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How to break up the wood in our kitchen?

Posted by NewEnglandSara (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 5, 14 at 13:45

Hi there,

We are putting in a new kitchen in an open kitchen/family room space, and I am worried that we will have too much wood. I would love some suggestions on how to break up the space. The kitchen will have cabinetry and appliances (plus a few doors) on three sides, and the fourth side is open to the family room. The cabinetry will be natural, European beech with some glass doors mixed in. The floors will be oak in a low VOC, water-based finish that tends to look lighter than oil-based finishes. We will probably go with a light-medium gray quartz countertop, stainless appliances and a white cast iron apron sink. In the center of the room will be a small island with a natural beech banquette that backs right up to it so that we can fit a table in the kitchen. our existing kitchen chairs are maple (very similar in color to the beech of the cabinets), and we will need to buy a trestle table.

I am worried that between the floors, the cabinets and the chairs, we will have too much wood. However, I don't want to go with painted cabinets since my kids will ding them up. (The island can be painted, but it won't show much due to the banquette in front of it.)

I welcome any input on the best ways to keep the room from looking like a sea of wood! :-)



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to break up the wood in our kitchen?

I think this is becoming a common issue with open concept kitchens where ideally we have flooring flowing from adjacent rooms, often wood flooring.

We opened up our kitchen and extended oak flooring into the kitchen from the dining/living area (formerly tile). Then it became obvious to me that wood cabinets would be wood overload for my tastes. I decided to go with light gray stained oak fronts - the grain will still show but the colour will be distinctly lighter and different in hue from the floor. We are using Rubio Monocoat precolor and finishing oil. We have busy kitchen when rambunctious kids but we are confident that the Rubio system will allow refreshing and not required complete recoating if it wears. We also purchased aged black drafting-style counter stools for the island.

In my opinion, wood is best appreciated when it is not fighting with other wood. For a mostly wood kitchen, I have really only appreciated this look when the kitchen is spacious with abundant natural light.

Wood *has* a colour. My oak floors are actually a gold colour and has a similar impact as if I painted my floors gold even though there is more texture. I want other elements to complement that, not add to it or compete with it.

In your case, you may want to consider Rubio Monocoat for some of your elements - it's made for floors so more than up to the task for furniture, island, etc. It can colour and finish in one step.

I don't think you should be afraid of some paint either. For example, white dining table, fun colour chairs:

Black is a more neutral option and looks great too.

Glass fronted uppers will help a lot in your case, especially if the interiors are painted a light colour.

I would recommend that you mock up your plan on a 3d rendering site like the free one on That can really help with visualizing how colours and textures will work together. Include the whole space that you can see from a point of view.

RE: How to break up the wood in our kitchen?

NESara, I thought about this same issue when planning our kitchen remodel 2 years ago. My house has a lot of wood elements, natural ash wood floors and dominant structural post and beam elements that are fir with a bit of enhancer on them so the color goes reddish.
The house is not 'rustic' however and I didnt want to go that way, I wanted clean lines, open light filled and organic.
My kitchen cabinets are a medium-dark stain. I didnt want anything that might appear like I tried to match the posts as the L shaped kitchen has posts anchoring it at each point of the L. Plus the darker tone helps to ground the space and makes the wall bases cabinets visually recede. There are no uppers.
I initially planned for the painted island to have a walnut butcherblock top to match the dark cabinetry but I realized that the plane of dark would be too much. so I kept it the same as the periphery - brushed MadrePerla quartzite.
When I read your post the first thing I thought was that you needed a few elements to break up the wood, I think that your kitchen chairs should probably be a color. Not knowing your color tolerance I think black but you may have an accent color you repeat in your home that could be terrific, rich navy, forest green, even aubergine. I also assume that your beach bench will have a fabric cushion and fabric can be a great softener. A perhaps radical suggestion for you to consider t=is for you to get a metal topped table. If you go with the gray quartz counter, I think a zinc topped trestle table would be great, it would echo the gray and break up the wood.
A rug under the kitchen table will also help to break up the wood. Indoor outdoor rugs are great in this situation as they can be picked up and hosed off outside when needed. Places like overstock and home decorators have lovely ones at very reasonable prices.

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