A Wren Kitchen
Monday, August 19, 2019

Wren Kitchens – It’s just the same, isn’t it?!

All kitchens are basically the same, right? Wren have probably the best showrooms in the industry, and they look amazing – certainly the same as those German kitchens in the independent showrooms that you may have seen. And as the cost is really similar, you’d think that the kitchens must be similar too... And on the face of it you’d be right – doors, drawers, hinges and mfc carcases.

However, it is the small differences that are all too easy to overlook in the glitz of a Wren showroom, especially when the offers are ending Wednesday so you need to put a deposit down quickly or lose the deal (nonsense that we have covered off more than once on other posts!!). So we thought we’d try and help pick through those details on your behalf...

Our kitchens are made to order - Wren’s, not so much... have a look at all those holes! Wowsers!

Every Wren base cabinet is like that, completely covered in dozens of holes to cover every eventuality. There are also loads of pre-drilled holes in many of the tall units at Wren – we even found shelf holes in the fridge freezer units! About as useful as a chocolate teapot!

Our end panels are cut to size and edged in the factory. Not the case with Wren, unfortunately... While a paper edge such as this would be acceptable on the rear (against a finished wall) or the top, it is not ideal to have it on the bottom of the panel – and therefore on the floor – where it would be more susceptible to water ingress. Unfortunately as Wren supply their end panels oversized to be cut on site, your installer will choose whether you have a paper edge or a cut edge on the floor... Not only would our panel be finished with a thick colour matched edge, we would also provide a black or stainless steel effect shoe for the panel to sit in, so you never have to worry about water getting in when you mop the floor! There’s a picture further down, showing how an end panel is finished with large amounts of mastic in a Wren showroom, next to the plinth seal.

Our corner posts are made in the factory with a mitre joint and built-in spacers for a perfect finish. Wren give the installer two pieces of material to make one themselves on-site. Not the worst thing in the world if you have a good installer, but certainly an issue for someone not used to doing this regularly... Plus you have to pay the installer for their time, to do this!

As we have already established, Wren don’t make units bespoke (all those holes!). So they also rebate both sides of all of their handleless tall units – therefore you need one of those vertical profiles on both sides of every tall unit! Despite the fact that on this design, you should only really have one in the middle (to be able to open both units), you have to have three! Ouch! And as they are supplied in one size, you may need to cut them down to make them fit. No such issue with one of our kitchens, as they are all bespoke...

With a Wren oven and microwave tower unit, your installer will need to place the shelf himself for the microwave. Ours would be made for you in the factory, specifically for the appliances that you have chosen – perfect, every time!

Wren drawers are Chinese ‘Taiming’ entry level soft close, with a standard 50kg runner. A nice feature is that you can have them in white or grey, and all the pan drawers come with glass sides as standard. All Wren drawers use 50kg runners. Whilst 50kg is plenty for the smaller drawers, we would use different runners on our larger drawers – all the way up to 80kg in the largest 1200mm wide drawers! For comparison, Wren would have 1000mm as their widest drawer units. To top that off, we use high quality German ‘Hettich’ soft close drawers and runners for a super smooth action every time. Give both ours and theirs a ‘waggle’ next time you visit the showrooms and decide for yourself...

Now this may not seem like a big deal, but on a handleless kitchen it can be... Wren use 570mm deep cabinets. Once you add in the door, you get a depth of around 590mm. Perhaps a little more if the installer remembers to attach the door buffers. All European kitchens are based around 600mm worktops, so that would give you a 10mm (or slightly less) overhang – not great when you want your worktops to line up with your doors, as is standard with a true handleless kitchen. Large overhangs will make it difficult to get your hand into the finger rails to open the doors. Equally, if you have 590mm worktops, you may struggle to fit a tap behind your sink, as the worktop isn’t deep enough! Our handleless cabinets are 576mm deep, with a thick factory fitted door buffer, meaning a 600mm worktop will either sit flush with the doors, or possibly a tiny overhang of 2mm on some of our slimmer doors – perfect!

We also now offer our base cabinets 792mm high instead of the standard 720mm offered by Wren and most other UK manufacturers. So this means you can get an extra 10% storage in all of your base units! Huzzah!

The picture on the left there is of the door buffers that Wren supply. Probably one of the cheapest possible self-adhesive ‘dots’ that would pass for door buffers. You literally just push them onto the doors and drawers with your thumb and hope that they last at least some of twenty years that you’ll have your kitchen. Ours are dowelled into every door and drawer, in the factory, and form part of your warranty. A quick look around a Wren showroom (22nd September 2019) showed multiple doors with no buffers – either forgotten, or fallen off...

On the right is a picture of the plinth seal supplied by Wren, to stop water getting into the plinths when you mop the floor. Pretty ugly, I think we can all agree! Our plinths come with a rubber seal installed into the bottom edge – this protects from water ingress, and is completely invisible. Whilst we are talking about plinths, let’s hope your floor doesn’t run out – if it does, Wren only do one size plinth – so you will potentially get a large gap under your units where the floor isn’t level! Our plinths come in 70mm, 100mm, 150mm and 200mm – as well as every other size in between! Because, again, our kitchens are actually bespoke and not off the shelf!! Below is a picture of the plinth seal in-situ, and lots of mastic around an end panel, from a Wren showroom.

Prefer not to have to do too much cutting? You can have your kitchen made in the factory, instead of turning your house into a temporary workshop! We can send your plinths pre-cut for ease of installation. And cornice. And pelmet. And laminate worktops. All cut precisely in the factory, just for you!  

The Wren handleless profiles are actually really good quality, and it’s great that they come in so many different colours. However, they get sent by Wren in standard size 2m or 4m lengths, to be cut on site. Ours come pre cut and mitred for the corners, to make the installation easy – and perfect every time!

The vertical profiles also have a very thick leading edge at 8mm, with a tapered side. This only leaves about 7mm for you to pull the door open – very tricky with a fridge and even harder with a freezer! Ours are a much slimmer 3mm leading edge, so you have about 12mm of door to get your fingers behind to open it – much easier with those appliances or heavy doors!

When it comes to door colours, nobody in Wrens price point even comes close to the amount of choice they have – even us! Great stuff, especially if you are on the lookout for a pink or yellow kitchen – or even an aubergine or avocado one to match your 1970’s bathroom suite. However, they lack in terms of options for many units that can be found pretty much everywhere else... Bi-fold wall units? Nope. Up & over wall units? Uh uh. Sliding wall units? Zip. These type of units are great, because you can leave them open while working, without fear of banging your head into them!

The flap wall units that Wren do supply, come with a very basic gas lift mechanism and a huge post in the middle! The post restricts access, and looks ugly – so we can only assume it is needed for rigidity. Our flap wall units come with top of the range Blum fittings, and no big post in the middle! Even when we go up to 1200mm wide (remember, Wrens widest is 1000mm)! We also use Blum fittings on our huge range of bi-fold and up & over wall units. And even our sliding wall units have a soft close mechanism.

As we’ve already discussed, Wren cabinets aren’t made to order – specifically for you and your kitchen. Ours are. So we can make your wall units with holes cut in the bottom, so that LED lights can sit flush within them. Wren lights will be stuck on to the bottom of your wall units with double sided sticky tape.

Want some LED lights under your worktop on your handleless kitchen? We can provide the LED tape pre-cut to precise lengths, as well as the diffuser profile for it to sit in (also pre-cut). And all of our LED lighting can be remote controlled, and infinitely adjusted between cool and warm white...

Need a cabinet made shallower to allow for plumbing? How about an oven unit with cavities for a warming drawer, oven and microwave? Or one for a double oven and a coffee machine? We’ll make it for you, no problem at all! The same goes for end panels – each and every one is made to order!

We could go on and on to be honest. But if you have read all this way down, then hopefully that should be enough to give you an idea of how kitchens that ‘are basically the same’ can in fact be very, very different indeed!

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