Built-in kitchen design ideas, inspiration & pictures

What are built-in kitchens and how are they installed?

You might think that all kitchens are built-in, but in reality, this term refers to a very specific subset of designs that do not need a wall to be affixed to, as they are self-supporting structures, created to fit tightly into a specific space. This makes them suitable for literally any size or shape of kitchen, including smaller areas and they commonly include a great deal of clever and innovative storage, as well as integrated dining solutions.

It is generally advisable to hire a professional cabinet fitter to fit a built-in system for you, as measurements will need to be precise, as will any remedial fixing work, but whoever completes the task will usually follow this schedule of works:

Have everything on hand, before you begin. You will need to make adjustments with everything in place, so do not begin until every cabinet has been accounted for and your worktop has arrived.

Hang the wall cabinets as the first task. This will give you a good idea of the fit of your kitchen design, while also giving you a level line to work to, for your worktop and lower cabinets.

Install your base and full-height cabinets next, working to the level that the high cabinets have already set. If your wall isn’t technically even, your fitter will need to make adjustments so that the final installation looks right, to your eyes.

Install the worktop and don’t forget to use a spirit level.

Construct and install your drawers and all finishing touches, such as storage shelves and organisational systems within your cabinets.

What are the benefits and downsides of choosing a built-in kitchen?

Built-in designs are, seemingly, the perfect choice for anyone that wants modern kitchen cabinets in their home and while there are a huge number of advantages to these innovative kitchen designs, there are also some downsides. You need to have a rounded impression, before you commit to any particular idea, so we’ve put together a list for you to check.


They are easier to install and give an integrated look.

Integrated appliances are a natural choice and lead to a beautifully blended aesthetic.

Built-in designs tend to blend into the background more easily and are custom-designed to fit your space perfectly.

Built-in kitchens can be created in any style or colour.

Optional appliances, such as coffee machines, can be added to built-in kitchens to look contemporary, rather than bulky and in the way, on top of a counter.

Modern, smaller versions of standard kitchen appliances can be chosen to open up more storage space.

Practical elements, such as pop-up socket towers, increase functionality, without negating any valuable counter space.


The costs associated with integrated appliances are usually significantly more than freestanding options.

Should any repairs or maintenance be needed in the future, built-in kitchens can prove more troublesome to navigate.

You might find it difficult to keep upgrading your appliances, if you like to stay ahead of the curve and on-trend.

Freestanding kitchens are, in basically every way, significantly cheaper to design, install and maintain.

Custom cabinetry can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money.

How expensive will a built-in kitchen be?

The materials that you select for your kitchen units will, naturally, have a huge impact on the overall cost of your project. If you are determined to have a stylish and modern kitchen, you might find yourself being tempted by popular, fashionable materials, which always come at a premium, but even classic varieties can be costly as well. The following are some popular inclusions for built-in kitchens:

Melamine – a hardwearing, easy to clean and cost-effective cabinet option.

Solid wood – perfect for custom carpentry but expensive, depending on the wood chosen.

Marble counters – timeless, elegant and very expensive.

White tile backsplash – cost-effective, pretty and easy to install.

Mid-toned hardwood – cheaper than Mahogany and other popular woods, but still a stylish option.

Granite – a beautiful and natural option that is a cost-effective alternative to marble.

What about adding some seating?

Built-in kitchens usually seek to integrate dining furniture into the space as well and there are a lot of ways to do so, without compromising on available space. Some seating options that you might like to consider include:

Bar stools, up against a counter, which can also be a breakfast bar.

Window seats make fantastic use of available space, especially those located in bay recesses.

Bench seating offers maximum seating with a retro and funky twist. Perfect for families.

For a contemporary solution to kitchen seating, how about a hinged table, which mounts to the wall, and folding chairs? As an added bonus, these installations look really arty on the wall, when not in use.

Can I have cabinets for built-in appliances?

If you are choosing a built-in kitchen design, it makes perfect sense to go the extra mile and create cabinets to conceal your frequently used appliances. They have a number of benefits and potential pitfalls to consider, however:

The size of your fridge can will have a huge impact on your entire design, so design the cabinet around this item FIRST!

Microwaves are not generally the most attractive of appliances and take up a lot of kitchen counter space, so building them into your cabinets is a great idea. They can look like an extra oven.

Consider a specific cupboard for your toaster, so you can quickly hide it away after use.

Finally, build on your neat and ordered look by always storing small appliances, such as blenders, out of sight.