Second guessing myself...

sparkler39March 18, 2013

Hi all, first-time poster, long-time lurker here! I've browsed these forums for years getting ideas for my future dream house (when I win the lottery)! A few months ago my husband and I start looking for a house to buy (we're currently renting) and we realized that building our own custom house was actually a possibility (although scaled down from my dream house with two pools, movie theater, and professional kitchen…ha).

Anyway, our builder is breaking ground next week and while I thought I had made some major decisions…now I'm second-guessing myself and was hoping for some input from others.

Here's the quick version…my current rental is an older house with a lot of problems and aesthetically, it's HIDEOUS. The owner did a lot of "custom" work where he'd start projects, get halfway done, and then quit. So things aren't finished or half-painted throughout. And there are just really ugly colors of brown and beige throughout this house. Now, brown and beige are not my favorite colors to begin with, but living in this house for 5 years has made me absolutely detest them.

I am a cool colors girl…black, grey, silver, white, blues, purples, etc. And I love to cook. So my first house priority was the kitchen. I am determined to get away with a "cool palette" kitchen without a hint of brown wood color. I have my heart set on black shaker-style maple cabinets. And I mean actual black not dark dark brown. I've also picked out a pricier backsplash so I decided against granite and went with the 180fx Formica laminate. I've included a photo of the items I'm using. From the top left going clockwise that's the Formica 180fx Soapstone Sequoia laminate, the black cabinets, a white floor tile (can't remember the name) but it's textured with grey lines running through it, and the Sonoma Vihara glass tiles in Minka. I plan to grout the backsplash with a grey color to accent the laminate and I'm considering asking the builder if he could do the floor tiles with some of the backsplash tiles as found in this photo (

The kitchen itself is L-shaped 12x16 with a L shaped island on the opposite side. It's totally open to the dining room and living room. Basically the area is a large rectangle with the dining room (25%) and kitchen (25%) side-by-side and the living room (50%) on the other side. There is one window in the kitchen above the sink, one in the dining room, and two in the living room. It should get a decent amount of light but it won't be BRIGHT. I think we're going with a light grey carpet in the living room, the dining room will have the same tiles as the kitchen. I plan to use the shades of blue, grey, and purple that the tiles have for paint colors.

Basically, my questions are these: does this sound too dark or cold (my husband's worry) and is it possible to build a house with no brown wood color without it looking like a laboratory? And if you have ideas, I'd love to hear them!

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This is what I mean by putting some of the backsplash tiles in the tile flooring if the link doesn't work for you.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:51PM
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I personally love your combination and ideas! I'm not an expert here but I think if that's the style/colors you like you will love it.
What kind of LR & DR furniture do you have? Are you totally opposed to wood in dining tables/end tables etc too? Maybe a rustic farmhouse dining table or just a rustic bench somewhere to contrast a little with all the coolness and some plants, personal objects, family photos (in wood frames?!) will warm it up just enough...?

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:01AM
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Thanks! Furniture is actually part of the problem…my parents are planning on buying us a living room set as a house-warming present. Up to now, we've mostly just had hand-me-down and yard sale furniture. I'm looking at a grey sectional from Ethan Allen with a blue print chair and ottoman and black side tables. We have a black entertainment center and bookcases already. And the dining room furniture is from my grandparents and I'm in the process of trying to sell it. It's classic Hitchcock furniture with gold stenciled eagles and grapes…SO not me. My ideal table would be black, sleek, and modern. I'm hoping if I pull enough blues into the room with pillows, curtains, etc. it'll keep it lighter looking.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:16AM
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I think your combination is beautiful and spot on.
I have been thinking of getting formica FX180 myself.
I love how your colors just glide together and I love the backsplash. So many people pick a backsplash that does not coordinate at all but yours is lovely. Please post a photo when you are done.
I am torn between Crema Mascarello and golden Mascerello but I might have to look at yours again. LOL! Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:00AM
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Looks great. I personally couldn't do formica but it's just my bias against my old counters that we ripped out. I've heard the new stuff is lovely. You can mix different patterns and textures and natural elements to keep it warm. Nate Berkus is really good doing this.
Also, search 'black kitchen' on for inspiration. There are plenty of examples of mixing black with wood - if you are inclined to compromise a little with your husband.
I second guessed myself...sometimes I changed my mind and it worked beautifully. Other times I went with my original plan and it worked out well, too. Enjoy the fun :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Nate Berkus

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:52AM
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robo (z6a)

To me, black seems warm compared to white. I think interior designers often call black a "warm" neutral and white a "cool" neutral.

I think AboutToGetDusty has a great point about patterns, textures, and natural elements as well.

You perhaps may wish to pick your black carefully if you're concerned with warmth. I'm picturing something with warmer undertones as opposed to blue black.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:16AM
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Have you lived with a black piece of furniture to see how you feel about keeping it clean? Do you have or will you have pets? If I miss one night of cleaning my black cooktop, it has lint, dust, and a cat hair or two on it. Before we remodeled, I had a white vinyl floor. It had to be mopped twice a week and spot-cleaned almost daily.

When things are new, we like to clean and polish them, but that novelty wears off after a few months. Flooring and cabinets aren't inexpensive items that you can just toss out when you realize you're spending too much of your time on upkeep.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:49AM
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Black is far worse than white when it comes to dust and other airborne detritus. I have a dark mahogany media center and I'd have to dust it every hour to keep it looking good. When the light hits it, I want to cry. White cabs are nowhere near as maintenance-intensive and some whites can be very warm.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Thanks for the comments regarding cleaning black stuff. I do currently have quite a bit of black furniture (book shelves, entertainment center, fish tank) and I do notice that it tends to gather dust more visibly than wood or white does. I have a black dog and a mostly black and grey dog that helps keep the dirt in the right color family, does that count? ;)

But yeah, I work a little extra in order to afford a cleaning service!

AboutToGetDusty, thanks for the links! I'd searched Houzz for black cabinets but hadn't tried black kitchens.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:15PM
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I'm not sure about cheaping out on the counters because you chose a more expensive backsplash. I would get nicer counters and then just save up for the backsplash. Its less wasteful to live without a backsplash for a few months rather than get an inexpensive counter and then rip it out when you have the money for a more expensive counter.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:52PM
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I really like that floor, and it is do-able. BUT it will be very expensive. The glass tiles are very thin and it takes quite a bit of expertise and time to make them flush with the surrounding thicker tiles. It would be much easier if you were to do a border around the room with them, rather than surrounding each tile.

I can't tell what color black you have (on my monitor it looks brown). If I were you, I would go for a very deep, almost-black charcoal, rather than a true black-black.

Are you going with the Formica because you like it, or because you want to save money? I have found that laminate counters cost almost as much as stone counters, assuming you choose a reasonably priced stone. But if you like the Formica, go for it.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 1:14PM
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According to color expert Maria Killam
your color ideas are exactly the new next trend as browny beige is long gone. Grey black and white and pops of fifties color is the current must have color palette.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:20PM
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That floor is so gorgeous. The only caveat is that I had a white tile floor once and ended up hating it - EVERY little thing shows up. But I think your tile has enough of a design to mask some of that. And wow - that mosaic stripe is to die for.

I'm attaching pictures as I have a black shaker kitchen and I am a cool, cool girl, too. Granite is River White. There is not a speck of anything warm in my kitchen, barring the wood floor, which was there already. I am still without a backsplash, but have recently (with GW help!) picked one out (white mosaic glass mix) and will be installing soon. I do find that the black cabinets attract dust, but nothing a quick wipe doesn't fix. I spent as much time wiping my previous white cabinets as I do the black ones. Good luck with your kitchen. It sounds beautiful.
Pic 1:

Pic 2:

Pic 3:

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 10:30PM
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I used Soapstone Sequoia for my counters and I'm very happy with it. It has a very soft look and reminds me of the fog that layers the fields next to the house in the mornings...I do like the matte finish. It's not dark or harsh looking at all. The only thing that surprised me was that it is "rumbly" sounding when you slide a glass or dish across it due to the texture....but that's not a big deal to me.

I'm looking forward to your pics!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:10PM
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Realism, actually the more I look at granite, I prefer the laminate. With some of the laminates and the new effects, I actually had to go over and knock on them to determine if they were real or not. We're going with bull-nosed edging on the laminate so I don't think it'll look cheap when it's finished.

Hemera, ha, yeah I asked the builder about the floor…he was polite but basically said "yeah, you can't afford it…" ;)

Ppbenn, yay! :)

35ftcabo, I LOVE your kitchen! Do you know the style/name of the handles you chose? That's what I'm looking for and haven't quite found yet. And in your first pic, what is the cabinet behind the peninsula? It almost looks like a hutch…was that a custom piece? It's gorgeous!

Phoebesmom, do you have any photos of your finished kitchen? I'd love to see it "in action" rather than just the sample piece I've got. I really love the color, too!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 1:52PM
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I like the way 35 has combined the dark cabinets/light counter top with the white built-ins and dark TV/fireplace, in the other room. It emphasizes the dark cabinets, but the light counter top and shelves keep everything from feeling too dark.

Also, it's easier to keep vertical surfaces dusted, than horizontal ones...which makes the light counter tops and shelves an excellent choice :)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 2:35PM
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