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‘