Bespoke just means custom-built. In theory of course all kitchens are custom-built, different for each customer. In reality, standardization in the kitchen industry means that many kitchen suppliers sell from a range of standard sized cupboards and standard sized doors (kitsets). These are pieced together like a jigsaw with the occasional filler panel to hide the gaps that standard cupboards cannot be made to fill.
A more creative way of using standard size kitset cupboards to give the illusion of a bespoke kitchen is to make just one or two nonstandard ones to use instead of filler panels. This is common practice with sales outlet companies who base their designs on mass produced cupboards and use a local joiner to make the nonstandard ones.
Fitted kitchens are usually standard units that are either modified or have filler panels that enable them to fit closely to the walls of a room. Also referred to as built-in kitchens.
Standardization has opened the way for ‘kitchen shops’. These are outlets that sell kitchens but do not make or install them. The DIY outlets sometimes have a kitchen department within them and make no pretense of manufacturing themselves. Kitchen shops are also to be found in industrial estates amongst manufacturers or even on the high street. They buy in the ready-made kitchens and use self-employed tradesmen to install them. Some of the more up-market shops import kitset kitchens from Europe or Asia and retail them as exclusive designer brands (at exclusive designer prices).
A genuine bespoke kitchen will be made from scratch to your own specific design with no compromise for standardisation. It can be as individual as you are. The discerning eye will always pick out a genuine one-off. You can build into it any particular (and doable) features you desire. The finishing materials can be more adventurous and the finish can be of a higher standard. There are some excellent trades people around who can produce superb designer kitchens, at a price.
A genuine one-off bespoke designer kitchen will necessarily be more expensive than the common or garden variety found in most homes. If your home is of a standard and finish that demands the best kitchen you can put in it, the specialist kitchen maker is the one to go to. You can spot them by their showroom, the installed kitchens they can refer you to, the features in the up-market magazines, their reputation and the language they use.
A kitchen made up of standard-sized cabinets can be made to look very nice and there is not reason to dismiss this approach out of hand. Take a good look at your options; consider very carefully your budget and look realistically at your home. Remember: between 5% and 10% of the cost of building or rebuilding the house is the price range for the kitchen. Do the best you can without going over the top.
Skimp on the kitchen at you peril.