What you are dreaming of is this:Soft Gray Green Kitchen

but, what you actually have looks more like this:

Before Oak Kitchen

You are not alone.  Here is our step by step guide to your, ultimate kitchen transformation!  

We were inspired by Manette Roberts' Nashville kitchen, because she took what she had and made it sing!  She took what so many people have - oak cabinetry paired with oak floors and oak trim work, and suddenly you start to feel you are living on the inside of a nicely-made, dark, wooden, oak box.  But, budget might not permit getting all new cabinetry.  So what do you do?

Let's bust right out of this oak box, step by step!  

1.  Beef up the cabinetry and architecture:  Most oak cabinetry peninsulas are faced  on the back side with inexpensive, 1/4" thick paneling.  By replacing this with 3/4" thick raised panel sections, the whole look of the kitchen is elevated and enhanced.  A good carpenter or cabinetry shop will be able to fabricate and install these for you.  Adding base molding to your cabinetry will also give the cabinetry a more fitted, furniture feeling.

Paneling Detail for Cabinetry Peninsula

Drywall soffit above the cabinetry - do you have one, too?  Lots of 1980s & 1990s kitchens have those.  By adding some substantial crown molding above your soffit, we "up" the architectural elements in the room and integrate them into the whole, new look.  By adding the crown molding, we also decrease the overall height and impact of the drywall soffit.  

Large Crown Molding

Crown Molding Kitchen Soffit2.  Flooring: By continuing the same, red oak flooring from the adjacent family room and eliminating the existing, sheet vinyl flooring, the kitchen already feels more luxurious.  By having the same floor flow from the family room into the kitchen, the space will already feel bigger.  By keeping the finish the same on the new kitchen floor, as we already have in the family room, we eliminate the need to have all of the existing floors refinished.  Floor sanding can be messy, so it is good to do this phase before you tackle any of the final painting of your cabinetry.

Red Oak Flooring


3. Countertops:  By creating more contrast between light cabinetry and dark countertops the kitchen is instantly updated and freshened.  Using Uba Tuba granite, we are able to use natural stone at an amazing price.  Uba Tuba is one of the most reasonably-priced natural stone options on the market.  By using a simple, eased edge style, the finished look feels modern and fresh, and nicely balances the more traditional cabinetry.  

Uba Tuba Granite

In the "before" kitchen, everything has a matte finish, doesn't it?  From the floors to the cabinetry to the countertops, everything is absorbing and soaking up the light.  By using the stone countertops in a polished finish, we start bouncing the light around the space, just what this dark space needs!

4.  Vent Hood:  Often this microwave placement above the stove was a common, space-saving solution in the 1980s and 1990s.  Unfortunately that design gives you minimal space above your range, and often has an inferior fan integrated within the microwave unit that either recirculates air right back into your space, or moves such a small amount of air, that it doesn't feel like the fan is doing anything at all.  And, your house still smells like the fish you cooked a couple of days ago.  Let's fix that!  By adding a more efficient and streamlined fan, and raising it up above your cooking surface, the whole cooking area feels more generous, open and spacious. The streamlined, updated profile adds a modern element to the new space.

Zephyr Gust fan


5.  Paint:  Now that all the cabinetry panels, moldings and soffits have been beefed up, we are ready to give it all an amazing coat of paint.  So, so exciting, isn't it?  Painting cabinetry is a multi-step process, but the transformation is truly incredible. 

This paint palette uses two beautiful colors.  For the cabinetry, Benjamin Moore's Healing Aloe 1562 looks green in some lights, and gray in others, as the light changes over the course of the day.  Use this paint in a semi-gloss finish to bring a soft luster to the cabinetry.  Subtle colors like this are a great choice for permanent elements, as the way the colors subtly change keeps them from being too visually "loud" or distracting.  Often when a color is too bold, it becomes the only thing you see in the space, when you walk in. Benjamin Moore Aloe 1562

On the ceiling, Benjamin Moore's White Dove is a great choice.  This fresh white has just a hint of warmth to it, and keeps white ceilings from becoming too chalky. Use White Dove in a flat finish on the ceiling.   Use the same shade on your new, chunky crown molding, but in a semi-gloss finish.  

Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17


6.  Backsplash Tile:

An easy way to brighten a dark kitchen, is to use a glossy, backsplash tile.   Using a marble, 3x6 backsplash tile adds gloss and a bit of luxury to this remodeled space. By using a traditional, subway-shaped tile, it keeps the backsplash from feeling too modern, when paired with the more traditional, raised panel cabinetry.  

Marble 3x6 Backsplash Tile

Subway Backsplash Tile

So, what do you think?  Are you ready to tackle the oak cabinetry in your kitchen?  Need a little help guiding you through?  We are here for you!  

Ask a Nest Designer

September 21, 2019

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