Press Releases

Show off style in the kitchen

By Carol McGarvey, The Associated Press
Saturday March 30, 2002

If a new or remodeled kitchen is in your future, be prepared for myriad choices to show off your personal style. Abandon any rules you think “must” be followed in kitchen planning. The sky’s the limit. 

Can’t decide between the wood look and white cabinets? These days it’s OK to have both. Wall cabinets in one finish and base cabinets in another provide visual interest. 

Can’t afford maintenance-free granite countertops everywhere? Just put them in one work area and mix the look with another material — laminate, ceramic tile, solid-surface materials, stainless steel, concrete or butcher block. Splurge in one area and conserve in another. Consider a marble slab for pastry-making, placing heat-resistant granite near the oven and a butcher block for slicing and chopping. 

But before you shop around, take a quiz to determine your needs: How much time do you spend in the kitchen? What do you do there — eat, read, relax, work on projects, talk on the phone or work on a computer? Does your family message center or bill-paying area need to be in the kitchen? Who’s there with you — children, friends or colleagues? Do you cook alone or with others? What do you cook — elaborate dishes or simple meals? What large and small appliances are essential for you? Where do you store them? Consider the room size, floor plan and window placement. Think about storage and trash — areas you deal with daily. What’s your style — sleek, traditional, uncluttered or an eclectic mix of items and looks? 

Start a kitchen file of ideas. When you see a brochure at a home center, a color swatch at a paint store or a photo in a magazine that sparks interest, tuck it away. What you like will start surfacing. 

When it comes to remodeling, even if you have a small kitchen, perhaps you can take advantage of adjoining spaces. Maybe a passthrough or opening up one wall would make the whole area work as a multipurpose cooking-dining-family room. 

One trend is the unfitted kitchen, featuring freestanding, furniture-like cabinetry to create a personal look. A mix of materials, colors and counter heights all work for an eclectic feel. 

Other areas of choice involve flooring, lighting, range and oven styles, sink styles and materials and the ever-growing number of faucet choices. And after the contractor is gone, you’ll have decisions to make about paint color, window treatments and adding accessories to your new space. 

If you’re having trouble balancing your dreams with your bank account, here are ways to cut the budget a bit: Mix and match materials. Splurge one place and cut back another. Create an island from an old table or a pantry from an armoire. 

If you can, do some of the work yourself to cut costs. Shop carefully. If you buy direct, your materials costs might be significantly lower. 

Let those who bid on your project know which materials you plan to purchase. Pay for expertise. An architect or kitchen designer can keep you from making mistakes that cost more than their fees. Compromise intelligently. Choose good labor over expensive materials. A good cabinetmaker, carpenter or decorative painter can make even mundane materials look great. 



Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen Planner (Meredith Books, $14.95 softcover).