How to choose a kitchen for a new build

Every house builder has a range of kitchens to choose from. Sometimes you get a house where they’ve already put the basic option in to meet their own timescales, sometimes a sale has fallen through and you get someone else’s choices, and if you’re early enough in the sales process, you get to choose your own.

We’ve lived here over three and a half years, all the while intending to get a new kitchen fitted, and it’s never happened… which meant that when we had the opportunity to choose our own for this one, we went all out.

Know your options

The way the big builders work is… there’s a small range of included kitchens (because you have to include a kitchen to sell a house), from which you choose the unit style, colour, worktop and handles in whatever combination you want. Anything above and beyond this standard range is chargeable. And payment is due when you make your choices, which, for us, was four months before expected moving day (was supposed to be two to three months but it changed all of a sudden).

Fancy the upgrade?

Because we ‘d not got around to putting our kitchen in here, we knew that we needed to make the one we chose for the next house count… and because we knew that the kids will have left home before we will be able to replace it. We’d already been looking at in-frame navy units for years, and this is what we’ve gone for in the end – we decided to upgrade to a Symphony Gallery New England kitchen with Indigo base units with Chalk White wall units so the room wasn’t overpowered by the navy.  This wasn’t an option for all house types. The colour choices that we were given at the beginning of December have already changed, but were generally quite neutral – there’s never anything too out there.

Wooden colour samples for a kitchen being held up

Take a proper look

If you know the name of the kitchen supplier, you can get a better idea of how the kitchen will look, either by visiting showrooms or with online kitchen designer software, if they have it. We played around with different options and nearly went for all-blue or all-white (this is what Symphony‘s website lets you create).

The one below is from Symphony‘s site – similar to our final choices of colours and handles but we didn’t have the option of wooden worktops, so we went for a white silestone (like quartz) worktop in the kitchen in the end, and white marbled effect laminate in the utility.

Visit the builder’s showhomes if you can – sometimes they have a standard kitchen fitted, sometimes an upgrade.

Know what’s included… If you can

We’re thrilled that it comes with a Belfast sink, and despite having drawings of the upgraded kitchen, and having a quick look round a lovely neighbour-to-be’s house, we don’t actually know fully what we’re getting for our money. Pan drawers? Glass in the wall units? Who knows! We just know the units we chose based on one base unit door sample, the layout, the model numbers for the electricals… and that’s it.

At no other point in your life will you hand over thousands of pounds like this, with very little say over what you actually receive. Yes, you get the aesthetic choices I mentioned, but we really wanted a fridge with a water dispenser. Absolutely, no way, was that in any way possible. An integrated fridge was the only option, to get the fridge we want, we would need to rip out our brand new fridge when we get in… Not an attractive proposition.


I get it, this is how they make money – they’re house builders, not kitchen designers, and the way they get houses turned around quickly is by limiting options. But be aware that even if you’re putting more money into the kitchen, you still might have to compromise on the finished article.

Here’s my tip. Don’t let it spoil your anticipation. Whatever you choose, it will be fine, and it’s really exciting to see your choices come to life. I’ve been trawling the web for pictures of this kitchen, in our chosen colour combinations, and it’s almost better that I can’t find one that looks just like ours.

On non-working days, I generally call by the house to see what’s going on from afar, and was happy to see loads of boxes stacked up in the kitchen this week… it’s arrived! I couldn’t tell if the room’s even been plastered yet, but I cannot wait to see this kitchen in. Eight weeks to moving day!

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