Design the Perfect Kitchen (Get Designer Tips!)
At last, you get to create the kitchen of your dreams! It’s such an exciting prospect, but like all things worth having, getting there takes some work. Though it may seem straightforward, putting together a great kitchen can be quite complex. Between cabinets, countertops, sinks, fixtures, flooring and other elements, there’s a lot to think about. It’s enough to have anyone heading for the bar cart!
Luckily, you’ve got an ace up your sleeve. Our team designs dozens of kitchens a year and has a wealth of experience selecting kitchen finishes that coordinate (and function) beautifully. To ensure your kitchen comes together seamlessly, check out the essential design tips they’ve shared below.
Selecting Your Kitchen Components
Before diving in, our designer Meg suggests asking yourself what you really love. Are you obsessed with a particular type of flooring, or is there a cabinet color you absolutely can’t live without? Once you decide what that must-have is, the rest of your new kitchen will more easily fall into place.
If you’re having trouble picturing all of the different components together, our designer Evelyn’s says to always order samples of potential flooring, countertop, backsplash and cabinetry materials (don’t forget to ask for larger ones if there is a lot of variance in color or pattern). Then, lay them all out to get a feel for how things will flow and how the colors look next to one another. Settling on the dark gray quartz countertop versus pale is so much easier with context! Along those lines, we all love a stunning kitchen, but it also must be practical. To that end, our designer Miori advises against using natural stone with a lot of texture or dimension behind the cooktop – though beautiful, it’s impossible to clean.
In the cases where budget is an issue, Meg cuts cabinetry costs by choosing thermofoil cabinets instead of stained or painted cabinets. Our project manager Sam’s practical advice is to go with timeless countertops and tiling. Doing so will unquestionably make you (and even the next homebuyer) happier in the long run.
Cultivate Visual Contrast
One of the secrets of developing a layered, polished interior is to create an interesting balance of light, dark, and pattern, so it is important to keep textural and color contrast in mind as you design your new kitchen. Our designer Roseli offers these basic guidelines to help you find that balance within your space:
- If you have dark cabinets, use a light backsplash.
- If your flooring is dark, don’t use dark cabinets.
- If your countertop is dark, use lighter tones in the backsplash.
Countertops, flooring, and backsplashes aren’t the only elements through which you can introduce contrast. Our designer Jill employs different colors of tiling and grout to increase visual depth. One of her favorite pairings is gray grout with white subway tile. It’s easy to maintain and, as you can see in the image above, makes the tile pattern stand out, especially with white cabinets. Also, remember to explore motifs other than the traditional brick pattern as you work out your tiling – getting a little creative adds character. Another element to play with is flooring. For dark cabinets, Sam advocates going with a lighter house floor to ensure the main areas stay light and bright.
If playing up differences appeals to you, follow Jill’s lead and bring cabinetry into the mix, as in the gorgeous example of a “tuxedo” kitchen pictured below. Those glossy black lowers and white uppers are stunning, and, as Jill points out, the floating shelves add more interest.
The process of selecting the right cabinetry finish can feel endless – there are so many tones from which to choose! Roseli removes some of the guesswork with this liberating tidbit: it doesn’t matter what finish you choose as long as you coordinate with what is in most of your house. When choosing cabinet doors, if, like us, you’re drawn to a fresh, contemporary look, slab doors are Roseli’s pick. They’re on-trend and have attractive, clean lines that never go out of style.
Like jewelry, cabinetry hardware completes your kitchen’s look. As you select pieces, use your cabinetry finish to determine its hardware. Also, consider this advice from Meg: for cool tones, go with stainless steel or polished nickel pulls, while in the case of warm tones, choose brushed brass or oil-rubbed bronze. However, you don’t always need pulls! Roseli reports that the current trend is to either install long bars or forgo them completely.
Should on-trend pulls be a part of your perfect kitchen vision, Jill urges you to consider gold – it’s the new chrome or brushed nickel. Though gold has a different look than chrome or brushed nickel, you can match it with stainless appliances or faucets all the same. As you can see from her examples above, mixing metals works well, especially with black, white or gray painted Shaker-style cabinets.
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