Kitchen Remodel | Design

We’ve gone through about 3 demo’s on this kitchen, so I think it’s time to share some design and lighten the mood! We have most of our selections made, not all of them, but the big ones. So here I’ll share what we know for design direction for the kitchen remodel.

Colors, Materials and Style

Here is what we have so far: Flooring, cabinets, countertops and hardware. This is going to be our forever kitchen, so we’re going for a look that will be as timeless and classic as possible (if that’s ever possible!) We’re definitely making it our own, but not taking too many design risks, like the bathroom for instance. I want to try a fairly traditional style, but it will be far from boring. The vibe we’re going for is WARM and welcoming. We’re also bringing in elements of the woods and the lake, without slapping you in the face with it. That would not be nice… It’s a very tone-on-tone feel that wraps you up in a warm hug and invites you to cozy up by the fire, and I’m digging it!

Design Style Discalimer

Where to even start? The way we design is not very structured, so disclaimer – if you are already cringing, a professional designer would be a good option for you. I design like I cook – without a recipe. I know which ingredients I love and how I want them to come together, and I taste as I go. It usually unfolds in unexpected and delightful ways as we improvise and let it unfold. We did have a strong game plan on this project – order appliances, find a cabinet shop, get countertops, etc. But that’s about it. So buckle up, here is how our design process goes:

Color Palette

We love our wood burning fireplace so much we are not touching a thing about it. So it was easy to start with this for color inspiration. Here’s the stone around the hearth – lots of natural warm tones. And black and brass/gold are the fireplace colors, so we are keeping with that. This will be one of the big focal points in the room and we want to highlight it.

So I started with collecting samples that complement it.

We also have this favorite piece of art we want to keep in here. That may be a trivial thing to base your whole color scheme around, but we love it and want to incorporate it.

I stripped the black paint off the frame and there was this beautiful wood underneath. Another step in the natural/warm/earth tones direction.


I knew we wanted an LVP for this high-traffic area, something low maintenance and durable. We both really love the white oak/French oak look, but I couldn’t find any samples that we were happy about.

We ended up going with this Baltic Limed Oak from Karndean. It’s supposedly very easy install and we liked the wide planks and the variation of color without being stripey. The flooring is actually the first thing we bought because that sets the whole color pallet and sets the stage for the rest of the room.


The “liming” in the flooring goes well with the whitewash ceiling finish. I played around with many different finishes and ended up with this 50% paint 50% water whitewash mixture on pine boards.

We explored several different options for the ceiling paneling, like this plastic stuff, but ended up going with pine because pricing was actually better and install would be easier. I’ll talk more on that later.

Here is the look we landed on after much experimenting with paint. You can still see a lot of the wood grain and character through the whitewash, and we love that! Much more natural and warm than the faux options. And much more intentional looking than just painting the pine 100% white. It’s also a subtle coastal vibe nod from our trip to Cape Cod this summer.


Ok, so the ingredients so far are natural stone fireplace, a special piece of art with wood frame, limed oak flooring, and whitewashed pine ceiling. We’re layering in the warmth, texture and character. Now let’s narrow in on cabinets.

Joe’s mom and I set out one weekend and just started asking around for quotes and getting ideas. Two weekends actually. I think this was at a Lowe’s, but I really liked this wood tone island!

Here’s a Pin where I also love the woodwork.

And here’s another. All the photos I’m loving have this style cabinetry. And this photo has similar tone-on-tone with the flooring matching the lower cabinets. I was worried about being too matchy-matchy, but seeing this really made me feel confident it would look amazing.

But here’s another favorite Pin that started me down a taupe cabinet rabbit hole!

Here’s another favorite Pin with similar flooring. And I’m starting to become obsessed with the two-toned cabinet look. Different colored uppers and lowers. At this point in time, we were exploring getting stock cabinets and I assumed painted box cabinets would be less expensive than natural wood. So I thought doing two-tone paint would be a way to jazz up boring stock cabinets.

But we actually decided to go with a custom cabinet shop and they make it exactly what you want. Hello endless options and combinations! And that is where we’re at now — wood tone lowers and taupe uppers. Now, I haven’t found a Pin or inspiration photo that shows this, so you’re going to have to trust me when I say it’s going to look smooooth.

Beige/tan/taupe are in fact making a comeback, so try to resist your gag reflex from the 90’s trauma or builder beige you might be experiencing. I actually don’t think it’s just a hot trend, but will have a timeless and classic, elegant look with the combo we’re putting together. White would have been the safe choice yes, but we’re going for taupe. I’ve also heard white gets dirty, so there’s that too.

The flooring has plenty of colors in it to pull out the cabinet colors, so this will all go together. All the Pins I’m drawn to seem to be white oak, and that can get expensive pretty quickly, so our cabinet shop suggested hickory instead. When I think of hickory I think of up north cabin (cool, but NOT the look here). Hickory has a very distinctive pattern of high contrast light wood and dark wood, and I didn’t want that. But he pulled out this sample with a custom walnut stain they did for a recent job and that was it, we were sold. It’s considered “rustic” hickory but there are very few knots and we actually love the character and uniqueness it adds.


This was another undertaking in education. I’ve learned more than I ever want to know on countertops.

I think we’re going with a quartz material for the majority of the kitchen. I want clean, simple and low maintenance. To me, the countertops don’t need to be the star of the show. Joe on the other hand wants something blue and sparkly … My brother’s girlfriend and I spent a full day shopping showrooms and immersing ourselves in the language of book-matching, edge profiles and fabrication. She’s in the design industry and says they do different materials in a kitchen all the time – different island than the rest of the kitchen. So maybe two different materials could be fun and we both get what we want.

Instead of a different material for the island though, I started thinking of a different material for the buffet area. I kept thinking about getting a statement tile or big slab of something, like this.

Here is another example of this, but I’d want it in the buffet/bar area.

So she and I started mixing and matching

We might do a full height backsplash with a big slab of natural stone that starts as countertop and extends up the wall. Another natural element to add to the mix.

So I mocked up a crappy photoshop job of what this could look like. What do you think?

Tile, Lighting and Hardware

This is all still up in the air as the last leg of the race, but I can tell you what we know so far: Definitely white subway tile going up the full height of the galley backsplash. Nothing crazy or risky here. The walls are also going to be an off-while color (BM Swiss Coffee). For hardware, I was between black and gold, but I’m firmly on team gold now. For lighting, maybe some black.

Up Next

I could go into detail on each of these things, and maybe we will in the coming weeks. This is just a general overview of the design. I can’t give away the whole farm, you’ll just have to wait and see how my mad scientist recipe comes together. As for now, still doing dishes in the laundry room sink!

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