How Do I Choose Finishes For My Kitchen?

Leah Dean | Kitchen Designer | Dean Cabinetry

By Leah Dean

There are many finishes to consider when renovating a kitchen. A common question among clients is “What do I choose first?”

We recommend clients start with the one “piece” that they are sure of. Perhaps it’s a cabinet color, particular flooring material and finish, or a countertop. Oftentimes, it is the flooring. Whatever the element that is your “must-have”, it should be one that you absolutely love. 

Kitchen finishes were chosen around this custom wood hood and hardwood flooring!

Your kitchen should incorporate finishes and colors that come together to unify the space. As you move through this process, know that there is no one “correct” way. I am going to provide you with some guidelines that will help you start to move in a great direction. 

What Elements Do I Need To Choose Finishes For?

Outside of the big items you will need to choose (cabinets, appliances, countertops, & flooring) there are many other smaller items that you’ll need to decide upon. These include faucets, cabinet hardware (knobs/pulls), backsplash, lighting fixtures, and wall colors. Deciding on each element can be a bit stressful, as you’re probably feeling that you have only one chance to get it right. Just remind yourself that there are no hard fast rules. Every project is different, and ultimately, your kitchen should reflect your personal style and choices.

You and your family will spend a lot of time in your kitchen, so you should experience a feeling of joy when you are in your new space. When we complete a kitchen renovation, I follow up with a visit to the client’s home. I ask them how the process went and if there are any improvements we can make. I take photos, and ask for feedback on their kitchens flow and function. One of my favorite things is when I hear a client tell me how happy they are when they enter their kitchen first thing in the morning. When I hear this, not only does it make my day, but I know we’ve accomplished a top notch kitchen renovation!

Here are some steps we encourage our clients to follow to help guide them in the process of choosing finishes.

Finding Inspiration For Your Kitchen Finishes

One of the first steps we ask of our clients is to show us their inspiration photos. These photos help us to get a feel for the look they are trying to create; a “guide” we can use when creating the design for their kitchen. 

If a client doesn’t have photos tagged yet, we recommend checking out the Dean Cabinetry photo gallery on our website. Pinterest and Houzz are other great places to start. Don’t overthink the photos you are choosing. You should choose images you are naturally drawn to, images that reflect what you love. Don’t ask “why” you might be drawn to a particular look at this point. Just pin the photos that make you happy!

Start to Look for Patterns Among Your Inspiration

When you’ve got several kitchen photos saved, take a look at the overall look of the photos you’ve chosen. Do you see any patterns among the photos? Do the kitchens have the same color cabinetry? Is the flooring is similar among the photos? Are the countertops similar in color and material? Lots of neutrals, or lots of patterns and colors? Take notice of any repeating elements among your kitchens. You’ll see that your style is beginning to emerge, and these items are ones that you should most likely include in your overall design.

Prioritize Your Choices

Once you’ve started to notice the similarities, it’s time to begin to determine the items that you are confident you want in your kitchen. What is a “must have” and what are you willing to compromise on? Every decision usually leads to a series of other decisions, so if you can be clear on what you love the most, it helps guide the rest of the selections you’ll need to make.

This Dean Cabinetry kitchen renovation has balance of gray and white finishes!

Start Gathering your Choices

It’s often a good idea to start pulling together as many of your “selections” as possible. We are happy for clients to borrow cabinet doors to help them in this process. Tile and flooring companies are usually happy to do the same. With these, you can start to combine them with your other selections, to see how everything looks together. Having the actual product in front of you, to touch and feel helps confirm that you truly do love it. If one part doesn’t feel right, now is the time to switch that piece out and try another. As you begin to do this, you will start seeing how one finish affects the others. And if you start with your “one” or “two” must-haves, you can freely play around with the other materials and finishes, without feeling too much stress. 

For example, if your “must-haves” include a particular flooring and cabinet, play around with the hardware & countertops. Mix and match until the combination in front of you starts to make you happy. Once you’ve got some of the “major” choices made, you can start thinking about lighting fixtures, backsplash, stools, and wall colors. These finishes can tie the look of the kitchen together. Don’t be afraid to choose materials of different textures in bits and pieces, to create greater visual appeal. You’re on your way to creating your individual space that includes your own personal taste. And remember, there are so many available selections in the market, that if you don’t love any individual item, you can keep looking! 

How Do I Choose My Wall Color?

Choosing your wall color is best to complete once you have determined your other choices. Begin by choosing a few options, get a sample, and paint a swatch on your wall. This is important as paint on the walls can look very different than on the sample. Lighting and time of day can greatly affect the look.

Pay attention to how the adjoining rooms in your home come together. With the trend towards the open floor plan, it’s important that spaces provide a cohesive feel. If you have a particular color in the adjoining room, carry a touch of that into the kitchen or other adjoining space.

Is this starting to make sense? Go back and forth between a few of your favorite options until it begins to feel “right”. It may seem like a long way off now, but when you begin to move through the process and choose a few finishes at a time, everything will begin to come together. You’ll know in your gut when you’re almost there!

Here is an example of a recent kitchen we completed where the client incorporated a variety of finishes, together creating a beautiful balance. The fridge, range, microwave, and dishwasher are stainless steel. The island cabinetry, wall cabinets, tile backsplash, and hood are white. Base cabinets are a natural vintage finish. The faucet matches the window detail, cabinet hardware, stool bases, and part of the pendant lights, all grounding the room beautifully. It is a gorgeous, unified space. The client wonderfully and successfully created their own distinct look and feel!

A variety of finishes in this Dean Cabinetry kitchen!

Remember To Be Flexible and Open Minded

In any kitchen renovation, inevitably something will come up that you weren’t expecting. Perhaps you ordered a faucet that is now back-ordered, and you need it today because your countertops are being installed tomorrow. Perhaps there was a layout change because of a certain condition found on-site at demolition. Take a deep breath and relax…it will all work out.

Feel free to get creative and add your personal flair when you add those last decorative or seasonal items. Have fun with it! This is how you can create your own space and reflect your personality. Adding items that are important to you will be incredibly meaningful, and will increase Your joy when You spend time in Your kitchen!