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British Standard fitted kitchens review
Is British Standard one of the best kitchen suppliers in the UK? In this British Standard kitchens review, we look at the company’s products and services to find out what makes this iconic brand so special.
Rustic cabinetry in a cottage home (image credit: British Standard)
British Standard is an offshoot of Plain English, a premium British fitted kitchens brand. Cupboards and accessories are sold off the shelf for kitchens, larders and utility rooms. They are made by hand on British soil in a workshop in Suffolk using traditional methods.
British Standard kitchen cupboards have a very distinct and instantly recognisable look, with traditional brass fittings and striking grained worktops. Inspired by the Georgian era, these cupboards are highly desirable, especially for homeowners who want to add a touch of rusticity and charm to their kitchens.
Cupboards are sold primed and ready to be painted in a colour of your choice. Interiors are built with melamine faces. Worktops can be oiled with teak or Danish oil and must be re-oiled periodically. Marks and scuffs can be painted over, and colours changed to update or refresh your kitchen whenever you are ready.
All British Standard cupboards are made from birch ply, while drawers are made from beech.
Prices tend to vary, but as cupboards are made by hand with real wood, a standard kitchen can cost you around £8,000. This is considerably cheaper than what you could expect to pay with British Standard’s sister company, Plain English (a bespoke Plain English kitchen will set you back at least £35,000).
British Standard designers provide a plan, elevations and shopping list, as well as additional advice on accessories and appliances. Anything beyond that is considered an enhanced design service, which comes at a cost of £350. You can also bring in an independent kitchen designer to consult.
British Standard cupboard door frames are made of solid poplar, while the central panels to the doors are made of MDF. The use of moisture-resistant MDF helps achieve neat beading detail on the panel edges and limits warping. Wipeable white proprietary resin-faced birch ply is used to make the cupboard carcasses. Drawers are formed of a 25mm-thick poplar front, beech sides and a beech-faced ply base. Sides are dovetailed together, and drawers are mounted on soft-close runners.
British Standard cabinetry comes in a standard colour, and the wood is prepared for painting. This means you can paint the cupboards yourself or hire a third party to paint them for you.
Kitchen ranges: 1
Number of styles: 1
Finance available: No
Installation service: No
A rustic kitchen with British Standard cabinetry (image credit: British Standard)
Highlights: British Standard sells loose cupboards in either single, double or corner modules as well as a range of other products. The range includes floor-standing, wall-mounted and tall cupboards, as well as larders, worktops and appliance housings.
You can mix and match British Standard products to suit your kitchen space, and you can even choose your own colour scheme and paint the cupboards yourself.
Payment options: Visa, Mastercard or online bank transfer.
Key benefit: British Standard provides the building blocks of a beautiful kitchen. You can mix and match products to fit your space and customise them however you like.
Pros and cons
Kitchen cabinetry can be costly, and the design of your kitchen can impact the value of your entire home. Since the kitchen is a focal point of any house, you’ll want to ensure your products are high-quality and built to last. Consider the pros and the cons before committing to any kitchen supplier.
Here are some of the advantages of purchasing your new kitchen from British Standard:
Customisation: British Standard offers off-the-shelf products you can order online and paint according to your own tastes and preferences, giving you the option to customise your kitchen aesthetic however you like.
Desirable aesthetic: British Standard cupboards are considered as iconic as Aga stoves and highly desirable for many homeowners. Installing a British Standard kitchen could add value to your home.
Online shopping: You can browse and buy the entire British Standard range online from the comfort of your home. Alternatively, you can visit one of their three showrooms in the UK: Shoreditch, Marylebone and Stowupland.
Support: British Standard won’t install your new kitchen for you, but it does offer excellent support, free design consultations and more intensive paid design sessions to ensure you get the best results from your remodelling project.
Here are some potential disadvantages of choosing British Standard as your kitchen supplier:
Painting: Not everyone wants to purchase a blank canvas that they need to either paint themselves or hire a professional to paint for them.
Lack of options: British Standard cupboards are fairly homogeneous in their appearance, and there aren’t many different fronts or styles to choose from.
Maintenance: British Standard worktops are made from wood and require oiling from time to time to maintain their condition.
Warranty: Most fitted kitchen companies offer lengthy warranties. No warranties are provided by British Standard as they do not fit the cupboards themselves.
Cost: British Standard cupboards are of the highest quality, hand-crafted using traditional methods. This comes with a considerable price tag.
Payment options: Unlike many of the fitted kitchen cupboard companies we’ve reviewed, there aren’t many payment or financing options available with British Standard.
British Standard kitchen cupboards painted in a stylish midnight blue shade (image credit: British Standard)
How British Standard kitchens work
British Standard is different to other kitchen suppliers we’ve reviewed. Homeowners design their ideal kitchen with or without the help of professional designers, then choose and order the cupboards and accessories online. Once the order is delivered or collected, customers can paint and fit their own cupboards or hire fitters to do this for them.
How British Standard kitchens compare to others
British Standard kitchens are of the highest quality. They offer a niche range of products with a distinctive appearance that leaves room for customisation. If that’s not what you’re looking for, there are a few other options you might like to consider.
If you are interested in a premium brand, it’s well worth considering Magnet kitchens. Magnet is on the pricey side but offers a huge variety of designs and colours as well as comprehensive, hands-on assistance at every step of the way. Magnet consultants will provide advice, 3D-rendered mock-ups of your finished kitchen, installation and aftercare. Magnet offers a range of finance options, which British Standards do not.
Wickes is one of the more affordable kitchen brands on the market. They offer in-house design and installation support to customers, as well as financing and generous warranties. They have an extensive selection of kitchens to choose from, offering considerably more choice than Magnet and British Standard.
British Standard cupboards are the perfect addition to this rustic kitchen aesthetic (image credit: British Standard)
How much do British Standard kitchens cost?
An average British Standard kitchen costs £8,000 without installation or paint.
Here’s how British Standard kitchens compare to the price of other kitchen providers in the UK:
Cost of unit (excluding installation)
Wickes (Lifestyle ranges)
£929 to £3,000+
£1,879 to £6,918+
How to maintain your British Standard kitchen
After your cupboards and worktops have been delivered, store them in low humidity, temperate areas. Don’t stack your new worktops upright; instead, lay them on the floor horizontally. Worktops that are stored should be turned daily to prevent imbalances as they could breathe and upturn at the edges.
Wooden worktops should be given a coat of oil after fitting. When water begins to bead on the surface, your worktops are sufficiently oiled. Reapply oil annually.
Always avoid aggressive cleaners, scouring creams or polishing products containing silicone, as this could damage your paint.
A timeless customer kitchen project featuring British Standard cupboards. (image credit: British Standard)
What the professionals say
“The British Standard Cupboards range by Plain English is a clever concept, offering customers high-standard, off-the-shelf cabinetry, made in the same workshops as their sister company’s Plain English collection. British Standard Cupboards can be ordered online; the website guides purchasers through the design and planning stages in a clear and very helpful manner. Back-up advice and help are available, of course, or an independent kitchen designer can be brought on board.”
“British Standard by Plain English is the brand behind affordable, off-the-shelf cupboards for kitchens, larders and utility rooms, made by hand in a Suffolk workshop. Nuanced by traditional brass fittings and distinctively grained worktops, British Standard’s Georgian-inspired cupboards create subtle yet impactful undertones of Britain’s manufacturing past.”
“In 2012, Plain English launched an offshoot called British Standard, which leverages prefabrication to bring the same quality product to market, but at a friendlier price point (a single cupboard starts at $900). Niblock and Fontana want to make the Plain English experience more accessible – after all, it was not that long ago when they themselves were seeking kitchen solutions that reflected their design values. As Fontana sums it up, those that are ‘simple, good and well-made’.”
“I received a floor cupboard from British Standard Cupboards today and have begun installing it. I found the cupboard to be of high quality from a design and construction point of view. I just wanted to thank British Standard Cupboards for the great customer service they provided us.”
“Amazing service and a very good quality product. The birch ply carcasses and solid wood frames offer longevity together with an iconic aesthetic. There’s no better product at this price bracket. All the staff were very friendly and super helpful, highly recommended.”
British Standard kitchen cupboards lean heavily into a Georgian design aesthetic, and in many ways, the company hearkens back to days gone by in their design and production approach. Cupboards are made by hand, with natural wood, on British soil. The craftsmanship and quality of British Standard kitchen cupboards are exceptionally hard to beat.
However, this is not a brand for everyone. Design options are limited, and while you can choose your own colour palette, not everyone enjoys working with a blank canvas.
If you’re not put off by the idea of fitting and painting your own kitchen, and you’d like the opportunity to really make your kitchen project your own, British Standard could be a good option for you. Besides, you can always hire professionals to fit and paint the cupboards for you.
British Standard is also a great option if you love handmade, high-quality products that you don’t mind putting work into. Remember that you’ll need to take steps to maintain your products to ensure their longevity.
Quality and attention to detail do not come cheap, however. A single cupboard can cost up to £700, without painting or finishes. Considering you could fit your entire kitchen by purchasing cupboards from Wickes or Ikea for less than £1,000, purchasing a British Standard kitchen isn’t the most affordable option if you’re on a tight budget.
The brand appeals to a very specific type of customer. The aesthetic makes these products perfect for rustic kitchen projects and refurbished historic homes. If you are looking for some nostalgic touches and a kitchen that is reminiscent of a bygone era, British Standard offers the perfect connection between the past and the present to tie your kitchen together perfectly.
This British Standard kitchens review was compiled by reading thousands of customer reviews (Google, TrustPilot, ReviewCentre), technical documentation, forums and media articles. Using this information, we rated British Standards kitchens against a scoring system designed to measure products against the factors that customers care about the most:
The quality of the units (loading shelves, drawers, runners, hinges and worktops for three points each), for a total of 15 points;
The availability of an in-house designer, for a total of five points;
The availability of an in-house installer, for a total of five points;
The number of ranges, colours and designs, for a maximum of five points each and a total of 15 points;
The availability and length of warranty, for a total of 15 points;
The cost, for a total of 10 points;
Customer reviews and star ratings (Trustpilot, Google and Reviews.io), for a total of 15 points;
Payment options, for a total of 10 points; and
The number of local showrooms, shops and installers, for a total of 10 points.