When we receive email questions from readers, we make every effort to reply quickly (as we promise). When we feel the question is general enough that other readers can benefit from the answer, we like to share the conversation here in the blog. Two readers wrote in recently with kitchen color and design questions so it seemed a good time to talk kitchens.
Sue wrote: “In my kitchen I have white cabinets, white tile backsplash and black granite countertops. I love and use fiestaware and I want to paint the kitchen/dining area a great color to complement the colors. I have a butter yellow now and I’m kinda tired of that. I tried blue and green samples but didn’t like them…..bright yellow is too much. I’m thinking of an Eddie Bauer color that is a rusty red for a big change but I’m worried it won’t work with the red fiestaware. My dining area is narrow and not very bright. What do you think? Thanks for any suggestions!”
Color will always be one of the biggest challenges in decorating our homes. Natural uncertainties and lack of confidence make us reluctant to leave the beige and tan world of easy choices. Fiestaware is full of such vibrant and happy colors that it will be fun to embrace that in the color palette for the kitchen. Fiestaware is generally clear colors – not greyed or muddied colors. In choosing your red (or maybe orange), be sure to choose one with the same undertones. It appears the fiesta red has a blue undertone, so choose something from that family. Rusty reds have an orange/yellow undertone and might fight with the fiesta red. If you’re not sure about red, consider a warm orange – an unexpected choice and not quite as bold as the red.
Undertones are sometimes hard to see. Try placing two or three shades of red that you’re thinking about right next to each other. Put them under some good clear light (by a window). Sometimes the easiest way to see an undertone is in comparison with a similar color – is one more orangey or more scarlet (blue undertone) than another? Using this technique to compare tones of any color works to identify undertones and simplify color choices.
Some factors to consider: paired with your black and white, red will be a dramatic choice but runs the risk of feeling like a 50′s diner. Reds, oranges and other “hot” warm colors will raise the perceived temperature in the room while teal, blue and green will reduce it. However, reds and oranges are active colors and work well in active rooms like kitchens and family rooms.
In this photo of white, black and red, you can see that the red is present but doesn’t overtake the room – the curtains introduce a calming pattern and the red and black are used throughout the space in little touches so it avoids the “diner” feel.
If a primary red or scarlet is too bold, go a step or two darker – it will work if the undertones match and will feel richer. A couple of options to look at: Sherwin Williams Red Obsession #7590 or for something richer, Show Stopper #7588 or quite dark to use in smaller doses Stolen Kiss #7586.
The photo above pairs red with a medium tan (though it appears gold) and makes a strong statement because it’s the only red we see. Red in one bold place may be all you need also. Hopefully there are a couple of red touches elsewhere in this room above. Since your eating area is small, consider using the fiesta color as an accent wall. Paint most of the walls a medium tan/khaki color and one or two walls the accent color of choice. That way you get the benefit and energy of a strong accent color, but the room isn’t overwhelmed by it. Use your accessories and art in a variety of colors to echo the colorful look of the fiestaware.
Remember – whenever you paint a dark color like the red or a chocolate, be sure to prime first so you don’t end up painting 4 or 5 coats to get the paint coverage even.
Cindy writes: “After a recent update I need some help in the kitchen, mainly with the window and the sliders which are to the left of the kitchen sink area. I’ve had a country decor for ages so I’m ready for a change and am looking to go more clean and simple and modern. I plan on replacing the light fixture, adding bar stools and some moulding to the top of the cabinets. What else can I do to add some punch? My living and dining room are going to be redone based on what I do in the kitchen. I want clean modern lines but not boring and colorless. I’m open to any suggestions.”
Moving away from country to a more modern style does not mean you have to give up using color. Nor does it mean you have to embrace all stainless, glass and hard edges. Since you want to change styles, it sounds like you’re eventually going to replace most major furniture items. Your very first step is to decide a style – you’ve done that. The next step is to decide on a color palette. You’ve got very neutral walls and cabinetry, so the sky is the limit.
DEVELOP A DECORATING PLAN
As I wrote in the post here, developing a color scheme can start with anything that you fall in love with from a pitcher to a sweater to a picture of a sunset online. Use that item to start and develop the scheme and carry elements of it from room to room. Before dashing off to buy fabric for a window treatment, decide on your overall plan – you’ll save money and headaches down the road. Once you decide on the 1 or 2 main colors, choosing fabrics and accessories will be SO much easier.
Once you’ve picked your color palette, I’d suggest Roman shades for the window – they’re sleek and simple. I’d also recommend raising the hardware so they hang from the same line as the cabinet tops for more continuity. Plus you would cover less of the window, letting in more light. Another option would be a woven blind like bamboo or any number of grasses – it would be a little more casual and the texture would be a great addition. Check out our affiliate Smith+Noble; I’ve used them as a designer and they have great selections and are reasonably priced.
WHAT TO DO WITH SLIDING GLASS DOORS?
As for the sliders….I’m not a fan of vertical blinds so will steer you away from that option. If you need light control during the day, use sheers; if you need privacy at night, add a drapery. For extra drama take the draperies all the way to the ceiling and all the way off the windows on the sides. It will ease the function of the doors and also give them more presence. If there’s room on each side, have the curtain rod be 12-24″ longer than the door opening (depending on the thickness of the drapes). If there’s only room on one side, don’t have the drapes open in the middle, but push them all to one side. As for styling, pinch pleats are pretty formal and not very modern. If you don’t need sheers go with the big grommets that slide over a rod. Or try the clip rings (kind of like shower curtain rings) for another look. Another advantage to drapes over the vertical blinds is the opportunity to add color, pattern and softness to the room. They also absorb sound which will help in a kitchen area.
The last suggestion to add punch to the room is to accessorize. The top of the cabinets is the perfect opportunity to add color and impact in the room without painting. See the articles I’ve written about decorating ledges or shelves for some specific ideas.
Hopefully there are some tips here you all can use. If you’ve got any other suggestions for these ladies, add to the comments…..as I’ve mentioned before, there is never just one solution to a design dilemma.