Choosing Kitchen Cabinets to Match Your Style

Cabinets are a kitchen’s main furniture. If you must replace old cabinets, buy a style and color that will be the basis for your new scheme (French, English, Country, Victorian, Euro-Modern, and so on). If you think you may prefer a period style, rip photographs from decorating magazines, brochures, and kitchen style books. Don’t be surprised to discover that you’ve collected lots of different looks. Put them on your inspiration wall so you can compare the pictures. Are there any common denominators among the photos? Are they all white? Do they have lots of natural woods or use stainless steel appliances? Do they have painted cabinets, loads of big windows, big islands?

Make a list of your likes (and dislikes) about photos. By mixing a little of one and a lot of another, you craft your own personal style.

Decorative themes are another way to go. You’ll be surprised how many wallcovering patterns and accessories have themes such as hearth-and-home, hunting dogs, and the beach. Magazines feature examples of decorating with themes that are very helpful because they focus on details.

If possible, reuse existing cabinets. Using your old cabinets saves a bundle of money and tons of time. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are my cabinets sturdy and in good working condition?

  • Do they provide adequate storage?

  • Is the color of the cabinets okay? If not, can it be easily changed?

  • Are the cabinets simple square boxes that can be resurfaced?

  • Can old doors be exchanged for new?

  • Can outdated hardware be exchanged for a new style?

If your answers to these questions are “yes,” cosmetic changes will save the day.

If your cabinets need a facelift, think of the following tips as Botox for old boxes.

  • Clean your cabinets: A good cleaning may bring new luster to tired but handsome wood.

  • Change the hardware: Try something zippy, like bent twig fork handles, hand-painted ceramic knobs, clear glass handles and knobs, or metal pharmacy pulls. For unity, match cabinet hardware and faucet finishes.

  • Paint them: A little paint goes a long way. Are you going Contemporary? Paint simple cabinets with a high-gloss finish in a zingy new color or colors. For example, paint base cabinets one color and wall-hung cabinets another. Antiqued cabinets in off white, buttery yellow, mellow rose, watermelon red, and apple green add an Old World charm that’s especially comforting. Paint cabinets high-gloss white for an instant Country look. Or stain them a natural, wood color in the Victorian style.

  • Add bead board as a backsplash and paint it a crisp white: Paint your cabinets’ outsides white and the insides a nautical blue for a seaside effect.

  • Relaminate all cabinets in one solid color: Or, for a more Contemporary or Eclectic look, mix and match colors and interesting patterns. For example, keep the cabinet boxes plain and add different colored or patterned doors (or vice versa).

  • Exchange old doors on plain cabinets: Try new fancy doors in the style of your choice.

  • Add classic architectural trims to plain cases: You can include fluted pilasters at the corners, pediments and crown moldings on top, or deep base moldings at the bottom.

Cabinets star against a background chosen to show them off. The key is contrast. For fancy cabinets, backgrounds (walls, floors, and ceilings) should be plainer. Choose a simple paint, paneling, or a small-patterned wallcovering for walls. Paint the ceiling a light color that coordinates with the cabinets. Flooring should be darker than the walls, but shouldn’t be too colorful or patterned.

If you want cabinets to recede into a unified background, reduce the contrast. Keep cabinets and wall, floor, and ceiling treatments related. The less contrast you use, the quieter and more serene your room. A calm background paves the way for something else to become the focal point.

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