If you’re doing a total remodel, you get to choose every color, every wood tone, every pattern and shape in your new kitchen. But … what if you’re not? What if you just want to replace the cabinets, and leave the floor and walls alone? What if your kitchen is part of a modern, open-plan living space that combines the kitchen with other rooms like a dinette or living room without a clear division of walls or flooring? Well, then you’ll need to choose cabinets to match your décor. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do.
Option 1: Closely Match the Old Ones
In many, if not most cases, your old kitchen cabinets matched the décor of your house reasonably well. If that’s the case, then sticking to the tried and true, but updating the quality of hardware, and getting rid of wear and tear, is a great idea.
If that isn’t the case in your house, then you still have an advantage. Ask yourself what does work about the old cabinets … the color? The complexity or simplicity of the design? The wood grain? Then ask what doesn’t work. Any of the above might be poorly matched, but more often it’s about functionality. Older kitchens weren’t designed with concepts like aging in place, or universal access. Modern cabinets include many features to make both low and high storage much more accessible and thus usable, to more types of people.
Option 2: Complement and Contrast
What is the main design element in your kitchen, aside from your cabinets and counter top? Most often it’ll be the floor, especially if it’s a wood-grain floor. In some houses though it might be another feature; a nearby bay window, for example, or hand-made trim around the ceiling and corners. Whatever it is, you’ll need to incorporate it into the new design seamlessly, and that means both complementing it, and contrasting with it.
In most cases, you’re simply not going to be able to match color perfectly enough to fool anyone. The human eye is very good at picking out things that don’t belong; it’s how we survived back when a rustle in the leaves might be a tiger about to eat us! So unless you can guarantee that your floor is the same species of tree, and sand it down to bare wood so you can use the exact same stain on it and your cabinets … forget it. It’s better to contrast here. If you have a dark-stained floor, go with even darker, or more blonde, for your stained wood cabinets, or you can always go for paint. If you get painted cabinets, it’s not a bad idea to pick up on an over- or under-tone in the other décor.
You probably won’t be able to precisely match the wood grain between your floor and cabinets either, but here you want to complement. The key is the strength of the grain. If you have a floor with a subtle grain pattern, then a striking and sharp grain pattern in your cabinets could look quite odd, and stand out like a zebra on a smooth plain. The reverse can be true as well. Don’t try to match exactly, but do try to be complementary on pattern.
The same goes for matching artisanal detail. If your house has ornately carved hardwood trim, then matching that with your cabinet doors, and adding crowns and other decorative pieces, makes good sense. If your house is more modernistic, with simpler architectural themes, then ornate cabinetry might look out of place, and a simpler design like one of our Shaker lines might work best.
RTA Cabinet Store has a free online design tool that you can use to lay out your kitchen with the exact cabinets you choose. Get access here: https://www.rtacabinetstore.com/assets/html/plan/intro/intro2.php and get started today!