It's been almost 2 years since we created our open plan kitchen diner space and installed our Howdens Kitchen, so I thought I’d write a full Howdens review to support anyone in the stages of researching which kitchen supplier is right for them, or considering a Howdens Kitchen.
To clarify, this is not a paid or collaborative post. All views are 100% my own. If you're curious about why we chose Howdens and how to order a howdens kitchen check out my post on the process.
Neil and I are living in our 1930s fixer upper by ourselves (no kiddies or pets) and we've slowly but surely been doing up the house to make it a long term home, helping fellow renovators by sharing resources to budget a renovation and an online course which has helped so many UK renovators build their homes on time and on budget. It’s called How to Renovate a House. The kitchen work I’m about to discuss was one of the major expenses we invested in and learned so much in doing it.
Our kitchen is the Howdens Fairford kitchen range in the colour Cashmere. The wooden worktops are Howdens 60mm solid oak block and we have an integrated Howdens dishwasher. All other appliances (cooker, extractor, integrated fridge freezer, sink) we bought separately from different suppliers. We opted for a G-plan layout in the kitchen, meaning the units run along 3 walls and extend to a 4th peninsula which we use as a breakfast bar.
Overall, what’s our Howdens kitchen like after 2 years?
Honestly? We are still as blissful over our Howdens kitchen as the day we installed it.
The design of it has transformed the way we live, never mind the house.
We have more storage space than we can actually fill, more space to cook, bake, dance (!) and it's a really sociable part of our house with guests naturally gathering around the breakfast bar for a chat and a cuppa when they come to visit.
That said, there are some areas, like the wooden worktops and the worktop area around the sink, that are now showing a little wear and tear, through no fault of Howdens but my own maintenance slipping (I'll talk more about the worktops and maintenance later on) but overall the layout, the fit, the cupboards and units are all as good as when we first got them - with regular care/maintenance which I explain below.
It's a solid kitchen and will fair well for years to come I think!
First, let’s talk about the wooden worktops
Neil had reservations about us opting for solid wood worktops because of the upkeep.
In order to keep them smooth and free from rings, burns and the risk of water damage they need more maintenance and regular protection with oil or wax than other worktops like granite, marble, laminate etc.
When we first installed them, I was prepared to sacrifice the hours spent oiling the worktops regularly, and was generally worktop nazi (I was the one sliding coasters underneath everyone's wine glasses at a house party 😂).
Anything that meant us having those sought after, charming, real wooden worktops. 2 years on, I would never regret opting for wooden worktops but if I had my time again I'd have been a little more honest with myself about realistically caring for these worktops day in day out.
They are a bit of a handful. If you're planning on renting your house out - ever - they're a definite no in my book, unless you spend more with a different worktop supplier who can treat the worktop so that it's virtually impenetrable.
How did I treat the worktops after installation?
I oiled our worktops using Osmo oil clear matt worktop oil (affiliate link) 3 times directly after they were fitted, and then once 6 months after.
Typically they need oiling annually.
You can see around the sink that water has slightly blackened parts of the oak block. And that's with pretty good care, not letting any water rest on the surface for long periods of time. There's a few dry areas now, in the high traffic areas where we do a lot of meal prep, in need of a light sand and another oil. But about 98% of the overall worktop space is still beautiful! And I often tell myself small dinks and marks build character - which is the look Neil and I love.
What about the kitchen accessories / additions Howdens offer? Did you get any and were they worth it?
Often when you shop with kitchen companies you can upgrade on certain accessories or additions like cutlery trays and shelving systems. We didn't go overboard on these upgrades as they soon rack up the price, but the ones we did go ahead and opt for we are glad we did.
1. 90cm cutlery tray
Really glad we got this as it makes the most of the space the wider 90cm pan drawers we opted for and organises cutlery, knives and utensils well. It comes out if you ever want to give it a deep clean. Not going to lie, not done that yet but looks pretty straight forward. 😂
2. 60cm cutlery tray
We have standard sized drawers located beside the sink and originally ordered a Howdens 60cm cutlery tray to go in to the top drawer as a second cutlery drawer. Honestly it got so tedious trying to find cutlery between the large 90cm draw and the small 60cm draw that we binned this off for an easier life. If you like to keep 'special' cutlery, like brass or silver for dining and special occasions then it could be worth it. But for us, we'd sooner an extra drawer to keep tea towels.
3. Built in bin and recycling unit
By far the best decision we made in the kitchen was to integrate a Howdens 70cl bin and 2 x 40cl recycling units so that they swing out from under the breakfast bar. Being a G-plan kitchen with no further wall space we didn't have anywhere to put a freestanding bin, nor was I keen on having recycling boxes cluttering the house. This addition was extra spend and meant we had to sacrifice a full 60cm wide unit to have, but it was by far worth the sacrifice! We have enough storage elsewhere. I like how being tucked under the oak it keeps smells at bay also.
4. Corner unit swing / storage
You know those corner units in your kitchen that you always seem to lose things in? An onion rolls to the back and gets lost and goes mouldy, or you just stack up pans and baking trays in the corner making a right ol’ racket every time you’re trying to find the one you need… well this corner unit swing, a swing in, swing out rack that’s built into the cupboard is the solution. They’re on the expensive side (see our full breakdown of Howdens/kitchen costs here) but we bought 1 and it’s perfect for stacking our tins and veg. It really utilises the space well.
Have we had any problems with the kitchen?
I’m struggling to think of any problems. The only issue we’ve had to contend with since installing the kitchen has been the fridge freezer. We bought it from Mark’s Electricals so nothing to do with Howdens, and had problems with the light inside the fridge.
In terms of the install of the kitchen, it all went relatively smoothly although the shelving section between the top row of cupboards threw some question marks.
I had my heart set on an open shelf area I could style, rather than a row of cupboards - to add interest to the design, but Howdens couldn’t really offer me much in the line of bespoke shelving. So I had to get creative.
I worked with our builder to use some leftover end panel (tongue and groove that was used to finish off underneath the breakfast bar) which worked well. We also used Bottle Blocks as opposed to a bespoke wine rack which would have cost us a lot more money!
Are we pleased with the colour?
I was naturally really nervous about committing to a kitchen that wasn’t white like our previous home. Being the sort of person who grows tired of colours. We settled on the Fairford range in the colour Cashmere, and while it does have a slightly lilac tinge in some lights, I still really like it.
It has a calmness about it that makes me want to cook and clean in there.
Is it easy to clean?
It takes me absolutely AGES to clean this kitchen. Probably about 2 hours when I’m doing my weekly clean, and the rest of the house combined takes about 2 hours!
We're quite a motivated couple when it comes to chores and cleaning so I will say that it’s pretty well maintained, which is another reason why it’s faired well over the 2 years we’ve had it.
The lighter colour on the cabinets aren’t so light that it shows every finger print or food stain, but the cupboard doors and kick backs do need wiping down at least once a fortnight.
The matt finish means you can’t see many finger prints, and I can quite quickly wipe all the doors down in 15 mins with some diluted zoflora in a spray bottle, and a damp sponge.
Was it good value for money?
Absolutely, without question. The reason why I can confidently say it was good value for money is because of several things…
It still looks as good as new
There are no cracks, no dents, no warping even 2 years on
It’s not thrown a single issue since the day we installed it
If I had to move and buy another kitchen, Howdens would get my custom. I wouldn’t waste time getting designs from B&Q/Ikea like I did previously.
In 5 years time, I’ll revisit this post and potentially have a little more to say, but if our kitchen remains as lovely as it is today I’ll be every bit as smitten.
Are you considering a Howdens kitchen? Do you have any questions for me about it that I can help with? Leave comments below :)
Alternatively if you’ve got your hands full with a house renovation and you’re looking for some tools and resources to help you get organised, check out my shop.
Hope you enjoyed this Howdens review, thank you for reading!