cooking odours and the purified air is recycled back into the kitchen
Advantages of ductless chimneys:
Disadvantages of ductless chimneys:
For Indian cooking it is recommended to go for Duct type chimneys due to the factors mentioned above.
Duct type Chimneys / Hoods – things to look for:
These hoods work on a simple mechanism of sucking the air from near the hob and taking it out through the duct and to the vent wall. To ensure that grease does not get accumulated inside the chimney / on the motor, thereby reducing the life of the equipment, a filtering mechanism is employed. These filters keep the grease / oil vapor and particles from going to the inside of the chimney.
Two types of filter mechanisms are available; Mesh and Baffle.
Below, is a comparison of the two types of filters –
There are different varieties of chimneys available in the market, so you can choose it as per your need that goes with your kitchen model.
Different designs available in Chimneys;
MODULAR & SEMI-MODULAR KITCHEN
In India, most kitchen cabinets are made of laminated plywood (water proof) cut in appropriate sizes and joined together to form a unit with shutters/drawers to close them. It will have 5 sides (left, right, bottom, top & back) forming the storage portion with the access from the front (shutter/drawer). A modular kitchen will have a desired set of units like these which are assembled / kept next to each other (floor – base units, wall – wall units) as per design. We call each unit a module and hence the term modular kitchen. In short a set of modules assembled together forms a modular kitchen. Here the kitchen is given as an empty room and the designer has the freedom to create a concept/design taking inputs from the home maker. The design possibilities are endless and the process from concept stage to final commissioning is quite exciting.
Many at times home makers do walk in to our store and ask for semi-modular kitchens, thinking that it is cheaper and better option!! Let me clarify, this kind of arrangement is primarily used in civil kitchens – where the storage units are made of cement structure with slab and counter top laid above. In Chennai, most of the builders/property developers deliver the apartment to the customer with slab/counter top already laid in the kitchen. It is remarkable that lot of customers are told that semi-modular kitchens are better for them by the representatives. This is not exactly true and I would like to list a few pros and cons in this;
PROS IN OPTING FOR A SEMI-MODULAR KITCHEN
In short, if you want a good looking kitchen with fine lines and want to use good accessories, always opt for a modular kitchen and NOT semi-modular. So, please instruct your builder not to place the slab or granite till you complete the modular kitchen work. One of the concerns of the home maker will be whether the kitchen cabinet can take the weight of the granite seated on top. The answer is if you are using good quality ply wood for the cabinets – ‘YES’ it can take the weight. You do not need to worry about any other aspect, this is the right way if you decide to go ahead with modular kitchen. The steps are as below;
In this post, I have tried to explain the difference between modular & semi-modular kitchen and pros and cons between both. I strongly advice that you make an informed decision in order to help you design and create your dream kitchen.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR BEFORE BUYING A MODULAR KITCHEN
Modular kitchens have become an integral part of interior budget allocation for most new home buyers in India. But most times it is placed at the end of line during the decision process and tends to be compromised due to budget. Generally all other works exceed the allocated budget and this effects the final kitchen spending. When home owners finally walk into our showroom to decide on their Modular Kitchen, they come with serious budget constraints. After visiting the showroom and understanding the various possibilities available today in terms of aesthetics, functionality & kitchen appliances – at the design stage, the home owners tend to want it all. Naturally the home maker spends a good amount of time in this space and would want to make it most efficient and appealing.
So, once a decision has been taken to have a Modular Kitchen, the following aspects have to be prioritised;
a) Design b) Finish c) Accessories d) Storage e) Budget f) Quality of base cabinets g) Appliances h) Counter Top i) Lighting etc
If the home owner can specify the order of priority, then it will be easier to conceptualise the initial design with the least lead time. For example, if budget is the top most priority, then the designer can suggest the most economical finishes, reduce single shutter cabinets and maintain standard sizes, high-end accessories can be avoided, basic appliances can be incorporated etc. Once the designer has a clear understanding of your requirement, they will be able to churn out a design within 1-2 days. With high end kitchen design software, today we can create unique and very swanky/sophisticated kitchen designs. Any idea can be translated to a design which will suit the home maker’s taste; the key being availability of a reasonable budget for the same. If there is a heavy constraint on budget (less than Rs. 2,00,000), then it would be better to engage a carpenter for the same – keeping in mind that there would be a trade off in terms of his design exposure, final finishes, quality of actual material used etc.
Plywood (for cabinets or better known as Carcass among the kitchen fraternity) is one of the major components in Modular Kitchens in India. There are many types and grades of plywood available today which are branded & unbranded with varied grades in terms of their usage. The grades are like Commercial Ply, Moisture Resistant (MR), Water Resistant (BWR), Water Proof (BWP) etc. It is advisable to use the best quality plywood as base material for the cabinetries to ensure durability. These are precisely cut as per design, laminated and edge banded at the factory (the finish which a carpenter will not be able to achieve). The factory made cabinetries will be long lasting and they do not get de-laminated like the ones stuck with adhesives by hand (in case of a manual carpentry job). To save on cost it is not advisable to compromise on this aspect in a modular kitchen.
Another aspect of costing in modular kitchen is the finish you want to achieve. This has to be used in all exposed (visible) parts of the kitchen; like the shutters, drawers, exposed sides (of cabinets), inner exposes (inside of glass shutters) etc. The more exposes required in a kitchen the more costly it will be. The most economical finish is the basic Matt Laminate, and then you have other finishes like Painted, Membrane (Foil), High Gloss Laminate, Imported Acrylic, Poly Gloss etc. For home owners who like the solid wood / classic finish, there are wood options like Birchwood & White-Ash (which can be stained to resemble Dark Walnut, Teak, Cherry etc). The more exquisite and premium solid wood finishes like real Walnut, Cherrywood are also available for the most discerning home owners.
Then we need to decide on the kitchen accessories/hardware and appliances. Kitchen accessories are mainly for better storage and accessibility to kitchen items. Today various international brands are available in India like Hettich, Hafele and Indian brands like Sleek, KAFF. They are available in different price ranges and come packed with specific functionality. Kitchen accessories like drawer systems (with soft-closing mechanism) for storage of cutlery, pot and pan, plate, cup and saucers etc. Even the shutters (doors) can be with soft-closing mechanism – with plain shelves OR with pull outs for easier accessibility. There are many accessories for corners like D-Trays (1/2 & ¾), Magic Corner, Leeman etc which will help in easily accessing the material stored. The costing of accessories can vary anywhere between 10% – 50% of the entire kitchen expenditure. Again, it depends on the available budget of the home owner.
Kitchen appliances are finding a major place in most Indian kitchens. About a decade back, chimney & hob were the only appliances which were known to us. Even among these, we have many models in varying price brackets depending on the budget for the home maker. Today most of the new home buyers also want to equip their modular kitchen with built-in appliances like microwave, oven etc. This along with the functionality adds tremendous aesthetic value to the kitchen. Depending on the requirement, we can provide the home maker with Cooking Range, Wine Coolers, Bar-B-Que Grills and Dishwashers. All these kitchen appliances are finding a place in Indian kitchens and the home makers find them most handy and convenient. Apart from pricing and product specification of these products, a crucial factor for buying decision is the service network and efficiency of the brand. The home maker needs to study and understand the level of company’s commitment in terms of service availability before making the purchase. Always buy brands which have a clear service delivery protocol and provide hands on customer support.
To complete the modular kitchen, we need the counter top. In India, most of the home makers prefer the use of granite (dark shades) for their kitchens. There are other options for counter tops like Corian, Engineered marble, and Quartz (Caeserstone an internationally reputed quartz counter top brand has been recently launched in the Indian market by Hafele). Granite average pricing is in the range of Rs 140–300 per SqFt, Corian is around Rs 1000/-, Engineered marble is at Rs 300 upwards and Caeserstone is in Rs 1600-2500/- range.
Please click to read our post – ‘Deciding on the modular kitchen supplier‘
We are online at last!
Our first ‘Hoop Pine’ store in Anna Nagar – Chennai was inuagurated on 14-Sept 2012. Ever since, it has been an exciting journey of learning / unlearning and exploring various solutions for our customers.
The first product we offered was ‘Modular Kitchen’ in Chennai. We were new to this industry, but with a passion to deliver the best – we ventured in. We strive to offer great value to the customer and empower them with the right information which will help to make good investment decisions for their kitchens. Over a few months, we realised the need to offer Kitchen accessories & appliances also for our clients. For accessories we partnered with HETTICH as they have excellent brand recall in this category. If the customer requires any other brand considering budget or functional requirement, we are open to source the accessory as per the client’s needs and fit it in in our kitchen design. For Kitchen Appliances, we partnered with KAFF (imported from Europe) which has exellent market share in the Northern part of India, but yet to estabish its foothold firmly in Tamilnadu. And the latest product was the SS Kitchen Sinks for which we have partnered with NEELKANTH sinks which is one of the market leaders in this segment in India. So we have become a one stop shop for modular kitchens.
We believe in sharing information, as today the market is crowded with lot of service providers from carpenters, free lance designers who outsource the work, small outlets, independant contractors, regional level showrooms, national players, imported kitchens etc. It becomes very confusing for the customer to choose from this clutter. With this blog, we hope to educate the customer to make informed decisions. We want to empower them – we want to help you create your OWN kitchen! Look forward to connecting with you.
Mathew Easow (Partner @ Hoop Pine)
Disclaimer: The content for blog/website is written based on my experiences/knowledge in this field. I urge you to take your decisions objectively and with adequate research from other available sources for all your requirements. I/We do not take any responsibility for damages/claims arising from decisions taken by any person based on this Blog/Website.