Unhappy with my new kitchen

November 21, 2014

Hi all.

My husband and I just had our new custom kitchen installed and I'm extremely unhappy.

We hired an interior designer who drew up several layout plans and we chose the one we liked the best. We met with the woodworking folks and I selected the cupboards, hardware, etc.. The designer was involved in the process from the start. She approved the color of the cabinets, etc...

The kitchen was just installed this week and when I saw the final result, I actually started to cry. The layout looked great on paper but not so great in person.

Our kitchen was small to begin with but now it looks even smaller. It looks like a bloody cave. We still have to install the countertop (quartz in Minera by Cambria) and a backsplash (that will be primarily white with some light shades of grey), plus stainless steel appliances and I'm hoping that will make things look better but I'm not hopeful.

The cost of the custom kitchen cabinets and countertop was $18,000 CDN. I feel like it was a complete waste of my hard earned money. If I could afford it, I would take a sledgehammer and smash it all and start from scratch. My husband on the other hand, loves the new kitchen.

I've attached a photo of what it looks like at the moment. It's not a great photo because we still haven't installed lights in the recessed lighting. As an FYI...the fridge will be going in that space where the light is shining from which, I'm sure, will make the kitchen look even smaller.

Am I overreacting?

Comments (53)

  • kelleg69

    I think when the backsplash and countertops in, it will feel a lot better and lighter. I know from experience that I have made changes at my own house and freaked out when I first saw them. We built our house five years ago and didn't like our roof when we first saw it. We love it now. Same happened with the brick we chose for the chimneys. We were second guessing a lot of our choices. A lot of it is that you aren't used to the new finishes. I think the cabinets are very pretty. The lighting will also help. Big changes take a while to get used to. I think once everything is in, and you give it a few weeks, you will end up being very happy.

  • deickhoff0

    Once done, I think it will be beautiful.

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  • Gooster

    What you are going through is quite normal, due to the large amounts of change you are going through. You are missing key elements: reflective surfaces on appliances, the backsplash, the accessories and most importantly, the lighting. I'm certain you'll see it differently when all the elements are in place. If not, come back and people will be able to make suggestions on small edits.

  • romy718

    You've just got dark wood cabinets & a wood floor right now. Once your counters, appliances & backsplash go in, it will look completely different. Your cabinets & floor look lovely. Don't stress. All those other elements, colors & finishes will completely change the cavelike feeling you're having now.
    I'm linking to a backsplash post. The large format backsplash tiles that nosoccermom posted might be perfect for your kitchen,

    Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen backsplash help!

  • Gemcap

    Another note for knowing that your kitchen is going to be beautiful once the lighter countertop and backsplash are in. It looks dark only because everything you have right now absorbs light by the bushels. The lighter material and the difference in planes will make a huge difference.

    As gooster says, once everything is in place, and you still don't like it in a couple of weeks, post the pictures and the wonderful people here will help to transform it without busting the bank.

    Renovation of any size is stressful. Don't overstress about something you can't fix right now. Take care.

  • aktillery9

    With lights on and the counter and bs and applliaces, I think you will love it. Of course any kitchen photographed at night with one lamp or whatever that light is, will looks dark. I have seen many a stunning dark kitchens, big and small. Do not worry, it will look great! Make sure and take a photo with the lights on during the day. That will help us see more of what is going on.

  • Jeannine Fay

    Hang in there. It looks like you will have substantial light in your ceiling and I assume you'll have under cabinet lights as well. Once it all comes together with those lighter elements you are planning I think it will feel much better. The cabinets and floor are pretty.

  • tibbrix

    You're not overreacting at all. Your reaction is a very common one at the first site of a major change, and an expensive one, esp. when there were so many available options out there. It's very easy to start second guessing yourself (and others).

    But I think that kitchen will be gorgeous. Work with the darker colors of the cabs. Turn "cave" into sophisticated and rich. Once the counters and appliances is are in, it's really going to come together. As a final touch, I'd put a Persian carpet down, or some kind of colorful, rich wool rug.

  • kitchendetective

    You will love it in time. I already do. Dark cabinets always get that breathless reaction from me. They are my favorite.

  • sevrm

    Dark cabinets and Minera counter tops are good enough for Houzz.

  • Mrs_Nyefnyef

    I agree with the other posters that having your appliances, counters and backsplash will make a difference. However, I just googled "Minera by Cambria". It is an ash-gray. It does have white speckles, but the overall look of the Minera counter is on the dark side. It will absorb light. Even the photo I am posting here shows it with a window near by, and clearly a kitchen with lots of light coming in. I would suggest you get samples of lighter colors from Cambria, and then choose one; a lighter color counter will really brighten and lighten your kitchen. The contrast of a light counter with your dark cabinets will make a huge difference and change your impression that your kitchen is dark. But I don't think the Minera color will make you happy if you think your current kitchen is too dark.

    Edit: I just saw the Houzz kitchen that Suellen posted above. That kitchen has lighter colored cabinets than the OP's, and is at least double the size of the OP's, has lighter floors, and has a large window and is filled with light. In that setting, the Minera looks fine. But I don't think that is a photo to point to as support that the Minera will look good in the OP's kitchen.

    This post was edited by Mrs_Nyefnyef on Sat, Nov 22, 14 at 11:22

  • Caree

    I agree, all your selections are brown and adding that counter to black brown cabinets and dark brown floor in what further looks like a windowless kitchen does not sound encouraging.

    Obviously better lighting will make a difference, but you still need to like being in a dark brown envelope. If you don't and are comfortable with rugs in a kitchen, I'd try that too.

    Right now it's dark in there with dark dull non-reflective surfaces installed. Something needs to liven things up.

    What does your KD say? What kind of store is this?

  • cat_mom

    Ditto what the others have said. Change, even a much desired and anticipated one, can often leave one a little freaked out when it finally happens (second-guessing ones choices goes hand-in-hand with this). Your kitchen so far looks like it's going to be smashing!

  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

    Keep in mind it is the darkest time of the year with the winter solstice approaching, which makes everything look like a dark cave. Are there any windows in the room?

    Is it possible to add a skylight? That would fill the room with light...

  • melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/

    I Googled Minera by Cambria, too, and I think it's on the darker side. Your kitchen seems like it will have a lot of light, which can help. It's pretty, but is it what you imagined?

    What was it you wanted, what were you expecting? Is it too late to consider a lighter shade for the counter?

    PS -- If your DH loves it, does that mean he'll be working in there more? ;-)

    This post was edited by melle_sacto on Sat, Nov 22, 14 at 12:06

  • HomeChef59

    Check out the current thread about black kitchens being the new white. It has a picture of a kitchen and link to the article. Beautiful kitchen. It might make you feel better.

  • CEFreeman

    No, you're not overreacting, you're reacting prematurely.

    I get it, though. I've cried over something I expected to be completely different.

    Get your other elements in before you decide. It's too bad they can't keep you out for a bit, like Kitchen Crashers. I think you'll be sooooo pleased.

    Because right now, in that pic, your cabs are lovely.

  • nosoccermom

    Any chance to switch to lighter counters?

  • lavender_lass

    Finish the kitchen and see how it looks with lighter counter, backsplash and lots of lighting! If you still hate it, maybe add glass to the uppers.

    Worse case can always paint them (!) but I wouldn't do that without living with it for a long while. They're nice cabinets and the other changes should make you like them a lot more :)

  • sahmmy_gw

    All the nice posters here saying "don't worry it'll look fine once everything is in" mean well, and want you to feel better, but aren't doing you any favors in the long run. You are not "overreacting" as you put it; your cabinets are gorgeous, but the combination of dark cabinets, dark floors, and little light does need help in order to escape the feeling of being in a "dark brown envelope" as Snookums aptly said. You need to make a couple of changes now while you still can.

    As has been mentioned, adding a light counter is the most necessary change. You are actually lucky that the Minera counter is not already installed, so that you have the ability to change it to a lighter color.

    Also you must add bright undercabinet lighting and make sure it is dimmable. The undercabinet lighting should be installed toward the front of the cabinets so that the light doesn't get swallowed by the back wall (note that electricians like to install undercab lights toward the back cause it's easier for them, so you may need to put your foot down to get undercab lights placed toward the front). Also, I really liked Lavender Lass' idea of switching out a couple of the upper cabinet doors for glass ones. You could light the interiors of the glass cabinets too for more soft lighting boost.

    The changes I just mentioned will make a world of difference. Do not sit and wait for everything to be installed. If you do wait, you will regret it because changes at that time will be much more difficult and more expensive.

    This post was edited by Sahmmy on Sat, Nov 22, 14 at 16:51

  • GauchoGordo1993

    Agree with the light counter advice. And I'd go with some kinda zippy cool-tone glass for the backsplash.

  • Bunny

    I agree with Sahmmy. Get light counters. I have a sunny, bright kitchen with white cabinets and very dark counters. I would not go dark again. Since you already have dark cabinets and floor, a light counter will help a LOT. Under cab lights will accentuate and magnify that light.

  • tomatofreak

    Please post again when the lights and appliances are in. I would feel as you do if I thought it would look like that forever. In a small kitchen, having everything dark does make it feel more closed in. Do you have a window? (I may have missed that somewhere.)

  • Caree

    Consider the glass doors too, especially if there is no window. They really open things up. Glass backsplash or one that glistens is a good idea to contemplate, too. You need to break and shake things up with more varied surfaces, textures and sheens.

    This post was edited by snookums2 on Sat, Nov 22, 14 at 18:20

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC


    Yes, you are over reacting. You've gotten some good advice here. You're letting your emotions get the best of you. Reel them in. You'll be fine.

  • susanlynn2012

    The kitchen is rich and beautiful but I would see if you can change the counters to much lighter counters. If you can't, with good lighting and a very light backsplash and stainless steel appliances, your kitchen would still look nice. My neighbors got dark stained cabinets with black polished counters but with a light backsplash and light floors and their kitchen is stunning looking.

    Please keep us updated.

  • Caya26

    I think you should try to change the counters something lighter, if you still have the chance. The backsplash you picked sounds fine (primarily white with shades of grey). Recessed lighting will help immensely. Your floor looks like it is much lighter than the dark, rich,cabinets, a nice contrast.

    Keep us posted.

  • lam702

    Dark cabinets are a rich, expensive look to me. My own personal preference would be to add a light counter and back splash though. And paint the walls a light shade. The SS appliances will be light reflective, as mentioned previously, which will brighten it up too. Add some under cabinet lighting too, I think it will be beautiful.

  • gsciencechick

    I'll chime in that the cabinets are beautiful, and if you can change to a lighter countertop, that will help lighten up the space. However, it seems with a lighter BS and proper lighting, it will look really good.

    Change is hard.

  • Mike121

    No you are not overacting at all. Every one has right to speak what he or she feels about his or her interiors. I couldn't see any opening for ventilation. This can make the atmosphere humid giving scope to germs and bacteria breeding.

  • Mags438

    It seems your kitchen is undergoing a major transformation. I have a small enclosed kitchen like yours. Dark cabinets are so sophisticated. I seem to always look first for simple/inexpensive solutions. First thing I would do is put in the recessed bulbs for ceiling lighting. There are several degrees of color; find the one that is most reflective. Then re-assess the larger things, like countertop, etc. Bring the actual sample of the stone home to the kitchen and see what it looks like under the proposed lighting. Good luck.

  • sevrm

    Not bad enough that we all thought her kitchen was too dark. Now the OP has to worry about germs and bacteria breeding there! No wonder she has not posted back. I realize that the purpose of the forum is to help people, not necessarily make them feel better, but really...not all kitchens have windows.

  • scrappy25

    I agree that a few strategically placed glass door cabinets will change the feeling of being closed in a lot and be an economical change. Light countertops may or may not be economical depending on being able to switch the countertops. It is a beautiful kitchen and certainly can be stunning with the right complementary choices.

  • HerrDoktorProfessor

    OP I feel you we are building a house and went with dark chocolate floors and dark main cabinets.

    For us key to avoiding the cave feeling was a gray Island, light countertops and light color paint and backsplash. We went with River white granite, SW Silverpointe paint and a stainless steel backsplash to reflect light.

    If I were in your position I would definitely go with a light colored quartz.

    Our cabinets are being installed today

  • Gemcap

    LOL suellen_2010 :-)

    nosoccermom - the sixth photo is a gorgeous kitchen. Potentially this is what OPs kitchen could be like given the right lighting, paint and countertop.

    PS. I must confess I come by this thread to check up on the OP. Where is / how is OP?

  • Ivan I

    Could you post a better picture of your kitchen? (better = more visible)

  • Hydragea

    OP = MIA

  • Gracie

    Breaking news:

    Unhappy homeowner takes sledge hammer to bad interior designer and new kitchen cabinets. Designer survives, cabinets are a goner. Details at six!

  • desertsteph

    "OP = MIA"

    uh-oh. APB / BOLO 4 OP!

  • andreak100

    Mary - take a deep breath. I think it will turn out fine. It's often an "uh-oh" moment when things start going in and there's bits and pieces, but not everything.

    I do think that you need to look for some things to lighten stuff up. If the counter that someone posted a photo of earlier in the thread is an indication, it may be a bit too dark...if you can go with a light colored countertop, it will help to balance things a bit. Also, look for a light colored backsplash. Both items will help.

    You showed a picture without real lighting - it was at night with a singular light - casting shadows and dark areas where there won't really be ones when the lights are all installed.

    Oh, and while taking about lighting - have lots of lighting...looks like you have a good number installed in the ceiling from what I can see. We went with a dark floor and cabinets. And we over-lit (at least according to our GC who thought that what I had was overkill). But you know what, I knew that we would have a lot of dark surface that would absorb light and it's way easier to dim lights than install more later.

    But, I would say that I'd do my best to try to change the counter to something lighter if possible - that's what we did and it works. You see in the examples that nosoccermom posted with a dark floor and cabinets, people have the lighter counters and a light backsplash to help balance things out.

  • Mrs_Nyefnyef

    I find it rude when someone posts about what seems like their heartfelt problem, and a lot of people take the time and the trouble of helping and providing advice, and the OP never comes back.

  • sbdesign

    Rude? She posted on Friday and it is only now Monday. Not everyone lives on GW -- she may actually have a life, have gone away for the weekend, be busy with construction, posted from work and had the weekend off, or who knows what. Some people do post and run, but I think it's a bit early to make assumptions.

  • Caree

    One guy was complaining someone was not returning after waiting a whole 24 hours. When I was new to the net, I sometimes couldn't remember where I had posted or forgot completely for some time. It is not a way of life for probably most other people.

  • Mrs_Nyefnyef

    Sbdesign - you are right. I am sorry for my post. I guess I was terribly curious to know what the OP thought. Most of the time, we do hear back from OPs sooner, especially when there have been a lot of responses. But I was wrong to be judgmental.

  • Hydragea

    DesertSteph, What are you talking about?! I looked it up in the acronym finder but have no idea whether my guess is correct. Is it:

    All Points Bulletin: Be on the Lookout for Original Poster?


  • Caree

    Maybe her flashlight died, lol.

  • marcolo

    Exactly. She can't see her computer screen.

    I was so surprised to see that her kitchen was dark at night with no lights on.

  • breezygirl

    She doesn't have her email enabled on her profile so she isn't getting any of these responses by email. She may have just assumed that she would get them and now thinks that no one had responded. She'd have to remember to check back to this thread to know that anyone has offered opinions.

  • annkh_nd

    Stuff happens. I have been known to post on a Friday - then go away for the weekend. Then Monday comes, and I've forgotten all about it. With a new kitchen in progress, I'm sure the OP has plenty on her mind.

    Hopefully she'll be back!

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