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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Kitchen layout help and am I fooling myself?

drasylveJanuary 12, 2013
Please help me determine if I am fooling myself in that these cabinets can pass for something more modern? I would like to keep the wood and not paint...but am open to staining darker if you think it needs it (like west elm's cocoa brown color), keep the backsplash of stacked rock and change out the countertop to either a white with speckles laminate or quartz. I replaced the hardware with these linear pulls. Also want to change out appliances to stainless.
My original thought when moving in was to put in an island in the center - but now think I should half wall to the living room and put a row of cabinets underneath. I have someone that thought they could get a pretty good match to the existing cabinetry. What do you think about the half wall with cabinets below or island? I am standing in the dining space to take the pictures - so not sure that I need additional stools and island?
Third picture shows wall - where picture starts to the left would be solid wall with stainless shelving - including picture to the right would be half wall to living room. We have a nice view to front of house and cool windows - so think that would make kitchen even more open and brighter. I dislike the countertops - they are too blueish and think that with a lighter countertop the update would be amazing.
Also think I would change out light fixture to six can lights instead.
The kitchen ceiling issue is from a glued on trim that surrounded a pot rack that we took out and are planning to fix and paint ceiling white
I guess my greatest issue is - do you think with some updates, additional cabinetry, new countertop and lighting that this kitchen would shine? Or am I am missing the root issue and slapping lipstick on this pig?

*** My ideabook includes modern kitchens that I adore - really like the streamlined kitchens.
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I think - for me - the issue with the cabinets is the grain in the wood. But the lines (and new hardware) are very modern so I think it would work!! I would just make sure the appliances, fixtures and countertops are streamlined and sleek. I would change that stuff and THEN determine if you need to paint/stain the cabinets. (Beautiful view out the back window, btw!) I am not a designer or a decorator so someone else might have better insight!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:21AM
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I think that your kitchen is very nice and that your planned changes would make it even better.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:22AM
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About the grain in the wood...I know, right? If only it were a bit more subdued. The pictures make these look reddish - put in fact they read more walnut in person. Thank you for your comments. Any one attached to the idea of the island - or is the cabinetry and half wall a better option? I pictured something like this for the stainless steel shelving to the left of the half wall opening.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:48AM
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The picture won't show for me but I love the idea of an island!
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:51AM
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Oh now it showed up ... love those shelves! And I think you would have room for the half wall AND a small island but I might be wrong ....
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:53AM
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I think if you covered them with a darker stain, you'd get the look you want.
sonya · More Info
6 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:59AM
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HI -- I use to do kitchens several years ago , The cabinets are a nice style , my problem is the contrast of the dark woodgrain and the white appliances. Are you keeping those appliances - you didn't say ? If you are and if you want to make things look more modern , then you should paint the cabinets and go lighter NOT darker . It's the woodgrain showing that kind of spoils it for me . If you want to do a black and white kitchen , then you will still have to paint the cabinets to make them black and cover the woodgrain. Have you checked to see if that wall on the right can be removed ? If you could remove that wall and replace with a nice big island with storage under , that would be better . Just because their is an island does not mean you have to have stools . You could leave the wall if you don't want the whole room opened up and then have a double sided counter coming off that wall . Having the kitchen opened to the whole room would be more modern , it depends how you use your kitchen . Some people are messy cooks or don't like to be watched while they cook. So it is up to you how open it is. If you go with the open island look then the island can be differant than the other cabinets and also another color. All white kitchens are very modern and very popular right now . Or a high gloss grey . Put the money into a Quartz or a stainless steel counter top. Their is also recycled glass counters ,but cost is the factor . They have also come a long way with laminates . If you do the island then that counter top could be maple cutting board top or stainless . You have a good start but the main thing is the best way to modern is you are going to have to change the woodgrain cabinets with paint .
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:09AM
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Jayme H.
My husband is a finishing carpenter...he does staining/painting...u could do a black lacquer that would only involve scuffing the current surface before spraying. To restain, u have to sand the varnish off, etc. which would be more work. Wood grain would be toned down a lot as well.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Jayme H.
pics of black lacquer kitchen cabinets
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:27AM
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Tami-We could do the island but not the cabinets by the half wall. My preference for the cabinet is to be able to keep my stand mixer out and wouldn't want that on the island. Silly I know. We definitely want to change the appliances out to stainless. The white doesn't work for me at all - and agree if we need to go darker, appliances must change.
Love, love the picture of the darker cabinets - think that is right on with what I am considering.

Jayme - I was thinking that I could do a gel stain on the cabinets - that wouldn't require as much prep work as painting?

Wow - just love all the ideas I am getting! thank you so much for the comments.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:34AM
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LM Designers
Very nice kitchen that can be dressed up easily. I would try to stain an expresso color this will hide the grain. I like the idea of the half wall into the living room. If you do add cabinets there you can use the 12" deep base cabinets for storage. To have an island you need at least 36" all the way around minimum and 42" is better so don't try to squish something in there just to have it. Better to leave it open with cabinets on the half wall.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:44AM
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I really love the sophistication of the cabinets with the new pulls, adding stainless appliances will only make it better but if you decide to paint them black, it will still look classy. But I don't think I would do open shelving if you plan on opening to the living room, they can never look anything but casual, not something you want to see from the living room. I would open the wall and add a large island (with or without stools). Looks like you have more room in the kitchen area than the living room so I would put the bulk of the island into the kitchen area and make sure its counter height. Have seen several homes remodeled to open the kitchen and let light in but unless you only have company when you aren't using the kitchen for cooking, it can look like a disaster area. That's a definite consideration when making these kinds of changes.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Classic Designs by Brook
You are on the right track. Laquer those cabinets dark brown similar to west elm color you like. Stick with your light countertop choose and change appliances to stainless. I would take out wall and wrap header with smooth cedar to match the floor. Add a large island you have the room and it is wonderful for entertaining. Be creative on island with maybe stainless or laminate. Below is a couple pics of islands and a couple pics of beams. The one kitchen I did in white is reverse of your colors because client wanted dark floors with lite cabinets but I wanted you to see idea of taking out wall and adding a beam (mine is rustic thats why I sent the second beam pic).
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 11:59AM
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I do like the idea of a slightly darker stain to mask the grain a bit. I can really see in your 2nd and 3rd photos that the cabinets aren't as red as they initially appear.

One thing I'm wondering though is that if the poly/wax needs to be refreshed? When I look at the doors over the fridge in the 2nd pic, the wood looks a little raw and unfinished. Might just be the angle though. Perhaps some tung oil or a good wax after a darker gel stain?
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 12:05PM
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HI -- Just another idea . If you are going to go dark on your cabinets ,- think about just doing dark on the base cabinets and going white or light grey for the top cabinets . And then the island can be like the upper cabinets . You could also leave the big cabinet in the corner in the wood and do the rest of the base cabinets in the dark and then the island could be in a wood to match the big cabinet in the corner. This is a more modern way of doing things also. More interest and texture.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:44PM
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I think it's best if you install the undercounter cabinet handles below drawers horizontally. It could balance the vertical grain of the wood and easier on the eyes
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:55PM
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I agree that the main problem you have right now is the contrast between the appliances and the wood. I actually sort of like the wood grain and the current color. The backsplash also contributes to this contrast issue. I would change out the backsplash with a darker glass tile and the counters with a darker solid surface or stainless. The appliances should be switched for stainless steel; if you can't afford to do that now you can buy kits to cover just the doors of dishwashers, and paint the rest of the appliances black with appliance paint.

Once you have made these changes you will see if you need to make the effort to stain or paint. I don't think you are fooling yourself at all. Do make the effort to keep these cabinets and just make cosmetic changes.

As to the half wall or the island I think either would work in terms of looks. I prefer a more closed kitchen personally because I have 4 kids, and I like separate spaces as opposed to an open floor plan because it is quieter and hiding the mess is always an issue.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Why can't grained wood be modern? (This is a serious question, from a non-designer.) To my eye, the cabinets are the most modern (and beautiful) component in the room, and where I would BEGIN. To me, modern would mean pushing that wood and its grain further, not retreating.By making it richer and more prominent with lighting, and darkening everything else (the back splash, walls, appliances). The table and stools and art deco poster -- and the dish towel! -- are what make it impossible for me to suspect that an edgy, hip, modern person lives here (which if not to say a very NICE person!) Again, this is just a non-professional here, but one truly fascinated to hear who and why wood grain precludes modern. Is it the FINISH (i.e., polyurethane rather than and expensive oil-rubbed look?) Please enlighten me!
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 3:32PM
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Jayme H.
I think with this style of cabinet and it's present color, the grain is a little distracting and not necessarily in keeping with the style that it sounds like the homeowner wants(in reference to most previous post)...possible with a darker color the contrast of the grain wouldn't be AS noticeable. And to homeowner, I am not sure if gel stain would be the way to go or not..husband deals hasn't worked much with gel stain except for small touch ups...I would research the best product for the look u want and go from there. Prepping the surface correctly for desired look is soooo important and can highly influence outcomes. Ask the experts who work with the products/know those about the type of product u are looking at.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 3:50PM
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To me, this beautiful wood grain is contemporary but it is a matter of personal choice as you can see from the posts. I'm of the opinion that a modern design does NOT preclude something that is NOT edgy or hip, its just how far you want to take it with your own taste. Having read alot of the same kind of posts for other kitchen remodels, you can definitely tell some designers believe very strongly in their points of view.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 3:54PM
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I love the wood as it is. the pulls look very stylish. I cannot tell what your countertop is, but if i were you I would keep the backsplash and get a very sleek white high shine, like lacquer island with 4 stools. if your counter is not a good one, then change it to a grey quartz one in a leather finish. super cool kitchen
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 4:36PM
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I have the exact same cabinets and was thinking of changing them. We purchased stainless steel appliances and it changed the whole look of the kitchen. I would not do anything to the cabinets until you can replace the appliances with stainless steel. It is premature to think about anything else until you see how the new Appliances change the entire look of the kitchen.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 6:31PM
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I would get new appliances in black or stainless then re-evaluate. The white appliances won't work.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 8:27PM
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I actually think the timber looks really sophisticated - most timber cabinetry looks awful and dated.

Start by changing out the appliances - they have just got to go! If possible, install the microwave in a less conspicuous spot - they are not the most attractive appliances!

New countertops in warm white stone and with a simple warm white glass splashback will mean the wood grain isn't competing with the other patterns and textures as it is now.

You can have an island bench with contrasting cabinetry - that wouldn't be a problem.

:) Elise
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 9:41PM
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Lifespan Design
I think most of your idea's are spot on. Update lighting to can's, stainless steel shelving on picture wall , your change out of pull's, update counter tops and appliances (as budget allows) too. But to bring the clean lines of the modern vibe you are going to need to take off the existing oak doors and drawer fronts. Replace with either a tight grain (modern) wood door, or painted doors and purchase end skins too. The doors should have (hidden) 110 degree European hinges that can be mounted on the face frame of the existing box. Basically, a reface will bring you the modern edge that you love. Refacing is not really difficult and can be a great DIY project. The face frames can be either sanded and painted or skinned to match the doors. Leave out the middle men and deal directly with a specialty door company, and you'll save a lot of cash. I cannot advise of building half wall vs. island without a measured drawing of the room. The island should have a minimum of 30" of clear space in all directions to allow for egress. The back of the island should not be entering the living room space unless the same flooring is in the living room and kitchen. I have worked as a kitchen designer and presently work in whole house renovations. Don't forget the modern kitchens have a variety of lighting, so use a least 3 different types, such as undercabinet lighting, recessed can lights and artful pendant lighting too.
    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Jayme H.
That was what I was thinking...a "tight" grain...didn't know there was a name for it...but that's a big part of the look of those doors!
    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 7:42PM
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