How to use freestanding kitchen furniture

Not all kitchen furniture needs to be fitted - freestanding units are an increasingly popular choice to add style and individuality to any scheme

Fitted cabinetry has been a standard choice in our kitchens since the 1950s, but there’s now a growing trend for a more easy-going mix-and-match aesthetic, one which weaves in freestanding kitchen furniture, such as larders, butcher’s blocks and dressers.

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‘High-quality pieces that can be moved around or repurposed are becoming increasingly attractive,’ says Jacinta Pratt, senior kitchen designer at John Lewis of Hungerford.

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Add a pop of upbeat colour with John Lewis of Hungerford’s quirky Cool Refrigerator cupboard in Easy Pink, from £2,355.99. The framed Shaker-style kitchen, painted in Pearl, is priced from £20,000

‘Trends are moving away from the uber-polished to a more relaxed approach.’ Jane Stewart, design director at Mowlem & Co, agrees.

‘There’s a movement towards honesty of material and design. Mixing things up with the odd heirloom piece feels more handpicked and gives a home character.’

In this bespoke design by Sustainable Kitchens, a moveable butcher’s block was designed to fit flush on the edge of a peninsular, while a statement glazed dresser filled with china adds character to the space.
In this bespoke design by Sustainable Kitchens, a moveable butcher’s block was designed to fit flush on the edge of a peninsular, while a statement glazed dresser filled with china adds character to the space.

While customers still rely on wall-to-wall units with a continuous worktop for practicality, ‘a fitted kitchen wrapped around a room can be overpowering,’ says Neil Stafferton, design manager at British Standard.

‘Freestanding items help break this up and add scale, texture and grit.’

The freestanding island, larder and range cooker in Harvey Jones’s Arbor kitchen combine to lend a laidback feel that's in keeping with this informal industrial space. Priced from £20,000
The freestanding island, larder and range cooker in Harvey Jones’s Arbor kitchen combine to lend a laidback feel that’s in keeping with this informal industrial space. Priced from £20,000

Stand-alone elements bring practical benefits too, as Richard Moore, design director at Martin Moore explains. ‘Freestanding pieces work well in period houses with awkward architectural features.

‘They can be made to fit around odd angles and features like fireplaces and alcoves. And they’re versatile – a cook’s table can be shifted around when the kitchen needs to be rearranged.’

If you’re looking for adaptable kitchen storage, Neptune’s bespoke Chawton in Snow, priced from £1,897, can be added to over time, or broken down into multiple pieces when you move home
If you’re looking for adaptable kitchen storage, Neptune’s bespoke Chawton in Snow, priced from £1,897, can be added to over time, or broken down into multiple pieces when you move home

Freestanding pieces you might want to consider are a butcher’s block for ad-hoc workspace, a larder to hide everything from appliances to spice jars, and a timeless dresser to display treasured china and glassware.

Create a mix-and-match scheme by picking out a freestanding table island and larder unit in a bold colour. A range cooker and a tiled ‘rug’ effect finish the look. Marlborough kitchen painted in Scots Grey and Mulberry, priced from £12,000, Masterclass Kitchens
Create a mix-and-match scheme by picking out a freestanding table island and larder unit in a bold colour. A range cooker and a tiled ‘rug’ effect finish the look. Marlborough kitchen painted in Scots Grey and Mulberry, priced from £12,000, Masterclass Kitchens

It’s worth remembering, though, that the heavier the piece, the less flexible it will be. And what is the key to blending freestanding with fitted pieces? ‘Play around with older items to help ground the space,’ says Neil.

‘Balance materials and proportions – but don’t overdo it.’

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Words by Alice Butler