Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dear Alaina: kitchen renovation

Christine, a regular LCY reader, emailed me with plans about her new kitchen renovation and asked for advice on a number of factors. She wrote:

Dear Alaina,
I am a huge fan of your blog. My husband and I bought our first house in a tiny shore community about a year ago. I am the luckiest girl in the world because my husband is a general contractor, and is putting an addition on our house including a new kitchen. I am having a design dilemma and need advice... I am having the hardest time picking out the last details!! ... Any advice you can provide me with would be greatly appreciated!

I said "yes" so long as I can blog about it! Naturally, she agreed.

So far they've decided on:
  • white cabinets - many upper cabinets have glass doors
  • stainless steel appliances
  • stainless steel sink
  • 1. lighting fixture above island: chrome pendant similar to the image below
  • 2. lighting fixture above table: West Elm's capiz chandelier
  • 3. counters: kashmir gold granite
  • 4. wall paint: Benjamin Moore's Sidewalk Grey

She needs help deciding:
  • floors: tiling or hardwood?
  • finish of faucet: chrome or stainless steel?
  • finish of hardware: chrome or stainless steel or something else?
  • kitchen table and chairs
So here we go...

I am using the image below as inspiration to answer the flooring question. My advice is hardwood! You will never regret it. It is better for resale, it is easy to clean, and it's timeless, which, according to the other details you've selected for your kitchen, is the look you're going for. Definitely go with a darker wood, not necessarily espresso because of the trendy factor, but rather a nice, dark wood. Try and avoid finishes with red hues. Again, the look in the room below is perfect.

And for the floors between the island and cabinets, I'd use Jill Rosenwald's Fallon runner rug in grey. As we saw, rugs add a nice finishing touch - even in kitchens.

Christine has already chosen stainless steel appliances and a stainless steel sink. The question is, what finish should the faucet be? I say shiny chrome (the same as the pendant light fixtures above the island). It's better not to have all metals matching in a room.
Bridge Faucet in Chrome by Blanco-Mix

Above you see a dulled, stainless steel-like finish on a sink with the shiny, chrome finish of the bridge faucet. So pretty!

Similarly, I'd do the cabinet hardware in a chrome finish. I love a large pull like RH's Gilmore Pull, shown below, in polished chrome. I love the look of these, especially on white cabinets. Use the pull on all drawers in the bottom cabinets and pair it with a simple knob for upper cabinet doors, like the Bistro Knob, again in a polished chrome finish.

Restoration Hardware's Gilmore Pull

Restoration Hardware's Bistro Knob

You can see similar pulls here:

(above you see another bridge faucet)

Table and Chairs
All that was decided on for the dining area in the kitchen was the capiz chandelier from West Elm.

Christina mentioned wanting a farmhouse table - like this one from Restoration Hardware - with white bamboo chairs, but she wasn't sure. Quite frankly, I think that sounds like a perfect idea, paired with a jute rug.

It looks great, as made clear in these two popular photos:
White chippendale chairs with grey upholstery or a black and white thick stripe upholstery would be a bold, practical look. Ballard also offers a fun, silver option!

But really almost any kind of chair would go with this neutral kitchen. Christine and her husband could easily add a bolt of fun color like this Ballard Design striped chair (same as Michelle Adams' dining room as featured in Lonny but in a different color):

Or juxtapose a contemporary look with the traditional farmhouse style, like my personal favorite, Ikea's Tobias chair:

Big Reveal
Please do not judge the quality/cheesiness of these mock-ups. I spent way too much time playing around in Photoshop last night to hear any "why don't the whites of the cabinets match up?" Kapish?
(click on image to see larger version)

We have a grey option, as shown above.

...or a teal option... which easily works in the neutral space.

I hope this was helpful, Christine! Cannot wait to see pictures once you are done!


  1. This is a fabulous kitchen! I love the bridge faucet

  2. This is my dream kitchen! I love all the choices. And Christine is a lucky girl to have a contractor husband! I can't wait to see the end result.

  3. This looks AMAZING Alaina!!! It is so nice to be able to turn to people in the design world who you admire for advise. Your blog has been a huge inspiration and reference point for me throughout the renovation process, and I am so thankful for that! I can't wait for you to see photos of the completed project. Thank you so much!
    xo Christine

  4. I think the advice that you have given her is perfect! Thanks for recommending the rugs for the kitchen, love them, and need two for our updated kitchen and thinking of getting these, thanks again!

  5. WOW...i'm in the process of buying an older home in the Grand Rapids, MI area and we know we have our work cut out for us. Either way....Christine i hope you dont mind but i think i know what i want my kitchen to look like now! Everything from the white cabinets, grey walls, farmhouse style table....and that chandelier! this room is stunning. can't wait to send in my questions during our renovations! keep these coming...great post

  6. I am all for hardwood floors. They are just beautiful, easy to clean. I love the farm table from Restoration Hardware and love the idea of wide stripe black and white chairs. I am really into those white farmhouse sinks.

  7. Well done Alaina! You have officially opened the flood gates for decorating questions. Great advice for timeless design. I have had white cabinets for 17 years and would replace with white in a heartbeat.
    Christine we are all waiting to see pictures.

  8. Really great! I love it all. I think Hardwoods are so great and look wonderful with all the rest! I really liked the teal on the chairs!
    Hope she lets you show the pics after!
    Hugs, Lisa

  9. Oh what great options! I bet it will be difficult to choose just one...

  10. I absolutely love all of your suggestions! I am in the middle of planning a kitchen update and was thinking of going with a very similar look. Thanks for the added inspiration!



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