Calling all interior designers!!!... NEED KITCHEN ADVICE

7 Replies

Calling all interior designers! I'm finishing a BRRRR deal and am trying to wrap up a long, tricky remodel of an older cape cod. The kitchen was the trickiest part of the house due to a VERY poor original layout - but I did my best to make it the most functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen I could. Overall, I think the house turned out very nice and I'm right on budget - with the exception of the last stage of the kitchen - painting the cabinets. I've made some mistakes with the kitchen when I first started and am paying for them now. I need recommendations on what color to paint the kitchen cabinets! I've been looking at lots of ideas online, but can't confidently choose one...

The overall color scheme and theme of the house is cool with gray walls and floor, new stainless appliances/ fans/ updated fixtures, etc. However, the kitchen was painted a green/gray and the tile is tan. The countertop is black with tan splotches. It doesnt really flow with the rest of the house since these are warm colors.     

I still need to install the butcher block, cabinet knobs, toe kick, and some crown molding/trim before its painted. The house was a foreclosure in bad shape; the cabinets were missing a drawer, a face, and one small piece of trim. Considering these are custom cabinets from the previous owner, it was a real pain trying to match them - hence why all the replacement components are a different color than the original. Lead times for exact replacements were ridiculously long. Also the quartz countertop was installed by the previous owner. 

Since the cabinets are different colors, I dont think staining is an option unless its a really dark stain - since they will come out different shades - so I was going to paint them. Im thinking either a light gray, beige, or tope. I was going to paint them white, but all the trim in the room is white, so I think it may look TOO white.

What are your thoughts?

I would go with greige. Also I don't know how you feel about it but maybe finding a lighter colored (affordable) durable rug for the kitchen area could "cool" the room down, and help neutralize all the brown. I do think white cabinets would be too white. 

Edited to add: A tenant is very likely to tear through that rug and leave you with nothing. It's just something extra if you are really disliking the contrast of those brown floors. However, I think you could make it work without it.

Hi Joseph,

I have a number of simple suggestions to save your kitchen without busting your budget, but a couple additional pics of the entire kitchen would help a lot.

First, if this is a future rental, the paint on the cabs needs to be very durable. To make that happen, you'll need to properly prep the surface of all the doors, drawer fronts, and face frames. If you don't, the paint won't stick. This entails sufficiently sanding/scuffing ALL the surfaces being painted... a very tedious, time-consuming process on raised-panel doors.

Or, you could remove the doors and drawers, take them to a furniture refinisher or cabinet shop, and have them prepped or stripped (a lot of these shops have strip tanks which makes the process easy). You could have them primed and finish spray painted, which would look the best and save you a TON of work, or prime and paint them yourself.

Re: color... I think a bright (but slightly warm) white would work very well, a nice contrast to the dark countertops and the green walls.

That said, here's an alternative to ALL of that work, addressing what I see as more important for both functionality AND esthetics: At the minimum, swap the stove and the darker base cab. Its much more functional to have counterspace on both sides of the stovetop (and it'll look much better).

I'll usually try to place a butcher block near the sink, but now you'll separate the darker base cab from the others, and it'll have a lighter wood countertop, which will reflect the contrast of the darker wood crown and small facia (at the bottom of the uppers), which actually looks kinda cool.

Also, I would use a real range hood vented to the exterior. They're FAR superior to the air-recycling type... they efficiently remove heat and humidity, not just odors.

Now, at the other end near the door, the cabs need to be extended past the window. Since you probably could never match the existing top (and it would have a seam), it looks like there's barely enough room for a small kitchen desk, which would be 6" lower than the cabs. Use the same dark finish as the cab next to the stove, and it will visually "bookend" the rest of the lighter cabs with the darker crown and facia. (You may have to support the desk with brackets from the wall to provide enough room for a kneehole.)

Here's a couple of examples:

To take it a step further (since you're not spending time and money on repainting), it looks like there's enough wall space to run a short bank of cabs from the corner to the refrigerator, which would provide much-needed counterspace, storage, functionally and visually connecting the reefer to the rest of the kitchen.

I would probably do this:

Swap the dark cabinet and stove. Put some open shelving above the dark cabinet in the corner.

I would paint the cabinets white (I know you are leaning against it, but personally, it seems to be the style).

I would add some shadow box molding to the wall under the chair rail, and paint the whole area under the chair rail white as well.

I would do a basic tile backsplash, something beige to match the floor with a pop of color band or detail in it.

I think the floor, wall color and dark counters allow for white cabinets to be done without it looking too white.

I think going with a warm white would not be a problem, it is a trend.  Next option in my book, would be a color very similar to the color of the natural wood color of the cabinets currently.  Any future scratches will not be terribly noticeable and buy you some time doing future painting.  Having painted cabinets, I will tell you it takes time.  You must, must, do the prep work or it will look terrible in short time.  In general stay with lighter colors as the rest of the house is lighter.  All the best.

Thanks everyone! All of you provided phenomenal feedback. I can tell you that this remodel has gone pretty well overall with the exception of this kitchen. It has been a real challenge and continues to be. 

I'm going to reconsider painting the cabinets white based on the positive feedback. White cabinets looks very nice in general, are in style, and have stood the test of time from a popularity perspective. Thanks for the help with that decision!

I really like the alternative layout ideas and would like to add the shelving and additional cabinets as suggested. The kitchen definitely needs more shelving and pantry storage space.  The kitchen desk would also be a great addition! Very creative...

Switching the dark cabinet and range seems essential because the corner is just a terrible place for the range. Its my biggest dilemma at this point. I wish I would have done it already as I think it will be difficult and expensive at this point and I'm approaching my budget. The microwave does vent to the exterior, so moving the cabinet may require running ductwork over to the current cutout in the wall? If I switch the dark cabinet with the range, I'll need to switch the microwave cabinet with the other cabinet and have to patch the lathe and plaster which could get messy and interfere with the new ductowork unless I cut a new exterior vent slot.

It is going to be a rental so I hate to overdo the rehab, but I am in favor of doing all major remodeling upfront.  

Does everyone agree that the range MUST be switched with the dark cabinet? Or considering its a rental and not a flip, would you consider it acceptable just not ideal? Personally if I were living there, I don't think it would bother me.  My girlfriend on the other hand, feels differently....   If I dont move it, I can finish the kitchen in a few days. If I move the stove, itll take more like a week and I'll go over budget - but I could manage. Its a long term buy and hold.