Oak cabinets? Check. Hand-painted units? Check. Quality joinery? Check. These are just some of the factors that go into creating a dream kitchen – and every Neptune kitchen, for that matter – along with the statement island and wow-factor cooker hoods and work surfaces, of course. But not every budget or space is ready for such a financial commitment. Designing on a budget needs to be even more creative and inventive, and is hugely rewarding as a result.
Assistant kitchen designer Annie is based at Neptune Bournemouth and recently designed a high-spec, luxurious kitchen using the Henley collection for just £8,000. “The space was small but had high ceilings, so I wanted to create something grand but spacious and airy,” she explains. “I kept the design simple with a few under-counter cabinets, a wall-length oak shelf (which offered great open storage) and introduced a stylish focal piece with the elegant Henley cooker hood over the range.” The project was an interesting example of how it’s possible to achieve a timeless and considered look, using expertly-crafted pieces, while keeping to a modest budget. “When you’re looking at costs, open shelving is a great way to save, plus it opens up the space and adds character to a room,” says Annie.
Dan, senior product designer at Neptune, is a fan of the Chichester kitchen collection when it comes to designing to a budget. “Externally, the Chichester kitchen is the same high spec as all the other Neptune kitchens, but because it uses plywood for most of its internal components – rather than exposed oak – it’s more affordable,” he explains. “Our attention to the manufacturing details means the ply chassis is grooved for accuracy and rigidness, so it’s still extremely sturdy and long-lasting – you could climb into one of the cupboards if you wanted to!”
Both experts agree that planning is key to keeping within a budget, as well as being clear on how the kitchen is going to be used. Is seating important? Lots of storage? How can the architecture of the space be best used? Dan suggests that a clever way to be cost efficient is to opt for wide, double door cabinets instead of lots of drawer units as the fewer components means the costs are more competitive. “Or, if you really want drawers, go for a drawer and cabinet unit. It’s less complex to craft than a full drawer unit, so will be better priced.” And keep a savvy eye on the cost of accessories too. “When it comes to brassware, go for the smaller cabinet handles,” he adds. “They look subtle and elegant, and will be more affordable.”
Colour can also help elevate the look and feel of a kitchen. For her recent budget project, Annie selected the Henley in Snow and paired it with dramatic black brassware and marble-effect quartz worktops. “Our painted kitchens come in standard colourways but there are 26 other paint colours in our core collection to choose from, not to mention our archived seasonal shades,” she explains. “The Navy or Charcoal colours always look expensive, being dark, moody and timeless. I’d team units in those colours with a hardwearing, pale quartz work surface.”
A further way to create an interesting but cost-savvy kitchen is to save on certain items and then invest in one statement piece. For Dan, that would have to be the Tardis-like larder cabinets that are available across all the Neptune kitchen collections. “I particularly love the Henley and Limehouse larders,” he says. “But I’m also a big fan of the Charlecote island in the Suffolk collection. It sits on legs and looks bespoke but is actually modular so is very flexible and competitively priced.”
Annie recommends the glazed cabinets as a way of creating a scheme with individuality. “They feel open and airy and have discreet internal lighting, so are both functional as storage space but also a great way to display pretty pieces,” she explains. “But for a real splurge, I’d go for an Everhot or AGA range cooker. Paired with one of our beautiful cooker hoods, the ranges look stunning and produce the fluffiest, crustiest bread.” Now if that’s not a dream kitchen...