What is an ‘Unfitted Kitchen’?

Have you heard the term ‘unfitted kitchen’? It seems to be relatively unknown in Australia where built- in cabinetry and continuous bench tops reign supreme in kitchen design. But I think they are just right for Queensland homes and I’ll explain why here.

Inspiration from the past

Firstly, what is an ‘unfitted kitchen’? Basically it is a kitchen comprised of different elements that are not all fixed to the wall (built in). Think kitchen dressers, pantry cupboards, big central worktables and range cookers. The inspiration for these style of kitchens comes from pre-1940 houses, farmhouses, and the big country house kitchens such as you would see in ‘Downton Abbey’.

In an unfitted kitchen you can introduce different styles, colours and finishes to create a more eclectic look. Pieces can be curated to fulfil specific needs. For example a kitchen dresser to show off your favourite dinner service, or a large kitchen island that can accommodate lots of prep and be a focal point for the family to gather around.

Flexibility and functionality

If you want to implement this style, think about what you really use your kitchen for, and then find pieces that suit those purposes. For example, a freestanding cupboard can be adapted to become a pantry or a breakfast prep station. You could get much more value out of a customised piece then a series of 60cm wide cabinets where things get lost in the back, or a run of overhead cupboards that are hard to reach. You can also show off your retro-style fridge or a beautifully engineered range cooker to better effect in an unfitted kitchen.

On the other hand, I have seen people asking online about adapting antique sideboards to incorporate kitchen (or bathroom) sinks. The key thing to remember here is that the piece still has to be ergonomically functional, especially the height.

Unfitted kitchens for Queenslanders

In older Queenslanders, you are often grappling with kitchen spaces that are irregular with multiple entry points, sloping ceilings and features such as VJ joints. Freestanding cabinets can both compliment the character of your Queenslander, and give you more design options. Here are some links to look at for inspiration. (These companies are in the UK, where the style is more popular. For copyright reasons I can’t use their images.)

If you like a streamlined look, and everything hidden behind doors, then unfitted kitchens are not for you. And if you have the budget to commission customised kitchen cabinetry from scratch, that’s a topic for another blog post. As always, please do get in touch if you would like some advice,

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