The mid and upper sectors of the kitchen market we serve have been less influenced by the uncertainties of the past 12 months and they continue to show resilience to external influences. A new fitted kitchen represents a significant investment in a property with a life expectancy considerably beyond short term uncertainties.

Our customers are discerning and seek good value in their purchase. They recognise that the combination of finest quality componentry and materials and bespoke manufacture to differentiate their requirements may require a slight premium over mass market brands.

Natural wood accessories are popular

While we do manufacture kitchens for new builds, our key sales driver is refurbishment – customers renovating their homes. The renovation market is still very big, with homeowners looking to improve their property rather than spend money on selling and buying a bigger property.

We have had to increase the cost of our kitchens due to the rising price of materials, components and so on. But these are not staggering increases, so haven’t influenced customers’ purchasing decisions. We also feel that our customers tend to understand the reason for price increases so wouldn’t generally raise concerns around this.

Handle-less Thunder Grey

Our selection of materials is not influenced by market fluctuation. We seek long-term performance, value and design appeal from the materials incorporated in our furniture.

In terms of styling, our designers frequently attend trade fairs and closely co-operate with supply partners on market trends. Our flexibility in manufacture enables us to test and incorporate new ideas rapidly into our furniture designs.

The designs we have been producing for our customers and those we have seen from our retailers are very sophisticated and functional. Most of these kitchens utilise one colour palette throughout, with some choosing a different colour to highlight a feature, such as an island. Bespoke storage solutions, such as drinks bars, coffee bars and coffee cupboards are very popular at the moment, as are pantry cupboards.

The monochrome look

We are also seeing 3D surfaces rise in demand, such as fluted glass, fluted wooden doors or ribbed doors, which add a decorative detail to a design. Bi-fold and pocket door solutions continue to grow in popularity.


When it comes to popular kitchen colours, greens and blues are still dominant, but other shades are being incorporated into kitchen design. A monochrome theme is on the rise and we are seeing burgundy being utilised to highlight features in a kitchen. In contrast to these bold shades, the new neutrals are also very sought after, such as shades of cream, grey, soft pinks, beige and ‘greige’, which is taking over from bright white. It isn’t a surprise that a neutral colour palette is trending due to its timeless and versatile appeal. It also makes properties more desirable if homeowners do decide to sell.

Timbers are often used in addition to colours to bring warmth and natural hues into the design.

Coffee bars are on trend

We have also seen more demand for oak painted finished cabinets, often with enhanced grain structure, but with accents of oak or walnut.

Examples of this include wooden shelves, pull-out trays, pantry units and wine storage. Adding wooden accents helps introduce detail and another material to the design. Additionally, we are seeing fluted wooden panels being used as borders to cabinets or on doors.

While for many of our projects we use painted cabinetry, wooden kitchens also have their following and for these oak and walnut are the preferred choice of timber. We also use oak and walnut for adding accents to a painted cabinetry design in the form of pantries, slide-out trays, shelving, and so on. And we use solid oak and walnut dovetailed drawers with solid timber cutlery dividers, which add timeless appeal.

Of course, we’ve had to contend with the rising cost of timber. Both American black walnut and American white oak have risen in price significantly in the past 6-12 months and without obvious reason.

Stoneham teams natural wood features with painted cabinetry

Some customers do express an interest in sustainability of timber used and appear to have a growing knowledge of FSC/ PEFC accreditation. Our timbers are sourced through reputable suppliers, acquiring timber from environmentally sourced locations. We do highlight this information on our website, so it is readily available, however we also provide it when meeting with customers.

We have also invested in our manufacturing technology, adding a further 5-axis CNC machine and additional woodworking equipment to enhance productivity.

As for Stoneham Kitchens’ outlook, our forward order programme remains strong for 2024 and, although footfall in retail showrooms during November/December 2023 was reduced, the quality of the leads and conversion rates remain strong.

It is always difficult to predict the year ahead, but we’re confident that we will have a successful year. It’s our 160th anniversary so we are very excited about the activity we have planned…stay tuned!