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IntroductionHere's a really important point about kitchens that you should know before you fix what to get done from an interior designer. There are PLENTY of choices to get a ready-made kitchen without using a designer. You can go to these design agencies who will design the kitchen for you (almost) for free, manufacture it off site, and set it up in your house. They can work around all restrictions such as size of the room, presence of a platform, time constraints, etc. There are many advantages to getting a kitchen done from such an agency:
If you plan to do a kitchen, its best to tell the designer upfront that you will not be getting the kitchen done from him. Then shop around and see what else you like. If nothing works out, I am sure the designer will be happy to help you do the kitchen too.
- There is no need for a designer, and you can save the high commission on an expensive section of the house. With local carpenters, labor charges are around 35-40% on ALL the materials in the kitchen including imported channels and steel baskets that they do not have to make (like laminated plywood). So you end up paying a lot of money if you choose expensive hardware even if the labor work is the same quantum. Further, the designer's commission are a percentage of the materials and labor. Ready-kitchen agencies can give a cheaper kitchen due to the absence of these costs and economy of scale.
- Their expertise is for the kitchen so they are not spread thin designing everything in a house.
- Some of the stuff they manufacture (like cabinets) is machine-made giving it a much smoother final finish.
- They have many choices on display (which you have to go see anyway), and they have better software to help you visualize the final design.
Here are some companies in Pune that do exclusive kitchen design:
- Kitchen Decor (Located in Aundh and Kothrud): Slightly run of the mill but great choices for a standard kitchen.
- NuPlus: a local company based in Sadashiv Peth - worth a look. They have some different concepts and offer more choices than Kitchen Decor.
- Hafele-based designers such as Meine Kuche (in Ishanya Mall) and Maggi Interiors on Karve Road. These companies use imported hardware like Hafele, Grass, Hettich, etc. making high-end kitchens. We got our kitchen done from Laxmi Appliances in Narayan Peth; they also own the Elica Studio on M. G. Road from where we got our Elica kitchen appliances - a chimney and a built-in oven.
- Rawat Interiors: They do exclusive kitchen design for a small fee of Rs. 500. Then you can decide whether to go with them.
- Ebco - if you go to their vendors with your requirements, they will suggest all the hardware that you need but you will still need a carpenter to fix it all up for you. Try Classic Enterprises in Timber Market, Kalpataru Plaza near Bank of India on Jawaharlal Nehru Road.
DesignThere are two fairly independent parts to the kitchen:
Both these aspects have some choices for selection. But in principle, choices are limited - in the sense that functionality-wise you must have a platform, some storage, a sink, some place for gas cylinders, etc. And aesthetics is mainly about color choice and the finish of the facade.
AestheticsAs I said earlier, two main aspects of aesthetics are color and finish. There are three main parts of the kitchen: platform, cabinets above and below the platform, and wall tiles. I won't talk much about floor tiles - see Flooring for details.
Now the color choices have to be made in combination. First you want to make a joint decision about the color of the platform and the cabinets, then you can get tiles to match. Most kitchens are white with a splash of color on a few cabinets, or wooden. You can try different color combinations but here's an explanation that our designer gave us: Individual colors such as red, yellow, and green clash with our food. Blue is the color of poison :) and gray is too dull. He was all for a combination of white and sand/beige.
I think glossy laminated finishes look good with almost any color and there is no need to be restricted to white. For our kitchen, we finally went with Google colors - white cabinets with one cabinet each of the Google colors - red, yellow, blue, and green. Similarly, our tiles were also white with a few Google-colored tiles. We were a bit apprehensive with the bold choice but it looks pretty awesome now!
- Platform: There are two main top surfaces used in India - Granite and Correan. Although I do not know the exact price, Correan is significantly more expensive than granite. Granite will cost in the range of Rs. 150-250/sq.ft. and add some cost around Rs. 50/running ft. for polishing the edge. Typically a 3" high skirting of the granite is also taken on the vertical surface bordering the tiles for a nice contrast with the tiles. Solid surface platforms which are available in the US are not yet in India but I suspect when they do arrive, they will probably be pretty expensive too.
- Granite: You get some choice of colors in granite but black is preferred the most. Telephone Black is the blackest of them all but the stone some times has gray lines called watermarks running through it which ruins the black effect. So some people go with a slightly less black granite, mostly called Premium Black; its not so black but has no problem of watermarks. Black is a safe choice as it goes with most colors in the rest of the kitchen, and does not get stained. There are some other nice colors too including dark brown and maroon (called Lakha Red).
- Correan: Correan has a wide range of colors - white being the most commonly used one. The main problem with Correan is that it is not as resistant to heat as granite and get damaged easily. So you have to be careful about putting hot vessels on the platform. There are two solutions to this problem: (1) install steel vertical rails on the platform on either side of the gas; note that this reduces the cooking space on the platform. (2) If there is damage, it is very easy to repair it by calling in their technician to buff out the damaged part.
- Marble:My parents have a white marble platform. Contrary to all popular perceptions, there is absolutely no stain on the platform in spite of daily heavy-duty cooking and minor cleaning for 25 years now. The only thing to be careful about is lemon stains; lemon juice can cause some stains if not cleaned soon and allowed to dry on the marble. I think white marble is a good option if you want a white platform that is not Correan.
- Cabinet Facades: The facades are mostly made of plywood and then covered with laminates or veneers for the final color and look. If you plan to cover the plywood entirely (on the inside, and on the bottom side), then you can just use regular commercial plywood. Alternatively, you should use marine plywood which is comparably water proof. You buy the plywood and the covering, and the carpenters will fit them to size on site. Plenty of choices for the covering as following:
- Veneers: Veneers are made of compressed paper and wood. They give a matte finish and have to be polished. They give a lovely natural wood finish and can easily be polished again when the look fades. Veneers cost upwards of Rs. 100/sq.ft. and upwards of Rs. 50/sq.ft. for polishing. If you want a real wooden look, veneer is the way to go. [See furniture materials for more details].
- Laminates: Any color, any texture, any finish other than wood - go laminates! Solids colors, metallic finishes, glossy, matte, suede, designs, digital prints - name it and you will find it in laminates. There are wood laminates too but they are not as impressive as veneers. There are many companies with catalogs filled with choices. Sadly, its quite difficult to visualize the final color combination and pick a laminate accordingly. So you have to trust your imagination. [See furniture materials for more details].
- Ready sheets: Nowadays you also get ready-made machine-made sheets (both Indian and imported) that can be cut to size for your cabinet. As these sheets cover the entire inner wooden material, the cabinets can be made of MDF which is not waterproof. The finishing is excellent and the local carpenters cannot match this look. There are two catches with it - firstly, as these pieces come made in the factory, the sizes really have to be perfect; even small changes are hard to make on site and the finish may be lost in making any changes. Secondly, they cost quite a lot starting at Rs. 500/sq.ft. If cost is not a concern, this is definitely the best option looks-wise.
- Steel: Steel is another option for cabinet facades introduced by foreign companies such as Hafele. No idea about how it looks or sustains or costs. But you can also get a steel finish by using metallic finish laminates.
- Glass: Another option for overhead cabinets or full-length cabinets (not cabinets used in from of trolleys below the platform) is to use some combination of glass and aluminum. See details under shutters.
You can also have loft storage above the overhead cabinets if you really need the space. But that space is hard to get to and can only store items which are infrequently used. These lofts can just match your cabinet facade or the front can be made of MDF and you can just paint the loft shutters. MDF is chosen because its cheaper, and painted as paint looks good on MDF so need for the extra lamination cost too.
- Shutters: For overhead cabinets, you can get different shutters. Either you can get plain side-opening doors with hinges. Or you can get profile shutters which are pushed upwards to the ceiling. There are many different types of the latter based on the lift-system you use (see Hafele for an excellent range of lift systems). Both types of shutters can be made of glass (4mm thick) and aluminum (widths ranging from 20mm to 50mm), or the standard laminated plywood. Aluminum is used as the border for the cabinet and the middle surface area is glass. You can clear glass (around Rs. 35/sq.ft.), frosted glass (around Rs. 80/sq.ft.), or colored glass (Rs. 250/sq.ft.). Frosted glass works very well to give a glass finish and yet hide the storage behind it. Aluminum is available in different finishes, mostly aluminum finish and steel finish (around Rs. 150/r.ft.). The cost of using aluminum and glass is only marginally higher than using laminated plywood.
In addition you can roll-down shutters for a gadget rack or a full-size pantry; these are very convenient when you don't want a door blocking your access (e.g. to a microwave). Glass roll-down shutters look the best but are very expensive; I am told upwards of Rs. 1 lakh for a size of 60"x24". But you can get nice PVC ones which come in different finishes of steel, aluminum, and some basic colors such as black, gray, etc. Local ones are manufactured by Ebco whereas you can get imported one from Rihau, Hafele, etc. But a shutter of reasonable quality will still cost around Rs. 20-30K.
- Tiles: Tiles should be chosen after the platform and the cabinets to match the chosen colors. Glossy tiles are easier to keep clean, especially with kitchen splatter. Smaller tiles (6-8 inches by 6-8 inches) which are laid with a slight 4mm gap that is then filled with grout, look awesome in kitchens. Then you can put a few picture tiles with kitchen-specific motifs (such as fruits, vegetables, chefs, etc.) in the middle.
You can also lay tiles behind the cabinets if you do not want to make full ply boxes that will cover the wall too. These hidden tiles can be cheap regular-sized glossy white tiles. Then you don't have to paint the walls at the back before the kitchen is installed.
FunctionalityI believe that kitchens are fairly easy to design. You have seen some type of kitchen being used either where you grew up or in a rental place before you move into your place. So you generally have some expectation about how your kitchen should look. So its not really required to get a designer for it. There is a lot of literature online, especially on the vendor sites - Hafele, Hettich, Grass, Ebco, Evershine - that can help you decide exactly what you want in your kitchen.
Design PointsKitchens can be of three different types based on the location of the platform - one-sided, two-parallel-sided, L-shaped, or U-shaped. You can also have an island in the middle of the kitchen but it is a bit rare in India given the tight spaces in flats. Remember to plan your kitchen platform depending on how much working space platform you need. If at most two-people will work in your kitchen at a time, an L-shaped kitchen is good enough and you can use any extra space to get a full-size pantry or a gadget rack.
Here are some design points that came up during our design:
- Corner Units: Most kitchens will have at least one corner. One corner can be easily used to store gas cylinders (unless you have piped gas - yay!). You put the cylinders in the corner and allow the gas tube to run along the platform to your stove. If you do not need the space to store cylinders, then to utilize that space fully, you need a fancy corner unit which has some sort of lateral and rotational motion to allow access to the inner parts of the corner. There is a wide range of corner units - check out Ebco and Hafele sites for details - depending on the space available in your corner unit. They can be quite expensive ranging any where from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 50,000. An easier alternative is to just put L-shaped ply shelves in a corner. While difficult to use, it can store items which are not used often. The space is optimally used for less cost.
- Materials: In addition to the platform, there are verticals that support the weight of the platform. These verticals are completely hidden by the cabinets beneath the platform. They can be made of green marble or kadappa. Kadappa is thicker so you waste some storage space but it is half the price of green marble. Additionally, you also get some plywood verticals to mount your drawers. 18mm commercial plywood is used to build the entire kitchen carcass. Marine plywood is also recommended since it is largely water-proof. However, if you plan to laminate all sides of your plywood, it is not that critical to get marine plywood. Glass used in shutters is usually 4mm thick and aluminum borders can range between 20mm and 50mm width.
- Western designs: In all other rooms we can adopt ideas from other parts of the world but the kitchen has to be mostly 'Indian'. Our cooking style, ingredients, cleaning methods vary significantly from the Western world and adopting some of their design ideas may fail miserably for us. So keep in mind the Indian environment while doing the kitchen.
- Vendor discounts: Also, all vendors will give you a discount from 15-40% on hardware so always check on the discounts on the MRPs. Different vendors will give different discounts so it does not hurt to comparison shop, at least for the expensive items.
Hardware - DrawersBeneath the platform, most new kitchens have drawers which can be pulled out on channels. One older option is to just have plain plywood shelves. Its a simpler design and will cost much less but it is a bit cumbersome to use as you have to bend down to access most items, and items have to moved around to get to the other items which are stored at the back. If you ask me, with fixed wooden shelves you will get a cheap, functional, and long-lasting kitchen. And it will work wonders for your health with the physical effort you have to out into using the kitchen :).
Alternatively and more commonly, people now get drawers which are mounted on channels. Drawers can be of three materials as follows; in all three of them you can put anti-skid drawer liners which will help to maintain cleanliness and avoid the vessels from moving around too much.
- Steel: Steel baskets are most common but a bit expensive. You can get custom baskets made from many local vendors. National vendors are Ebco and Evershine which use 304 quality stainless steel. SS drawers have gaps and are harder to clean and maintain. One more option is to buy a steel rectangular frame which fits on the channels and then the actual steel storage basket is simply placed on this frame. So you can easily remove the basket for cleaning.
- Laminated plywood: These are regular drawers made of plywood which are laminated using 0.8mm laminate in common colors such as white and gray. These have to be made locally on site by your carpenter.
- Fiber: Fiber drawers are given by German companies such as Hafele and Grass. They are more expensive but look a bit nicer and are slightly easier to maintain than plywood boxes.
- NuPlus: They provide drawers made of stainless steel which do not have gaps like steel baskets so they are easier to clean. But you have to get your kitchen done from them to get this option.
Hardware - ChannelsNowadays a lot of German hardware has flooded the Indian market - Hafele, Hettich, Grass - the choice is baffling. From what I saw, I would rank the three in order of increasing cost as Hettich, Hafele, and Grass. Hafele seems to be most popular with the independent design agencies and designers whereas Hettich is preferred for local agencies such as Rawat and Kitchen Decor. The hardware can be used in many different places:
- Cabinet Hinges
- Overhead lift systems
- Telescopic channels which hold the drawers and slide out
Channels are the hardware that slide in and out, and hold your drawers. Channel costing depends on the length of the channel and the weight-bearing capacity. There are mainly two types of channels - telescopic non-soft closing, and telescopic soft closing. As the names suggest, soft closing allows you to push the drawer and the last couple of inches close by itself so the drawers do not bang around. You can also get non-telescopic channels but they waste some of the available space for storage.
Soft closing channels come in one more variety called a box channel. Different companies have different names for box channels - Hafele Tandem Boxes, Hettich Inotech Drawers, Grass DWD, etc. These box channels come with some extra hardware on the sides of the drawers will allows better movement than plain metallic channels. These boxes can only be used with plywood drawers, not steel baskets.
Regular non-soft-closing telescopic channels are made by Indian companies such as Bosch and Ebco. Soft-closing channels are also made by Ebco, and all the German companies. See the table below for a summary of channels and drawers in the market.
Channel Drawer Vendor Cost Regular non-soft-closing Steel/Plywood HHG, Ebco (IN), Bosch(IN) Rs. X Soft closing Steel/Plywood HHG, Ebco (IN) Rs. 2X Soft closing L-bracket Steel basket Hettich Rs. 2.5X Box channel Plywood Hafele (TandemBox), Hettich(Inotech), Grass(DWD) Rs. 10X Castors Steel/Plywood Castor Rs. X HHG = Hafele, Hettich, Grass (German-make)
Floor CleanlinessOne important point is the design to allow the floor to be cleaned easily. Depending on the type of your bottom-most trolley, there are different options for the floor:
- Castors: You can have the steel baskets or the plywood drawers on castors so they can be easily removed by anyone and you can sweep the floor from below. There are no channels so you have to pretty careful how you put the trolley back so that it fits properly. To make this process simpler, some people make the bottom trolley slightly smaller so you lose some space but gain ease of use.
- Channels: If the drawers are on channels, there are small locks which have to be twisted so the basket can be slid out completely. This is a bit difficult especially with heavy stuff in the basket. After a few years, these locks give problems because they are made of plastic and are very small. Putting the basket back is also a bit tricky as it has to fit exactly inside the channel.
- Legs: The entire kitchen can be mounted on a ply base which rests on plastic legs. The legs can be hidden (vertically) by a skirting of 3" which matches your kitchen decor. The skirting can be easily removed as it is anchored only on a few legs. Then you can sweep between the legs easily. However the ply base can get dirty from the stuff that falls from the drawers above it so it is difficult to clean, and the drawers have to be removed from the channels to clean that ply base. The hope is that it does not get too dirty, especially if the drawers are also made of ply and do not have gaps like steel baskets.
- Floating Kitchen: The entire kitchen has a gap of 6-9" from the floor. The granite verticals rest of the floor only at the end of the platform for about 6", and they are mounted deeper into the walls to bear the weight. There are no legs or skirting at the bottom. It looks very nice but you lose 6-9" of storage space at the bottom. Also the workers needs to go a good job with mounting the platform and the stone verticals to avoid instability.
MiscellaneousGas piping: Generally Suraksha pipes are given by gas providers and can be used up to 3 feet. For longer distances from the gas cylinder to the stove, it is recommended to use copper piping. Copper piping costs around Rs. 80-180/r.ft. for installation depending on the thickness of the copper pipe used.
Appliances: Its best to plan for appliances before you design the kitchen. You can provide appropriate storage space for them accordingly. Fix your appliances so that the dimensions are known as you built wood work to store them. We had a gadget rack built on one side of our kitchen where all the gadgets were stacked one on top of the other. At the bottom, there is a built-in oven, the mixer is stored at the platform level, and the microwave is stored at eye-level. This tall cabinet saved us a lot of platform space.
CostsI am not sure what is a good way to enlist kitchen costs - they vary a lot depending on the exact materials that you choose, the size of your kitchen, etc. Here I list some of the items that you should consider for your cost analysis and a rough idea of the rates that we found. You need to take into account your sizes to come up with a final estimate of the kitchen costs. Please add about 35-40% on top of all material coats for labor, and the extra designer commission on all materials and labor. Then you can decide whether it is worth paying the premium to get a ready kitchen from an outside agency. Be sure to add about 10-15% extra costs for contingencies and wastage.
Item Rate Granite platform Rs. 145/sq.ft. + polishing and about Rs. 10,000-15,000 for installation Kadappa for under-platform drawer frame Rs. 60/sq.ft. Tiling Rs. 50/sq.ft. for plain tiles below the platform
Rs. 200-500/sq.ft. for fancy tiles between the platform and overhead cabinets.
Material and labor for installation: see Flooring for details.
Plybox for drawer frame and laminates Marine plywood at Rs. 100-125/sq.ft. Plywood will be put along the kadappa verticals,
below the granite platform, and possibly at the back near the wall.
Plain white laminate at 25/sq.ft. Consider laminating both sides of plywood.
Drawers/Trolleys Steel trolleys Rs. 2000-3000/piece
Plywood trolleys same as ply box rates above. Will need four ply sides with regular
channels, and only front and bottom with fancy German-make channels and boxes.
Plywood facade and laminates for drawers Marine plywood at Rs. 100-125/sq.ft.
Fancy decorative laminate at Rs. 50-100/sq.ft.
Channels for drawers Varies from Rs. 250/pair (Indian) to Rs. 3000/pair (German) Handles and other hardware Rs. 100-200/handle. Extra for other hardware like hinges. Overhead cabinets plywood and laminate Same as plywood drawer rates above.
Commercial non-marine plywood Rs. 75-85/sq.ft.
Overhead cabinets aluminum and glass doors Aluminum frame at Rs. 150/r.ft.
Glass shelves at Rs. 90/sq.ft. Glass (frosted) doors at Rs. 120/sq.ft.
Corner Units Depends on the exact corner shape and the trolley you choose to install there. Kitchen Sink Rs. 4000-9000 depending on the size and quality.
Faucet: Rs. 2000-4000.
Installation should be covered in the granite installation.
Appliances As per your choice - chimney, stove, fridge, oven, microwave, mixer,
water purifier, etc.