1994 Kitchen/Great room, honey oak everywhere!!
erin_sharpe1984December 2, 2012
Ok, so my husband and I are getting ready to tackle our kitchen/great room. Since we are newly-weds, we would like to save a buck or two by attempting this on our own. Unfortunately niether of us have an eye for this sort of thing, so I'd appreciate any advice.

As you can see from the pictures there is 90's honey-oak and gold everywhere. The walls are a cream and the feature wall is burgandy-type. Granite in kitchen is mostly grey. We get a lot of light and it's a big space.

My thoughts:
-light grey walls
-charcoal feature wall
-begin the arduous task of staining the cabinets/ baseboards (and basically anything else that is honey oak) an espresso.
Floors for now will need to stay that yucky honey oak cheap laminate that the previous owners put in.

My concerns; will I be shrinking a large space? Making it too cold and dark? Or will it just look hideous? Should I stick with something not too extreme? AKA good ol' beige?

(Sorry about the messy pictures and Christmas decos!)

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I recommend you paint the top cabinets white, the lower cabinets a deeper color (charcoal or another deeper color you find in your marble), paint the trim and walls white and the feature wall a similar (but slightly lighter) shade that you paint the lower cabinets. Also, change your lighting fixture to a vintage reclaimed looking one.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:39AM
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Laura Hutton Design
Re-finish the cabinets to the dark color, install tall (6" min) stacked crown, as vertical as you can get it - stained to match. This will keep your uppers from looking too stubby. Consider replacing the trim around the windows with a 4" x 3/4" simple solid stock. Your trim is going to look like a pencil stripe if you don't. Paint the walls all the same color, a lighter softer color to down play all of the awkward angles and arches. Under cabinet lighting will also draw some of the attention away from elements of your kitchen that you don't like and will accentuate your beautiful granite counter tops.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:10AM
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Laura Hutton Design
Also, paint the double doors a darker color to blend with the stain.

Invest in some good window treatments. Go with simple or nothing. What you have now looks cheap and will stand out even more when you stain your trim darker.
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:16AM
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Dar Eckert
Espresso lower cabinets would look good. Minwax has a product that can be put over old finishes so you won't have to strip the wood down completely to restain. I think your idea for the colors will work well but you may want to consider lighter color upper cabinets or remove some or all of the upper doors and paint interior of boxes. For the trim, you can probably leave the baseboard until you replace the flooring. Either go with wider trim on the three windows in the bay to eliminate any wall showing between the windows or go wall color or white. The dark narrow trim is distracting. Wouldn't that be a sweet spot for a banquette under the windows? You will love that color combination, we just did that in our family room and love it. Will you be replacing the backsplash? Something lighter will help to keep the room light.
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:21AM
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You might be less frustrated if you painted the walls and the trim in both den and kitchen areas. I once did this and it changed the feeling of the entire room. A trim color that I like is by Benjamin Moore and is called "white chocolate". it is creamy white and goes with other neutral wall colors nicely. Removing the TV from the floor in front of the window would help. Could it be mounted over the fireplace? From what I can see, your cabinets are in good condition. Wicker/ straw woven shades would enhance windows and be compatible with the cabinets. This approach may not be perfect but it will be more economical than changing cabinets that are in good shape.
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:53AM
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The cabinets are fine as is. Your window treatments and paint colors are very bad. What looks like a double door (to where?) looks awful - what is that about?
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:01AM
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jdmh-- Like your ideas but could you delete your repeated posts? Sometimes you have to be patient to load your answer, and then check to make sure it is OK. :)

The dark brown is not helping, nor the white around the bay, which just highlights the skimpy window trim. A medium greige or grey tone could help, but maybe some color in a similar mid-tone would work too, like a nice Tiffany blue or butter yellow or sage green. I don't see any color in your decor except for the holiday decorations, so it is hard to say what you would like. Decreasing the contrast between the woodwork and the cabinets and adding can help somewhat, as can amping the color. Honey oak has strong warm yellow/orange undertones, so the color needs to relate--perhaps clear brights. Perhaps pry off a little piece of baseboard and bring it to the paint store. It needs something to get it out of the blahs.

I understand, painting is a lot of work, and you don't want to make a mistake, but being afraid of color just can end up with a sea of boring beige. Do you have kiddie art or anything with color that you love? What's in your wardrobe?

Also, do you have a friend who has an eye for this sort of thing? I once rearranged a friend's entire apartment, and my brother's house when he was a bachelor, using what they had to just cozy it up a bit. Did her new house too, come to think of it, and it stayed basically that way for years! The first apartment was huge, but had all kinds of busy wallpaper, but we made it look decent.

Anyway, it can be fun to do stuff like this together with a buddy--perhaps you can offer something you are good at in return--or just furniture moving muscle. Or invite her over for a yummy brunch or cookie bake or something for the holidays in return.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:25AM
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I also rather like your cabinets the way they are. I would leave those until last unless you are really set on changing them. My idea would be to paint all of the trim that is the oak into cream or white and put color on the walls (because I like color, although I know gray is in style now). Part of the reason you may not like the cabinets now is because the trim is so much the same, and there's a lot of it. I think a sage or soft green of some kind on the walls would go with the countertops quite well. I'd change out the backsplash to something brighter as well. I agree with Nevadan about the curtains/blinds. I'm not a fan of curtains myself because I live in the country and never need much window cover, but a nice valance treatment would change things a lot and "dress" the rooms.

I know you're asking about the cabinets, but I agree that the TV would be better off up on the wall. It's all kind of a compromise with a normal sized house about where you put the newer and bigger TVs when you've got a lot of space dedicated to the fireplace, but it's a lot on the floor like that.

Nice Christmas decorations! Looks like you have kids that are already excited for the holidays. :)

ETA: I just noticed you asked about would the gray make it look colder: Yes, I think it would, especially the charcoal, but if you paint it and like it, then I think you would be faced with doing something with the cabinets because the honey oak is "warm" and I don't think it would go with gray everywhere. If you made the kitchen (what is beige now) a softer color, like the green, and made the feature that is dark red now over to charcoal, I think it would not look that cold. If it's something you really think you would like to do, go for it! :)
1 Like    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Jayme H.
Darker cabinets would prob. be ok if u make sure to keep the wall lighter/otherwise with dark cabinets and counters...too much dark. The island could be painted/stained a lighter color also...this is being done a lot now. An accent wall can be very claustrophobic/don't like those....a pale grey throughout is gorgeous/as long as it doesn't clash with the new stain on the cabinets...make sure they work together. The light floors should actually help reflect light....so I would try to keep it light when u change it if u do the darker cabinets.
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Thanks for all the help everyone. We bought this house as is-- we have done absolutely nothing with it yet. So I do agree there are out-dated choices for colours/window treatments. The plan is; paint first, then address trim and cabinets. The furniture will be replaced-- we have hung on to all of our out-dated older furniture because we didn't want to invest in new furniture until we knew how we were going to paint. And yes, I agree mounting the TV is a better option. And yes, I hate those blinds; but for the moment we do need something for privacy.

Nevadan-- I appreciate construction criticism, over "it looks bad". Hence why I'm asking for suggestions. Also the double doors are for our raised back-yard deck, it's there to stay.
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:44AM
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You've got a great palette! I think the only changes I would make to what you're planning now are:

-For the upper cabinets, replace a few doors with framed frosted or etched glass doors. Or possibly even replace with some open shelving. Espresso stained ARE lovely....but on the uppers and lowers, it can seem really heavy in a room to me.

-Be flexible with your wall paint color idea. Of all the decisions and projects you have going, that will be the least expensive to change. Find furniture you like then determine a paint color that works with your cabs and the furniture.

Great idea of not going the default of 'paint the oak cabinets white'!

Oh - and for the double doors, you may want to consider painting the oak trim piece between the doors to match the doors instead of staining it espresso.
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:09AM
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One more thought - do a photo search here for espresso cabinets and see if you can find any pics that match what you are envisioning. If it's a look you like, keep going!
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Here's what I did in a laundry room that I inherited, and surprisingly it made a world of difference. None of the finishes were coordinated: Black appliances, honey toned cabinets, gray tone-on-tone laminate counter tops, off-white tile floor and backsplash, yellow (!) walls/ceiling, and white shutters/ttrim. (Sorry for the saga...no before photos taken.)

I found a shade of paint, off white with a slightly gray cast, that looks really nice with the backsplash and doesn't fight with the cabinets; painted the ceiling pure white like the shutters/trim; changed the cabinet hardware to chrome. Now the honey cabinets don't seem so prominent, and I actually can keep the door open!

You might try something similar, and paint out the window/door trim white if you like that look. I also think a previous recommendation of banquet seating would be a nice addition.

Good luck!
    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 12:33PM
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