Cabinets Tone with Wood Ceilings

ksamnicJune 24, 2013
I was in at a local paint dealer trying to pick a neutral wall color.

Somehow the discussion got on to cabinets. She mentioned that she would not install cabinets that were lighter than the ceiling wood, so she would go with cherry, walnut, teak, etc..

I had been planning on using a vg-fir natural tone, similar to the first link in poll choices shown below. My fall back was to a teak/bamboo combo like the bathroom shown in second link.

Where would you go with cabinet color/tone/hue in a house like this?

Is it OK to use a cabinet that is lighter than the ceiling - or will it look too washed out?

PS: completely open floor plan. polished concrete floor.
VG- Fir
Teak and Bamboo
Machined Fir
Contemporary (color)
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Rockin' Fine Finish
Love vg fir being from the pacific NW you have to go fir
    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Rockin' Fine Finish
Stakkestad 2 interior · More Info
1 Like    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 5:44PM
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I am wondering if anyone has an opinion on whether cabinets need to be darker than the ceiling? It was this comment from the paint person that got me second guessing my choice of wood species.
    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Your ceiling looks to be neither dark, nor light, with yellow undertones. Whatever you do, don't try to match it or stay in the same depth of colour. You should either go very dark, or very light for the cabinets and the walls. I think the machined fir would look awesome.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:42AM
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B.L. Rieke Custom Home Builders
In our homes, the ceilings (as a whole, not including accents) are never darker than the cabinetry. From our experience, darker ceilings make rooms seem smaller, even big rooms. Also, darker ceiling colors generally demand more attention, so unless you want the focal point to be the ceilings, stick with a lighter ceiling. Also, find stain colors that are complimentary, and not strictly contrasting.
    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Generic guidelines are just that,ksamnic; room size, ceiling height, lighting conditions all effect overall scale and balance, and leave you free to ignore the sales clerk. In your instance, a light cabinet will give some sense of expanse, and will also help reflect limited daylight. Go for it.
    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Nancy Walton
The salesclerk's opinion is just that: an opinion. Everyone has their own preconceived notions of what things "should" be. Go with YOUR likes, you have to live there, they don't!
    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Michael Tauber Architecture
I actually think you could match the ceiling color since there are beams that are darker and you have wall surface which can be painted. It would tie the room together. I would shy away from having too many colors and textures in a relative small space (remember you will have a countertop too).
    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Our latest thinking is to go with a natural fir tone (which is a shade lighter than the ceiling), with a water based finish that has UV protection (to limit the amount the fir will darken as fir tends to do). If we find that it looks too washed out we can paint the wall around it a dark color to get more contrast. (thinking that a rich red would look great with the ceiling colors fir cabinets). We can do this painting afterwards if needed.

Our preferred cabinets for this home are in the style of the first ones listed in the poll choices. We like the last ones also - but it really isn't the most modern/contemporary of homes, and there are a lot of other details that have a bit of an Asian feel to them.

Thank you all for your advice! If you want to see more of what we are doing, the full reno is being chronicled at (the blog is done mostly for our family members - but there are lots of design choices that needed (and still need) to be made - some of which you might be interested in.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:10PM
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I basically have that exact ceiling in my home. We are in the process of a kitchen remodel and I went with a combination of walnut and grey painted, with "vanilla milkshake" walls and an off white quartz counter (some of the counters are walnut butcher block).
    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 1:56PM
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Rockin' Fine Finish
Make sure you pick the right waterbourne finish as some can make the cabinets look plastic like alkyd finishes like conversion varnish will be more durable and wont yellow over time but since you are in Canada i'm not sure if those finishes are permitted. also waterbourne finishes wont give you the richness of a alkyd finish.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Hi ksamnic, VG-fir like in your first photo looks very beautiful, clean and sleek design. :)
    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Hi Rockin', yes, I much prefer old based varnish - but these are not allowed here any more. Dealers can sell whatever they have on their shelves - but that is it. In re-doing the ceiling we had to use a stain spar varnish because it was all we could get, and for my window trims I did happen to find some semi-gloss verathane.

I am not sure what you mean by conversion varnish. If I can get the color depth and richness of an oil based clear coat - but with good UV protection - I would go for it in a second. I find water finishes somewhat dull in appearance - haven;t noticed the plastic look - but I do find them lacking in 'depth'.
    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Rockin' Fine Finish
Conversion varnish can be done by pro cabinet shops or onsite by a qualified painting contractor do a quick search on google for it the depth and richness combined with durability uv protection and non yellowing of the product is amazing
    Bookmark   Thanked by ksamnic    June 26, 2013 at 6:26PM
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I think the teak and bamboo will really look warm and inviting with the wood beams. Love it
    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 11:42AM
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Paris Flea
If you go contemporary paint the beams to look like stainless steal.
    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 7:34AM
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I personally like the machined fir or some color...I don't think about cabinets versus ceiling...but believe floors should be darker than ceiling, especially if both are wood.
    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 7:38AM
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