How to update this kitchen? (1989)

copperkettle15July 29, 2013

Hi All! We are buying this house, and here is the kitchen! It was built in 1989 and I am trying to figure out how to update it. I don't even know what kind of cabinets these are! I don't think we can afford completely new cabinitry, but do you think I should reface?

I am thinking of replacing the countertops with something like this, or at least a larger swirl granite with tans/browns (maybe not as gold/dark as this looks):

Spaces by Upper Marlboro Kitchen & Bath Designers Granite Grannies

If I keep the cabinets, what type of hardware do you think would look good? Black or ORB, or go the brushed nickel route? The woods in the house seem warm, so I'm not sure the cooler metals would look right. Any thoughts appreciated!

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They look like maple with a slightly frosted or pickled finish.

That appears to be black granite on the island. Have you considered black for the perimeter? Or laminate countertops on the perimeter?

It looks to be in good shape, I think with a bit of cosmetic tweaking, like new hardware, it would look fine.

There are some things that I would not like about it functionally, I am pretty sure, so I would not want to invest too much on it, only to find out I really wanted to change the layout. I would suggest you Live with the kitchen and see how it *works for you before making cosmetic decisions.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 5:49PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I love the kitchen as is....not sure what the current counter top material is, but if it's ceramic tile then replace it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 5:49PM
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I like the black countertop too. Keep it clean and sleek and it will retain its modern look. You're going in a whole 'nother direction with the swirly golden granite.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Your kitchen looks really nice. I think your cabinets are birch but could be maple. You just need a little color. Change out the countertops, liven up the backsplash.
Have you seen sixtyohno's kitchen, it is one of my favorites? If I had your bones I would be replicating her kitchen.

Here is a link that might be useful: sixtyohno's kitchen

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:18PM
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I wouldn't do anything major for now. Maybe just some larger, oil rubbed bronze hardware and some larger, oil rubbed bronze or black toned pendants over island.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:21PM
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The kitchen looks lovely. I don't see a vent hood? I don't think you should spend a penny on refacing cabinets until you know what you love, and hate, about the layout.

After the layout, assess the quality of boxes. Are they high quality and in good condition? Could you use them in a revised layout (assuming the layout needs revision)?

Granite, handles, and light fixtures are cosmetic decisions. Try the sweeby test - where does the kitchen you bought diverge from your vision of beautiful? GW can show you examples of gorgeous modern, traditional, light, dark, rustic, low budget and luxury kitchens....what kind of kitchen do you want?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:40PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Most people here would perhaps do an epoxy grout colorant on the tile counter's grout and update the lighting and leave well enough alone until the island cooktop could be moved to the perimeter and have a good quality vent installed. That would require a cabinet maker who could reproduce what you have in order to tweak a few things, but I don't think you'd need all new cabinets.

So, don't spend a dime on it until you've lived with it for a while and see how things work for you. And even then, if you decide that you can live with the functional issues that it has, don't put that gold swirly granite with those sleek cabinets. Wrong vibe and color family entirely.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:52PM
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I also say live with it as is for awhile to see if it works for may discover the cabinets aren't as nice as you thought, you don't like how the layout is, you need more drawers, etc. the cheapest fix now would be changing the hardware and paint if you don't like the current color. I can see nickel hardware because you have stainless appliances. Hold off on pricey granite until you're sure you love the layout and cabs.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 7:59PM
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brushed aluminum hardware in a more contemporary style would tie into the soft backsplash and update the look. the need for bigger changes will probably appear in time: use the space for now.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:09PM
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Wow thanks everyone! I guess I was a little too excited to jump in and change things, but yeah I will wait a bit for us to really figure out what we want to do with the kitchen. The island is black granite tiles and the other countertop is ceramic tile.

I guess the stovetop has a vent/fan built into it, so I'm not sure how well that works. Also, I do wonder how I'm going to like the layout with the fridge awkwardly placed and the stovetop in the island, so I will definitely live with things for a while and see.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 9:56AM
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I was not expecting such a lovely kitchen when I read the title of your post! Personally, I would not put the granite you pictured with those cabinets. I agree you should live with the kitchen for a while before you make any drastic changes. When you're ready, I might add black granite to the perimeter, because it looks quite lovely on your island. I wonder if you could add a range hood above the island cooktop. (I know some are strongly against an island cooktop, but I like them in some applications.) Certainly before adding/changing granite, you should make certain the cabinets are good quality and work for you. From the picture, they look really nice.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:18AM
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The only thing I would do for now is change the hardware and that's because I had those same pulls on my cabinets in the late 80's so for me they're dated. But I think they are still for sale.

I would also change the lighting and get something with a little more presence. But that's just my opinion for what it's worth.

I like the style of the cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 12:22PM
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I think the cabs are lovely! Agree to live with it for awhile.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 12:23PM
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Beautiful kitchen! I would replace the tile countertops with a modern granite, no swirls because I like the more uniformly patterned granite. But if you like swirls go for it and find some pulls that complement it. I would replace the pulls with something a little more modern. I would probably pull the granite up the wall for the backsplash as I'm not a fan of tile back splashes. Then I'd call it done. I love an island cook top. And yours is gas to boot! I also love your cabinets. I'd say you really lucked out with that kitchen.

But I agree with living with it as is for a bit to let your ideas evolve about what you want to do.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 1:06PM
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I love the look of your kitchen. It is open and airy. Switching the perimeter counters to a dark granite would be a nice contrast with the cabinets. I think the layout will be fine, just live with it for a few months.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 1:18PM
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It is not a very 1989 looking kitchen to me, except for maybe the perimeter counters. It looks very good as a whole. I would echo the recommendations to just live with it for a year so you can figure out what, if anything, you want to do with it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 2:16PM
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Thanks for all the input, I think it's something about the cabinets milky/pinky finish and the rounded edges that felt kind of dated to me. But they do have clean lines and the flat front does feel kind of modern. Hopefully updating the pulls can make it feel more "me" and seeing it in different lighting throughout the day once I'm living there will help.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 4:24PM
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Also, thanks localeater for the link to sixtyohno's kitchen! I really like that, maybe I could go with pulls like hers and go that direction with the look of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 4:28PM
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This type of finish is working its way back onto the market. Of course it won't be exactly like this, revivals are never exact. But at 25 years old, this style is starting to be revived as a part of the typical cycle. Don't be too quick to dismiss it entirely.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 5:16PM
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oh really, interesting!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Like others I like it and agree with their suggestions. Layout may or may not work, but it seems like it could. You'll find out later how you end up using things.

At first I thought your first pic was an inspiration picture as it didn't look dated to me in the same sense, but rather up to date. Guess Modern style with classic lines doesn't go out of style in the same way.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 2:37PM
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