Everything you need to know about modular kitchens
Real Estate

Everything you need to know about modular kitchens

Modular kitchen (defined): A kitchen made up of storage modules intelligently designed to facilitate everyday functionality. These components, including shelves, drawers, cabinets, shutters, et al, maximise the utilisation of space and can be dismantled and reassembled. Mo...

Modular kitchen (defined): A kitchen made up of storage modules intelligently designed to facilitate everyday functionality. These components, including shelves, drawers, cabinets, shutters, et al, maximise the utilisation of space and can be dismantled and reassembled. Modular kitchens are no longer seen as a luxury in a residential property. “A modular kitchen is an expected feature,” says Rajkumar Singh, Senior Director, Residential Sales (Mumbai), ANAROCK Group. “Projects that don’t offer a modular kitchen are becoming rarities; in fact, in larger cities, we are seeing these even in lower-budget housing projects. If a modular kitchen isn’t available, the homebuyer has to spend a lot oftime and money to get one put in. Developers, on the other hand, canget much cheaper deals on them because they buy at scale. Of the various grades of modular kitchens, the more luxurious designer options are seen in upper-end projects.” So, however challenging it is to pinpoint how much a modular kitchen increases the price of a property, the fact is, “the absence of a modular kitchen and other expected modern accoutrements like parking spaces may cause buyers todrop the property from their shortlist,” points out Singh. Indeed. The kitchen is one of the key influences on a real-estate buyer’s decision, which is why developers focus on modular kitchens, opines Aiyappa Alemada, Executive Vice President & Business Head, Purva Streaks, Interiors Division, Puravankara. While some developers today are offering modular kitchens as an amenity, many have started giving bare shell kitchens so homeowners can design the kitchen themselves, shares Sarthak Seth, VP & CMO, Tata Realty and Infrastructure. “Some developers are also offering personalised kitchens at an added cost. These are created in keeping with the homeowner’s choice.” It’s expensive—or is it? The only negative associated with modular kitchens is the price tag. “A factory-made modular kitchen will cost roughly twice as much as a handmade one depending on the size of the kitchen, the selection of accessories and materials,” estimates Meenakshi Jessani, Founder, MJ Architects. Speaking of numbers, a fully functional modular kitchen design can cost upto ₹5 lakh or more, says Abhishek Chadha, CEO &Co Founder, The KariGhars. Seth points out that designing a modular kitchen costs a minimum of ₹1 lakh, and subject to the design philosophy and materials used, the price can rise to ₹20 lakh. While that may seem steep, Alemada believes the higher initial costs are offset by long-term benefits such as superior functionality, customisability, standardised sizes (allowing easy upgrades in parts) and longevity. “Modular components are far more precise and of a superior quality, besides being reusable,” adds Jessani. AndKeerthana N, Interior Designer, SS Interiors & Infrastructure, maintains: “Only modular kitchens allow the deep cleaning of hidden corners and edges because their fittings can be detached, cleaned and reattached.” Clearly, the advantages are too many to be ignored. As for the high price, Chadha points out that the design can be tailored to the customer’s budget and needs, quite unlike traditional carpentry methods. With the price of modules depending on their design and the quality of the material used, customers have the flexibility and power to get a kitchen meeting their requirements and budget, points out Bharat Pathak of BP’s Modular Solutions, a modular kitchen consultant.“Consequently, the price of a modular kitchen can be comparable to an old style kitchen.” What’s inside? Bright, flashy, decorative finishes are attractive and easily doable but what’s inside determines how easily a modular kitchen can be maintained and its longevity. The ease of maintaining a modular kitchen is directly proportional to the quality of the materials and hardware used, explains Devika Khosla, Creative Director, The Works Interiors. “If these are compromised, maintenance can take a toll. If these are well chosen, the kitchen can last a lifetime.” So, what materials are recommended? “We prefer high-density high moisture resistance (HDHMR) boards and plywood for the skeleton or carcass, while for the exteriors, we use ply laminates, PVC laminates and acrylic sheets with hyper bond, responds Keerthana. “Aluminium, marble, lacquered wood or even steel are alternative options for cabinets and drawers. Prelaminated particleboard is the most cost-effective core material for cabinetry that isn’t exposed to water. Prelaminated medium density fibreboard is thicker, heavier and stronger, and so more durable, but more expensive.” For Indian cooking styles, granite is the best material for countertops, continues Keerthana. “The alternatives are a solid surface top, granite-lite, granite-premium quality and boiling water proof plywood with lamination. Premium quality granite resists heat, scratches and stains; protects against mould and mildew; and offers an endless variety of patterns like veins, specks and swirls.” “As Indian cooking extensively uses water, we prefer waterproof, termite-proof,marine-grade plywood, not medium density fibreboard or particle board,” says Jessani. “We prefer finishing materials that are durable and low maintenance. Laminate is great for under counter storage. PU or lacquered glass for overhead storage in combination with the laminate looks fabulous. Granite remains the most practical countertop material because of its sturdiness and ability to resist stains.” “We recommend branded hardware and marine-grade plywood or HDHMR to extend the life of the kitchen as it is extensively used,” adds Pathak. “HDHMR board is a popular cabinetry material for being sustainable and durable; plywood is another environment-friendly material,” says Sarabjit Singh, Founder & Architectural Designer, Villa Ortiga. “At Puravankara, we prefer ply, HDHMR board, medium-density fibreboard and prelaminated particle board,”shares Alemada. “Our properties also house products made in acrylic, paint, membrane, veneer, solid wood, lacquered glass and metal. These are preferred because they add natural strength to the material, guard against moisture and moulds, lend medium density, are cost-effective, and enhance the aesthetics and visual appeal of the space.” “The most used material in making a modular kitchen is marine ply as it is more resistant to water along with glass and other materials,” shares Seth. “White acrylic is a conventional choice among neutral shades but we prefer a colourful palette that sets the tone as vibrant and energetic,”adds Chadha. “Acrylic should be chosen for its durability or colourful polyurethane finishes can be incorporated for an elegant look.” Choosing a vendor Today, some of the world’s best modular kitchen manufacturers are present in India, Jessanipoints out. She looks for suppliers who are well updated on the latest trends and futuristic kitchen concepts; who innovate and keep design, functionality and usage on a par; who can deliver the highest quality on time, and handhold the customer through the journey of understanding requirements, evaluating innovative solutions and options in fixtures and finishing materials. Warranty and after-sales service are also deciding factors. “We consider the customer’s requirements and budget to recommend an overseas or Indian brand,” adds Pathak. “The technology and machines the manufacturer uses determine the finesse of the end product, so that is something to check.” Convenience, aesthetics, design, efficiency, ease of assembly and finish are the utmost criteria to be considered while buying a modular kitchen, opines Chadha. What factors do real-estate developers consider? In Seth’s view, the pricing and quality of materials help decide on a provider. “We work with only the most trusted and reputed brands that have detailed service agreements ensuring standard maintenance services even after installation. The designer should have a layout view that closely resembles the homeowner’s vision while solving space requirements. We check the surface finishes, the cabinet joinery and movement mechanisms.” “We partner with modular kitchen providers who align with Puravankara’s superior quality standards, who demonstrate an in-depth understanding of customer requirements and the ability to identify the optimum material input, finishes, accessories, hardware and production facility,”shares Alemada. “To ensure the best outcomes, we deploy a qualified execution team to implement the designs on the sites.” After-sales service Almost all professional providers provide after-sales service, but it is important to read the terms and conditions as they vary, cautions Alemada. That said, Pathak points out that “generally, every brand provides after-sales guarantees, which are very well honoured. In fact, companies also easily replace components if there is an issue with the material size, colour, hardware alignment, etc, during installation.Most on-ground issues arise owing to the retailer’s design and delivery capabilities or an expectations mismatch.” Most manufacturers in India offer quality products that come with warranties (ask for a lifetime warranty); the materials are guaranteed to be heatproof and waterproof, so customers can use them for a longer period, opines Chadha. What’s missing In the past few years, the modular kitchen market has multiplied many times over. But it still has a long way to go. “We have seen plenty of diversification of choice but we are still lacking in the range of finishes and design customisation,” says Sarabjit Singh. “Customers want sleek, high-end modern looks. Too many kitchen designs appear very similar.” A challenge within the sphere of modular kitchens in the country is the limited availability of design engineering and the appropriate machines to manufacture components, agrees Alemada. “Sometimes, the incongruous integration of accessories and appliances prevents the kitchen from offering the desired functionality.” “What’s missing is adequate research and knowledge about kitchen design and modular kitchens at large,” adds Khosla. “Also, modular kitchens are pricey and might not fit everybody’s budget.Hence, there is a need for them to become more affordable and more accessible without compromising on quality.” The lack of awareness of design elements exists among customers as well as the kitchen design community, opines Pathak. Smart kitchens The future of kitchens is smart. Jessani foresees kitchens integrated with appliances and finger-touch or touchless technology that helps you cook, wash, clean and restock your larder automatically when supplies run low. Appliances like a wine conditioner and warmer drawers will take time to penetrate the Indian market. Until then, we hope this primer answers your questions! Current trends Open modular kitchens extending into living spaces are gaining popularity among the younger urban population, opines Keerthana N, Interior Designer, SS Interiors & Infrastructure. “Kitchens are no longer synonymous with cooking; they are seen as places where food becomes as much a part of conversation as the people who talk.” A clean-lined, handle-less design style is a current trend, a concept that has outlasted its early acceptance, adds Keerthana. “L, U, straight and parallel are the most common kitchen shapes. If a kitchen is very large or the plan is open, an island fits in.” “While L-shape designs, U-shape designs or multiple slabs may provide more workspace, it is equally important to have flexible kitchen spaces that can be used for more than one purpose,” opines Sarthak Seth, VP & CMO, Tata Realty and Infrastructure. “Also, properties should be oriented in a way that kitchens receive more ventilation and light to ease cooking and cleaning.” Safety first It’s widely known that modular kitchens enhance the living experience of the homeowner but these spaces also ensure safety. “Modular kitchens are seamless and handle-less, making them a child-friendly option,” explains Devika Khosla, Creative Director, The Works Interiors. “Their minimal usage of wood reduces the possibility of termites. Moreover, as they can be paired and designed with a diverse range of appliances, electrification and plumbing are safer and easy to maintain with fewer possibilities of a burnt wire or water leakage.” Additionally, branded modular kitchens offer volatile organic compounds(VOC)-free products unlike conventionally designed kitchens that often use high VOC materials like mediumdensity fibreboard, cheap quality plywood and glues,” points out Khosla. “Metal cabinets in particular reduce VOC emissions, making them safer and healthier.” Opting for waterproof and fire-retardant materials in the kitchen cabinetry adds safety while using anti-termite and moisture-resistant shutters and cabinets enhances durability, adds Sarabjit Singh, Founder & Architectural Designer, Villa Ortiga. Some key safety factors customers consider, according to Aiyappa Alemada, Executive Vice President & Business Head, Purva Streaks, Interiors Division, Puravankara, arenon-slippery floors, smooth edges and finish of the surface to avoid injuries of all forms, termite-resistant material, child-safety knobs and gas cut-off safety features.

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