Unattractive 90’s style maple cabinets are a pesky problem, like that last 5 pounds that you just cannot seem to shed. You hide it with a good top, or maybe distract from it with a new statement necklace, just as those 5 pounds can be shed without a trip to the local lipo center, so can your kitchen cabinets be saved without a total rehaul or remodel.
We recently introduced a new section on the site where stumped homeowners like you (or me) can chime in and ask your hardest questions or what we like to call your “design agonies”. These Design Agonies are not full service design solutions or even e-design options/layouts, but more a quick design related question from you that you cannot seem to tackle on your own. We recently had someone ask what she could possibly do to minimize the enormous expanse of orange maple cabinetry in her kitchen among other problems without renovating, so let’s check it out, to see the real severity of the issue.
In her words, “Talk about agony. Ugh. Totally willing to paint the cabinets and walls something fresher/brighter and remove some cabinets in exchange for open shelving (although my husband will put up a good fight, God love him). Replacing black appliances not an option at this point and I have major insecurities about the gap between my cabinets and the ceiling so I don’t want to emphasize that. I love a tuxedo kitchen but need help figuring out how it will work.”
She was right, it was agony but we had a few suggestions for her to easily update her kitchen without having to remove what she already had. Here is what we came up with and sent back to her.
PAINTING THE WALLS: One of the first things we notice about your kitchen is the nice natural light that floods in through the kitchen window and sliding door. Right now your kitchen feels dark and we can see how your cabinetry feels overwhelming. One of the first suggestions we have to make your kitchen feel fresh and bright is to paint the walls. The dark red color is making the cabinets feel more orangey than they actually are and painting the walls a lighter color such as a warm white or a light gray will help alleviate that problem. Also, once you paint the cabinets and the walls a lighter color the feeling of a gap between the ceiling and the cabinets won’t be as obvious. Because your countertops and the walls in your living area are warmer, we would stick with warmer shades of white and gray. See the inspiration board for color ideas.
PAINTING THE CABINETS: We do like the idea of painting the cabinets, and it is a rather inexpensive fix to what you currently have. We think white is a good choice if you are looking for something bright and fresh. Or you could even try a warm light gray color (again picking something that would contrast nicely with your countertops). Taking into consideration the layout of your kitchen, we suggest painting all the uppers white and the lowers a darker color such as a dark gray or black (as you suggested) or another option might be to paint the uppers and lowers all white (which will really brighten the kitchen) and then paint only the lower cabinets on the island a darker color to make it stand out. A third option could be to paint the uppers white and the lowers a darker gray and then paint the island white and add some black hardware.
OPEN SHELVING: Removing some of the upper cabinets and putting in open shelving would help your kitchen feel more open and less cluttered. We do think there are quite a few uppers and you could probably sacrifice a few if you can talk your husband into it 🙂 If you’re worried about removing too many cabinets, we recommend removing the uppers above the desk area like in the inspiration photo. This location for open shelving would make the most sense and wouldn’t affect the other functional areas in the kitchen. Another idea would be to replace some of your cabinet doors with glass cabinet doors to make it feel more open. However, we do think once you paint the cabinets lighter and remove some of the uppers you will feel a dramatic difference. If you do remove some of the cabinets, there might be some patch up work, but your painter should be able to tackle it and patch up those areas. We love these small arched shelf brackets, as well as the small strap shelf brackets to hold up your shelves as you can see in the inspiration board.
HARDWARE: Another thing we noticed is you don’t have any hardware on your cabinets. To give your kitchen some personality, we suggest adding hardware to your cabinets. It will help finish off the space and add a nice touch. You could do a polished nickel, a matte brass, or we like the look of an oil rubbed bronze with a gray and white color scheme. Both Schoolhouse Electric and Rejuvenation have some great hardware options. We like these knobs and these pulls if you wanted to go for the oil rubbed bronze.
ROMAN SHADE: To further complete the kitchen, we suggest a roman shade. It’s also a way to add color or pattern to the kitchen! We recommend taking down the art above the kitchen sink and having a roman shade custom made to fit your window.
BACKSPLASH: Another way to finish off the kitchen is a backsplash. We’re are not sure if changing the countertops is in your budget, but if so, we would suggest a light colored caesarstone, maybe not bright white, but something with some slight veining. If switching out the countertops is not in the budget, we would suggest a super simple backsplash (to keep things from feeling too busy) such as a marble/cararra/caesarstone with a slight veining to complement the tiled countertops.
All in all, this kitchen has some major potential with a few updates, so we are excited to see what she ends up doing. If you have a similar design issue or something that you just cannot seem to tackle on your own then we are here to help. Head on over to this page and fill out our questionnaire to get the process started.