lesliec
March 18, 2011 in Design Dilemma
How can I brighten up my dark kitchen?
My kitchen has black granite counter tops and dark-stained cabinets with a talavera tile back splash. I love the tile back splash, but I feel like it gets lost with all the dark colors. Any suggestions on painting my kitchen cabinets white, or a textured application to brighten the space? I want to change the look without spending a fortune. Thank you!
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Cindi Carter
I would start with painting the island a nice cream color (one that is similar to the cream color that runs through your tile backsplash). Then I would concentrate on accessorizing on the countertop that are painted cream & canisters that are cream color to break up the dark countertop with the cabinetry/backsplash. Once all of that is done purchase a rug for the floor that is a long one say like 3x8 that is lighter in color as well.
March 24, 2011 at 4:04PM     
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suds3630
I LOVE the idea of painting the island cream, that would be stunning! WOW what a great recommendation.
March 24, 2011 at 4:13PM   
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chantalt
What about painting the upper cabinetry in the aforementioned cream and or installing glass panes with in-cabinet lighting. Drawer and cabinet pulls could be replaced with something a touch bigger with more sparkle such as brushed nickel.
March 24, 2011 at 4:37PM     
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Tina Breit
I think painting the island black and the cabinets a creamy white is the answer. The tile will stand out AND the island won't get lost in the shuffle, being able to stand on it's own as almost a piece of furniture. I would also invest in simple but gorgeous new cabinet hardware. It's a great way to change the look of your cabinets. You can go with a bold color to accent the tile or metal . A brushed silver would coordinate with the stainless appliances and still stand back and let the tile shine. Are you able to go curtainless ? How about a shade that rolls up during the day to take advantage of all the sunlight ? Looks like you might find a colorful runner for the floor as well.
March 24, 2011 at 5:48PM     
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Doris Wright
The least expensive ideas I can come up with are to change the backsplash tile to a stacked travertine, or similar light color mosaic tile. Alternately, you may want to change just the granite on the island, and see if it can be repurposed for a vanity or two. Then go with a lighter granite (one with a fun texture like lady's dream or santa cecilia ) for just the island. It would be relatively inexpensive here in Cleveland OH.

I do like the idea of painting that cabinet as another very good option. We have often used different finishes on islands we install to break up a dark kitchen. (i don't like too much "matchy-matchy")You may also try some new lighting, wide drum shades amy illuminate the space above the island and add a bright visual impact.
March 24, 2011 at 6:04PM   
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bepsf
I wouldn't paint or change your cabinets or hardware...
...I'd simply find a nice, large, bright Kilim or Oriental runner with lots of rusts & reds and lay it on your kitchen floor.
March 24, 2011 at 7:24PM   
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Barbara Stock Interior Design
Love the Talavera and would like to see it highlighted. I agree painting the perimeter or all cabinets white or cream (picking up the Talavera background color) will lighten the whole room, as in the first photo here-these cabinets were existing and updated with paint and new hardware. The second photo shows cream cabinets with a dark backsplash and countertops, so you can get an idea what it might look like. A third option, if you have the right situation, is to open up a wall to another room to bring in light, as in the last photo. I hope this helps!
March 24, 2011 at 9:05PM   
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Amy
I vote for off white cabinets, then pull a color from the tile for the island. Kind of like this:

March 25, 2011 at 9:57AM     
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lesliec
Wow! Great responses...thanks so much for the thoughtful and detailed suggestions. Truly appreciated!
March 25, 2011 at 12:38PM   
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Barbara Stock Interior Design
You're welcome. Good luck!
March 25, 2011 at 4:55PM   
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inkwitch
Those are incredibly nice cabinets, so it seems a shame to paint them. Larger cabinet hardware would update and add a reflective surface. Long round bars are popular and up-to-date. Pick a color from the backsplash and use it on the walls, possibly the island base. I like the idea of painting the island base and carry the hardware to it as well. Looks like it's all different. It doesn't connect; looks like the island was just plunked down in the middle of the floor as an afterthought. The suggestion of a bright floor rug will help -- a faux Turkey runner or something ethnic, depending on your taste. It would be easy to change the "inset" of the upper cabinet doors with glass (beveled, geometric art-deco - pricier, or french paned) and possibly paint and light the inside cabinets -- cream? whatever color you chose from the backsplash? GOod luck and have fun!
March 26, 2011 at 6:21AM   
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Doris Wright
iNKWITCH, lOVE THE IDEA ABOUT THE GLASS PANELS! GREAT WAY TO INTRODUCE SOME LIGHT.
IF YOU NEED THE BAR HANDLES, (OR REALLY ANY HARDWARE FOR CABINETS) TO UPDATE , TRY EBAY FIRST AS THEY COST A FRACTION OF THE BIG BOX STORES. tHANKS FOR THE GREAT IDEAS!
March 26, 2011 at 10:16AM   
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donna murphy
If you would like to see the most incredible inspiration pictures of kitchens exactly like yours transformed to amazing and gorgeous spaces you need to check out the Gardenweb Kitchen forum. Google Gardenweb, click on Forum go to Kitchens and voila. Or even better, I like to google seach specifically by typing in Gardenweb white kitchens or whatever the interest is, you will be amazed at the number of fabulous photos and people who are either finished with their project, in the middle of it or just beginning. Very thoughtful and helpful forum. Be prepared to spend many hours obsessing over details! have fun. Donna
March 27, 2011 at 2:32AM   
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Cydney Kaster
What about painting the cabinets on the wall a light gray (that would blend with the tile backsplash), leaving the island cabinets in the dark wood for contrast?
March 27, 2011 at 3:54AM   
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Julie Hendrickson
Your cabinets look brand new! In my experience, painting commercial cabinetry with brushes in the house looks good in the short run, but soon after begins to chip and look cheap. To get them professionally stripped and sprayed with a super tough finish is expensive. I would opt to change the granite everywhere except the island. If you bought a very light granite or quartz product, and simply replaced the hardware with something brighter, you would have more contrast, which is what you are currently lacking. Good luck Leslie. I know how important it is to get that room the way you want it.
March 27, 2011 at 5:13AM   
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melynr
I like the idea of painting the island only, and live with it. If it still isn't bright enough for you, change the countertop on the island too to something lighter-there are so many options, it isn't huge so it wouldn't break the bank. I wouldn't mess with the nice wood cabinets. I love the contrasting island look.
March 27, 2011 at 5:57AM   
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Kathryn Peltier Design
I agree with Inkwitch - I would highlight the island by painting it a light neutral - or even a light color - found in the backsplash. I would then put glass doors in the wall cabinets on either side of the appliance bank. If these are working cabinets, and you don't want to see everything in them, just select a patterned glass. I would paint these cabinets, inside and out, to match the island and light them. This will instantly give your eye a break from all the dark wood, as well as tie in with your backsplash. (There might be other opportunities to do this on other walls in the kitchen, but I can't comment on that because we don't have a view of these)

As a general rule, when I design a kitchen, I either go with dark cabinets and light counters OR vice versa. Dark/dark can work, but only in a space with a lot of natural light, which it doesn't look like you have. I realize that it would be a much larger expense than painting all the cabinets, but I think that the biggest change you could make would be to change the counters. I would go with a light granite or a solid surface material. If you wanted to add an accent on the island, you could go with a very neutral (I think I would stick with a uniform solid-surface) counter on the perimeter, and use a granite with the warm wood color flowing through it OR even a bright accent color to match your tile on the island. It's a matter or creating a balance of light and dark, color and neutral. The lighter colors will instantly draw your eye, and the wood will recede, but it will ultimately be a much richer, interesting look than simply painting all the cabinets. Good luck.
March 27, 2011 at 7:13AM   
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Cindi Carter
Staging houses is what I do for a living - people are always trying to get the most bang for the buck to freshen up their houses before hitting the market! If you decide to paint all of the cabinets - it really is not that expensive and would look amazing! Don't be scared! Ask around you could find someone to paint the cabinets for way less than changing out the granite. But I still go back to my original suggestion:
1) Paint Island
2) Get a great rug (something light say yellow & white? The one picture here is from West Elm)
3) Accessorize on the countertop with lighter things
4) I'm adding to my suggestions: Someone suggested switching out panels in cabinet fronts for glass then painting on the inside - BRILLIANT! This would look great!

Good luck and just remember - don't be scared to try anything! The cabinets are beautiful & the tile back splash are beautiful - you just need to tweak a few things and it will lighten things up.
March 27, 2011 at 7:40AM     
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Gail
You have beautiful cabinets and I would not paint them, but would put glass in the doors of the two cabinets on either side of the fridge, adding lighting and then light color dishes/accessories inside. I do like the idea of painting the island cream, accented with a light mocha glaze. Add white and/or cream accessories to your counter tops, change out the pulls to either match your appliances or the island. The rug suggested would also be a great addition and would help balance the dark and light. Add another bright splash of color, like yellow, red, perhaps orange, by replacing the covers to your pendent lights.
March 27, 2011 at 8:17AM     
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wahles
I like the idea of painting the island a warm creamy color. Go the distance and paint the bottom cabinets the blue in your wall tile. Then add the thin runner to the floor that picks up the blue and rust in the tile.
March 27, 2011 at 8:19AM   
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in3interieur
I like the bistro style cabinets and the worktops. Get expert advice to invest in more and better lighting. Change the hardware as suggested. Take out one or two doors from cabinets in island permanently to create open cabinets to bring the kitchen alive. Most important is to change the floor if possible. A black and white diagonally patterned, large size, tiled floor would look smart.
March 27, 2011 at 10:08AM   
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leticiashaquana
I don't have anything new to add, but my idea was also to paint the island only, and to have glass doors on at least one set of the upper cabinets and absolutely have them lit from within.
I think to make a minimum of changes with the maximum of impact, painting that island ought to be bold. From your backsplash I would probably pull the blue and use that, although the white would certainly lighten the space as well. Floor rug for sure, I liked the yellow one shown above, and the important part would be to choose one that is bright and cheery, even if not yellow. Blue or red would work, or even a very light grey with pattern in it - you could pull the light tones out of your granite that way.
paint island
glass cupboards, lit from within
bright rug
and lastly I would recommend new lighting.
My aesthetic likes things that pop, and I might pick blue pendants as well. or you could pick some lovely cannisters for your counter that would pop out wonderfully. Even keeping a brightly colored kettle on your range would add some nice color.
I hope you tell us what you decide to do and post a photo later!
March 27, 2011 at 10:29PM   
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leticiashaquana
just a little afterthought... I know in my own kitchen glass cabinets are a bit of a win - lose situation because it can be hard to have it look good when you need your cabinets to be functional. If this makes the decision hard, I think doing the glass over the fridge (although less space than the other cabinets) I think it might not interfere so much with general kitchen use, and you could create a lovely little vignette up there- heirloom china, or colored glass, vintage tins..
March 27, 2011 at 10:32PM   
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Pegasus Lighting
Do your cabinets extend all the way to the ceiling? I can't tell from the photo.

If not, you might want to consider over cabinet lighting. It's an incredibly easy project, and it can really brighten your room by visually expanding the ceiling.

Check out the photo and this blog post if you think it might work for your space: http://blog.pegasuslighting.com/2010/07/new-home-project-over-cabinet-lighting/
March 28, 2011 at 7:44AM     
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ecopixy
Oh goodness, don't paint your cabinets. You are lucky to have such a nice kitchen. I think you would regret painting your cabinets later on. Maybe paint JUST the island and do it well. Use lighter accessories and use the glass panels in some doors.
March 28, 2011 at 8:01AM   
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Gregory Isaacs
"Pre-fabricated" Granite & other man-made counter tops are becoming quite common and cost a fraction of what custom would cost. They can usually be installed without affecting the existing tile backsplash.
March 28, 2011 at 4:17PM   
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rockymurphy
Would not change a thing other than bright accessories. Love the deep rich color you have already. Cheapest decorating would be vases, ornaments, tea towels, in lime green, royal blue, bright red, the list goes on. I also like the idea of a rug, in a bright color. This way you can change the color theme when ever you bore or with the seasons (All red for Christmas).
March 29, 2011 at 2:53PM   
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lcmurray
Thank you to lesliec for posting this question, and to everyone who replied! My kitchen is very similar and I, too, am trying to figure out how to lighten it up. Lesliec, please post your "after" photos if you make any of these changes!
April 25, 2011 at 4:44PM   
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Looking Glass Drapery Co.
Your back splash is exquisite! I have a few suggestions for you. Don't be afraid to paint out your cabinets, just make sure you remove all the doors and send them out to be professionally sprayed. This will ensure a durable smooth finish. I would start by painting your perimeter cabinets a light cream (like the background of your tile) The upper cabinets on either side of your fridge/stove, remove inset panel and replace with seeded glass panels to lighten the space (paint these cabinets the same cream as the lower perimeter cabinets. I would highlight your island with an accent color chosen from the tile, I would choose the warm yellow tone which would play nicely off the dark counters. Next I would take the same yellow tone from the island & back splash and paint the gables and the cabinetry that surround your fridge and stove the same color as the island since it projects out further than your wall cabinets it will give your kitchen a very custom look. Your hardware should have some sparkle such as glass or crystal knobs, or a contrast to the cabinets in an aged bronze finish. I would use cup pulls on your drawers and handles not knobs on the doors as they look more substantial. Finally I would hang a new light fixture over the island. I would suggest 2 lantern style fixtures or for some "Bling" a chandelier would be lovely, maybe something vintage? some soft relaxed roman shades for the window dressing to tie it all together. I love the runner pictured from west elm or even something like a kilim with your colors between the island and cabinets. This is a very budget friendly option as it is all cosmetic and will have a huge impact! Good luck with your update! I would love to see your after photos.
May 2, 2011 at 11:02AM     
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lesliec
thank you so much for your very detailed and thoughtful insight! I appreciate that you started off by saying, "don't be afraid...". I will definitely post after photos!
May 3, 2011 at 7:20AM     
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Looking Glass Drapery Co.
You are Welcome! good luck! and yes please don't be afraid to try something new and unexpected, the results will speak for themselves.
May 3, 2011 at 12:53PM     
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myosotis
What about adding a skylight?
May 3, 2011 at 7:57PM   
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Bob Myers
Just wondering if you every did anything with your Kitchen Cabinets. I would love to see new pictures if you did.
October 10, 2012 at 4:27PM   
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nh320
you would be surprised at what some kitchen rugs or new cabinets could do to lighten a kitchen. Even a new countertop would bring a lot of light into the room -- quartz or even granite. Check out http://www.web-don.com for some neat quartz styles.
January 10, 2013 at 12:31PM   
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Ramona
d trWow, because black chandelier is spamming, I didn't realize that this was a dead thread and read all the way through in my insomnia daze. I really wonder if Leslie did anything at all or if life happened and she just couldn't get to it. For anyone having a similar situation, I have a kitchen with natural maple cabinets, white milk glass solid surface, stainless steel appliances and a medium light wood floor. I wondered if I had made a mistake and gone too light everywhere. I started looking at kitchens of all sorts and found that I really like the ones even lighter than mine, the white on white ones. There is something psychologically clean about white countertops. When my handicapped mother started dropping everything on the wood floor, I bought a black background wool rug in and multicolored trellis pattern. It cost a fraction of repairing the floors, is comfy underfoot and has only needed cleaning once in one year. If we trash it, it wasn't much of a loss. I don't think I'd get wood floors again. I love the way they look and cleanliness is just fine, but spills and dropping things are an issue for me. Anyway, get a colorful rug. I had room for art on the walls too which makes my kitchen such a warm and lovely place the only thing that is missing is the backsplash which is a problem because I can't decide about it.
January 21, 2013 at 3:26AM   
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