Fitted Wardrobes And Handmade Kitchen Units – Are They Worth The Cost?

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

Interior designers Catherine Wilman and Gemma Munkley, from Catherine Wilman Interiors, take a look at the benefits of fitted wardrobes and bespoke carpentry such as hand-made kitchen cabinets – and how they can add value to your home.

The finished wardrobe by Catherine Wilman Interiors looks stylish as well as being practical

1) Is bespoke cabinetry worth it?

Many of our London clients want to know if it is worth having made to measure wardrobes for their homes, and other joinery such as bespoke kitchen units and bespoke bookcases. The short answer is: “Yes! It will add value to the property and save space.”

The second question people ask is “how much will it cost?” The starting price for 3-section fitted wardrobes is currently around £3,500 – and for handmade kitchen units, depending on the size, you will not have much change from £15,000. However, the cost can go over £100,000 for the top-end of the kitchen market. But whatever your budget, it is important to think of bespoke joinery as an investment. There are also other factors to consider, not least: “Should I get an interior designer to help me?”

A good interior designer will allow for functionality in a bespoke design

2) You're creating more space

Good quality carpentry can be a real benefit and add value to your property. With space at a premium in London, bespoke joinery will make the most of tricky rooms and difficult shapes. By working with a good interior designer and carpenter, any issues can be overcome with the right planning and design.

Fitted bedroom furniture adds value and allows for the maximum use of space and much-needed storage. In fact, fitted wardrobes create three times more space in a bedroom.

Whether it is a bedroom on the cosy side or an otherwise redundant hallway space, interior designers carefully explore all options to ensure the best use of space meets every client's specific needs.

Walk-through fitted wardrobe to ensuite bathroom designed by Catherine Wilman Interiors

A bespoke kitchen by Catherine Wilman Interiors ensures the best use of space

3) The investment adds a premium at resale

Not only do made to measure wardrobes and kitchen cabinets solve your storage needs, your investment in bespoke carpentry is also seen as a desirable addition to a home when it comes to resale or renting out the property.

Patrick Bullick, managing director of Kensington and Chelsea estate agent Stanley Chelsea, explains: “Fewer and fewer buyers have freestanding wardrobes to bring with them and are pleased to see good quality, thoughtfully located built-in storage space in a property. The look of a room can be enhanced by an attractive design, making a property easier to sell.

“Landlords should also offer their properties with bespoke fitted wardrobes as tenants are even less likely to have their own. Modern stand-alone wardrobes are pretty flimsy. Plus, it is always tricky getting the right size for that particular slot.”

So bespoke carpentry is a big tick to any prospective buyer, especially in London. It showcases the great use of space and luxury design aspect that is so sought after in the city. And a beautifully designed bespoke kitchen is fast becoming a must-have trend.

Banquette seating was made by Catherine Wilman Interiors for a 'man den' in Chelsea

The finished seating makes maximum use of space in the small room

4) Get the right designer on board

So why use an interior designer and not go direct to a carpentry firm? Well, a good interior designer will have access to a large number of carpentry specialists, so they can find the right firm for the project.

With many interior design styles to choose from, everyone has a different preference. Whether it’s a specialist in contemporary designed wardrobes, minimalist storage solutions or a trendy kitchen renovation, the list goes on. This is why having a designer to detail your every need and project-manage the various suppliers takes all the difficulty and stress out of the project, leaving you to enjoy the design journey and beautiful end-result.

Obviously, a designer is also trained in interior design and will have a keen eye on what will work within the scheme of your home and ensure every internal space works with your belongings.

We recently had a client in Chelsea, West London, who had an extensive collection of ties, shoes and jackets. We measured all the items and designed a beautiful fitted wardrobe for his clothing. The bespoke display boxes showcased the colourful ties that were also easy for him to select each morning. We also coordinated his shoes and socks within easy-to-reach drawers.

So, a good interior designer can come up with imaginative ways of presenting your possessions within a bespoke piece that perhaps a carpentry firm may overlook. The interior designer will think about the size and shape of the room. If you are short on space, they may suggest using sliding or bi-fold doors on the wardrobes – or a pop-up dressing table under a window as part of a made to measure wardrobe, as our design shows here:

A dressing table with flip-up mirror was made as part of the fitted wardrobes in this small bedroom

With our bespoke carpentry service, we spend a lot of time with clients showing them the many different finishes that are available, including wood, fabric and hand or spray painted. Each finish can have a dramatic effect on the final result. Even the choice of handle can drastically change the look of a simple wardrobe and add a “wow” factor.

Remember: When it comes to choosing your interior designer, always ask to see a portfolio of their work before commissioning them. If possible, visit previous projects and ask about the quality of the work.

Catherine Wilman's bespoke bookcase in the 'man den' to store the client's collectables

The client loved the hidden door in the bookcase

5) Have a consultation to discuss your ideas

The process for having bespoke joinery for your home starts with a consultation. These are normally free, but check with the interior designer first. They will visit your property to measure the space and ask about your possessions. If it is a fitted wardrobe brief – how many shoes? How many handbags and briefcases? What’s your longest dress or suit? The design must ensure that all the compartments inside the wardrobe cater for your clothes. The interior designer will also look for potential problems, such as location of plug sockets and cables. If there are issues, these will be resolved within the design.

The bedroom wardrobes included made to measure drawers for the client's shoes and socks

If the brief is a bespoke kitchen design, the designer will often have clever solutions to enhance your use of the kitchen that you may have never have considered. For example, the ergonomics of a functional kitchen can often depend on the home's dynamic. A busy family home will have many different factors compared to a young couple throwing dinner parties at weekends.

Folding doors hide the kitchen accessories in this design by Catherine Wilman Interiors

It’s the interior designer’s task to explore all options catering specifically to the client and often anticipating needs a few years in advance to ensure bespoke cabinetry is the investment a client is looking to achieve.

6) Allow time for made to measure

Planning is the key to success – and less stress. Always allow plenty of time for the design process. Wardrobes or cabinets need to be drawn in 2-D, plans and elevations created and checks made on the design to ensure spaces are properly allocated. Then finishes need to be agreed. With a massive range to choose from, this can sometimes be daunting, and you may not yet know what level or direction you are looking to go.

A good Interior designer will guide you through and make sure your property achieves a beautiful aesthetic you’re comfortable with ­– and happy to pay for.

Expect this first stage of the process to take around 2 to 3 weeks.

Next, the interior designer will put the project out for tender to their trusted trades people in order to get the best price for the job. Carpentry takes anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the size of the project and the availability of the carpenter.

The client begins to fill the bespoke bookcase by Catherine Wilman Interiors with books and vases

7) Final installation of the bespoke pieces

The carpentry firm will always insist on a “check measure” at the property before making the pieces and installing. If there are any problems during the process, the interior designer is there to manage and resolve any issues – taking the pressure off your shoulders and ensuring an enjoyable project for you. The designer will also do a final “snagging” check after installation to ensure the job is finished to the highest standards – and before a final payment is made to the carpentry firm on behalf of the client.


Having fitted wardrobes, handmade kitchen units and bespoke bookcases creates a desirable home that utilises space using great design. In our opinion, that is an investment worth making.

To learn more about how an interior designer could help your project, contact Catherine Wilman Interiors today for a free consultation.

Thanks for reading,

Catherine and Gemma

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