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I don't know what I want: white or medium wood kitchen?

stjamesb
13 years ago

I am dreaming of my new kitchen that hopefully would happen in the next year or so. My problem is I don't know which look I want. I looked through the finished kitchen blog and absolutely loved elizpiz's but then I loved sochi's just as much. Sigh. I know what I don't want is a pale maple. That's what I had for 9 years, nothing wrong with natural maple, I just want something else.

My house is 1960's and it is not any particular style that I can take cue from. I tend to be a very casually dressed kind of girl but when I dressed up, my dresses/skirts tend to be A-line. My style is unfussy/unclutter. I totally dig mid-century furnitures but then I have dreams about chandelier with dripping crystal :)

Does anyone else have my problems? I am so envy people who know exactly what they want.

p.s I have 2 little boys who like to play in mud and they have a dad who indulge them in their muddy play :) Any thought to share from people who have white kitchens?

Comments (33)

  • caligal
    13 years ago

    See link to thread started yesterday.

    Here is a link that might be useful: white or stained galley kitchen?

  • lascatx
    13 years ago

    We went through the same thing -- just with older boys who mess up the kitchen with food rather than muddy play. We leave the muddy play to a lab and her border collie/retriever mix cohort.

    I went through a lot of magazines and other photos and kept finding myself drawn to white kitchens more so that the wood tones. I've had had other white kitchens and liked them -- and the adjoining breakfast room has a breakfast table and chairs in a natural to mid cherry tone and the family room beyond that has a leather sectional in baseball glove leather. I kneew I didn't want dark wood, and if I did mid-tones, I was afraid I would create a great brown hall. I went white but did my island and a hutch in cherry -- also added a wall of a 3rd color. I got a bit of everything. ;-)

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  • berryfarm
    13 years ago

    Keep looking, keep looking, keep looking. The two kitchens you mentioned are so totally different, no wonder you are worried about not having a concrete decision on what you want. Take the time to visit as many kitchen design centers as you can; if there is an annual home & garden show near where you live, attend that. Spend lots of time on here and other websites you like to get exposed to many different styles. Since you will not have to make decisions for about a year, use time to your advantage; after you see a ton of ideas, you WILL narrow down what you are drawn to and what you DO NOT want. You will also get the feel for what is going to be appropriate for the style of your house.

    Maybe you can combine woods/finishes like lascatx did, and like I am going to do. A few months ago, I was set on all white perimeters and island, no glazing. Well, after looking in many showrooms, I thought two things: 1) what if all white looks fake and I get tired of it? 2) wow, this cherry is gorgeous, will I regret not getting unpainted wood? So, after more looking and looking (at showrooms, GW and other websites) I have decided on off-white perimeter cabinets w/a brown glaze and a darker island--probably alder. I am comfortable with my decision and am at the point where I am not second-guessing. It has taken hours and hours, but I am excited and hopefully my excitement won't turn to being completely frazzled when it's August and the basement is still our "kitchen" (demo starts in less than 2 weeks).

    Don't worry about your 2 little boys! I also have 2 little boys and the mud cleans up! One day they'll be teenagers w/girlfriends and you'll long for their "innocent" muddy days...

  • marcy96
    13 years ago

    I went through the same thing. I started wanting medium maple cabinets and tile floors, and then as time went on, I was drawn to the creamy white cabinets I saw in magazines and at showrooms. I never thought my 1960s ranch "deserved" beautiful white painted cabinets and my DH didn't like white so I was still leaning towards stained. Then when it came time to finally choose, I ended up picking very buttery painted cabinets with brown glaze, wood floors and a chestnut stained maple hutch. I got my wood fix with the floors and hutch (and my DH was happy), and while my cabinets are painted, they are not a stark white, but a warm creamy color. I am very happy with my decision. Just take your time, rip out pictures you see in magazines and start a binder. My binder started out with brown stained cabinets and ended up with creamy white cabinets. And don't worry about the dirt on the cabinets. Quality painted cabinets are very easy to clean and it's easy to see the dirt! Good luck!

  • idrive65
    13 years ago

    I always dreamed of beautiful cherry cabinets. When we were building our new house I pored through magazines and EVERY thing was white. Beautiful white cabinets with soapstone or marble. It was a bit irritating at first, because 7 out of 8 kitchens in each magazine were white, with perhaps one funky log cabin kitchen, or craftsmen oak kitchen. But I became drawn to the white kitchens after a while. The thing that finally swayed me to choose was dh saying, "you have been talking about a cherry kitchen forever. Do you really want white?" And I realized that I couldn't see myself LIVING with a white kitchen. Nice place to visit but I didn't want to live there, LOL. So you need to decide where you want to live.

    And hey, I think simple cabinets and a chandelier dripping with crystal could look fabulous!

  • honeychurch
    13 years ago

    I know OP said she was drawn to a white kitchen and a stained kitchen, but just want to toss another idea into the mix--there are more options than white/off-white or stained. People here have done great things with red cabinets, black cabinets, green or blue cabinets, etc. And while it may not be something you'd want to do a whole kitchen in, it could break up that feeling of "wall of white" or "cave of brown".

    I agree you should keep looking at design centers and magazines since you have some time before your project starts---I started out thinking I would be getting white cabinets and brown quartz and am now using a pretty equal mix of blue, green, and off white cabs with soapstone counters and sink; some things I loved from the beginning are still in the mix but many things have changed. You learn a lot here about materials and appliances (never heard of soapstone, Miele, Bosch, tapmaster, airswitches, plugmold, etc before I got here!). Sorry to go off-topic!

    And if you want a dripping crystal chandelier in your Mad Men house, go for it! IMO, spaces with a mix of styles can be extremely appealing precisely because of a quirky or unexpected element. :-)

    Good luck!

  • lascatx
    13 years ago

    I was like idrive, except that it was white I'd always liked in kitchens, but I loved the cherry wood and kept seeing it i kitchens. I wanted something new and started putting the two together -- but I came back to what I'd always loved -- a white kitchen, cherry "furniture" (my island and hutch) and a wall of blue -- always my favorite color. Similar things started showing up in magazines after I made my choices, which made it seem less unique or risky (big leap when I made the decision though) -- but it's still MY kitchen and has the things I love. Look for what will make you feel that way. Don't buy another's ad -- create your own.

  • ci_lantro
    13 years ago

    Some points to consider:

    1. Stained wood cabs are more forgiving of nicks & dents & scratches and are a bit easier to touch up.

    2. Go look at real kitchens. IMO, white kitchens tend to photograph better because of the high contrast between light & (usually) dark countertops. That, & it's easier to get the appropriate light levels for photography in a white kitchen. Conversely, it's harder to capture the warmth & glow of wood. So, looking & 'feeling' real kitchens (not just showroom kitchens) may help w/ your decision.

    3. Consider your climate. If you have a lot of dark gloomy days, maybe you'll like the light look of white cabinetry. OTOH, where do you envision having color in the kitchen? I.e., do you love bold color painted walls which might tip you to having white cabinets?

    4. What's your lifestyle? Do you garden or have large, wooley dogs that come in from out of the rain, run to the kitchen & shake themselves dry before checking their dish to see what's for dinner?

    Of course, there are a ton of other things to consider but these are some of the first ones that I would weigh in the decision making process.

    hth
    Ci

  • formerlyflorantha
    13 years ago

    I'm with idrive65....I look at those kitchens, think how good they look, then can't go any farther toward imagining living in them. For everyday, I want something with real wood, real usability, and real warmth. I guess I'm a wood girl. Ci lantro's comment about difficulties in photographing wood in an inviting way might be right on target. At the displays, I don't spend much time in the painted kitchens but I stroke that wood and linger.

    I also can't imagine buying pre-distressed painted finishes. Oxymoron in my opinion. Why buy newly wrecked stuff, unless you have a kitchen you are afraid will look unused in 10 years?

  • pricklypearcactus
    13 years ago

    Can you bring home some sample doors of white and medium wood and live with them in your kitchen area for a while? Perhaps actually seeing the materials (rather than just imagining) them in your space would help you settle on what will make you happy.

    And I absolutely agree with idrive65: love the idea of simple cabinets (stained wood or white) and crystal chandelier. In fact, I have a crystal chandelier in my dining room which is directly adjacent to my kitchen (where I also hope to install simple cabinetry - probably medium stained cherry).

  • karen_belle
    13 years ago

    My neighbor redid her ranch in a really nice mcm way. then she decided that what she really really liked was "hollywood regency." I've linked a page I found below, but maybe you'll find that this describes your style as well.

    Here is a link that might be useful: hollywood regency 101

  • jterrilynn
    13 years ago

    I also went through the same thing! I liked white kitchens but that would not look right in my home, I liked cherry but could not imagine a whole kitchen of it. I liked painted cabÂs but could not see me with a whole painted kitchen regardless of color either. So, being that I have decorated in warm colorful shades in an eclectic style for the past twenty five years, I went with a mellow yellowy painted butter on the wall cabinets with Madison mullion doors w/center stile and a dark Cherry stain on the base cabinets with Madison door/drawer style. This will work well with the interiors of my home and IÂm happy with my pick. I was not fortunate enough to find an online inspiration picture for what was in my head but it did help with the process of elimination. You will know the right choice when it comes, it may just take a while.

  • stjamesb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    I am glad to know that I am not the only one who doesn't know what she wants :)

    I have to clarify: my previous kitchen that I lived with for 9 years was natural maple cabinet w/ medium colour wood floor, my current kitchen (3 months so far) is white. When I said I am considering white, I meant off-white with some brown glaze. The current kitchen will be renovated to address functional problems and to replace smelly/sagging cabinets. So I kind of know what is like to live with white cabinets. The problem is right now the kitchen has hideous wallpaper but I don't want to go through the hassle of removing the wallpaper and then knock the walls down anyway. So I have problems looking pass the wallpaper. Maybe I should just paint over the wallpaper so that I can assess the current white cabinet better. My MIL has a gorgeous natural cherry cabinets so I kind of know what it like to live with a medium wood tone kitchen. Her kitchen is natural color tile/medium colour cherry cabinet. My current floor is medium oak which I plan to keep.

    The kitchen is on the north side but there is a big window and we plan to add more windows so lighting wouldn't be an issue. My kitchen is 13x15 and it is open out to the family room.

    I made snap decisions all the time at work and just seem can't decide in my own home. Quite vexing :)

    Do people aim for contrast between cabinets & floor?

  • katsmah
    13 years ago

    I still vacillate over that decision daily. I love white kitchens, I love dark wood furniture. I wish my kitchen was big enough for an island, I would do both. My kitchen gets no natural light and just seems depressing. I'm opening walls to get more space and light and think it would look great white. BF and my daughter are pushing towards Cherry. I think I will finally decide the minute I put in my order.

  • karen_belle
    13 years ago

    St. James, there are a lot of people who like cabinets that are the same tone as the floor, others that like the oppposite.

    I found that a good way to choose a concept for a kitchen was for me and DH to look through a bunch of design books & magazines, and just dog-ear the pages we liked. We then went through it with our designer and she helped us clarify what it was we liked about any particular kitchen.

    For me, the main thing is that I like dark horizontal surfaces and light verticals. So we are having natural finish maple cabinets, dark gray countertops and dark grey floors. My husband really likes contrast and pattern, so we are having a high contrast backsplash.

    You'll figure it out. Be patient with yourself, there's a lot to consider!

  • formerlyflorantha
    13 years ago

    bump

  • stjamesb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    update:
    over the weekend, we got our in-laws came to visit. They were looking for things to do, so I mentioned that I don't mind to get the wall paper painted over, so they took me up on it and painted the wallpaper for me LOL. So now I have a white kitchen with white wall.

    This kitchen is on the north side of the house and every morning, I just hate it that the room looks so dark (my old kitchen is on the east & south side and on the 2nd floor so that kitchen was flood with light all the day long).

    So I know what I am trying to address with this room: airy and light. This kitchen has a window that is 66 in wide and is opened to the family room and there are windows in that room too so I can't bring in any more light. That left the cabinet colour to be the deciding factor of making the room bright and airy.

    - Dark-stained cabinets would make the room looks dark. IMHO.
    - Medium-stained cabinets would match the current oak floor and I am not wild about cabinets having same tone as the wood floor.
    - Light wood such as natural maple/birch is out because I am done with the look.

    This is to say that I am leaning towards a white/off-white kitchen.

    I may have enough room to put a small island (saw the small island post yesterday and was totally inspired). Kitchen size is 13x15

    Here are different possible elements for a contemporary/transitional ( I still working on the "mission statement for this kitchen LOL:

    - white/off-white cabinets ( I know I want frameless). Not sure about door style (DH don't care for slab style, I had shaker-style before and want to something else)
    - stainless steel sink
    - hopefully fridge and dw with panels (although due to budget constraints we may just get low end ss appliances and replaced them later)
    - luce di luna quartize kind of look for the counter top
    - if there is room for an island 3x4.5 ft, should this island be: blue or red or sunny yellow-stained? espresso stained? white? matte black?
    - island counter: should it be mid-tone wood to bring the wood floor up? should it be same as the main counter.

    Are there too many elements in this small kitchen?
    I know some of these decisions can be made later like the colour of the island and island counter. I just want to have a clearer picture in my head.

    karen_belle: thanks for mention about dark horizontal and light vertical. I didn't even think of that.

    thanks for reading all of this

  • sochi
    13 years ago

    Sounds like you've reasoned out a great plan stjamesb! I think your selections sound great - for the island I might go for a colour rather white or wood - red or black maybe? Although they are both dark, what about a bright green/yellow? I'm not sure about the island counter - I'm facing the same dilemma. We will eventually get a small island for our kitchen, I don't think I want to go with the same counter as our main runs, I'm leaning towards wood but don't know yet. Stainless steel is another option for you for counter, its bright and a good work horse for an island.

    Can you go without uppers at all? I feel that this contributes greatly to the open and airy feeling. Our kitchen has several windows but very little direct light and I absolutely wanted a bright, airy kitchen, but also knew I wanted walnut cabinets. I was able to get all of this primarily because I have no uppers and I did my pantry wall (a tall full wall of cabs) in white.

    Good luck!

  • needsometips08
    13 years ago

    I too had a very hard time deciding. The pieces of advice that helped me here was to 1) flip through kitchen books/magazines and put a sticky note in each page that instantly without thinking attracts you. Don't linger, don't think - just go with instinct. Then go back and find commonalities. Are they mostly white or mostly wood?

    2) Spend time really looking at your space. Take your time. Think about it. Try to envision. Sometimes what feels right will just emerge.

    I think it's also key to look at white kitchens in person.

    In the end, I went with wood perimeter and island and 2 furniture pieces (hutch and open shelf diplay piece).

  • eastbaymom
    13 years ago

    As a wood afficionado, I would encourage you to go with a wood island to "anchor" the white perimeter cabinets. Espresso would probably work better with oak flooring than a yellow.

    Will you be able to put in recessed lights in the ceiling, and/or undercabinet lights, once your remodel begins? I like dimmable light in the mornings and evenings, for instance. If you are like me, you will want help with mMaking sure the white reads as creamy and warm even when the lights are dimmed.

    I hope you continue to refine your vision!

  • stjamesb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Eastbaymom, good point about yellow stained. So yellow stained and white island is out. Thanks for the espresso suggestion.

    So if I do white cabinet, then matte black island.
    If creamy cabinet, then island can be espresso, soft red or faded blue (milk-painted kind of look). Espresso would take the kitchen to one look and milk-painted colour would take the kitchen to a different look.
    Thank to everyone for helping to sort out my thoughts! Little clearer to me now.

    There currently are recessed and dimmable lights in the kitchen. Although they are 6in cans and I think they are too big. Eastbay mom, what kind of bulbs would you suggest? I just changed those light to reveal bulb (color enhanced full spectrum) and the current wall and cabinet read purple. Yikes!

  • dirtymartini
    13 years ago

    just wanted to say hello...all my life I figured when I redid a kitchen...I would do a stained wood cabinet. We bought our 70's ranch and put hardwood floors in. I then realized that I don't like the look of wood on wood. PLUS, my kitchen has NO windows...breaks my heart that it is the darkest room of the house, really. I mean, it opens up into a great room that has french doors and windows...and the dining/living area are behind it, also with FDs and windows (I don't want you to think it is a dungeon, LOL) so we decided we REALLY should do white. I prefer the look of a glaze...like a coffee shade glaze over the white.

    We are also doing an island, and like you...want different colors/countertop. We are leaning towards butcherblock on the perimeter (waterloxed, not for cutting on) and either a crazy, busy granite on the island of something else. To tell you the truth, I really want tile (big tiles, small grout) but my DH thinks I am nuts. Still have not decided on the island cabinet colors, although I like the idea of an espresso.

    Anyway, it was interesting to see our ideas evolve and I am actually grateful that we did not (and *do not*...kitchen still is not in) have the $$$ to do it right away because as we have lived in the house, our ideas have changed.

    Good luck, certainly sounds like you are on the right track!

  • m2mom
    13 years ago

    I was you five months ago...I went back and forth, back and forth between white painted maple or cherry cabinets. My cabinetmaker kept trying to steer me towards cherry, being the fan of stained wood that he is, and I almost listened to him, but then one afternoon I went to Barnes and Noble and looked at a bunch of kitchen magazines, and realized that I only stopped at the pages that had pictures of white kitchens.

    Now I am LOVING my pearl cabinets with a brown glaze (forget the name of the glaze color. (I also got bianco romano granite.)

    It has only been a month or so since the contractors have left, but messes have not been a problem. My kids (6 year old son and 4 year old daughter) help me cook and do all kinds of crafts (including finger painting) at the breakfast table. They are good at listening to the rule of not opening up cabinet doors unless they use the handle. And I figure if worse comes to worse I'll just get them repainted in 7 or 8 years or so if they get that badly beaten up.

    I did not have room for an island in my kitchen (only a peninsula) although my architect and contractor went back and forth trying to decide if they could squeeze one in. I decided way back in that planning stage that even if I did have room for an island, I wanted it to be white as well, as I personally think the multitoned kitchen is a bit trendy. I know tons of people will disagree with me on that one.

    I hope this helps, as the above input from the others seems to cover quite a bit.

    By the way, I am also a very casual type mom, and when I dress up 80 percent of the time my dress or skirt will be a-line!! Pencil skirts are not me. I love the casual vibe of my kitchen.

  • sayde
    13 years ago

    Just want to echo what one of the previous posters said about how important it is to actually stand in different kinds of kitchens and see how they feel.

    Also, if you have a wood kitchen you can make it feel more bright and "white" by having fewer cabinets, especially uppers, and by using light tile. A little wood mixed with white and other materials can be both bright and warm at the same time.

  • remodelfla
    13 years ago

    I'm here right with you. I never ever thought I wanted a painted kitchen. Planned on an medium brownish toned wood all along. HOWEVER... once the walls for our new layout was done, samples of my flooring laid down, lighting in... on a whim I painted one of my door samples. LOVE LOVE LOVE how it looks in my setting. Especially with the wall colors I've chosen. My kitchen is in the middle of the house, kind of a galley style with one small window on the end. This llllooooonnnngggg remodel has become a journey. I'm going to have painted cabs which is something I never even considered. Ya' don't know what ya' dont 'know!

  • beekeeperswife
    13 years ago

    We were going to repaint our perimeter cabinets and add new cabinets in other parts of the kitchen. I planned to have the new cabinets contrast the perimeter. I went back and forth between dark cabinets or white cabinets for the perimeter (existing dark oak cabinets). Finally the thing that made me go white perimeter and dark island was one simple thing. I like to use dark rich colors on the walls. When the cabinets were dark oak, I never could use browns or taupes. Plus, my adjacent dining room is chocolate brown, and to have the dark color continue through the kitchen on the cabinets, might be too much, I felt. So, after much staring at my space and imagining how each option would work, I went with the white perimeter and peppercorn island. I love the fact that I can paint my kitchen walls any color and it will work. I just hated the fact that my kitchen cabinets in my "old" kitchen dictated my color choices. I like to change my colors every now and then.

    So take into account how the other rooms nearby are decorated/painted. Think about what color you might want to paint that room. See what works with your choices.

    Good luck, and like so many others have said, keep looking at photos and real kitchens...see what speaks to your heart.

  • dancingcook
    13 years ago

    I had a white kitchen for 20 years. And really wanted white when I redid the kitchen. BUT, then I struggled with how to have white countertops, with KDs telling me I couldn't have white marble or limestone because it would etch, that it's hard to find white granite, and so on. Meanwhile, I started to think of wood, and then saw a friend's wood kitchen in Toronto, and that changed my mind. Now, I have a maple kitchen, with maple-black walnut countertops, and the original oak floors, and LOVE my new kitchen. It's warm, light, and I don't miss the white formica at all. As others have said, keep looking, and see how you feel with different colors and looks. If it helps, here are some before/after pics (same view, but I now realize I don't have a pic of the white one during the day, so the lighting effect is different).

    Old Kitchen

    New Kitchen

  • stjamesb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    oh man, this is so hard. Laugh! I was kinda leaning towards a white kitchen and then somebody have to come along tempting me with pretty pictures. LOL.
    Thanks to everyone for the posts. I am so glad to know that I am not alone in the indecision. Love the clean line of dancingcook's sofa.

  • donaldsg
    13 years ago

    I am also struggling with this choice. I love the look of a white, bright kitchen with dark countertops, but I also like the look of a Craftsman-style kitchen with warm cherry cabinets and art tile. The house is an Arts and Crafts so either style would look right. My husband also likes both styles, so no help there!

    The only two things set are that we will have oak floors, like the rest of the house, and white painted door and window trim (all new windows and exterior door). So those things are making me lean towards the white kitchen, because I don't like the look of the wood floors with wood cabinets.

  • cindyandmocha
    13 years ago

    What helped me was clipping lots of pics. However, you don't even need to buy magazines to do that now. Just capture some pics from the web. Organize them into categories (color, style, hardware, etc). If you collect enough of them, you'll notice that you start to collect the same things over and over again.

    For me, I never knew it would be a more modern style of cabinet, but that's what I kept going back to.

  • stjamesb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    This morning I went to look to see if I can find luce di luna, so I stopped by this stone place for the first time. The salesperson mentioned that they also carry 2 lines of cabinets and she gestured the wall behind to let me know where the cabinets are. I turned around and wham, totally smitten, head over heel in love with a frameless, slab door, birds eye maple veneer super glossy cabinet. Just stunning. Speechless stunning. The grain of birdseye maple just gorgeous.
    Of course, I just couldn't get it out of my mind all day. But wait a minute, didn't I say I am done with the natural maple look?
    Birds eye maple and luce di luna? I don't think they go together. Does that mean I am restarting at square one?

  • sochi
    13 years ago

    Bird's eye maple is stunning, esp. a lovely glossy one! It makes a statement that regular natural maple just doesn't, completely different feel/look to my mind. There wouldn't be as much of a contrast with luce di lune as with a darker wood, but I'm not sure they definitely don't go together. Can you get samples of each and live with them for a couple of days? Otherwise: what do you love most? (I'm betting the cabs). Did you manage to see any good slabs of ldl?

  • stjamesb
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Thank you Sochi for the post. I was hoping that you would comment because I figure that you would appreciate the Bird's eye maple look and you already have luce di luna. No, I didn't get to see any ldl. The stone place didn't have any and they said they will call around to check. I've been looking at different door choices for white frameless cabinets and not liking any of them. Slab doors were too plain for me, until now. Slab door IS a good choice when the wood can take the centre place. I need to look around some more.
    My immediate thought for birds' eye maple cabinet is a matte black or espresso counter top. That's why I am not sure about ldl. But since I didn't get to see the luce di luna so I should reserve my judgment.