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How to lighten up brown kitchen

lisa p
September 18, 2017
We updated our 80s kitchen piecemeal but now I feel it's too brown. there is plenty of light but it seems heavy and dated already. I don't want to do a big fix and hoping folks have good ideas that are budget friendly. eventually we will do a bigger remodel, but since we've done so much already, we hate to redo so soon!

we stained the honey oak, changed the yellow tile, added backsplash, stainless appliances. removed the old fluorescent lights, added a window and opening to the family room. relocated the stove onto the peninsula, extended the peninsula for seating... but now it's so darn brown! I thought about plants, table runner and chair covers. other good ideas? we could maybe spend up to 2-3 k if maybe I can just replace granite w lighter? maybe that is biggest bang?

Comments (8)

  • PRO
    Weber Interior Design

    It's a little hard to tell from the photos how much lightness there is in the granite. I think the biggest impact would be from lightening the cabinets - paint them out a cream color or something light that goes with the granite. A lighter granite might just slice the room in half - creating a line that goes around the room.

  • apple_pie_order

    Add a new semi-flush central light fixture with at least three 60-watt-equivalent bulbs. The recessed lights are not shining on the newly darkened cabinets.

  • simstress
    The floor is kinda dark. Add some kitchen mats that are a light color. Put a rug under dining table, but it's okay to skip this if impractical for you. Add cushion to dining bench. What color are the counter stools? If dark wood, then change those out. HTH.
  • Geneviève

    what's done is done ! the only thing that you can do now is too add more lights to the ceiling ,if the counter top would have been lighter then the kitchen wouldn't appear so dark ,so lets concentrate on the lights :) the art on the fridge can be framed and hung to the wall you can replace the pictures when you get new ones from the kids , this way your fridge door will be free ,then the baskets on top of the fridge must go hey are too big and too many .

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  • jhmarie

    I agree that if you are planing a remodel down the road, I'd leave it. It is a pretty kitchen. I suspect you had a kitchen similar to mine, and changes all the surfaces to just a bit darker. I added lighter countertops, backsplash and sink, kept my white appliances and mid tone wood. (Pics in my "my pics" idea book)

    Lighter countertops would help, but it is a lot of money to switch out something that already looks good. Here is a darker cabinet kitchen with a light granite:


  • Cor

    You are correct, there is a lot of brown. I'd love to see an accent color in accessories. Teal or orange would look lovely with your brown - even a pretty light blue or cream. Adding plants would make the kitchen look alive and bright and you could use planters in any one of the accent color you choose. Do you have under cabinet lighting? That would be useful as well. Looking again at your kitchen, what I notice the most is not that it is dark, but that it is boring (and I hate saying that, because you have put so much into it). It just needs some personality to reflect who you are and your style - otherwise its just a dark kitchen that the eye passes over without noticing anything in particular. Great news is that it is an easy and fun fix.

  • PRO
    Design Directives, LLC

    Add in some accessories that will help with the brown. Here are some of our kitchen designs that show some ideas:

    Stools with color in them:

    Contemporary Scottsdale Kitchen · More Info

    Bowl with fruit and flowers:

    Modern Desert Contemporary Residence · More Info
    Colorful rug:
    Modern Napa · More Info

  • Melissa Gallagher
    I'd pick a more updated light for over the dining table and center it, declutter the counters and fridge, try under cabinet lighting....

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