Week three: from cabinets to countertops

Hi guys, it's been so much fun walking you through our awesomely 80s kitchen reno. My last post was all about how we came up with the concept for the new house. And that's pretty fun, but what I really love? All the details and materials that make the idea come alive. Ready for the lowdown? 

We drew inspiration for the concept from two sources. First, our love of modern design coupled with the classic design elements of our new house. Second, a color palette that bridged the divide between dramatic statement and warm, homey retreat. We loved the idea of mixing white walls and black flooring with soft wood tones, greenery, and brass hardware. 

We carried those colors into the kitchen, starting with the cabinetry. We went with Shaker-style cabinets, which is a great way to go if you want something that feels both modern and classic.  But rather than do all the cabinets in a single color, we chose to do the lower cabinets in black and the upper cabinets in white, like a tuxedo. (By the way, the cabinets in these pictures are Shaker-style.)

The way to make this color combination successful is to use the colors thoughtfully. Dark cabinets on the bottom make the room feel grounded and light cabinets on top make the room feel light and airy, which establishes a nice balance.  We also went with white on the counters and the backsplash to make absolutely sure the black didn’t get overwhelming.

Choosing a countertop material took time. I’m in love with Carrera marble (who isn’t), but after reading endlessly about why it’s dicey to use in the kitchen, I decided against it. The challenge with marble is that it’s a porous stone, so if you spill wine or tomato sauce it can stain the stone if you don’t clean it up quickly. If you spill vinegar or lemon juice, you can etch the stone. So, if you’re OK with high maintenance material that will show a little wear and tear, go for it. But I knew it would bug me, so I looked into alternatives that had similar color and movement (the fancy word for the flowing lines that run across some marble and granite).

We picked a quartz countertop from Caesarstone. Quartz is an engineered stone, meaning they mix about 90% ground natural quartz with 10% polymer resin to create an incredibly durable product, much like granite.  Caesarstone has a new countertop style called Calacatta Nuvo, which looked close enough to Carrera for me without all the headaches. 

I hope the plants come with the counter...

I hope the plants come with the counter...

The backsplash was an easy decision. White subway tile has a hold on me that won’t let go. It’s the perfect marriage of new-school and old-school. But I wanted to do something a little different than the traditional horizontal layout, so I found elongated subway tile and we’re going to install it in a herringbone pattern. 

When you use longer-than-average subway tile you get a simpler pattern that's easy on the eyes.

When you use longer-than-average subway tile you get a simpler pattern that's easy on the eyes.

Feeling ready for another risk, we are going to break up the black and white cabinets by using walnut veneer pantries from IKEA at either end of the countertop. The wood will soften the high contrast colors and add something unexpected to the mix, which is always fun. We may go back and have Semi-Handmade replace the doors with reclaimed wood in the future, but right now, we’re focused on staying on budget.

I can't wait for all the little accessories and organizers IKEA makes for their pantries. 

I can't wait for all the little accessories and organizers IKEA makes for their pantries. 

The last step, of course, is to add accessories that will inject warmth and color. The cabinet hardware and faucet we found are a warm, antique brass. The lines of each piece are simple but the material itself feels vintage and the yellow undertones look soft and happy. I’m on the hunt for an antique-style Kilim or Persian rug to break up the black flooring and add a big punch of color to the kitchen. (If you see something great, send it my way.)

The cabinets are (supposed) to start going up next week. As soon as I’ve got pictures of the you’ll be the first to see them. I’m so excited to see it all come together. But this week, the contractors are focused on sanding the floors to start the refinishing process. Patience, patience, I keep telling myself.

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