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A Textural Kitchen Refresh

When I was designing my home 5 years ago, all I wanted was flat front natural white oak cabinets and a solid white countertop. I loved the clean and minimal look. I still do. But over the last 5 years two things happened that made me itch for a change:

Previous kitchen finishes:

  1. The look started to become very popular. More and more recently renovated kitchens were sporting the same finishes and I felt like my kitchen was boring now.

  2. At the time I foolishly went with an unknown cabinetmaker because the pricing was too good to be true. Guess what folks, you get what you pay for and the detail work was less than great. From far away it looked fine but up close there were gaps, cuts not aligned, and the finish on the wood was uneven. At the time I let it go because I just wanted to be done with the renovation and move on. But as the years went on and the fronts weren't holding up very well, I could mentally justify a refresh with a healthier budget than the last go around because we weren't spread thin with a full home reno.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to execute and my main goal was to make my kitchen feel novel and different than everyone else's. I also hadn't realized how little natural light my north facing kitchen gets during the day when I was originally selecting finishes. Even a lighter wood like white oak sucks up a lot of the light. I needed to bounce light around with painted fronts.

I have been proposing grooved cabinet fronts on client work and have zero takers. I guess people are scared of grooves? Well, I was going to lead by example and prove how cool the textured fronts can be with my own kitchen. I chose to paint them an off white called Arrowroot by Sherwin Williams that matches the bone color in the existing cement tile.

I didn't want to lose the tall white oak cabinets around the refrigerator and storage cabinets against the back wall so I found a way to mesh the two finishes by adding slatted white oak side panels to the island.

I also love natural marble in kitchens and used the opportunity to install sweet and budget friendly ($1500/slab) Ovulato marble counters. More natural texture for the win! It will patina over time and I'm looking forward to it strangely.

A major functional change on this minor kitchen reno was swapping out the undermount stainless sink with chrome faucet which felt ho hum to a beautiful matte white solid surface apron front sink from Vigo Industries and a matte white Brizo faucet. I discovered that the way we wash dishes splashes water every where - behind the faucet and the fronts of the cabinet doors below. There was water damage near the sink on all surfaces. Grody in the back where the counter met the tile and bubbling wood on the front cabinet doors. I think changing to an apron front sink that is placed a few inches further away from the backsplash and jutting past the cabinet doors will help preserve the new finishes. The Vigo is a clean lined contemporary example of such a sink style. I'm very much appreciating the focal point the white on white provides in the center of the kitchen.

Here are the elements I didn't change:

  • I wasn't interested in new cabinet boxes since the ones installed 5 years ago were in good shape and the layout works well.

  • I also didn't want to replace the cool patterned cement tile backsplash or the checkered 2" zellige tile island front. Both from Zia Tile and installed in the past 2 years.

  • I had recently added the brass oval knobs and was planning on reusing those all along.

  • I would have loved to upgrade all my appliances from stainless steel to ones with integrated refrigerator and dishwasher panels and induction cooktop, but I couldn't justify the expense there. My appliances are perfectly fine and something's gotta give budget wise.

It took some coordination between the trusted cabinet maker, his finisher, and the countertop fabricator to all work together over the same week. Its hard to get vendors to give small scale projects their attention. I get it. I had to beg, remind, nag, gently coax, resend drawings again and again, and constantly text the vendors to get them to show up and work on this install. It was worth the brain damage. I love seeing my home evolve and refine with time and of course the way it all came together. I can't imagine changing it again. For now. Lol.

1 Comment

The countertop fabricator, the trusted cabinet manufacturer, and his finisher all had to work together in the span of geometry dash breeze a week, which required some coordination. Getting vendors to pay attention to smaller projects is challenging.

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