Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Successful kitchen design is a balancing act

by Patricia Davis Brown
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

The art of interior design involves balancing colors, materials and architectural elements. Kitchen design takes into account many layers of materials. Each is important in its own right but also in relation to the others. The "art" is in how you use and position each material. For the design to succeed, you must pay attention to the following:

  • balance of color
  • transition between materials
  • proper use of moldings

Balancing color

Balanced kitchen design colors

The art of balancing colors comes with a little practice, so it might be money well-spent to work with a design professional. Kitchen materials are so expensive that you would not want to make a mistake on any of your palette finishes.

Use contrasting finishes to make all elements important. For example, if you choose a dark cabinet finish with a dark wood floor, there is no balance. The monochromatic tones can make for a depressing room.

However, when you use the proper balance of light and dark finishes, each finish expresses a certain character. If you are using a painted cabinet, a warm wood floor can make both colors "pop." The reverse -- choosing dark wood cabinetry with a neutral stone -- can create a stunning look.

Stone flooring with dark wood kitchen cabinets

Transitioning materials

There is an knack to using a variety of finishes together. Countertops are offered in an array of textures and colors: when two or more are skillfully combined, the result adds "wow" factor to a design.

Balancing different countertop materials

When you use two or more countertops of different materials, you must transition from one to the other properly for it to work.

  1. The materials need to play well together. For example, you would never use two different granites together that have heavy pattern movement; they would "fight" each other. You want to balance a busy pattern with a calm one and pop a bright color using one from the opposite side of the color wheel.
  2. You must make one material "proud" of the other, setting it off by using a thicker piece of material. It is almost like building a puzzle. Think about how they will meet each other; make sure that the edge of one material can lay flat to the next, with possibly a beveled edge just above where the two materials meet.

Wenge butcher block countertop

Detail of transitional countertop

Applying moldings and appliques

The most important thing to remember when applying appliques and moldings to your cabinetry is not to overdo it. The picture below shows an applique glued to the cabinetry, and it's too much. The effect backfired: it looks "cheesy."

Ugly kitchen molding appliques

Here again is where balance comes into play. Molding should be dictated by the box construction of the cabinetry -- inset, overlay or full overlay. If your cabinetry is a full overlay or a frameless style, use a two piece-molding. The first molding bumps the crown molding out proud of the face of the door, so you can see the detail of the crown. The same thing holds true if you apply a molding as I did in the photo below. I used a thicker cornice piece and wrapped it with the crown molding, adding a bit of class to the layered look.

Kitchen cabinet cornice with crown molding

Details of balanced room design

Just remember, kitchen design is like life: it's best when well-balanced!


About the Author
Interior designer Patricia Davis Brown specializes in kitchen and bath renovations, and is the owner of Patricia Davis Brown Designs. Brown's work has garnered 15 national and several state awards and been recognized in numerous national publications over her 26 years in the design industry. In 2010, she took her mastery of space planning and design national by launching a virtual design company, ProfessionalKitcheandBathPlans.com and her online store PDBhomestore.com. She also blogs about all things design at www.digthisdesign.net.

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