Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Psychological kitchen remodel: How does it make you feel?

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Beyond simply preparing food, kitchens get used for all sorts of things. As kitchen designer Johnny Grey points out in his article The psychology of the kitchen, "most family life takes place in the kitchen: decisions made round the kitchen table, homework, celebration cooking, polishing shoes, charging phones, mending bicycles and doing the ironing." He points out that "psychology, neuroscience and ergonomics overlap in the design of a kitchen," making something as simple as choosing how to reface your cabinets a fairly major decision.

Form versus function in the kitchen

The desire for a highly functional kitchen doesn't necessarily have to be at odds with the urge to create a relaxing space. Finding a balance between the two that works to maximize the space you have to work with is key. "Emotion is regularly pitched against function," says Grey. "There is importance in creating a relaxing ambiance in a contemporary life full of anxiety."

Here are a few of his recommendations for creating this elusive perfect kitchen space:

  • Painting. Using mood-enhancing colors brings a homey feel to any room. Think about painting or staining cabinets to make things less sterile in the kitchen.
  • Decoration. "Every object contains a story," says Grey about bringing that homey quality to one's kitchen, "older things are perhaps the most evocative." If you have mementos, like a bundt pan that's been in the family for ages or old cookbooks that remind you of childhood, put them on display in the kitchen to promote a "sense of belonging and rootedness."
  • A central island. Something to consider when refacing cabinets is the creation of a matching island if space permits. Grey feels that an island acts as a focal point in a kitchen, drawing people to it. "Eye contact encourages interaction, which in turn encourages the brain's production of oxytocin and serotonin, hormones associated with bonding, relaxation and enjoyment." Talk to your contractor about putting in an island when you reface -- or creating a portable one that matches -- to add this powerful element to your kitchen.
  • Layout. When you reface your cabinets, you've got a great opportunity to re-imagine your kitchen. Move things around. Be aware that symmetry, while pleasing, can cause boredom -- something you definitely don't want from your new space. Grey recommends using 'landmark features' like eye-catching furniture to break things up and provide visual interest. He also notes the importance of 'humane ergonomics' -- basically, this is the art of making sure that there's enough room between furniture, cabinets, drawers and appliances for cooking, socializing and other kitchen activities to take place.
  • Reconsidering storage. If your kitchen has more than enough storage (or will, thanks to that island), think about Grey's recommendation to "swap out eye-level cupboards for works of art" that "can transport you to other times and places."

Take a look at your kitchen and think beyond a simple color change. Talk to a bonded, licensed and insured* contractor about implementing a few of these mood boosters during the refacing process.

*See terms and conditions: http://www.streetcertified.com/about/Terms.jsp

About the Author
Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has been plugged in to the newest technology and tuned in to the latest trends ever since. With an eye for design and an ear for language, Karl has created content and managed digital media for startups and established companies alike. When he unplugs, Karl can be found biking about town and hiking and climbing throughout the West.

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