Decorating & Design

June 2, 2013

Ask A Designer: Vibrant Kitchen Cabinets

Q. Can you suggest what I should do with my kitchen cabinets? I’d like to get new doors, but could I just paint or stain the ones I have? The countertop, cream tile backsplash and sink are all new, but the kitchen still looks old! We spend a lot of time in our kitchen, and we’d like to enjoy it, as well.

— M.M., Cape Breton, N.S. (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)

A. Subway tiles were a smart, classic choice for your backsplash, and cream will be easy to work with. Your cabinets appear to be in good shape, so I’d simply paint them instead of replacing them — a fresh coat of paint will immediately give them charm and character. A safe neutral will, of course, work, but consider going bold, like the sunshine yellow in our inspiration shot. Rise and Shine (312-4) (shown) by Beauti-Tone is a similar hue that’ll help brighten your galley space and white appliances. If you want to go with a more muted colour, use a soft grey like Beauti-Tone’s Polished (6K2-3) (shown).

New cabinet hardware is an easy move to update your kitchen. Before painting, remove all your existing knobs, fill the holes and drill new ones about 2″ from the bottom inside corner of each door. Then install 1-1/4″ white porcelain knobs (shown) from Rejuvenation. The simple design and brass centre screw detail will give your cabinets a cleaner look.

Tea towels are a fun way to bring colour and pattern into a kitchen. The Voikukka (shown) from Marimekko has a playful dandelion print perfect for the season. Pretty countertop accessories are another way to layer in detail. Schoolhouse Electric’s Blackline stoneware collection (shown) has a beautiful handcrafted look and a graphic black and white palette.

I’d go with something a bit more nautical for your lighting, like the CGU SS pendant (shown) from Barn Light Electric. Remove the shelf above the sink’s window (since you’re painting the cabinets) to open up the space, and install a pendant in each window, as in the inspiration, to achieve balance and symmetry. And replace your spotlights with recessed lighting strategically placed along the ceiling to increase functional light levels.

See more Ask A Designer responses. Plus, submit your own question, with instructions from our Ask A Designer™ page.

1. Pendant, Barn Light Electric. 2. Tea towel, Marimekko. 3. Knob, Rejuvenation. 4. Paint, from top: Polished (6K2-3), Rise and Shine (312-4), Beauti-Tone. 5. Canister, jug, Schoolhouse Electric.