A guide to modular kitchens

Last Updated 07 December 2017, 13:43 IST

A modular kitchen is a pre-constructed kitchen that has to be assembled and installed in the assigned space. Most people associate modular kitchens with a sleek and stylish look. But there is more to it than just looks. Installing a modular kitchen in your home requires planning. Worry not, we'll tell you all you need to know about these kitchens. From the preparation to the advantages and disadvantages, we've got it covered.

Basics first  

As the name suggests, a modular kitchen consists of different modules or units that are assembled together. Each module consisting of a carcass (box of a modular kitchen) and the shutter is independent and can be taken in and out of the full unit separately. This helps in the repair when the kitchen ages. For example, you can completely replace the wet unit and fittings under the washbasin if they are spoilt after some years of use, all without disrupting the rest of the kitchen.

The carcass rests on three- or four-inch adjustable legs, typically four legs under each module. These legs are hidden behind a PVC skirting. The legs and skirting help because the module can be independently moved around.

Apart from that, the wood does not touch the ground so there are fewer chances of damage caused by water or mops.  Since the legs are adjustable, they help in levelling the kitchen carcass, irrespective of a minor slope or an undulation in the floor. This ensures that the countertop is laid properly.

Installing the equipment

Prime quality modular kitchens do not have wire steel baskets and accessories in the drawer chambers.  However, soft closing drawers along with matching drawer storage accessories are available in India today. Steel wire baskets come with their own set of problems such as the cutlery and plates interfering with the drawer movement, and the robustness of the joint between the shutter and the wire basket, etc.

Space for a modular kitchen needs to be empty. This means that there should be no pre-installed countertop, no raised platform on the floor and no pre-built shelves. While most big builders in Bengaluru have started offering a bare kitchen space with the assumption that the customer would go in for a modular kitchen, smaller builders still include the countertop or a floor platform pre-fixed at the time of possession. If your builder gives you a choice and you are looking to install a modular kitchen, then do ask your builder to deliver bare kitchen, else you will need to spend extra time, money and effort to demolish the platform and remove the countertop.

The reason why a modular kitchen cannot be installed under an existing countertop is that despite best efforts, there is a likelihood of a space between the existing countertop and the carcass installed below. This space not only leads to the infestation of pests but also affects the overall finish as an uneven gap may form in the front. Also, the brackets on which the countertop is installed come in the way of the carcass, limiting the design and space of the cabinets. In a modular kitchen, the countertop is laid on top after the carcass is installed hence the finish is clean and sleek.

A platform on the floor also incurs similar issues. Due to the presence of a concrete platform on the floor, it's not possible to install the legs of the carcass. Since the carcass sits directly on the platform, any water accumulation between the two leads to an early wear and tear of the carcass. Also, in absence of the legs, it becomes difficult to level the carcass. Carpenters try to level the carcass by providing packing between the floor counter and the carcass, but it does not last long and does not have a clean finish.

Into the details

Ideally, the design of a modular kitchen needs to be thought through before the plumbing and electrical works are done. This leads to the kitchen seamlessly fitting into space, thereby saving the time and cost of making the plumbing and electrical points. In addition, it avoids a cluttered and a messy look of the kitchen.

Planning for plumbing and electrical involves a decision on where the wet area should be and an appropriate plumbing for the same. An outline of electrical points for the hob, chimney, water purifier, oven, microwave and other appliances is very important if one is planning to get a built-in oven or microwave.

LED lighting within the cabinets and on the backsplash is quite popular nowadays and electrical layout planning for the same is also a key requirement while site planning. Another thing that is usually missed during the site preparation is planning for the chimney exhaust. Most builders have the chimney exhausts opening into the utility which, if closed, leads to the smoke back into the home. Not only is the exhaust piping required to be aligned such that it opens up to the outside, it also needs to be hidden with a loft or false roofing so that it does not interfere with the look of the kitchen.

 While a lot has been written about the advantages of a modular kitchen over its traditional counterpart, there are places where the old school kitchen fares better. For instance, there is more choice with regard to the materials used and it might even cost less if there are fewer cabinets.  

So, if you are out in the market hunting for a kitchen for your new home the aforementioned pointers should prepare you well to make the right decision.

(The author is interior designer and founder, The Studio)

(Published 07 December 2017, 10:46 IST)

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