What are the pros and cons of a modular kitchen?

Sunita Vellapally Sunita Vellapally
The Five Summits Apartment, Sandarbh Design Studio Sandarbh Design Studio Minimalist kitchen
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During the process of renovating one’s home, one of the decisions one should make is regarding the kitchen. Is a sleek modular kitchen better than the trusted carpenter-built one? Doubtless, the modern readymade kitchens look smart and are efficient, but they cost a lot. While they have their advantages, they also come with their fair share of disadvantages. Knowing their pros and cons can help to decide whether to opt for a small modular kitchen in a tiny home or a large one in a spacious bungalow.

In this article, we outline the pros and cons along with modular kitchen photos that provide inspiration for designing a beautiful and functional space.

What are the pros of modular kitchens? 1. They are sleek and modern

Searching for what is modular kitchen? Here is your answer. When one is looking to bring a more contemporary look to one’s home, modular kitchens present a smarter and more modern choice compared to carpenter-built kitchens. With their straight-line design and sophisticated finishes, they look more luxurious that regular kitchens.

2. Modular kitchens come in a range of sizes, colours and finishes

One of the doubts many home owners have is whether they can get modular units that suit the layout and size of their kitchen, especially when they are considering modular kitchen designs for small kitchens. The primary advantage of built-in kitchens is that they are extremely versatile with a combination of tall units, wall storage, cabinets, drawers, floor-standing cabinets and dedicated shelves or space for appliances.

Moreover, they are available in an array of colours and finishes, including matte and glossy surfaces. They even come in wood finishes that resemble the older handcrafted kitchen cabinets.

3. Modular kitchens help to save space

With efficient planning by professional kitchen planners, these kitchens provide more storage and better work flow. As it is well organized, with space for everything, a built-in kitchen doesn’t run the risk of looking cluttered. For instance, modular kitchen cabinets come with special systems such as built-in bottle racks, plate holders, cutlery compartments, garbage holders and wire trays for vegetables. They even have specific systems such as carousels or lazy Susan attachments that make corner cabinets more accessible.

4. Modular kitchens are durable

Most conventional kitchen cabinets are wooden, which makes them prone to attack from termites and other borers. The advantage of modular units is that hassle-free. Most of them use high-quality plywood that is resistant to boiling water and undergo treatment to allow them to handle moisture better. While some cabinets use cheap MDF and particle board instead of plywood, reputed modular kitchen manufacturers take additional care to ensure that the kitchen is easy to maintain and durable. Some of the additional measures they take to make the kitchen last longer include lining the cabinet doors with aluminium, especially in water-prone areas such as sink cabinets. While the cabinet will match the rest of the units, it will have added protection to make it durable.

Additionally, for Indian kitchens, instead of plywood, we recommend using granite for the countertops. Other options are steel, WPC boards or premium-quality plywood with PVC coating.

5. Modular kitchens are extremely easy to install

Unlike carpenter-built kitchens, which are made on site, thereby involving months of noise and dust, the manufacturing of a modular kitchen, meaning a kitchen comprising various custom modules, takes place in factories, and they come ready-to-install. Another benefit is that they are also easy to dismantle so that one can reinstall the kitchen in a new home if one shifts residences.

See these modular kitchen designs for more inspiration.

6. They save time

A significant factor to consider while understanding modular kitchen meaning, especially for home owners who don’t want to wait forever while the carpenters complete creating the kitchen, is that modular kitchen cabinet systems take less time from design to installation compared to carpenter-crafted kitchens. On an average, they are ready in around four to six weeks after the manufacturer's team comes in to take measurements and finalise the design.

7. Modular kitchens are easy to maintain

With their smooth and water-resistant surfaces, these kitchens are simple to clean. All one needs to do is periodically wipe down the cabinets and counters with a mild detergent solution to get rid of grime and dirt.

What are the cons of modular kitchens? 1. These kitchens cost more than conventional ones

While modular kitchens save time, they come at an increased cost compared to traditionally crafted kitchens. While this can be justified by the space saving systems that come with these modern kitchens, not every home owner might prefer to spend almost double for it. Additionally, while the units are easy to replace compared to hand-built cabinets, it’s more expensive to do so.

2. Modular kitchen cabinet systems are delicate

These kitchens are not suitable for rough use. Unless one uses high-quality hinges and systems (that are more expensive) the kitchen may require frequent repairs, adding to the maintenance costs.

3. Modular kitchens are high maintenance

Granted that the surfaces are easy to clean, but one needs to clean regularly to keep the cabinets and counters free from stains caused by spices and oil residue. It’s advisable to clean the kitchen after every use to keep it looking as good as new.

Here are some more points to consider before installing a modular kitchen.

How much do modular kitchens cost in India?

The price of a modular kitchen can vary significantly depending upon the layout, fittings and the quality of the material for kitchen cabinets. The rate per square foot ranges from INR 600 at the lower end for basic plywood, going up to INR 2300 for waterproof plywood with polyester veneer or lacquer glass finish. In general, the cost of 8 feet by 10 ft L-shaped modular kitchen with basic baskets, waterproof ply with laminate finish in the bottom units and commercial plywood for the top cabinets can work out to a little more than INR 100000. Features such as pull out units, bottle racks or baskets can elevate the price considerably. Corner units are another item that increases the cost of a modular kitchen with prices varying from INR 10000 to up to 1 lakh rupees.

Should I choose conventional or modular kitchens?

The budget is of primary importance when deciding between carpenter-built and modular kitchen designs as the latter is far more expensive. Besides this, other factors such as the size of the area, the type of use, the amount of time one can wait for the project to finish are worth considering. For instance, if one is in a hurry to move into a new apartment and doesn’t have the time to wait for months until the carpentry work of the kitchen cabinets is complete, then a modular kitchen is more suitable.

Don’t forget to match the style of the kitchen to the rest of the home! While modular kitchens look great in a house with a modern design, it might not match the décor in the rest of the area in a country-style home, especially if the house has an open layout that combines the social spaces and the kitchen. One of the main reasons that Indian home owners prefer to use modular units over conventional ones is that they come in a wide range of colours and finishes that allow them to match the tones in the rest of the space. It's always best to consult an interior designer to get advice on the best option for your home.

Tips to create a modular kitchen

  • Plan your layout—The modern small kitchens are not just for cooking and cleaning as they have become absolutely multifunctional. Therefore, you need to plan the layout according to the activities that will take place such as dining, tea parties and heartfelt conversations.
  • Select perfect countertop length—According to professionals, the appropriate countertop length is somewhere between 32 or 33 inches.
  • Make sure that the sleek modular kitchen cabinets are not too high from the counter top so that they remain at an easily accessible position.

Choose the right colour scheme—According to expert kitchen planners, the colour scheme you select adds to the finish of your kitchen. While the white hues require consistent cleaning, the darker hues trap heat. Hence, you should try mixing and matching different shades.

Kitchen lighting—While natural lights offer adequate brightness and warmth in the kitchen, the overhead lights play an equally important role. Make sure that the lighting falls exactly on the countertop so that you can carry out cooking and meal preparation activities safely and comfortably.

Would you choose a modular kitchen for your home? Tell us why in the comments.

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