My newest decorating dilemma!

I'm so excited to be participating in Amanda's Decorating Dilemmas party at Serenity Now!  

This is my most favorite party because I get to post a decorating "opportunity" and get free advice from my talented blogging friends!  I've posted about my master bedroom, my patio and now my newest dilemma....my KITCHEN!

So, here we go!

Exhibit A - The "master planned community basic kitchen"

It's a big space that is open to the family room.  This house was already built when we bought it so I didn't get to pick out anything.  I actually like some of the features, like the backsplash...
The dark tile is a bronze color with a nice patina

And the granite color (although if I had it my way, I would have marble!)

Don't get me wrong, I "like" my kitchen....LIKE.  But, it looks like every other kitchen in the neighborhood and I want to LOVE it.  

So, my dilemma is....

How do I make my kitchen "WOW" on a bird-sized budget?

I've thought about removing some of the cabinet doors to create open shelving.  I would paint the inside of the cabinets.  I have a lot of pretty dishes and serveware that I could display.

1.  Do you think I'm crazy?  Mr. FYN does.  "Those cabinets were an upgrade and they're solid maple!  Are you crazy?" (that's me doing my Mr. FYN impression)

2.  Do you think I'm on to something?  If so, how many cabinet doors would you remove?  Both sides, left side, right side, left side and the corner cabinets?  What color would you paint the insides?  Keep in mind the wall paint color is a gray-blue.

This is from the kitchen looking into the breakfast area.  We are going to have an L-shaped banquette built for the breakfast area and change out the round table for a trestle style, to seat more people (which will come in handy since we are making our formal dining room a sitting room soon!)  The dresser we are using as a "bar" will come out of the room.  
I'm going to change out the blinds to bamboo or seagrass.

This is the other issue.  Standing from the living room facing the kitchen this is what you see.  It's supposed to be a bar, but the family room is so small I think it would be too crowded if I put barstools here.  I've thought about building shelves in that space underneath to look like a built-in bookcase.  I've also thought about some sort of bin system built-in to hold the kids' shoes and backpacks, since we don't have a mudroom. What do you think?

Oh, one other thing to consider:  in the next couple of months, we are replacing all the tile and carpet with wood plank flooring.  Yes, I'm putting wood in the kitchen!  I know, I know, I'm taking a gamble, but I love the way it looks.  Plus, we don't cook!  Ha!

What else would you do in here to make this kitchen a showstopper?  Help!



Carrie said...

Sounds like you've got your heart set on a change, so I would replace at least 2 of the doors with glass ones rather than removing them. I'm sure there's a way to DIY, but I'm not that talented myself. I'd definitely go with a built-in bookshelf rather than a mud area. With the direction you want to go, I think you'd wind up feeling like the mud area is cluttered rather than beautiful. Good luck... no matter what you do, it's already such a beautiful space!

Mary said...

I love love love the idea of building a built in bookshelf for that bar area (you could always put baskets on the bottom shelf for hiding shoes and other kid stuff).

I would hesitate to remove the cabinet doors on either side of the stove, not because they wouldn't look great (because they would! And upgraded cabinets aren't all that if you don't like them) but because all your pretty stuff might get splattered with food. But if you don't cook that won't be a problem, so I say go for it!

Sherri @ Design2Shine said...

I like the ones to the left of the stove nearest the corner for a open cabinet. Or as Carrie said, glass doors possibly. Next I would remove the driftwood and add color to the top of the cabinet area. I wasn't sure exactly what it was until I made the photos larger. Maybe keep one special piece and add different things to it. If you remove the cabinet doors, I like the bead board wallpaper for the backs instead of a color. Gives a classy feel.

I would also go with a built in bookshelf rather than mud area. Add baskets to hide items. I think that would be an awesome use of the space. LOVE the wall color!

Bon said...

I love your kitchen and I am sure whatever you decide will look fabulous! I was waiting and searching for pops of color! I thin bright yellows would draw you into that room. Wether it be in decor or a different color on the wall? Just a thought!

Nancy said...

I don't know, because my Mr. is just like Mr. FYN. He would say the cabinets are fine the way they are. And they really are nice, but if you want a change, I like the idea of class fronts as was already suggested. And some hardware added would be a simple and inexpensive change.

I also like your idea of the shelves under the bar area. That would look really good!


Sheri said...

You know, if you pop off the doors and paint the inside you aren't really out anything at all, and later you could just reinstall the doors if you wanted to.

Richella said...

There are so many fun things you could do with this kitchen.

First, I'd add hardware to the cabinets--perhaps knobs on the doors and bin pulls on the drawers. Brushed nickel would look nice with your cabinets. Then I'd add window treatments to the breakfast area. I'd say you could use a pop of color in this kitchen--the neutral is beautiful, but some color would be nice. What colors are in the adjacent family room? Perhaps there's a color in there that would make a good accent for your kitchen.

I think your idea of built-in bookshelves below the "bar" is a good one. They'd be beautiful in white just like your trim. And you could certainly make the bottom shelf large and add baskets for storage. I can imagine that a lamp would be pretty on top of the bookshelf, bridging the gap between rooms.

If you're still not quite satisfied with the kitchen, then by all means go for removing some of the doors! I've heard that open shelving is great for looks and ease of use. . . if you went that direction, you could use the doors for other purposes (such as hanging on the wall like shutters or making serving trays). But you might be just as happy to remove the center panels from the cabinets and replace them with glass. Either way, I'd paint the insides of the cabs with one of the colors you choose for the breakfast room fabric(s).

Wow! What fun you're going to have!

Notes from the Homestead said...

I instantly thought chocolate brown toile when I saw your wonderful paint color. I think you should remove the cabinet doors BENEATH YOUR KITCHEN SINK instead of the big upper cabinet doors. Then, I would create a "skirt" for that area with chocolate brown toille fabric. I have done this in my main level powder room with my vanity and LOVE the look. I took a tension rod and added the gathered fabric and hemmed it to the proper length. Next, I would bring in some warm chocolate or bronze accents into the kitchen. Bamboo or seagrass shades on the windows, or even the same chocolate toile fabric for drapes in there would be Yummy! Finally, I think a warm espresso stained built in bookshelf for that bar area with some baskets would look lovely. Good luck and happy re-do! Can't wait to see what you end up doing!!!

Danielle and Clint said...

I love the color of your grainte! And I love the color of the walls! What about adding curtains with the blinds? Those dining room chairs are awesome! I couldn't tell what was above the cabinets, but maybe some brighter accessories or lighting? Also, I like the pedant light above the sink, but what about a little bit bigger light fixer, like a shade? And the built in bookcases is the way I would go.

Pam @ Design Fanatic said...

Kendall, I love the idea of the bookcase instead of the bar, but how about making that whole space look like it's one piece? You could add molding to the columns with crown molding at the top & add an arch between in the pass thru part. I would make the arch as thick or almost as thick as the columns. The whole thing would look great one color.

Jemsmom said...

Question... if you display all your pretties in both cabinets with glass doors, would this leave you room for your everyday stuff? What about glass doors above the microwave instead of the two sides? I would have to do both for symmetry. Instead of painting the insides and sending your hubby into heart palpitations, you could put fabric there so it would be easy to take down and you wouldn't have to worry about it if you ever decided to sell your home.

What is exactly above the cabinets?? I think the banquette will be fabulous and really create a cozy space. You are spot on with the bamboo shades. That will look awesome!

I love the idea of the bookcase built in. Do you want the kids to walk there to put there shoes? It will track a lot of dirt through! I love Pam's idea to make it all look like one big built in!

I love the color of your kitchen. So serene! Good luck and I can't wait to see what you do!

Melissa Miller said...

We have wood floors in our kitchen and just LOVE them! You will too!

Your cabinets are gorgeous as is. I Think I would add some decorative hardware for interest. I think they are too pretty to change. ~Beautiful home!

Sarita said...

Oh my gosh ... I LOVE your kitchen! You have a beautiful home to start with. I think if you painted the cabinents creamy white would look great with your backsplash & granite. THen you could do stainless steel, black and any other pop of color for accents. I do like the idea of opening up one of the cupboards to show off some of your dishes. Maybe change up the drawer height & use it as diplay - maybe glass shelves & add a light??
Definitely built in bookshelf thingie under the bar. It would be more room for bar goodies or a place to hide the stuff you need to hide if you do open up one of your cabinets.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I added your link for you, Kendall! So sorry. :( The inlinkz thing is being screwy and MckLinky wouldn't work with me! I'll be back to visit later. Since it's my bday, I have a few thins planned today, but can't wait to check out everyone's links. :) Thanks for linking with me!

Nicole R.J. said...

Great kitchen! I love the idea of removing some cabinet doors, and would probably go with just the ones on the right, that you can see through the pillars from the living room. I'd consider painting the back of the cabinets a light greige if your display pieces are solid, or a darker blue-grey is they're light/clear.

I think a bookcase would look great where the 'bar' area is! Plus you'd end up with a great surface for decor items to break up the line between the kitchen & living room.

Kelli @ RTSM said...

I think instead of getting rid of the doors altogether, cut out the centers and add a glass panel.I That might be a good compromise with the hubby, and would probably be pretty easy to do with the right tools. I would paint inside the cabinets black to match your appliances. The little nook that is supposed to be a bar is great place for a book shelf...either for kids books or your cookbooks!

Stephanie@cre8tive said...

Wow you have a lovely home. I like all the suggestions so far. I would go one step further on the bar area. You have a plug there, you could put a wine refrigerator there and a built in wine rack for wine bottles and glasses. If you are not a wine drinker, well then never mind :) A built in bookcase would be awesome too. I also think that if you built a recessed soffit above your cabinets and then added crown molding it would look awesome. I agree with you that the kitchen needs some character, removing the cabinet fronts or adding glass doors will give it more depth.

Kim said...

It's a beautiful kitchen Kendall. I had to go back a few times to look at it just to get a sense for what's missing. It has great bones and lots of character so I wouldn't change much, but how about adding some hardware to dress up the cabinets? Maybe an oil rubbed bronze? Nothing too fancy though - keep it simple. Or brushed nickel.
Also, like the idea of the bamboo shades. The open shelving concept is great! I love the idea of symmetry so if you go for this, I'd keep it the same on both sides.
The space in the family room is perfect for a built-in cabinet, painted white of course! Good luck!

FrouFrouBritches said...

First of all, I am extremely jealous of all your cabinets!! I have about half what you do. Because you have ample cabinet space, I love the idea of taking off the doors for display or glass either one. Are you going to paint the inside or use fabric on the back or paper? I automatically go to the two doors on either side of the stove, but that's just me.

I LOVE the bookshelf idea in the bar area!! Maybe with baskets on the bottom to hold all the kids stuff? I would keep it shallow though so the next owners could use it as a bar if you resale.

I love the idea of a banquette! That will look great!

Kathleen said...

First off - as everyone else has said - your kitchen is beautiful.

Second - I understand wanting to change - so here goes.

I am in favor of taking the doors off the cabinets on either side of the stove and painting the inside. If you hate it - put the doors back on - easy peasy.

I also think that if you took the driftwood off the top of the cabinets and did something up there with a pop of color - that would be nice too. I had trouble figuring out what was up there at first too.

I am also in favor of doing some sort of built-in where the breakfast bar area is - and I think incorporating the two columns on either side of it would really look good.

Can't wait to see what you do!!!

p.s. I am actually in favor of painting all of the upper cabinets so that they are a different color (like a creamy white color) than the lower ones. I've seen it done on different design shows and I think it would look wonderful with your LARGE kitchen and the colors on your walls. However, I know Mr. FYN is not even totally ok with taking off the doors so I didn't think he would go for the painting idea at all!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I vote for glass panels in those cabinet doors! I also agree with Richella that some hardware (brushed nickel, maybe?) would be nice. Maybe some mistreatments for the windows after you get your new seating in. I love the idea of doing built-ins...a great spot for more collectibles and maybe a bin or two if you need some storage. :)

Thanks again for linking up!!

Kristy said...

Thanks for your comment on my dilemma!

And also, let me say that I LOVE your backsplash. Really love. Best one I've seen. I saved it to my inspiration file for when I get around to doing mine.

A lot of these ideas are already suggested, but just to weigh in:

Absolutely, take off those doors if you want to! Could you take them off and ask hubby to live with it for a couple days, just to give it a chance? Are your shelves removable, that you could add some kind of temporary solution rather than actually painting them? A piece of cardboard or thin piece of wood? What about using adhesive (and therefore removable) wrapping paper? Like this:

I love the idea of adding cabinet hardware. Not super cheap in mass, but there are lots of options on ebay.

Definitely build out that bar area with cubbies or shelving or something. I LOVE that idea!

One more thing - the area above your cabinets. Some people love that open area, but its always seemed like wasted space to me (I had mine go all the way to the ceiling - I needed all the storage I could get). I saw somewhere where someone built that area out by closing it off, then moving the moulding from the top of the cabinets to the wall. That's also something you could do on just a couple cabinets (maybe above the microwave and/or refrigerator?) that would give it a custom look.

Good luck!

Paula said...

I think your cabinets are very nice and I wouldn't remove any of the doors and I definetely wouldn't paint that pretty wood. Why don't you try Richella's tip on adding hardware before you do anything too drastic.

I really like your idea of doing shelves in the bar area. That would be a great display space.

jenjen said...

I am in the same situation. We have really nice maple cabinets, but I want something more unique. I am also thinking of removing some doors for open shelving. I got new knobs and that really helped. So maybe you might want to try that first.

I also installed a banquette and LOVE it! It really changes the look of the kitchen. Maybe you should start with that and maybe it will make enough of a change that you won't need to do anything to your cabinets. I got mine through Ballard Designs and got the ones with the seats that flip up so I store all of my placemats and tablecloths in it. I love it!

I also love the banquette because I can put different pillows on it and change things up that way too!

I can't wait to see what you do!


Karen said...

I think removing some doors would be a nice change. I would remove the smaller upper ones over the fridge or the microwave. Here's a link for another blogger that removed her doors. http://thedavisfamilynwa.blogspot.com/2008/04/creating-space.html
Also I vote for knobs/pulls. They make a huge difference in the cabinet appearance. I will link a photo of my maple cabinets with knobs. You'll have to enlarge the photos to see them. http://karenisblessed.blogspot.com/2010/01/my.html
You have the opposite problem of me with the top of your cabinets. You have such a small space - really too small to decorate, and I have like 10 feet above mine. Your space is beautiful and anything would just add to that. Good Luck!

Jeni @ peppertowne.com said...

Dare I say it....
I'd like to see the cabinets painted, maybe an antique off white color. It would really bring out your wall color and I think it would pop your tile and granite too. They would be beautiful with few display cabinets. Get some nice new hardware. The whole look would brighten up your kitchen.

Good luck

Meg said...

Kendall, I think our husbands need to hang out. My husband won't allow marble countertops either!! I just love marble.

Anyway, what lovely bones! I think it's already pretty beautiful. I love the idea of taking off a few cabinet faces and painting the back.

And really, all I think it needs is exactly what you did for a client. I'd just bring in a few bright colors to liven up the space. Like that bright apple green color you inserted into your teacher friend's living room! Your kitchen is a grayish color, so that would work really well. A few punches of color and you'll be golden like an apple!

Meg said...

P.S. - Did you see LGN's post about using wallpaper as the cabinetry backsplash in the kitchen? http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2010/04/fabric-as-wallpaper-in-kitchen.html

I'm imagining a textured wallpaper like the Next Design Star accent wall with a print of a bright color you bring in: http://img.hgtv.com/HGTV/2009/09/03/hstar408_bedroom-lonni-after_s4x3_lead.jpg

Ann said...

I love your kitchen and love the wood cabinets-- its lovely really and I think it may be a shame to paint them honestly. I am not a fan of open shelving, but if you like it that's what matters. Maybe consider replacing a few of the upper doors with glass inserts; this way you'd still have the cabinet in place and your hub may be more on board with this approach! And, Yes, paint or wallpaper the backs. Perhaps reconsider your blue wall color..?.. I think tone-wise it looks too similar to the tone of the cabinets? Have you tested perhaps a warmer/lighter wall color in there? It may gel better with the warmer tones of the backsplash and granite as well. Definitely look at all the fun options of handles and knob hardware out there--it really adds a lot of style.

Pamela said...

I so feel your pain and The Hubster says the exact same thing as Mr.FYN! I so want to paint our cabinets cream and glaze them. THey are an upgrade as well...not one we did but the builder and I so want to lighten up the kitchen. We have dark granite counter tops almost like yours. I wish they were more of a brown and cream color that I have seen. I will keep checking back to see if you braved a redo!

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