Jan 21, 2010

design*dilemma: rachael (part 1)

one of my readers, rachael, 
recently contacted me about a dilemma 
she has been dealing with in her 
kitchen/breakfast/family room. 

"I have some really odd angles in my living room and kitchen…
areas that I say,  “Is that ceiling or wall???” 
Do you have any hard fast rule about that and what to paint what? "

she was also interested in adding some 
character into her space, and although
she wants to keep the curtain panels in her
family room, she wants to replace the
ones in the breakfast room and
change things up a bit.
here is a look at her space:

here are some of the questions 
rachael had, and my answers:

1. How should I be painting these walls?? I feel like I want to turn those
weird angles into an asset- not a liability! Right now, it just looks weird.

there are a lot of homes out there with similar 

challenges, and i think the way the walls are 
painted now is the best solution 
to your particular dilemma. if you painted the 
angled spaces as "wall" space, i think it 
would look odd. the way they are painted now 
gives the best definition of the "wall" space.

2. Should I put up crown molding? If so, same question---
what to do with those angles!

i adore crown molding, 
but i would not recommend it for your space.
it would draw attention to the odd angles, 
and be a nightmare to install.
instead, find other ways to add 
some trim to the space
(see the answer to question #4 for more details.)

3.   WHAT should I do with the huge gaping space above the refrigerator??? I
love the build you guys did in your latest remodel with the frig. Do you
think anything like that could work in this space? I would like to find some
extra storage in this kitchen.  Is it there??

that space is begging for something to be added.
you can either get a pre-made cabinet that matches 
the dimensions over your fridge,
or, you could have a simple set of open shelves
built that fit the space.
continue the trim/crown from the rest of the cabinets 
above this new storage space to make it look like
it has been there all along.
if you leave this area as open shelving,
consider painting the back of the unit in a
fun accent color.

4.  I am craving some character in my cookie cutter home. 
 Any ideas for me?
I love wainscoting, beadboard, paneling (not the 70's kind)...in fact I love
beadboard or paneling on just about anything. (With two kids, it would be
pretty practical to do something. Crafts, painting, and well...just eating
in general gets messy.)

honestly, i think the best way for you to change up 
the look of this space 
is to paint your kitchen cabinets! 
yes, i know it will be a pain in the
rear, but you will not regret it! 
it will really add character and warmth.
you could consider painting them:
all black
don't get freaked out. 
your appliances are all black, and it 
would add a lot of drama
we painted the cabinets in our last kitchen black
and i loved the way it turned out:

you can see more pictures here
and don't forget about laylas 
fabulous kitchen:

which you can see here
alternately, you could paint the cabinets 
black on the bottom,
and white on top
here are a few pictures of kitchens where there
is a mix of light and dark cabinets:

since i don't suggest any 
crown molding for 
your space,add trim in other areas.
you could start with the tops of you cabinets:
i love what layla did to to top of her cabinets--
the trim she added really beefed the cabinets up 
and added tons of character!

or, you could simply replace your current
crown molding with a larger profile, which is what we did:

and if painting the kitchen cabinets, i would recommend 
painting the walls a nice neutral.
since you are planning on keeping the curtain
panels in the family room, i wouldn't use 
a paint that is in the grey family,but since you are
craving something a little less "sunny"
try a paint similar to this:
(these paints are from benjamin moore)

this color will allow you to slowly
phase out any colors that you are
tiring of, and allow you to 
change your color scheme in the
future, at your own pace.

also, consider these ideas:
change out the wood panel in the cabinet to 
the right of your sink 
with some glass or 
chicken wire.

here are a few examples where these
options looks fabulous:

and notice on this last one, 
how the back is 
painted an accent color.
this would look great here as well!
(and also in an open shelving area
above the fridge, if you decide to 
go that route)

also, a few more ideas:
replace your chandelier shades with these:

available at ballard designs.
it will add some 
great texture into the space.

and, changing out the buffet shades
for black ones will carry the
black from the kitchen 
into your family room.

(also available at ballard designs)
there is more to come...
stay tuned for 
part 2 of this post,
which i should have up
tomorrow morning!


  1. lots of nice ideas. i really like the black and white kitchen. it pulls off the exchange without feeling like a checkerboard.

    for some reason, after reading this i'd really like to see chicken wire in sort of modern kitchen cabinets. don't you think the juxtaposition could be interesting?!


  2. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to give me your input! I now have a lot to consider and I can't wait to see what you have planned for your second post! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Wow! How nice you are to put so much energy and thought into Rachel's kitchen. I think these ideas are great and I love the idea of painting the cabinets black!

  4. Love the ideas & your blog. Check it daily. Smile!

  5. thanks for all the love!
    it makes me feel *special.

  6. I also love your blog! I am so glad I found it! You are so talented, and I can totally see your vision for Rachael's kitchen! Love the idea of the black cabinets! I have a really awkward family room if you're up for another challenge :-)