Embracing the Versatility of Freestanding Kitchens
Step into a modern kitchen showroom and you’ll likely notice a new design trend. Freestanding kitchens are becoming increasingly popular in the interior design world. With their unique blend of functionality, style, and flexibility, they’re capturing the hearts of homeowners and interior stylists alike.
I’d love to claim some kudos for this emerging dream kitchen trend, but it’s been around for a while now. Back in 2017 when we were remodelling the Chipstead Location House, I’d already been getting my inspiration from the working kitchens of farms and old manor houses.
It’s that working, hub-of-the-home style, that fits with my love of rustic vintage interiors, and made it an easy decision to focus on the kitchen as a central feature of the house.
We had already designed the kitchen as a double-height room, with massive Crittall-style windows and doors that flooded the space with natural light. So a key aspect of the brief I set myself was to bring warmth and cosiness to such a large, light-filled area.
Enter the freestanding kitchen and in particular, how it suited our love of mixing and matching furniture pieces, to create a room with its own unique ambience. Read on and I’ll explain.
The Distinctive Appeal of Freestanding Kitchens:
One of the primary distinctions between freestanding and fitted kitchens lies in their construction. Fitted kitchens are built-in, and seamlessly integrate with the walls and floors of the space. They generally involve a mix of base and wall units that focus on covering at least a couple of the walls with cupboard space.
On the other hand a freestanding – or unfitted kitchen – is modular, consisting of standalone furniture-like units that can be easily moved and rearranged. Wall units aren’t verboten, but are very often replaced with open shelving and hanging racks. It’s this flexibility that allows for greater creativity and personalisation in your design.
Since freestanding units are not fixed in place, you can experiment with different arrangements and configurations. It means you can consider the ‘work triangle’ concept, optimising the sink, oven/hob, and fridge positioning for a smooth workflow.
Of course, not every space has the floor area for a kitchen island. But if yours does, this can open up so many possibilities for additional storage. And when it comes to styling your kitchen, the island unit is your opportunity to make a real statement.
Style and Aesthetics:
The very nature of a freestanding kitchen means it’s easy to design one that’ll work with your home’s aesthetic. Whether you prefer the sleek lines of a modern design, something more traditional or a super-trendy semi-industrial vibe, a freestanding kitchen lets you evolve the style as you go along.
Choose the units and materials that resonate with your vision and start from there. Let your ideas grow as you research and find different pieces. A freestanding kitchen means you can be so much more organic with your design process.
For our kitchen, Jamie managed to source an old French shop counter as the island unit. It made the perfect freestanding piece to add crucial kitchen storage, whilst preserving the open plan, rustic style I was looking for.
If you have the space for a kitchen island and you’re looking for ideas, there’s a great article by Jennifer Ebert in the December ’22 Homes & Gardens magazine. Well worth a read if your dream kitchen design involves unique furniture and cupboard units.
Selecting the right appliances is crucial for a functional and efficient fitted kitchen, as once they’re in place moving them around is quite an upheaval. Freestanding kitchens, on the other hand, make it all a bit easier.
Ranges and other standalone ovens, fridges and utilities can be chosen for their style and what they bring to the overall aesthetic. Everything can now be selected and positioned on its own merits, not just whether it’ll fit into a certain pre-defined box unit.
It might be a bit 90s but I still love a retro free-standing SMEG fridge in the right place.
Light it Up:
Good lighting is essential in any kitchen, and freestanding kitchens are no different. Without wall cabinets, you’re less likely to have task lighting discretely tucked away. But this is where pendant lights positioned strategically above work surfaces come into play. They also have a decorative aspect, especially if you make them height-adjustable.
Ambient lighting can then be achieved through ceiling-mounted fixtures, creating an inviting atmosphere. Don’t forget to consider natural light as well, utilising windows or skylights to maximise daylight and create a bright and airy environment.
It may sound extreme, but if you don’t have as many wall cabinets do you now have the opportunity to create a new window, or enlarge an existing one?
The Green Touch: Incorporating House Plants into Your Freestanding Kitchen:
Biophilic design has become quite a buzzword in recent years, and the whole concept of bringing the outdoors in has become a significant trend in interior design. Freestanding kitchens offer a great opportunity to embrace this styling idea. House plants provide a refreshing and natural touch to the space, enhancing the overall ambience and air quality. They add a touch of greenery and create a more vibrant and inviting atmosphere.
Many house plants have the ability to improve indoor air quality by filtering and purifying the air. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen while also removing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene from the air. This can contribute to a healthier indoor environment.
Some houseplants release moisture through a process called transpiration. This natural humidity regulation can help to balance moisture levels in the air, which can be beneficial in kitchens where cooking activities may generate steam and increase humidity.
Studies have also shown that being around plants and nature can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. Having house plants in your kitchen can create a calming and soothing environment, making your time in the kitchen more enjoyable.
Consider kitchen-friendly plants. Some herbs, like basil, parsley, or rosemary, can serve a dual purpose in the kitchen by providing fresh ingredients for cooking. Try incorporating these edible plants into your kitchen design for both aesthetics and culinary benefits.
Select appropriate containers. Choose containers that complement your kitchen decor and provide proper drainage for the plants. You can opt for decorative pots, hanging planters, or even wall-mounted planters to make the most of your space.
Position strategically. Place your plants near windows or areas that receive sufficient natural light. If your kitchen lacks natural light, you can use artificial grow lights to ensure the plants receive the necessary light for their growth.
Remember to research the specific care requirements of each plant and provide them with the appropriate amount of water, light, and nutrients to thrive in your kitchen environment.
And lastly, don’t overlook dried flowers as a way to decorate spaces that may not lend themselves to plants that need regular care. Our friends at Mad Lilies in Banstead have a wonderful range of dried flowers and grasses, that I often use to add another dimension to my room dressings.
As the trend for freestanding kitchens continues to gain momentum, it’s clear why homeowners and my fellow designers are falling in love with this versatile and charming style. Freestanding kitchens offer a sense of flexibility and personalisation that can transform any space, and also prove rather cost effective.
By considering various design elements, selecting suitable appliances, and incorporating house plants and unique lighting, you can create a kitchen that not only meets your functional needs but also serves as a beautiful focal point in your home. So, let your creativity run wild and embrace the allure of freestanding kitchens!
Here are a few articles I bookmarked when researching an upcoming project. If you’re thinking of planning your own free-standing kitchen build, they’re worth a read. Alternatively, at Louisa Grace Interiors We offer an interior design service to suit all budgets, from conception to completion. You can find out more on our Design Studio page.
If you’d like to see more of the finished kitchen at our Chipstead Location House, check out the walkthroughs from George Clarke and Mark Millar on their TV shows.
Kitchen island ideas – Ideal Home: https://www.idealhome.co.uk/kitchen/kitchen-ideas/kitchen-island-ideas-90963
Biophilic Kitchen Designs – The Design Sheppard: https://www.thedesignsheppard.com/kitchen/biophilic-kitchen-designs-how-to-get-the-look
The Sample Board Blog: https://blog.sampleboard.com/biophilic-kitchen-designs-how-to-embrace-nature-into-your-home/