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Posted at: Nov 30, 2019, 12:58 AM; last updated: Nov 30, 2019, 12:58 AM (IST)

Modular kitchen: Do it right

The new-age cooking spaces come with smart planning, organised storage, sleek cabinets, modern appliances and suit varied budgets

Pooja Khanna Tyagi

Replacing the conventional carpentered kitchens, modular kitchens are gradually becoming a popular addition with  newly constructed bungalows and apartments. These kitchens are manufactured in factories and are tailor-made according to the requirements of the homeowner. Often homeowners are hesitant to go in for these smart kitchens because of the steep pricing. Following a basic checklist will, however, help you freeze the specifications and achieve a budget-friendly modular kitchen. The best way forward is to take quotations from at least three modular kitchen contractors for the same specifications and then strike the best deal. 

It is, however, imperative to first understand the importance of going in for a modular design for your kitchen. And then figure out ways to design such a kitchen in a cost-effective manner.

Why remodel

Looks sleek: A modular kitchen gives a sleek and modern look. It is available in a variety of colours, patterns and finishes like acrylic, laminate, PVC and so on. This kitchen can be fabricated in different configurations of colour, finish and design to suit the taste of the homeowner or overall decor of the home.

proper Utilisation of space: A modular kitchen is designed by experts who maximise every square inch of the kitchen space. They ensure maximum functionality with clever utilisation of space and include proper zoning of the cooking, cleaning and storage areas. The design of the kitchen is customised according to the working process of the end user, and not the other way around. 

clutter-free appeal: Modular kitchens come with modern accessories that provide smart storage, increase efficiency of the kitchen and provide a clutter-free look to the kitchen as well as the countertop. 

Easy to maintain: Unlike conventional kitchens, a modular kitchen is highly resistant to damage caused due to termites. Also, if any section of the kitchen gets damaged over a period of time, it is easy to replace. 

Hassle-free transportation: This kitchen comes in a ready-to-install form which makes the transportation easy. Unlike carpentered kitchens that release a lot of dust and create a lot noise when the carpentry work is in progress, a modular kitchen involves a clean and fuss-free fabrication-cum-installation. If the homeowner plans to shift to a different location, the prefabricated kitchen modules can be dismantled and reassembled at a different site.

  —   The writer is a Delhi-based architect and interior designer


Designing a cost-effective kitchen

The cost of a modular kitchen is more than a conventional kitchen. Here is how one can easily control the budget and make the cost of a modular kitchen more affordable. The budget of a modular kitchen can be divided into five major components. These are flooring and backsplash tiles, the countertop, base and overhead cabinets, kitchen accessories and appliances. It is essential to control the costs of each of these components to make your kitchen more cost-effective.


Ticking the tiles

The most popular flooring material for the kitchen includes porcelain or ceramic tiles, vitrified tiles and some homeowners prefer natural marble. However it is advisable to go in for matte finish porcelain tiles as these are available in varied price range that can suit any budget. Porcelain tiles are not only stronger and maintenance-free than ceramic tiles but the matte finish creates a slip-resistant surface in the kitchen as the kitchen is prone to moisture and spillage of water.

The trending materials for the kitchen backsplash tiles include natural stone, ceramic or porcelain tiles, glass tiles and metallic tiles. If you are on a budget, then go for ceramic or porcelain tiles for the backsplash as these materials are available in a variety of colours, design, patterns and finishes. Natural stone is cost effective but requires a lot of maintenance. Glass tiles and metallic tiles are quite expensive but a great way to impart a high-end look to the kitchen.


Choosing the countertop

Indian granite and Italian granite are the hardest natural stone materials and are most suitable for the countertop. If you are on a budget, go for an Indian granite countertop as it is cost-effective. 

Other trending countertop materials include quartz, solid surface and nano white. These materials are very expensive in comparison to Indian granite and should be used only for high-end modular kitchens.


Cabinet formation

The cabinets form a major component of the budget of a modular kitchen and also determine the strength and longevity of the modular kitchen 

n The base material of cabinets includes MDF (medium density fibreboard), HDF (high density fibreboard), commercial grade plywood or BWR (boiling water resistant plywood). Although MDF is cheaper than commercial grade plywood and BWR plywood, it should not be used as a base material for kitchen cabinets. This is because the kitchen is one of the most moisture-laden areas of the home and MDF has the tendency to absorb moisture and disintegrate over a period of time. 

It is highly recommended to only go for cabinets BWR or commercial grade plywood because these last longer and are a good long-time investment.

The cabinets can be finished in different materials like post-formed shutters where the laminates are machine-pressed on the plywood or MDF. 

The shutters can also be finished in decorative laminates, veneer, acrylic, PVC membrane, PU coating or metal. 

The cost-effective options for the cabinets include PVC membrane shutters, decorative laminates and post-forming shutters. Take your pick.


Handy tips

A modular kitchen is factory-manufactured and is assembled at site.

The time taken for the fabrication of the kitchen can range between four to six weeks depending on the complexity of  the design.

These kitchens are manufactured in the form of modules which are available as wall units, floor units, tall storage, cabinets, differently-sized drawers and modules for fixing the built-in appliances.


Accessorise

A vast range of modular kitchen accessories is available in the market. These can be fixed on to the drawers and cabinets of the modular kitchen. Some of these accessories include cutlery holders, pull-out baskets, bottle pull-outs, utensil trays, garbage holders and so on.

The purchase of each accessory will add to the overall budget of the kitchen. So select the kitchen accessories that are most suitable for your kitchen and your style of cooking. 

A corner carousel is one of the most unique modular kitchen accessories which can be incorporated within the inaccessible corners of L-shaped or U-shaped kitchens. It makes use of the hard-to-reach corners of the kitchen and converts it into functional space.

Another top feature which can be incorporated within a modular kitchen is the tall-boy which works as a kitchen pantry and is perfect for the storage of non-perishable kitchen ingredients. 

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