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Investing in a new kitchen can provide a big boost to the value of your home. Not only is the kitchen crucial for comfortable day to day living, it is also a vital social space and the room which often matters most to potential buyers and renters.

Luckily when scouting for a new kitchen you will often be spoilt for choice. The UK market is dominated by a number of retailers and manufacturers, almost all of which will offer free kitchen design consultations and impressive warranties. However, what they have on offer varies, as does the quality of their delivery, installation and customer support services. Because of this, it is crucial to look over each of your options and only make a purchase when you are sure that you are getting the best possible deal.

Before investing in any major home improvement project it is important to know exactly what you are paying for. In many cases, buying from a big retailer will have you paying more simply so you can say you bought a certain designer name. Customers have also been highly dismissive of the installation services offered by pretty much every kitchen retailer out there, not only in terms of price but also quality and care. When you are in a showroom with a salesperson pressuring you to make a purchase it can be easy to make a mistake, so how do you ensure that you make the right choice for your property?

There are a few tricks to help ensure a successful and hassle-free project:

  • When visiting showrooms, interact with the kitchens rather than simply seeing how they look
  • Treat consultations for the sales pitches that they are and don’t make any decisions without first going home to compare your options
  • Check reviews for local outlets as well as national chains, as experiences can vary widely
  • Arm yourself with a firm budget, accurate measurements and a list of what you need for your kitchen. Any retailers or Pros who fail to adapt to these guidelines are just salespeople, not the home improvement professionals you really want to speak to

The best advice we can give is to take your ideas to a local kitchen fitter or interior designer. An independent Pro, not tied to a specific retailer, will be able to compare your options and advise you based on their own experience. They can also provide ‘trade discounts’ on units and materials which you might struggle to find yourself, even from top brands. Perhaps most importantly, they are almost always cheaper than retail contractors, most of whom are outsourced anyway. As always, be sure to collect quotes for several different options before making a final decision!

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the biggest kitchen retailers in the UK!

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Wren kitchens

Wren calls itself the ‘UK’s Number 1 Kitchen Retail Specialist’. Get used to seeing phrases like this, as nearly every retailer you find will offer some variation on them. That is not to say that Wren is being untruthful. For example, it offers to beat any quotes offered by competitors, though independent contractors are still more likely to have better prices.

The range offered by Wren is certainly impressive, with a large number of styles to choose from and fully fitted kitchens starting at around £500. However, one of the best things about Wren is its kitchen design service. You can book a showroom consultation home measurement service free of charge and you will even receive a detailed 3D plan of your prospective kitchen before paying a penny. Best of all, Wren cabinets offer a 25 year guarantee, though realistically very few kitchens are kept for this long.

As nice as all of this sounds, Wren has a less than stellar reputation with customers. Past investigations have even lampooned the company for the disparity between quotes offered by different branches and the length of time required to rectify customer complaints. Be sure to check reviews for your local Wren outlet and keep a written record of any purchases to make sure that you are treated fairly.

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IKEA kitchens

The long reigning monarch of the world of flat pack furniture, IKEA is often called the best option for homeowners on a budget. Going for a more affordable option certainly has its perks, such as allowing you to redirect funds elsewhere, and IKEA designs are often so simple that they can be installed without professional help. However, the best guarantee of a top quality IKEA kitchen installation will always be to hire an experienced kitchen fitter.

IKEA products are mass produced, making it easier to replace damaged parts and increasing the likelihood that the kitchen you want will be in stock at your local outlet. As well as a wide variety of kitchen designs and styles, IKEA also offers a number of helpful additions, such as interior organisers for cupboards. That said, you should keep in mind that the kitchen you are buying will not be unique.

While many people are apprehensive about flatpack furniture, IKEA’s products are by no means poor in quality. It too offers a kitchen design service, as well as helpful online planning tools. Customers seem to have very few complaints about the standard of IKEA kitchens and the company also offers its own 25 year guarantee, provided that its products are properly installed of course.

Where IKEA starts to falter is its installation service. This is a common source of customer complaints, though experiences again vary in quality depending on the locale. Another downside to IKEA kitchens is that they are designed according to very specific dimensions. If your kitchen is awkwardly shaped or sized then you will usually be left with awkward dead spaces, though a local joiner should be able to fill it with bespoke storage if necessary.

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B&Q kitchens

B&Q has an impressive range of kitchens styles and colours, both for fitted kitchens and individual components. Like its competitors, B&Q also offers a free design consultation service as well as help with financing and, of course, installation. However, B&Q is also known to outsource its installation work to local contractors, so it will be worth asking about the quality of the Pro assigned to your purchase.

Nothing negative is usually said about the standard of B&Q kitchens, but the same cannot be said for its delivery record and customer service. What you need to remember, however, is that a great deal of this is usually down to individual outlets rather than the entire chain. If you choose to use B&Q, be sure that you know exactly what you are paying for so that you can spot any issues with your delivery and have them sorted as quickly as possible. 

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