SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
brad_stiff

How can I improve the aesthetics of my kitchen?

Brad Stiff
2 months ago
last modified: 2 months ago

Below are some photos of my kitchen. I originally planned to completely change it from a peninsula to a much more functional island, but have since abandoned that idea, as there simply isn't enough space to make it work. I am now focusing on ways to improve the aesthetics while keeping the current cabinets and layout.






I would like to change the granite tile countertops to a solid surface, but I am not sure what variety or color would work with the cabinets in their current state.

I think it makes sense to keep the high bar, as it helps hides the clutter that collects on the countertops. I would make it a bit deeper.

I'll be changing the appliances to stainless, and the stools to pretty much anything else.

The cabinets are natural knotty alder. The color has become very light after 15 years of UV exposure. The first photo was shot in the daytime and shows how light they are.

I like the look of the kitchen below, and am considering glazing my cabinets to make them a bit darker like the perimeter ones in the photo. I have asked for input on that process in another thread.

I would probably go with a honed or leathered black granite like negresco or sky fall rather than the soapstone as shown.


Warm and Rustic Remodel · More Info


But I'm really not good at design. Suggestions are most welcome. What would you do?

Comments (43)

  • herbflavor
    2 months ago

    dont see the messy counter/sink ...so I'd get a one level counter. Maybe a reposition of sink could occur...not certain...but its way on the end. depends on cabinet reshuffling or not or working with the existing run of cabinets.....that sort of thing. Its your chance. Stainless appliances good w floor. you can go with a lighter look for counter/splash or the darker honed granites ......etc. I'd skip the glazing project. Hardware with some detail and maybe pendant lights if you get one level overhang will be your aesthetic options.

  • teamaltese
    2 months ago

    Is the counter with the stools deep enough to actually sit at? I’d make that counter deeper if I could. Even though you’re not getting new cabinets, you can still hire a designer to advise on counters, lighting, hardware and paint colors.

  • Related Discussions

    How to improve this house aesthetics?

    Q

    Comments (14)
    They come in white, beige and a bronze color too but I think the white would be best. You don't need more beige and the brown will lock you into a color when you change the door color to electric blue in 10 years :) There are a number of things you can do to the face of the house. They all cost money of course. The transom not only adds to the exterior but enhances the interior.
    ...See More

    How can I improve this kitchen nook?

    Q

    Comments (115)
    This is an eating nook. Unify the whole room. A great open simple iron light fixture would add height and drama. Keep two pillows each with a different rooster design. The shelves and the way they are accessorized make it look like a reading room/library. Get a beautiful Country French set of rooster dishes and use them mixed with plants and pottery and possibly some old pewter pieces on, the whole unit. The dises should be in the same color pattern as the pillows. Plantation shutters, to match color of built in, would be simple, but dramatic. Rich looking. Keep the center piece simple, maybe a collage of low chunky candlesticks or a short topiary, or hand made basket full of ivy. Love your table and chairs, they are warm and inviting, and have Key West look. A simple wallpaper inside the wall unit would also be nice. Keep the scale small and it won't fight with your accessories. Good luck!
    ...See More

    HELP....how can I improve my laundry room?

    Q

    Comments (3)
    I'd leave the door on the closet so I had the option to hide the storage. However you may want to reconfigure the storage in the closet to better meet your needs. Maybe storage below for laundry baskets. Or a table that folds down from the wall for folding laundry. You have a good bit of storage for the space, is there something in particular that isn't working?
    ...See More

    How can I improve my exterior?

    Q

    Comments (4)
    Yeah, maybe they've never seen a ranch before. I think it's cute, but I could see toning down the red a bit for a more grown-up look. You might start with charcoal shutters and trim, and then maybe a contrasting door (deep blue?). Should be well under your budget. The back is a bit more blah. I think you might like it better if the railings were white like out front, and if you had a bit more than gravel going on back there. Maybe have a landscaping company come give you a multi-year plan for adding some plantings first, focused on the front, and then coming back to craft a patio or other more decorative space in the lower part out back. Depending on what they sketch out and what it costs, you could do a chunk of it now and then save up to do the rest later when you've recovered from buying and settling in.
    ...See More
  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)
    2 months ago

    Islands are not inherently more functional than peninsulas. Islands are popular because they have been made popular by designers and HGTV remodeling and real estate shows to the exclusion of any common sense or practicality. Which one works best in a kitchen depends on your style of cooking, how you use the kitchen and what space is available.


    What I DON'T like about your peninsula is the curve and the fact that the fridge essentially opens right up to that end cabinet. I would find the curve to be very restricting.


    Just letting you know that if you are "updating" then those tiered counters have had their day. I don't see clutter either, just normal kitchen accoutrements--you actually live there, it's not a magazine display.


    Hire someone to help you through these choices, my friend just did this and found someone she got along with and whose work she liked, it has been a tremendous help as she is very bad at making decisions.

  • thinkdesignlive
    2 months ago

    Please post a plan and tell us why you gave up on the island….also, budget and what’s negotiable or not. I’d say no to the darker glaze. Also, is this a one person cook kitchen or are multiple people using it? I also question the depth of the bar top and the shape of the peninsula. Glad you posted but more is needed for us to guide you.

  • ital mover
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I think your inspiration photo is a great choice. Definitely replace the refergeriator (counter depth would be best) but if your stove is in good shape, you might not need to replace it as a priority. The wood looks nice in the picture, so I wouldn’t risk monkeying with it, but maybe if I saw it in person, I’d go with your idea.

    I also like the suggestion to make the new countertop overhang deeper to permit more comfort for the legs of people perched there to eat. If only 2 people will be sitting at the counter to eat, consider taking the blank space on the front of island to create shelving or a wine rack.

  • Ac Lb
    2 months ago

    I would remove some of the items you have in the counter and above the counter. It feels busy with all of it on the counters. Your cabinets are beautiful! I would replace the counter with new river white granite or something similar. I agree with the others to change the tiered counter to one level. Good luck!

  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    The items I don't like are the ones on top of the cabinets. Those are dust-magnets (especially baskets!) and would drive me bonkers, but if you're the fastidious type, then ignore this comment.

  • plf12652
    2 months ago

    Do you like the tile flooring? It’s really the boss in your current kitchen…..I would put my budget toward replacing that tile rather than staining the cabinets which I actually like. Do you have undercabinet lights? And are you able to replace the appliances as the black is kind of a dark hole. I don’t mind the 2 tiered look and agree that making it deeper might work. If you get a counter depth refrigerator it might give you more room at the opening and avoid a costly redo of that end of the peninsula.

  • RedRyder
    2 months ago

    Changing the stain on finished wood cabinets is a nightmare. You have to sand them down to the raw wood and start all over. You can’t just “darken” the finish. Work with what you have since they are in excellent shape. I think the high countertop is useless. It’s too narrow for anyone to eat at. Consider one level so you can have a large area to both eat and use for serving during a party. I had the same two tiered look and now I’m thrilled to have the one level. I don’t think people care about “seeing” your dishes. People need to chill out about perfect counters that are always “photo ready”.
    Yes, you should find a designer who can help you. It sounds like a darker countertop in a soapstone grey isn’t your taste. Go window shopping at stone yards with one door from your kitchen and see what grabs you. Then you can decide if you want to use the same material for your backsplash (eliminating another decision). Think about if you want to keep or change your floor, since that will also affect your countertop decision.
    Going with a neutral white in any material is an easy decision but I don’t think will work with your floor as it is.

  • oreet
    2 months ago

    If you’re going to start spending money on a Reno, do it right. There’s no point in gambling on costly mistakes. I agree that you should hire a pro in helping you make these decisions. You can find someone who charges for consultation by the hour and then proceed alone or not, at least you’ll have a reasonable plan to go by.

  • areyano_cs
    2 months ago

    I really like your flooring. You already have some of the sandy colors in your kitchen, so would you be open to introducing a shade of blue or green into the space? This could be in accessories or in a different wall color, or perhaps on the front facing side of the counter. Some people want everything in neutral tones without contrast, but maybe you are more adventurous. Good luck!

  • HU-326560860
    2 months ago

    I agree with lowering counter, even extending it out. That said, have hidden storage put in front of barstools for less used items. By hidden I mean something like bead board wrap.

  • wynterwynd
    2 months ago

    The best kitchen decision I made when we built our house 15 years ago was to nix the peninsula’s two levels (I also don’t have sufficient space for an island and I’m good with that…it’s just something to run into). It gave me deeper storage cabinets which I use to contain the countertop ‘clutter.’ I would definitely address the rather narrow entry to the kitchen area. I agree with leaving your lightened cabinets alone…the lighter wood colors are back in favor and it shows off the knots without having the orangey color. If your appliances are in good condition, keep them until you need to replace them. Good luck!

  • Tara
    2 months ago

    I like that you want to keep your kitchen wood, and not go the gray/white route. Maybe use a wood conditioner on the wood, basically like body lotion for wood, and it can restore the luster of the cabinets. I also like that you want dark counters. I love light wood cabinets with dark counters. When you switch the appliances to stainless, your kitchen will look lighter and more updated. If you get a counter depth fridge, you will have more space in the opening to the kitchen, so don't be in a rush to cut off the angled bit just yet. I happen to like the 2 tier counter, as I too, like to hide my sink from view.

    Tile Mural Behind Stove · More Info


    Kitchen · More Info


    Craftsman Kitchen · More Info


  • PRO
    Kristin Petro Interiors, Inc.
    2 months ago

    Hi there! That inspo photo is actually my design. The countertop is brushed Uba Tuba, which is a pretty affordable stone. I think it would work great in your space and would make a big impact.

  • decoenthusiaste
    2 months ago

    Love your cabinet color; leave it as is. My pet peeve would be the busy yellow toned flooring. Why does the counter curve? Would it run into a wall or block a traffic path is simply straightened and flattened? If it wouldn't be too small for your family's needs, I'd switch to a counter depth fridge. Is there any natural light in this kitchen; you mention UV fading, but show no windows. May we see a floor plan or sketch that shows dimensions and measurements, circulation and other important aspects of the kitchen and its immediate surrounds?

  • mdln
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Dark walls with your light cabinets?








  • pricklypearcactus
    2 months ago

    I think your cabinets are lovely and I rather like the stone flooring too. Switching to stainless steel appliances and a counter depth fridge would help. I would look at some samples of mid gray stone and quartz countertop options and see what works with your floor and cabinets. I also think soapstone or black could look very nice too. I would recommend installing under counter lighting as well since it looks like your ceiling lights are leaving the back of your countertops in shadow.

  • Ac Lb
    2 months ago

    I like gray with dark countertops, but is charcoal too dark with the counters? How would bm classic gray look?

  • hu818472722
    2 months ago

    Yes to a counter depth fridge, and one level peninsula which is a modern update that would give you more counter work space as well as cleaner lines. The light wood is very nice would not stain it but you could consider going lighter with your backsplash, and countertop rather than darker which brightens up the wood and highlights the stainless steel. I do like the neutral floor in the photo below as it is a less busy look that lets the cabinets take center stage.



  • Rehabit
    2 months ago

    I like the cabinets and the floor. i agree 1 level peninsula and color on walls The counter flush fridge would be great also. If u are hating your kitchen and have the money Beth H always gives great ideas

  • Brad Stiff
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I think you have talked me down from the ledge of 'tinting' my cabinets with a glaze. It's not that I dislike them, it is just that I can't settle on a countertop material that feels 'compelling.' I always end up with doubts. It would be so much easier to work with a designer whom I trust, but I live in a small mountain town three hours away from a big city, and everyone is swamped.

    I'm warming to the idea of a single height countertop. I can see how it would make the space feel larger and more connected to the rest of the room. I also like how it would enable more granite options, e.g., stone with larger features, movement, etc., since there would be a larger continuous surface area visible.

    Regarding the slate tile, I have purchased 6" live sawn unfinished white oak hardwood that will be replacing the carpet. I haven't chosen the finish color yet. If I were to remove the kitchen tile, I would prefer to continue the oak into the kitchen, but I'm concerned about introducing grain and color conflicts with the cabinets. I'm on the fence on keeping or ripping the tile.

    Regarding the angled peninsula, I believe it was built that way to maximize the flow into the dining area. I have included some additional photos below that show the rest of the room. There is room to straighten the peninsula. Would it be worth it? It seems to me I would want to swap the DW and sink positions to avoid the awkwardness of the sink being on the end. This would also fix the problem of the two primary prep areas being back to back. But changing the plumbing would be a challenge because we have radiant heat.






  • Brad Stiff
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    What about this layout for the single height peninsula?

    I would need to add a 15" base cab to accommodate the trash pull (which is a huge plus).


  • theresen
    2 months ago

    Haha, I just drew up the exact same thing 😉 YES! Level counter, add a couple pendants, etc. You’re totally on track. 👏🏻

    Brad Stiff thanked theresen
  • theresen
    2 months ago

    But no radius on corner. It’ll be fine

  • shirlpp
    2 months ago

    Simple artwork above the cabinets as below - when you're ready.

    Chapel Hill Residence · More Info


    Brad Stiff thanked shirlpp
  • theresen
    2 months ago

    Minor things… keep sink toward the inside corner to give you a large countertop to work at. Keep your spices adjacent to the stove. I can’t tell how many outlets you have on your peninsula splash, but hopefully you can modify it to reach the end of the cabinet for hand mixer, etc. I used this nice pop-out style and love it.

    Brad Stiff thanked theresen
  • Jeanne J
    2 months ago

    Sometimes small changes have a big impact. Why not begin by painting the low walls under the bar a dark grey and see how you like it? I like your kitchen’s personality with its alder wood and slate floors. I do agree that a new countertop would be an improvement.

  • Donald
    2 months ago

    I’ll add…save some money in your budget for redesigning the interiors of your cabinets as well. There are hundreds of space saving / organizing items that can help you use the cabinets you have and the cabinets you add in a much more efficient way. It looks like you’ve got two knife blocks and a jar of spatulas etc on the counter and you probably can’t imagine cooking without them sitting in those spots but…every kitchen looks better when it looks like you have space for the things in it.

    Brad Stiff thanked Donald
  • modpod
    2 months ago

    Hi Brad,
    The various stages of renovating... Your kitchen has lots of potential. Glad you are trying to make the most of it versus a gut renovation as before. Opening up the angled peninsula to square it off would give you much more breathing room. However, once you do that you almost definitely will need to change the flooring (possibly) just to keep in mind. Pushing the sink in a suggested would be the preferred outcome. As for the radiant heating versus plumbing you will need to speak to a pro for that. Continuing hardwood throughout would be great. You can play around with the actual stain color that would work best with your overall space/ furnishings when the time comes. As for countertop, it's your personal preference. The darker/soapstone-ish/granite/ etc would be lovely. But possibly go lighter on your backsplash or a color as has been suggested if that is a look you like. Beth's suggestion about extending the height of the cabinets might be a great option if you at least want to entertain painting only the upper cabinets. Definitely add some undercabinet lighting if you don't have any. And great idea from Donald about updating the inside of cabinets to make them more useful, such as pull out inserts for regular lower cabinets so it is easier to see and find things.
    Good luck!!!!

  • plf12652
    2 months ago

    If you modify the angle and go for a straight peninsula then you will have to either patch the current tile floor (if you have more of that tile) or replace the floor. Not sure if your selected hardwood will work with the cabinets…can you get a picture of the 2 together?

  • PRO
    Kristin Petro Interiors, Inc.
    2 months ago

    Do not risk damaging your radiant heat. Your current layout is fine and will not be worth the cost of repairing the radiant heat just to straighten out your peninsula.

  • Amy Glasscock
    2 months ago

    I second the suggestion of extending the height of your cabinets if you are willing to paint as well as making your peninsula a single height. I did this last year and it’s so much nicer and feels more current. I also keep my counter cleaner now because it motivates me to. If you do paint your cabinets, extending the hardwood into your kitchen would be ideal. And if you aren’t hiring a designer I encourage you to keep your finishes simple, timeless and classic. Solid-ish counters without a busy design, solid subway tile backsplash. Especially if you keep those floors, then that is your one pattern you get and everything else needs to be simple and relate to them.

  • felizlady
    2 months ago

    I would have three or four baskets on top of the uppers….nothing else. When possible , exchange the black appliances for stainless steel, including a counter-depth refrigerator. The black fridge might be useful in the garage, but it is tooooo big for this kitchen. There is room for only one person in the kitchen, so keep guests on the stools at the bar counter. As stated by others above, the cost of straightening the angle of the cabinets would add the expense of replacing/repairing the flooring, and, as you said, there really isn’t enough room.

  • RedRyder
    2 months ago

    Can you show us the new hardwood floor color? FYI - friends of mine have radiant heat under their kitchen floor, which is hardwood. So keep that in mind.
    You are getting a ton of great ideas, whether you keep your cabinets as is or paint them; keep the current floor or change it; keep the angled peninsula or change it. Those are your three important decisions and then everyone can give you dizzying suggestions for a countertop. Whether or not you undo the angled peninsula, please take down the extra wall and making it all one level.

  • Brad Stiff
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I would rather not paint the cabinets. I think my style of door / drawer looks timeless in the current finish, but would look dated painted.

    I'm planning to straighten the peninsula. The functional and aesthetic improvement of doing so makes replacing the countertop and floor much more compelling.

    @RedRyder @plf12652 @modpod I haven't decided on a stain or finish for the white oak; it hasn't been delivered yet. My baseboard and casings are the same natural alder as the cabinets, so my floor will need to work with that color in any case. I'm currently thinking of something like this.


    Live Sawn White Oak Floors · More Info


    Any suggestions?

  • theresen
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Use clear or one of the natural colors of Osmo PolyX on the white oak. With all those wood tones it would be fine to do tile in the kitchen if the level remains the same. We used a dark stone look from Del Conca called Chamonix. Our white oak has black fill, so it ties in nicely.

    PS, soaps soapstone is fabulous. Consider it. Glazing is an option, but i’s something you can do if you still want to after all your other changes.

  • shirlpp
    2 months ago

    Who in the world would paint those cabinets! Good for you for not agreeing to paint them!

  • Brad Stiff
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    @theresen I've actually given soapstone a lot of thought. But I have the impression honed or brushed dark granite could give a comparable look with fewer maintenance concerns?

  • modpod
    2 months ago

    Hi Brad,
    I think your inspiration photo looks great for the floor coloring, a clear stain.

    If wanting something just a touch deeper, don't go any darker than the last photo.

    Las Canoas Remodel Kitchen · More Info

    Modern Kitchen · More Info

    Dogrun Ranch · More Info

  • PRO
    Ezyjamb
    2 months ago

    You could use replace your ceiling lights with recessed feature lights like this:

    FastCap - Custom Rebates and Capping Made Easy · More Info


  • Brad Stiff
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Made my first cut today. No radiant heat in the joist bay that has the plumbing!


Sponsored
Ark Woodworking
Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars34 Reviews
NOVA's Local Supplier of Fine Cabinetry | Best of Houzz 2016-2018