Customising Howdens kitchen cabinets with bespoke doors and fronts: what you need to know

Westwood-hoe, white tops with island

Naked Kitchens' Westward Ho

One way to achieve a beautiful-looking kitchen for a smart price is to use standard cabinet carcasses from Howdens, and then add bespoke doors and drawer fronts from Naked Kitchens. There are pros and cons to it – but if you want to give it a go, here’s how to do it…

It’s a simple idea: to transform a standard, low-cost Howdens kitchen into something that looks beautiful, bespoke, and much more expensive than it really is. You design and build your kitchen using Howdens carcasses and then instead of using their standard fronts, select your own custom-made doors, drawer fronts and end panels in high-end finishes and fit them to the cabinets. The result will look stunning and nobody will be any the wiser about the budget Howdens cabinets (unless they sneak a look behind the doors!).

This ‘Howdens hack’ approach to designing a new kitchen isn’t for everyone  – but if you’re going to do it then Naked Kitchens’ doors are ideally suited to the task. 

All of our bespoke doors and fronts can be precision-engineered to standard Howdens sizesready to fit straight onto your cabinets and drawers. And we have an effectively unlimited choice of colours, materials and finishes.

So you can have the beautiful kitchen you’ve always dreamt about, with minimal hassle and at a smaller price.

Highgate handles
Naked Kitchens’ Highgate Handle doors in walnut finish

But before you try it…

However, before you start ordering your Howdens kitchen, there are some important things to bear in mind. This kind of kitchen ‘hack’ isn’t right for everybody. There are some drawbacks that you should weigh up before you make a decision… 

  • Your kitchen will not be genuinely bespoke – all the cabinets will be standard Howdens sizes so you won’t get the full advantage of a custom-made Naked Kitchen, made to measure for your home and designed to optimise the available space. 
  • You’ll need to do your own planning – with a full Naked Kitchens service you’ll get individual help from our specialist design experts, who will work with you to create a kitchen that’s tailor-made for the way you live. But if you’re just buying fronts to add to a Howdens kitchen you’ll need to have your own layout and plan already in place before you buy our doors.
  • You’ll be limited to frameless doors only – this method is not suited to in-frame cabinets, so you won’t have the fullest choice of door styles. (in-frame cabinets are those with a visible frame – see FAQs below)
  • Your carcasses won’t be built for life – by taking the ‘hack’ approach you obviously won’t enjoy the long-term benefits of high-quality cabinetry expertly crafted in the best materials and built to last.

    Now assuming that hasn’t put you off, here’s what to do next…

Adding Naked Kitchens fronts to Howden’s cabinets - step by step

  1. Choose the look of your dream kitchen. Traditional, contemporary, Scandi minimalism…? We have a range of beautiful styles to choose from.  Select the colours, materials and finishes that you love.
  2. Design and build your Howdens kitchen. You can do this yourself, by using a third party or by using Howdens design service.  (Or if you already have a Howdens kitchen, remove all the visible pieces: the doors, drawers, end panels, filler pieces and so on.)
  3. Order all the doors and fronts you need from Naked Kitchens. You can complete a contact form and simply share your Howdens door sizes with us, or order all the items via the website. As well as the doors and drawer fronts, make sure to include the less obvious items like plinths, filler pieces and corner posts (see the checklist below). You’ll need to select the correct measurements, but we make this very easy for you (again, see below).
  4. We build your bespoke doors and fronts in our Norfolk workshop. All items will be precision-engineered according to your unique specifications. 
  5. Attach your doors. We’ll send you your new kitchen fronts and you put them on the carcasses. This is usually straightforward, and all you’ll need is a screwdriver.
  6. Step back and admire your beautiful new kitchen (feel free to tag us on Instagram @nakedkitchens)

Brancaster Blue fronts
Naked Kitchens’ Midgard doors in a Brancaster Blue paint finish 

Choosing your bespoke kitchen cabinet doors and fronts 

This is the fun part of the process – choosing the beautiful custom-made doors that express your personality and style 

You can use our online order process to select:

  • Door style - whether that's a very contemporary, sleek style like the Ladbroke or Slab, or a more traditional look, like frameless Shaker.
  • Finish – choose from beautiful finishes like exposed oak and walnut, Scandi birch ply or brushed limed grain oak.
  • Colours – the Naked Kitchens colour palette is inspired by the Norfolk coast and  countryside and we also offer a bespoke colour matching service. Our painted doors are sprayed using an industrial sprayline and then passed under UV lighting to give an exceptionally accurate and durable finish. (For inspiration see Choosing colours for your kitchen – an expert guide)
  • Handles – the little touches make a big difference to the look and feel of the kitchen:  choose from a range of stylish handles or customise one of our handle-less designs.

Shaker doors in oak
Naked Kitchens’ frameless Shaker doors in an exposed oak finish 

Getting the measurements right

Howdens have so many styles and combinations of doors. So, a 3 drawer stack may have different combinations of door sizes, which means that we can’t just guess from the cabinet size what each of the door front dimensions would be.

That means you need to reach out to Howdens for a list of door measurements, and hinge locations. They have this information available, and will be able to share it with you. However, they do not provide this information as standard - it’s different from the invoice/quote that you may have received from Howdens.

Additional kitchen front accessories - a checklist

In addition to the cabinet doors, there will likely be other visible elements of your Howdens kitchen that need to match the new style. It’s a good idea to go through the standard Howdens kitchen and list all the items that need replacing, so you don’t miss anything.

These may include:

  • Drawer fronts
  • End panels
  • Plinths (the long panels that run along as floor level the foot of your cabinets)
  • Filler pieces and angled fillers (often used between end cabinets and walls)
  • Pelmets (the optional trim that fits onto the bottom of wall units, often to conceal lighting)
  • Cornices (the optional trim at the top of the wall unit - for which you can also use an angled filler)
  • Corner posts (used to create a seamless join between two cabinets that meet at a corner)

Slab doors in beach hut colour
Naked Kitchens’ Slab doors in Beach Hut colour paint finish

Customising a Howdens kitchen – more tips and ideas

As well as replacing standard Howdens doors and fronts with bespoke ones from Naked Kitchens, there are all sorts of other things you can do to customise your kitchen and stamp your personality on it. For example…

  • Worktops – whether in luxurious marble or beautiful exposed timber, a premium worktop makes a big difference to the look and feel of a kitchen
  • Splashbacks and tiles – beautiful splashbacks and sections of tiles can be important focal points of a kitchen:  invest a little extra time and budget for a serious impact.
  • Lighting – beautiful designer pendants or chandeliers can be surprisingly affordable (check out Pooky’s kitchen lighting for example), will help create different moods and atmospheres and can lift the whole style of your kitchen.
  • Accessories – taps, sinks, shelves…you may have a little extra budget to invest in beautiful (and useful) detailing.

How to order Naked Kitchens cabinet doors and fronts 

We’ve made ordering our doors, drawer fronts and other items for your Howdens kitchen online very simple.

Step 1 is to ask Howdens for your door sizes. They have this information available, and will be able to share it with you. However, they do not provide this information as standard - it’s different from the invoice/quote that you may have received from Howdens.

Step 2 is to get in touch and we'll build you quote for you!

Alternatively you can do it all yourself via our website. Just create an account and start building a quote by browsing items and adding them to your basket. Once you’ve selected a style and finish, the site will automatically default to those settings as you add new items.

A step-by-step order process guide is here.

FAQs: Adding custom doors to a Howdens kitchen

Can I just paint Howdens doors in a custom colour?

Painting Howdens standard doors is another way to personalise them – but it will be practically impossible for you to achieve that flawless, premium look of a high-end kitchen by painting them yourself.

At Naked Kitchens we use an industrial sprayline to paint our doors, and then pass them under UV lighting for an exceptionally accurate and durable finish.  Finding your perfect colour is no problem: as well as our huge in-house range of beautiful colours we also offer a colour matching service, so you can get exactly the look you want.  

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Howdens doors won’t have the superior materials and long-lasting quality of Naked Kitchens’ cabinet fronts.

What DIY skills and tools do I need to customise a Howdens kitchen with bespoke doors?

The skills required for replacing Howdens doors with Naked Kitchens ones are relatively basic. Generally, all you’ll need is a screwdriver and a measuring tape. 

However, designing a new kitchen layout well does require expertise. In most cases, installing the Howden’s carcasses for a new kitchen is generally best done by a professional.

What if my kitchen isn’t from a standard Howdens range?

Naked Kitchens can supply doors, drawer fronts and other items to fit any kitchen system and any size cabinets.

You’ll just need to make sure you enter the correct measurements in millimetres on our website. 

If you have the original doors to hand you can measure those rather than the units.  (If you don’t, note that doors need to be 3 mm smaller than the cabinet to allow them to open. For example, a 600 x 800mm carcass will require a 597 x 797mm door.)

You’ll also need to provide measurements for the doors’ hinge hole locations. For that, measure the distance in millimetres of the centre of the hinge hole  to:

  •  the top of the door
  • the bottom of the door
  •  the nearest side of the door.

Does the kitchen doors ‘hack’ only work for Howdens kitchens?

No, this concept is definitely not limited to Howdens kitchens. It’s also common for people to ‘hack’ IKEA kitchens in a similar way, and you can add beautiful custom doors to any kitchen. Many people upgrade a tired kitchen with new doors (see Replacing your old kitchen cabinet doors and drawers with bespoke new fronts – a complete guide)

As well as Howdens cabinets, the Naked Kitchens website has pre-programmed sizing for IKEA METOD kitchens. And for anything else you can simply enter your custom measurements.

Can I use in-frame doors on my Howdens cabinets?

The short answer is no. In a frameless design the door is overlaid onto the cabinetry, so that only the door is visible and none of the carcass behind it can be seen.

But in an in-frame design (like the traditional Shaker kitchen) the door or drawer sits within the frame, which is visible around it. 

However, you can achieve an ‘in-frame’ look by using Naked Kitchens’ frameless Shaker kitchen (like this example).

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