Advertisement - PR Product.
In the two years we’ve been in our home, the kitchen has always been a point of contention. Despite it being a new-development, we came in at a late stage of the build process meaning we couldn’t choose the kitchen colours and worktop ourselves – so we pretty much had to stick with the sage green cabinets, pastel oak worktop and chrome handles that had been pre-installed. That’s not to say it wasn’t a beautiful kitchen, it just wasn’t completely to our taste nor was it our ‘dream’ kitchen – so we knew it was invariably going to be something we’d tackle later down the line.
And I know that many new-build property owners are in the same boat. Whether it’s a cabinet or a colour choice they didn’t make – or whether (like us) the developer has chosen not to finish off the kitchen with details like cornice and pelmet (which give the kitchen a luxurious feel and added ‘height’), it’s difficult to justify a whole new kitchen when the one you have is brand new and perfectly fine!
As the months went by, we grew to love the sage cabinets – and embraced the colour by painting a feature wall in a similar shade and opting for some complementary cushions to tie the entire room open plan together.
Sage is a really beautiful warm toned colour that gives the kitchen/dining/family room a wonderfully tranquil and earthy feel, so I am glad that choice was made for us – as it wouldn’t have been something we’d have chosen ourselves.
However the niggling feeling of ‘upgrading’ it still remained and so we set about investigating how we might be able to give it a more ‘finished’ look and feel, without ripping everything out and starting from scratch.
Sage is a really beautiful warm toned colour that gives the kitchen a wonderfully tranquil and earthy feel!
We soon discovered that our kitchen was from Symphony, who supply the majority of new-build developments in the UK (so if you’ve purchased a newer home too, there’s a high chance yours is a Symphony design too) and that they offer additional elements in the same range that could be added to your standard kitchen to change the look and feel.
My evenings on Pinterest revealed that subtle decorative elements such as cornice and pelmet (the framing around the top and bottom of the cabinets) really can make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of a kitchen. Additionally, drawers (rather than cupboards) under the hob can give a more ‘bespoke kitchen’ feel and act as a beautiful design feature.
As a little bit of background about our kitchen and the light it gets (because again, this is such an important consideration when it comes to colour choices), ours is North facing and we have bi-folds which means that although it’s not dark, it isn’t typically ‘flooded with light’ so we wanted to keep things as bright and reflective as possible, so that the rays of sunshine we do get would be bounced around the kitchen!
So we set about pinpointing & budgeting for the variety of aspects that we wanted to change. Symphony were an incredible resource, not only for kitchen inspiration (they’ve got an amazing interactive kitchen visualiser tool on their website) but also in terms of the practical considerations – such as ensuring the sink we opted for would be an inset sink and making sure the new drawer units would fit in the space of the previous cupboard units without any gap.
They helped me to draw up a number of options and dispatched worktop samples, handle samples & colour scheme ideas before we made the final decisions!
The largest and most labour intensive change was the worktops – which used to be a laminate pastel oak shade. While this wasn’t offensive by any means, it didn’t really add much to our sage green cabinets – as it tended to blend in at certain times of the day and could also look quite dull and dark depending on the light.
I was keen to have something with a marble effect, not only to brighten up the room but also compliment our dining table (which is also faux marble) and tie the space together. As luck would have it, Symphony were in the process of launching their new premium laminate worktop in Artic Marble, a beautiful bright white surface with long, meandering veins of grey running through it. It was an easy decision to make!
Post fit, we are so delighted by how the worktops look and we can’t believe how much they change up the look of the kitchen. Light bounces off the surface and everything looks so bright and clean! It’s a fabulous (and more affordable) alternative to natural stone and it’s made such a huge difference in transforming our standard new build kitchen into our dream one!
The Big Reveal
The next biggest change was replacing the cupboard units underneath the hob (which had drawers behind them) into actual drawer units. This was a last minute addition but one we are SO happy with, because it instantly upgraded the look of the kitchen!
The soft close drawers are more spacious than the ones we had previously and on a practical level, it’s so much easy to grab what you’re looking for! I love how they frame and centre the kitchen – and give a more bespoke feel.
Switching the handles from the standard range to a more premium brushed brass has transformed the look of the kitchen and made the units look more streamline and elegant. Symphony have a huge array of handles to choose from – so whether matte black, copper or sleek chrome floats your boat – they’ve got an option to fit. They were super easy to replace – simply unscrew your old handle and screw your new one on. The fact they are made for the units means you are reassured that they will fit – and you won’t have to worry about filling in any holes!
One of the most noticeable changes was adding cornice and pelmet to the wall units, which instantly heightened the look of the kitchen and made it feel far more premium and elegant. Introducing detail elements such as these can really add character to a kitchen – which was especially important to us with a new build, as you have such a blank canvas to begin with!
As well as making the additions above with Symphony, we also felt that a new sink would improve the look of the kitchen – especially if we opted for something light and bright to run seamlessly with the new worktops. So we opted for a granite composite sink in crystal white, as well as a beautiful new brushed brass tap! They were both around £150 each, so definitely investments – but totally worth it as they’ve finished off the upgrade and look a million times better than what we had in place before.
We also ripped out the stainless steel splash back – which again wasn’t hugely offensive, but it was a nightmare to keep clean – especially with oil from the pan smeared over it constantly so we wanted to change it up and keep things fresh and bright. While Symphony have a wonderful range of glass splash-backs and we did consider opting for one in a sage green to complement our cupboards, we were really keen to opt for tiles to optimise bouncing and reflecting light around the room.
The tiles we chose are the white metro style from Topps Tiles – and after much deliberation, we opted for white grout to match the tiles rather than anything contrasting as we didn’t want to make a feature of the splash back but rather, preferred that it would flow seamlessly from the worktop to the wall. We were warned off using white grout online due to staining, but we found a completely stain-resistant, water-resistant white grout option from a UK company called Weber.
How can you upgrade your new build kitchen?
Symphony have a large number of retailers all over the UK (find your nearest here) where you can order additional units, handles, worktops & decorative elements from.
My advice would be to scour Pinterest for kitchens that match the colour and style of your units, before seeing what your preference is in terms of finish and decorative elements.
Do you like the contrast of a light cupboard and a dark worktop, or do you prefer a more industrial look with a cement style worktop?
Symphony also have a fabulous gallery of kitchens on their Instagram and website – which can help provide inspiration as to the style of finish you prefer.
Whether it’s minimalist, farmhouse, modern or traditional – once you have a ‘mood-board’ ready, you can set to work figuring out what changes you need to make to upgrade your new-build kitchen into your dream kitchen!
Our Kitchen Details:
Cupboards & Drawers – Symphony Cranbrook Sage, Worktop – Symphony Artic Marble Laminate, Handles – Symphony Brushed Brass, Sink – Tap Warehouse, Tap – Lamona Brushed Brass, Tiles – Diamante White Topps Tiles, Stools – Ikea, White Grout – Weber.