Do I need a Carpenter, Joiner or Cabinet Maker?


Whilst the three terms have, in the modern age, become more interchangeable, there are historical differences between the three roles.

The historical hierarchy of woodworkers was Carpenter – Joiner –  Cabinet Maker

These definitions have been drawn from various historical sources and updated to help understand how the roles are defined today.  The division between the three roles is less clear than it was in the 17th and 18th Century but it is useful to understand the basic differences when looking for skilled tradesmen to undertake different aspects of working with wood.



Carpentry means the art of cutting, framing, and putting together timber in the construction of buildings, or an assemblage of pieces of timber connected by being framed together, as the pieces of a roof, partition, floor, etc.



Joinery is the art or work of a joiner; and a joiner is a mechanic who does the woodwork in the covering and finishing of buildings, or whose occupation it is to construct things by joining pieces of wood together. This includes windows, doors and staircases.


Cabinet Maker

The artisan who makes furniture of a more elaborate description is usually called a cabinetmaker, the term “cabinet” being applied to a piece of furniture consisting of a case or box furnished with doors and drawers. Basically, a cabinetmaker is a woodworker who makes cabinets and the finer kind of joiner’s work.

Today, cabinetmakers will work in solid wood, typically hardwoods and sheet materials, though Veneers of highly prized wood may be used for decorative purposes. In choosing over another, the cabinetmaker has to consider ease of construction, appearance, cost, weight, strength and durability.

At Alresford Interiors, we employ a team of highly skilled cabinet makers who take immense pride in the work they do.  They delight in working with clients to make their projects a reality.

For any more help and advice, or if you’re ready to start designing your cabinetry project, please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email or pop into our workshop and we can get your kitchen project off the ground today! 


How do I choose a layout for my kitchen?

When considering a new kitchen, you may find yourself stuck in the “I know I want one, but I have absolutely no idea what I want it to look like” phase, don’t panic! This is normal. There is a plethora of kitchen designs, styles and ideas out there for you to explore, which can feel a little overwhelming at first. The key is to start looking at what inspires you and what you really love the look of. Browse through images of  kitchens, worktops, materials, themes and colours, tiles and so on, until you find what starts to tick your boxes.

The next step is to make a wish list, or a “must-have” list. What can and can’t you live without? This way you can balance your dream against your priorities, for example, if you love to cook you may want a large range cooker and need ample preparation space for your creations. Or, if you wanted something a little unconventional, a central island with a sink and integrated appliances. There may be specific appliances that are an absolute must have, like that wine fridge you’ve had your eye on for years.

Here are some standard questions we would ask when working with you to design a new kitchen:

  1. What elements in particular, such as the fridge and cooking station, do you want to be close together? This is important to consider to make the kitchen as efficient as possible, keeping everything important within easy reach.
  2. What appliances would you like, and will there realistically be room for them in the space available? For example, you might want an American-style fridge freezer instead of a slimmer fridge.
  3. Where do you need the most counter space? Of course you’ll need space around the hob and oven, but what else do you usually use worktop space for? Perhaps a larger area for baking cakes, or even a space dedicated to ‘dirty jobs’, such as cleaning and polishing shoes if you don’t have a utility room.
  4. How much storage do you need? Is there anything in particular, other than general food supplies, than you need to store – perhaps your mixer/steamer/sandwich press you don’t want on display. Bespoke cabinetry can help you to design clever places for these appliances to be stored away neatly. If you have a large family, you could solve all of your food storage problems with a larder, which also makes a fabulous feature piece!
  5. Do you need kitchen table space to use for social events such as dinner parties? Or for when you’re being super-parent and helping the kids with homework whilst cooking at the same time? We can address how cabinetry can be situated to see how plausible it is to free up this extra space.
  6. Where do you want to keep the utensils, mugs, dinnerware etc, that you use most? Do you want them stored in cupboards out of the way, or on display to make a feature? The latter is particularly popular in smaller kitchens where storage space is limited.

It’s important to consider both what you want and what you need from your kitchen space when considering a particular style. For example, if you’re having an extension built or two rooms being made into one to create a bigger space, it’s a good idea to meet with kitchen designers early on in the process, so that your kitchen can be designed as the principal part of that new space, rather than an afterthought. Aspects such as the size and shape of the space, available lighting (both natural and artificial), positioning of appliances and budget are all crucial factors to consider when deciding on a layout. It’s important to be honest about your budget with your kitchen designer, as there are many ways a design can be made more cost effective, such as altering the types of materials used for the carcasses and worktops, as well as appliance brands and so on. A good kitchen designer will be happy to work with you on this and not constantly push for the more expensive option.

If you have a smaller kitchen with only one window, try to make the most of that natural light when considering a layout. Three main layouts which are particularly suitable for smaller spaces are the one-wall, galley and U-shaped kitchens.

  1. One-wall: is there a particular wall in the kitchen that has the most light fall on it throughout the day?
  2. U-shape: if possible, aim to have the natural light source in the middle of the U, this will encourage the light to spread out as evenly as possible onto the other two runs. Also consider the option of not having wall cabinets either side of the window, perhaps have shelving instead to encourage a wider spread of light into the kitchen rather than a funnel effect straight ahead.
  3. Galley: similar to the U-shape but without the middle run of cabinetry, try and position centrally to the natural light. If this is not possible, try and consider how the design can best utilise the light.

You can read more about these types of kitchen, alongside many others, in our blog: What are the Most Popular Kitchen Layouts.

Discussions with your kitchen designer will help them get to know you, listen to your requirements, and then come up with ideas you may not have considered which will compliment your own. Bespoke kitchen designers are experts in designing layouts with the understanding and appreciation that each customer is unique in their own requirements. Due to the skilled level of craftsmanship in bespoke joinery, the choice of materials, colours, fittings and styles are essentially limitless, and cabinets can be made to any size. This all lends itself to ensuring you choose the perfect layout for your kitchen which makes the most of the space available.

Each bespoke kitchen company will have their own procedure when it comes to kitchen design. At Alresford Interiors, we come out to your home and meet with you in person to get to know you and discuss the type of design you are after (though you’re also more than welcome to come to us at our offices). We‘ll look at what you already have and listen to your thoughts on what you do/don’t like, your wish list, and what you would want to keep, move or remove completely, if anything! We’ll take some initial measurements, or if your kitchen project is a work in progress (or doesn’t exist yet) then we are happy to discuss architect drawings and go from there to create images and help you visualise your new kitchen’s layout.

For any more help and advice, or if you’re looking to start designing a dream kitchen of your own, please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email or pop into our workshop and we can get your kitchen project off the ground today! 


What are the Most Popular Kitchen Layouts?

When designing the layout for a kitchen, there’s a well known design rule called the Work Triangle to consider. Before we get into what this actually is, let us first say that your lifestyle should determine the functionality of your kitchen, and not the other way around. The work triangle is used only as a suggestion for good space planning, with the ultimate goal of the triangle being efficiency.

The aim is to keep the person doing the cooking close to the major work stations, without being so close that everything is cramped. This kitchen design process does have its flaws however! The work triangle assumes there are only three major work stations and one cook, so for those with larger kitchens and families who cook together, this design method may not be suitable. Whilst the work triangle can be a helpful tool in the design process, don’t let it prevent you from thinking outside the box (or the triangle) when designing your dream kitchen. Below we have picked out a handful of the most popular kitchen designs and highlighted key points and tips for making each as efficient as possible.


If kitchen space is limited within your home, then a one-wall kitchen design layout could well be the solution. Out of all of the major kitchen designs, a one-wall design has the smallest footprint, housing all cabinetry and appliances along one wall. Quite commonly, the layout of this design houses the fridge on the end of the kitchen run, with the sink positioned next to it and counter space either side. The oven and hob are typically at the other end of the run, again making sure there is worktop space either side for safely placing food after cooking. There is also the option in some circumstances to install an oven into tall cabinetry, which would leave further space for storage. The dishwasher, if required, is placed underneath the worktops, and the rest of the carcassing is used for storage. Additional storage can also be installed onto the walls above the worktops, or shelving can be used to break up the design, preventing a chunky appearance.


This is one of the most popular kitchen layouts, especially in the day of the combined kitchen diner. The design is perfect for multipurpose spaces, with the kitchen area neatly kept to two sides leaving the rest of the room free. The L-shape enables the overall space of the room to appear bigger, by concentrating all of the storage and appliances to two sides of the room. This leaves the other sides open, which particularly in the case of a small kitchen, is perfect. With the proper planning, you can design and organise and efficient workspace with enough room for two users – nothing is worse than getting under one another’s feet! Even in the larger kitchen, this layout is suitable. Guests are able to socialise in the kitchen without intruding into the busy cooking area. The L-shape is also often combined with an island to allow extra workspace and storage, or provide an excellent seating area if a worktop overhang has been accommodated for.

When considering the cons of this design, if design space does not allow, for example the other sides of the room are not open and very close to the long run of units, the cooking area would not be functional for more than one cook. This may not be suitable for those who like to cook together, or socialise with guests while preparing meals. It is also crucial that the interior of the cabinetry is organised efficiently so that any worktop space is not limited.

U-shape and Galley

A U-shaped kitchen has an open end for access and cabinetry on three adjoining walls. U-shape and galley designs are very similar in design, with the exception that a galley kitchen does not have one end closed off. In the larger sized kitchen, both designs can potentially have an island in the middle. The main pro to both of these designs is that they are superb for storage and offer a lot of worktop space. Of course, the U-shape offers a whole additional run of cabinetry over the galley style, but the latter can be just as useful with utilising the space for a seating area instead. When planning the layout of either designs, it’s important to consider the space available, a narrow closed in kitchen is not going to be practical for more than one cook.

A key aspect to think about in the design process is the positioning of the sink and hob. If the sink is positioned in the middle run of a U-shaped design, then the hob can be positioned on either of the other runs. On a galley design, the hob is usually located on the opposite run to the sink. The logic behind this is to allow as much workspace either side and around the hob as possible.


The ever popular kitchen island- an often sought after addition to any kitchen design. While not a kitchen design in its own right, it can make a practical feature to enhance any layout if space allows. Design wise, it can run parallel to the kitchen units and be long and slim; alternatively it can be much larger and broad with room to house a sink and other appliances. Islands can provide extra preparation space, a form of boundary or separation between the cooking and socialising area, and even incorporate seating. Many island designs have a worktop overhang which is perfect for bar stools, similarly, kitchen islands can also be integrated with a low level, table-style seating at one end for standard dining chairs.

When it comes to aesthetically designing the island, it is common for the island carcassing to be of a different colour to the main kitchen units. Having a bolder colour on the island, combined with a oak block or granite worktop, can turn it into a stunning statement piece.

For any more help and advice, or if you’re looking to start designing a dream kitchen of your own, please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email or pop into our workshop and we can get your kitchen project off the ground today!