The Insider: How to personalise your kitchen

The fitted kitchen was a great invention for chore-trapped 1950s housewives. But now? The lock, stock and barrel concept can feel a bit Stepford. So how can you personalise your cooking space?

Loose fit

"Kitchen planning is about furniture, not units," says Johnny Grey, author of Kitchen Culture. "Why should it look like a hygienic, futuristic box? It should be a living-room where you can cook – take back ownership."

Twist and shout

I subverted an Ikea fitted kitchen by mismatching wall/base-unit doors (Solär with yellow-gold Nexus) and clad Wickes's cheapest worktop (fitted square – ie wrong – edge out) in 1950s-style flecked Formica (

Mind the gap

Building your own cupboards? "Remember to leave gaps behind for pipes and electrics," says Bosch DIY expert Chris Tidy.

Instant attraction

For a quick pimp: replace base-unit doors with simply hemmed fabric threaded over plastic-coated curtain wire. Forget gingham, check's far-out fabrics (above).

On the pull is awash with good drawer/doorknobs to personalise what you have.

Dress up

Kitchen dressers don't need to be all floral crockery and horse brasses. Reappropriate a G-Plan Fresco wall/ base-unit combo and go urban-retro.

Glow off

In a non-fitted kitchen, with no under-cabinet options, "wall lights look quirky: pick fittings you can angle," says Peter Bowles of

Something old

"Hunt for reclaimed materials," says Chris Tidy. "I did a kitchen with doors clad in ship timbers, all different shades."

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at