Investing in a new kitchen is very exciting but it can also be very expensive! We help a lot of clients to choose their new kitchen from our list of trusted suppliers and also offer advice on what aspects of the kitchen it's worth spending more or less on.

We have put together a brief guide on where we think the most value is in a kitchen.

The Shell: The shell, or the carcasses of the kitchen are essentially the interiors of the cabinet and probably the least expensive part of a kitchen. Trade suppliers such as Howdens Kitchens provide ready-made cabinet units 'off the shelf' - you just need to pick your cabinet doors. IKEA also supplies a good selection of standard cabinets. Of course, these cheap carcasses will be made out of MDF or chipboard and laminated with a standard finish (usually white). If you want your whole kitchen to have a high-end finish, you need to get a high-end kitchen or a custom made o kitchen, in which case the interior of the cabinets will have a much better, higher quality finish and the inside layout of the cabinets will be much more customisable, such as plate holding pegs inside drawers or in-built spice racks.

The Cabinet Fronts: The fronts of the cabinet units are usually the costliest aspect of a kitchen. Howdens or IKEA, as mentioned above (there are many more), will let you choose different cabinet fronts - and the cost will go up depending on the finish you choose. We have fitted IKEA kitchens before which look very nice on the outside (even though the inside is what it is) but I wouldn't say this is because the finish of the fronts on their own is particularly good - it's how you finish the kitchen that makes the difference. Of course a fully customised kitchen with high-quality cabinet fronts will overall be superior.

The Worktop: Arguably one of the most important value-adding aspects of a kitchen is the worktop. Cabinet appearance can only vary so much but the material you choose to have your worktop in will have a huge impact on appearance. Cheap laminate or wooden worktops will do nothing to add value to your kitchen - a Howdens kitchen with a laminate worktop will look exactly like what it is, but a Howdens kitchen with a well made, custom corian worktop will look much more expensive. We order all our kitchens without a worktop and have it custom made to the client's choice of colour and material. Corian can produce a seamless, single piece worktop (logistics allowing, of course) in a variety of colours, or a worktop can be made out of a real stone, such as granite or marble. Quartz is a great alternative to real stone - it is a manmade stone made out of 95% granite, ground into dust, mixed with resin and cast into sheets, making it inherently stronger and longer lasting than natural stone. It also comes in a variety of colours and finishes. We would almost always recommend investing a bit more into the worktop

The Appliances: The appliances you choose for your kitchen, although not of the utmost importance when considering the 'value' of your kitchen do certainly add or detract from the feel of the kitchen. For example, fitting an IKEA kitchen with nice appliances from Smeg, Miele or Siemens could make the kitchen look more expensive and luxurious than it is. On the converse, fitting an expensive, custom-made Italian kitchen with appliances from IKEA and Indesit might make the kitchen lose a touch of its elegance. Choosing your appliances, especially the visible ones, can have an effect on the overall effect of your kitchen's value. Our advice is that if you want to keep the price of the kitchen down, fit good mid-range appliances, such as Bosch, to a cheaper kitchen finish. This way the kitchen gets an 'appliance uplift' without spending a fortune on the shell.

The Details and the Logic: The finishing details of a kitchen are very important, as detailing is what lifts a design from a standard finish to a well-considered, all-round design. It's great if you can afford to spend money on a high-quality finish but it means nothing unless the kitchen is well-planned and finished to the smallest detail. Your interior designer or kitchen designer can help you plan the layout of the kitchen cabinets, where to fit the appliances, drawer and cabinet space, how many shelves to fit and so on. Details like the placement and quantity of plug sockets, the height of the splashback, LED lighting below the cabinets et cetera are the details that finish the design. Also, it's important to consider what happens below and above the kitchen cabinets - how high are the cabinets so that they are comfortable to use, do the cabinets run to the ceiling or finish lower, are they scribed at the top or is the space above the cabinets open, and what kind of skirting is below the base cabinets... the list goes on.

The Overview: There are merits to finishing a kitchen in many ways but overall, of course the ideal solution would be to have a high-end interior that is well detailed, a custom made worktop and beautifully finished detailing. However, we know that the budget does not always stretch to do everything we want. We have fitted some great kitchens in the past that are IKEA cabinets and cabinet fronts with custom worktops and high-end appliances and most people cannot tell the difference from looking at the outside. A customised IKEA kitchen is a great solution if you want to keep the budget at bay and we often specify this kind of finish on investment flats or on flats where the kitchens are quite small. However, houses where the clients themselves are planning to live, especially when the kitchens are sizeable, it may be better to invest in a higher quality finish. Overall, however, I would suggest that the most important aspects of a kitchen are the cabinet fronts and a good worktop... and the number one rule: never sacrifice the details!

IKEA kitchen with Quartz Cement worktop

Custom-made Italian kitchen with Corian worktop and Miele appliances

Custom-made Italian kitchen with Quartz absolute blanco worktop

IKEA kitchen with Quartz absolute blanco worktop