What should I change - lots of input requested

jillies01December 22, 2012

Hello! After some encouraging responses to my initial post 2 weeks ago about painting my cabinets white - I finally mustered up enough courage to call a contractor to discuss possibilities for changing up my kitchen. (Original post was "White Cabinets with cream backsplash - will it work?") Now the question is what else should I change / discuss with him when he is out here?

Here is the background (sorry it is long!):

Moved into the house 11 years ago when it was first built and was builder grade oak with dark brown granite and backsplash. Six years ago we gutted the kitchen and put in the built in fridge, 6 burner range top, double oven, and slightly modified the floor plan. I had planned for the finish to be an oatmeal color - however the finish instead is very french country yellow - which contrasted with the new stone backsplash. So, 2 years ago, I ripped out the backsplash that was put in during the remodel and replaced with Walker Zanger Avignon tile. Have lived with the "new" backsplash and yellow cabinets really trying to embrace them and fall into favor with. But it hasn't worked. Now, on top of it, while looking at all the design sites and magazines for the last 6 years to figure out a better paint I have realized I really am tired of the "French Country" look in general - and would much prefer a more classic, traditional look.

So - 2 years later - since I have been able to show my DH all the areas the paint is chipped, seams are cracked, and hinges are falling off he has finally agreed to let me "fix" my reno gone wrong. The only caveat is I have to keep the granite (it is light green with flecks of white/yellow/black) and the backsplash for now. Of course - I would love a kitchen like posted on Beekeepers posts - but unfortunately we don't have the space and my tile/granite constraints make that impossible.

So - that being the case - what should I change and talk to the contractor about? Here are some things I am considering - but any input / ideas would be GREATLY welcomed - don't worry about hurting my feelings!!!
1) Paint cabinets a warm white, and restain island (since it is splotchy)
2) Change out knobs and pulls (I like the backplates - but hate the finish. Would prefer a shiny chrome, but haven't found any chrome that has backplates)
3)Maybe replace the doors to a less detailed style? NOt sure if that would work given the moulding on the top cabs though.
4) Replace window treatments
5) Do something about the hood - but what??

Again - I apologize for the length of this. This is my last chance to get it right - and I just don't know if any of it will really make it better. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!

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Call me crazy, but I think your kitchen looks great, as is. I like the detail on the doors, I would keep the cabinet doors for sure. I can see how a creamy white might help update the look a little. But I think you have a very nice kitchen. :)

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 8:29PM
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I think your kitchen is pretty, too. If you are tired of the french country thing, maybe lose the swag over the window? That'd be an easy way to lose some 'fancy'. I'd like to see just the roman shade up there, but maybe a shade in a lighter color would be good, too.
Your idea of painting the cabs is a good one. Is there any way that the decorative floral medallion could get removed from the range hood and the chairs?

Here is a link to chrome backplates, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: chrome backplate

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Thank you for the link - I haven't seen this site so thank you!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 11:18PM
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I agree that your kitchen is very attractive. To me, the range hood def sets a country look. Perhaps change it to a stainless one? Love the creamy white paint change idea.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 11:37PM
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I think you'll see a big difference in modernizing the look with a whiter paint colour on the cabs. Otherwise agree with most above: different hood (stainless or just plainer), and something with your chandelier (spray a different colour, change shades?) Your kitchen is nice, sometimes it's just time for a change.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 11:56PM
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"chipped paint,cracked seams and hinge repairs" should be straightened out first,whether it's carpentery and finishing or there is a defect in the door construction. Are the cracked seams just paint cracking or are the doors coming apart? If the doors are at the end of their life,you'd want to know in case you have to replace them. How are the carcasses? this should also be looked at...if the doors can't really be salvaged so easily and you discover when looking that the carcasses are not holding up,then replacing the wall cabs might follow. Then you'd have the chance to remove soffit.....redoing the wall cabs with up to ceiling application affords a big change for sure. But if the spendy nature is a no go and the cabinet repairs aren't that difficult or costly,then you can focus on hood and some other things.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:30AM
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herbflavor - there are a few things with the chip / cracks and honestly I don't know if after 6 years it is expected or just a poor quality. almost every door and most of the toe kicks have paint chipped off somewhere (even on the cabs that we rarely use - some minor chips and some where there is an inch or more of paint missing.) There are cracks where all the cabinet joints are however - around all the appliances and sink there are hairline cracks - almost looking like a stress crack. the one around the base of the sink looks like it goes through the paint. for me they stick out like a sore thumb, but if an outside person were to glance at the kitchen they prob wouldn't notice without being asked to inspect the kitchen.

we actually started having some issues with the finish a year after they were in - I had the finisher come look and he said the cabinet maker used poor quality wood and then the cabinet maker came and said that it wasn't the wood but the nature of a painted kitchen. So just not sure. The hinges just plain don't stay in for more than a few months at a time on cabinets that we use a lot - seems odd but we just have to rescrew them in on a regular basis and a few times had to add a screw since the existing holes were no longer holding. Is that normal with hinges - or just ours?

do painted kitchens really need repainting every five years and am I being ridiculous?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:24AM
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what is the wood? painted cabinets have their issues: whatever has caused this situation may be a combination of things. Five years? ....again it depends.If it were my space-I'd call in a few guys locally[not the ones who were involved with this construction and finishing] to assess and give their opinion,as well as re-facing estimates. this is not a minor set of issues.....don't embark on "decorating" focus until you figure out what to do about the cabinets.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Painted cabinets will always crack where the wood changes direction such as the joint between the stiles and rails and the panels. That's is 100% completely normal, even in the highest dollar cabinet line. Wood expands and contracts with the increase and decrease in humidity between the seasons. Joints will always have slight hairline cracks because of this.

Paint also chips when knocked or impacted. That's normal too. The wood chose, the prep work done to that wood, and the products used to top coat it will all have an impact on how much chipping will occur. A soft wood, like poplar, that wasn't primed well, and had a low quality paint applied without any topcoating will chip much more readily than a hard wood like maple that was well prepped and had a high quality paint applied and then was topcoated with a catalyzed varnish.

If you are having hardware pulling out of the cabinet sides, then you have a mismatch between the type of hardware and the type of cabinet side. I'd suspect that hinges meant for plywood were used with particle board sides. Or that the proper hardware was used, but a lower grade of particle board was used that has little structural integrity. Or that you are just rough on your cabinets by leaning on them or tugging on the doors. Or all of the above combined.

You've changed your mind every 6 years about your personal style for the kitchen. To have something that is less faddish and that will stand the test of time better, don't look to what's "hot" in design at the moment. Transitional is hot, but it may not stand up to the bones of your home. Look at the style and age of your home for clues as to the direction to take the kitchen. You are likely to feel the changes are more at home and it will rest in your mind much better if the kitchen fits the house rather than the latest fad.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Thank you for the input. The doors are paint grade maple, and I am pretty sure the island is Alder. I have to double check on my initial contract. I am not sure what the cabinet frames are though. The funny thing is we did the laundry room cabinets at the same time in a pure white and we have no problems with cracking or chips in there, even though it gets just as much use as the kitchen (we have a family of 5 so needless to say I am in and out of the laundry cabinets MANY times a day, especially since it also is our extra "pantry" area).

As far as changing my mind every few years... really the first remodel was done because we couldn't afford to upgrade the kitchen when we first bought the house. It was new construction and the default cabinet was oak. It was never our preference but what was "included". Honestly I think that if I hadn't been frustrated with the color finish when we first redid the kitchen I wouldn't be considering a change at all. I never really got that dream kitchen that I thought I was doing with the remodel. But after years of searching for what the cab color "should" have been I have grown tired of the French look and am feeling it is too niche for us and somewhat dated compared to the houses that are being redone in my area now.

Don't get me wrong, I still like some french elements - such as the trestle table and backplates, but the rest is just feeling so heavy to me (maybe it's just the color, but could it also be the moulding and detail as well?). After some "growing up" and making many decorating mistakes through out the home I feel like I am finally coming into my own style, which is not that fussy and "old". Instead of letting the interior designer that I consulted with when we first moved in define my style ("you are french country" which I ran with since I thought she knew so much better!) I have finally realized living "French Country" is much too stifling for me. I am slowly undoing the other French items in the house (i.e. removing the plaid very fou-fou drapes in the kitchen and replacing with VERY temporary drop cloth valances as a hold over to cover up the holes where the last treatments were!)

Thank you again for all the insight and comments. I really do appreciate you taking the time!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:47PM
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I'd start with replacing the window treatments and painting the walls and soffits a different color. What's there seems to play up the yellow cabinets. Also change out the cabinet hardware and maybe the chandelier. Consider changing out range hood, the wood hood screams country style. Or maybe just take off the wood appliqu� and face it with sheet metal, maybe copper?

Painting the cabinets seems like the obvious choice to un-French Country the space. But I'd fix the hinge problems first like herbflavor said.

Good luck! You have a very nice space to work with!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 6:21AM
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As the other posters have already said, your kitchen looks very nice! Intially, I thought you had posted an inspiration picture.

Upon closer inspection, I do understand your desire to simplify the room and to remove certain elements. I painted cabinets in my first home and in this one too, and hated repainting and touching up. Hope to never paint another cabinet! The factory finish is so much better.

I very much like the idea of the SS hood, to tie in with your lovely SS cooktop/range.

You could continue the tile all the way up and use a hood like this:

Contemporary Kitchen design by San Francisco General Contractor Build For Me Construction

Or, replace with a gorgeous hood like this (I can't find a smaller version, but my point is the rounded front is lovely.

Traditional Kitchen design by San Francisco Kitchen And Bath Precision Cabinets & Trim

Try incorporating SS into other elements, too. Easy change: swap out the utensil canister with a SS one.

I like the color of the island and the floor very much.

Have you considered getting rid of the soffits? You could buy new upper cabinets fairly reasonably and color match the paint on the lower cabinets and just repaint them. We went with Conestoga's door style and purchased their RTA cabinets. Interiors are lovely and we have the Blumotion softclose hinges on all. We're very happy with the quality. I just checked our quote; if I'm reading it correctly, an upper wall cabinet CSWALL 30x36x18 (we had deeper uppers) was $260 for the cabinet and $180 for the doors. So, consider $500 per cabinet, uninstalled. Perhaps an option?

Our pantry:

Best of luck! oldbat2be

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Thank you oldbat2be - love the rounded stainless hood! Great option - I was looking at a concave but the rounded is so nice too. I have started trying to find someone to do this for me - but the first contractor told me I should just gut everything since no matter what it would be an outdated look since my cabs show a lot of the frame (1 - I can't afford to do that and 2 - I think that is a bunch of hooey and felt like he just wanted a bigger job) and then the second contractor never showed up. In the meantime I have found new hardware for the pulls and am narrowing down my faucet choices (mine leaks and plumber has already fixed once, telling me if it broke again to buy a new one!), and started painting boards with different white options. My hubby thinks I am crazy since he thinks every white I have painted looks the same - but that is a man for you! But - I feel like I am making slow steps towards progress.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:18PM
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I too think your cabinets look very nice. I wouldn't replace this cream color with off-white; if you're painting, make it really different! But I vote to leave the cabinets as they are, and if anything, new cabinet hardware and a new backsplash would make the whole kitchen feel very different. MAYBE replace the figured bottom band of the hood with a less ornate version, though finding the right stain/paint match would be a challenge; A stainless steel hood would go well with your range and dishwasher, but you may have to replace your white farmhouse sink with a stainless one for it to all gel together a bit better.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:35AM
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I don't think it would be incredibly expensive to replace your door fronts with the white shaker style I think you want? I would then leave the island as-is so it looks like a piece of furniture. A stainless steel hood would look good or could remove the medallion on your current hood and change the trim. (and paint it of course) And if you have new doors you can have any hardware you like. Sink, floor and tile look like they could be left as-is as well. Faucet is fine or put in a gooseneck. I just happen to like gooseneck faucets. : ) Hope you get what you are looking for the in the end!!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 12:46PM
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I love your granite, is it seafoam green? If it is, it tends to look better with cool tones. The contrast between your warm cabinets and the cool granite is making the cabinets look more yellow.

If your cabinet finish is failing on the French glazed cabinets, I would strongly favor painting them white with a green or grey undertone to complement the granite. If the island is in good shape, leave it as is, otherwise, paint the island, too. Some kitchens that have very modern looks on Gardenweb have recently used grey paint for the bases and white for uppers.

The Sherwin Williams in my area will send out a color consultant to your home for a very small fee (under $100) and will give you coupons for buying the paint after you do that, so it is very reasonable, and very worth it. Hire a top quality painter and have the cabinets professionally repainted if you can. Otherwise, you can do this yourself - but the prep work is a major pain. Include filling all hardware holes with epoxy to stabilize them before the painting.

Do not get your cabinets glazed - the glaze more than anything else gives the kitchen a dated look. I think the door and hood details can look really interesting if the color is adjusted, I would not remove them at all. If you paint, you can ask the painter to leave you a quart in the color you chose and you can touch up easily as needed.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:06PM
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robo (z6a)

Just personal opinion - to me the doorfronts don't look too heavy or dated. The trim isn't bad either -- could definitely read "country" instead of "French country" depending on color and context.

The three heavy elements that really stood out to me have already been mentioned - chandelier (maybe a little overfancy), over-window treatment, and hood. Just lightening up those three things will probably make a huge difference. More modern dining room chairs would also help pull the space more into "country" than "french country."

Do you think the space is just too yellowy for you overall? Do you like warm tones or cool tones more? I know you want to transition away from French Country, so this maybe be totally EXACTLY what you don't want, but I was wondering how the space would look with the bottom cabs painted a light sage pulled from the granite, and the top cabs cream?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:10PM
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Detroit_burb - the granite is "Coast Green". It has speckles of black, white veigning, a yellow / cream speckles and the grayish/green in it. I think it clashes somewhat with the wood island - but it works with the painted cabinets. When we selected it I wanted to go with a cream (not sure of name) but my dh thought it was boring - so we ended up with green.

In changing doors I don't want to go as far as picking the standard shaker style. When I mentioned a less detailed door change I was thinking that because what I have is a raised panel with quite a bit of grooving (not sure what it is called) that I should go with a simpler (either raised or recessed, not sure) door for a paint without glaze. I know that these doors were picked specifically to pick up the glaze - so I thought that non glazed doors would need less grooves?? Does that matter?

BTW - we have painted the walls in this room 5 times to try to make the cabinets look less yellow - nothing has worked - they are just yellow (not the oatmeal color they were supposed to be!) I paid 2 paint specialists in the last 5 years to help with a paint color and they always ended up looking worse!
Also - found out the reason the hinges are falling out is that the screws they used are too small - the hinges themselves are fine.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:29PM
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robotropolis - definitely too yellow for me. I spend so much time in this room (it adjoins the family room) since I have little kids that I want it to be bright and refreshing. The rest of my home feels much brighter but this room has been the thorn in my side ever since we redid it. My family thinks I am crazy - but I am used to that :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:37PM
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Have you seen 2littlefishies yellow kitchen - definitely makes me want yellow :)

I think I would start with easy, obvious changes before painting cabinets. You haven't liked the yellow since you redid it, so you may not like white either. I think white is harder to maintain than yellow with kids in the house. How about changing the hood to stainless, and the knobs and pulls (I think the backplates actually make it too "fancy" if you're wanting to take the french country down a notch). I would change the french country dining chairs, and the chandelier (maybe a lantern style). The tile backsplash has a french country look, but I think it's beautiful, and I know you don't want to change that. You could paint just the island white? Simplify the window treatment over the sink, or how about no treatment? Keep us posted :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:14PM
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I gave the wrong name - I had this granite on my list that I wish I had used because it was beautiful, they call it costa smerelda here - but I believe it is the same or very similar to yours.

look at the pictures here with white/black cabinets and chrome:


Another reason screws can fail is if the cabinet was not predrilled before screwing in and the screw cracked the cabinet wall.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:14PM
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robo (z6a)

I TOTALLY get you! Before we bought it the vendors painted my whole house a light yellow (some might call it cream). It is the most inoffensive color, actually I've been asked for the chip a few times, but I just can't stand it at all! We just painted the bedroom a light grey and it is night and day for how I feel in there.

I can't wait to paint the rest of the house grey-green. I think some people just aren't yellow lovers. Love it in other people's homes but not for me.

OT - DH and I are going to have three major fights over this kitchen. He wants OTR micro, I want elsewhere. Prediction: me. He wants stainless everywhere, I like butcherblock. Prediction: him. He wants ivory cabinets, I want white. I am determined to win that last one!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:20PM
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Having just read the thread on the tendency for projects to expand once you start, you may wish to try the wall paint, window treatments (you started, it sounds like), and hardware first. Just be warned, once you tackle the hood you will likely have to tackle the cabinets. You'll find a color difference with the cabinets on either side (due to fading) and the need to fix the crown and adjust the transition to the backsplash. This can quickly spiral out of control.

I didn't get a clear sense of the style you want, other than to definitely tone down the yellow and the desire to improve light. To that end, consider your lighting. You have the can holes -- there are nice new conversion kits that are a simple fix. If you are unhappy with your existing chandelier, new drum shades and removal of the crystal could simplify things down and reduce another source of yellow. Also, you can paint chairs and swap out chair fabric easily as well.

Correcting the stain on the island may be more difficult than it appears. Did you get feedback on this?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 3:46PM
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Sorry, OT...

@robotropolis, having had many fights with my wife over our new kitchen, I now feel guilty about any victories I've won (or she's conceded), since I don't cook. In my defense, I AM the designer of the household.

Is your husband the head chef, sous chef, or the dishwasher? I think you should weight your votes by kitchen ranking and by the degree of passion on the matter. But I have to say, OTR MW is a DEFINITE no-no if you want a high-end feel. I've heard good things about drawer MW, but we won't know until we actually use it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:52PM
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Gooster - the contractor that did come out last week told me that the wood wasn't the problem (like the person who originally stained it told me) but that they didn't apply the right kind of finish on it. That was news to me, since I thought a stain was a stain. I don't know if he was just feeding me a line or what, though, since he also told me that I should just gut everything and start over ;) I can't even say the island issue is fading since some of the splotchiest (is that a word?) areas don't face the windows.

detroit_burb - i am not very good with color theory --- would the green be cool and the french yellow be considered warm? or is the wood the warm color?

Completely agree - 2littlefishies kitchen is BEAUTIFUL. unfortunately, my yellow kitchen is not even close to her beauty!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:02PM
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robo (z6a)

Jillies, the green will be cooler. The yellow is really warm! Do you wear more blues or more earth tones in clothing? Those are probably the colours you are drawn to. I'm a blue green lady personally.

Maria Killam can be catty but she really makes you think about the underlying tones in colours. Beware though...once you can see the undertones clashing it will bother you forever! She thinks often if you're dissatisfied with a room and can't figure out why, it's probably undertones like a pinky beige clashing with a greenish beige.

The general rule is of the rainbow we learned back in school
Red orange yellow green blue purple

Red, orange and yellow are warm, with orange being the warmest
Green blue purple are cool with blue being the coolest.

Green blue is cool but warmer than straight up blue.
Yellow green is quite warm but cooler than yellow orange.
Bluish (like cherry) red is cooler than orangey (like tomato) red.

@davidahn....lets just say I'm more like you in that equation!! But let's weight the votes by good taste, too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Maria Killam on undertones

This post was edited by robotropolis on Wed, Feb 6, 13 at 17:22

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:16PM
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jillies01: I'm no expert, but I was hoping someone here would chime in with a solution for your blotchy stain problem. I've refinished furniture, railings and floors and it is tough to get looking pristine and "like new". It sounds like your issues extend down to the stain itself. I don't know if it is even possible with cabinets to sand down the amount required (knowing the amount of veneers sometimes used). Besides a tear out like the contractor suggested, refacing or painting is always an option.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 6:26PM
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Thank you for the link robotropolis. I looked briefly at the link, and hope to spend more time catching up on all of her color advice. My only concern though is that with a "cool" countertop and "warm" backsplash color(my cream tile has yellow undertones - I think!) am I destined to have a kitchen that always looks "off"? Does everything have to be cool or warm to make it work?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:47PM
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robo (z6a)

Not at all...more like you don't want things that are slightly off to clash.

I find this beautiful kitchen on houzz that has light green, cream cabs, and an even warmer counter. With a bit of red and more contemporary light fixtures it really looks modern. Not to say this look is for you but it just shows how the colors can work together.

Traditional Kitchen design by Boston Interior Designer Rachel Reider Interiors

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:16PM
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Thank you Robotropolis!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:50PM
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