Shop Online Or In Store

Bowley & Jackson Logo

Main Navigation

The Unfitted Kitchen...

alt="unfitted Scandinavian style kitchen"

Every now and then a story appears in the press about the the latest interior design trend. I often wonder how much truth lies at the base of these must have looks? Does the marketing team at Dulux for example suddenly panic at a glut of cerise coloured paint discovered in a distant warehouse and the trend for pink feature walls is born...I'm also wary that a trend is just that and in a couple of years time you'll be left with horribly dated decor. However, a headline that caught my eye recently was the rise in demand for unfitted kitchens...

Unfitted Kitchen

 A fabulous unfitted kitchen displaying all the hallmarks of the style


The unfitted kitchen is the antithesis to the sleek modern fitted kitchen beloved of the last couple of decades. I for one am not sad to see the demise of the sleek fitted kitchen. From the minimalist cupboards without handles to stark walls and laser white spotlights, it isn't the warmest of decors, akin to that of a dentist's surgery. Personally I would struggle with the need to clear detritus on a daily basis to maintain the look! 

But, creating the thrown together lived in look of the unfitted kitchen is not necessarily straightforward, here are some of the key components...


Out with the fitted units...

Obviously, the unfitted kitchen doesn't feature fitted units? Not necessarily, companies such as Plain English are reporting a trend for mixing and matching. With lots of their clients using simple classic style units alongside one off antique pieces such as a vintage sideboard or large Welsh dresser. I personally love the large bakers style racks and trolleys which are ideal when positioned as stand alone units and can be put to use as storage for pans, crockery and storage jars containing ingredients.

An unfitted kitchen

The style of the unit is classic and understated, no lacquered paint finishes here. This style encourages the use of colour to inject warmth into the room, and cupboards painted in bold hues from blues and greens through to deep shades of red or even the babouche yellow from farrow & Ball work so well with this style.

 An Unfitted Kitchen


Rather than hiding everything behind cupboards this style of kitchen encourages everything to be at hand. I find fitted wall cabinets overbearing but the alternative of scrabbling around in base cupboards not much better. For this reason open plan kitchen shelves work well for this style. Long shelves that reach the length of a work top surface both look appealing but more importantly offer functionality. Anyone who has ever rummaged in a cupboard for the precise cake tin when in a hurry knows how helpful this can be. Shelving is easy to create and can be used to display anything from cookware to jars of pasta which at a glance can be found. Moreover, there is the sense when designing the functionality you have your own understanding of how you work: what needs to be close at hand, something that can be hard to convey to a kitchen designer. 

Storage Jars

Storage jars in my own kitchen supported by Hexham brackets from our own range.

Open Shelf Plan Malton Cookery School

Open plan shelving, displaying a wonderful assortment of cookware at Malton Cookery School

Open Shelving

Design accents

Inspired by French and Italian kitchens, the unfitted kitchen is open to interpretation. However there are quite a few accessories and finishing touches that further add to the finish. Drawer handles are one such item. A drawer handle can accentuate the finished look, I love the classic cup handle. This design classic is used by a number of high end kitchen manufacturers but can also be used to brilliant effect on a basic drawer to create an almost imperceptible finish to that of a bespoke cupboard.

Table lamps in a kitchen? I have two large table lamps in my kitchen, both antique olive jars and the terracotta pot bases work well with a kitchen setting. Wooden lamp bases also look good as does a recycled glass base. Table lamps bring warmth to an interior and after all isn't that what the kitchen is all about? An informal fabric shade looks perfect for this look, think gingham or ticking. Pooky lighting offer some great options including the ticking one illustrated here.

A table lamp in the kitchen

One of two table lamps I have in my kitchen, an antique olive jar lamp paired with a ticking shade from Pooky. Also visible is a hanging rail that runs the length of the room, offering invaluable storage for pans & utensils.

Kitchen With Cabinet Skirt Curtains

Cabinet skirts, these are easy to make, check out Youtube for an easy tutorial on how to create one. This is a great way to disguise something unsightly and the curtain will also soften the overall look. Which brings me to rugs, jute is hard wearing but I think a faded kilim is a lovely addition to a kitchen and adds warmth to a cold flagged floor.

I usually have a selection of windowsill herbs on the go, basil, coriander, I think it injects life into a room and I like to cook with fresh herbs. For a more French look, geraniums are the go to, planted in old terracotta or enamel pots, these look beautiful on a kitchen windowsill or work surface and a classic red or deep pink will add a splash of color.

I don't see the unfitted kitchen as a trend, more as a progression towards a more relaxed approach to decor. Many of us are spending more time in our homes as we work from home and maybe the structured minimalist kitchens of yesteryear don't feel nearly as inviting. Trend or no trend, it's certainly one fad I'll be adopting. 

Alex x