/ Kitchenology

Mini Makeovers

Rustic Arts & Crafts kitchen with oak cabinets.

The square forged knobs on these oak cabinets enhance the kitchen's Arts & Crafts style. Photo courtesy of American Woodmark.

Sometimes a full kitchen remodel is neither practical nor possible. This month in Sensible Style, we'll focus on kitchen makeovers: Not the kind that take months to plan and execute and thousands of dollars to cover, but rather small, reasonably quick and affordable ways to make over your kitchen.


Get a handle on it

If your cabinets don't have knobs or handles on them, adding hardware will liven them up enormously. I recommend handles for drawers and knobs for doors, but you can do all one or the other. Think of cabinet hardware as jewelry for your kitchen and dress it up! Choose a brushed nickel, chrome or pewter finish to coordinate with stainless appliances. Bronze looks beautiful on painted white or black cabinets. Glass can give you a lovely retro look. Black is a nice choice, too, especially if you have black appliances and want a rustic look.


Rustic Arts & Crafts kitchen with oak cabinets.


Crowning achievements

I love the look of crown molding on cabinets, even contemporary ones. To me, they look more finished that way. Ideally, you should have space between your ceiling or soffit and cabinet tops to accommodate crown molding. However, if your cabinets extend all the way up to a soffit, you can paint or faux stain the soffit to match the cabinets and put your crown at the ceiling. This will make your cabinets look taller, your kitchen ceiling look higher, and really pull an upscale look together.

Be sure to choose a molding style that works with your cabinetry. If your door style is contemporary slab, a bullnose or square molding will accentuate, not muddy, its contemporary aesthetic. For cabinet doors with a traditional raised panel, classic crown looks elegant. Transitional, Shaker door styles coordinate beautifully with cove or angle moldings.


Kitchen with cherry cabinets and crown molding

Photo courtesy of American Woodmark.

Traditional door styles, like the American Woodmark Richmond shown here in cherry wood, look nearly naked without crown molding.



Island fever, bar shopping

Upgrading your countertops can cost thousands of dollars for an entire kitchen. It often also requires changing out your sink, faucet and drain, and runs the risk of damaging your backsplash. For an easier, more affordable update, change just the top on your island or raised dining bar.

The new top should color-coordinate with the surrounding surfaces to give the space a pulled-together look. If, for example, your surrounding counters are laminate with flecks of gray, you could opt for a solid gray quartz top for the island or bar. If they're a solid white Corian, a recycled glass top incorporating bright colors into a white background can look great. Maybe you have wonderful oak floors, but old, chipped white tile counters. A dark wood top on your island or bar in the same color family as the floors will become a rich focal point.


Vetrazzo recycled glass countertop

Photo courtesy of Vetrazzo.

Top just the island in a different material, like the recycled glass composite shown here, to add a dramatic focal point to a kitchen.




Light the way

Many of the older kitchens I've redesigned either have big, ugly, cracked plastic light boxes or one dated fixture in the middle of the ceiling. Removing that light box or replacing that fixture is a quick, relatively easy way to update the look and functionality of your kitchen. There are numerous lighting options for kitchens, including pendants, chandeliers, pot rack lights, island fixtures, track systems and recessed cans. (This Gold Notes guest post by lighting designer Vicky Lodge could be useful for you in considering new kitchen lighting.)



Kitchen with monorail pendant lighting system

Photo courtesy of Tech Lighting.

Enhance the style and functionality of your kitchen by replacing outdated light fixtures with new versions, like this monorail system with pendant and track lights. 




Fabulous faucets

Don't underestimate the aesthetic power of a good-looking faucet to give your kitchen a style boost. There are hundreds of looks and price ranges to choose from, so look for one that works with the overall style of your kitchen. Some new models also provide water-saving opportunities. If you have an extra hole in the sink or counter to cover, consider buying a companion soap dispenser, too. Getting the soap bottle off your countertop is an added aesthetic upgrade!


Kohler black Simplice faucet

Photo courtesy of Kohler.

The right new faucet, like this Simplice high-arc pull-down in a matte black finish, can give your kitchen a mini makeover. The coordinating soap dispenser gives you added convenience with more style than a bottle of dish soap. 




Visit my blog for more mini makeover ideas.


Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or





Cooking Class

Nikki Minces Jalapeno

Nikki Minces Jalapeno

Last night I took a class at the Chopping Block, a cooking school located just down the street from at the Merchandise Mart (huge design center in Chicago). Coursework: Empanadas, grilled fish with fruit salsa, grilled zucchini and yellow squash, and coconut flan.

As happened the last time I went to a class, I was amazed by the difference the proper tools make. Last time I discovered Global knives, Microplane graters, the joy of sufficient counter space, and how much better a gas range is than electric for melting chocolate.

Last night, I realized the joy of sufficient counter space never diminishes, especially when cooking with friends or family. It's so nice to have a peninsula or island so you can face each either and talk while working.


Let the Scarfing Begin


Also, a double oven comes in handy when cooking for a group-the eight dozen empanadas were done and available for scarfing in no time.

I can only imagine how it would transform my cookie baking timeline. Having someone else do the clean up while you eat is pretty sweet, too.


A Burning Case of House Envy

Induction cooktop

Induction Cooking. Everybody is doing it! Trying to, anyway. Induction is quick, precise, powerful and energy-efficient; but on the expensive side for the average consumer. Looks good, though, especially when combined with an indoor grill.

Show homes tend to inspire great jealousy in the heart. Today was no different. In a day devoted to scouting out the latest design trends, I toured three different single-family homes and three townhomes looking for decorating, layout and product ideas. 


Stone in the Home. Kitchens are featuring cultured stone on walls and island faces. When used as an accent, it gives a classic hearth feel that works with any style, from Arts & Crafts to coastal.


Cultured stone in the kitchen



The Frivolous. Especially after tromping around a million square feet of trade-show floor, I adore a good foot massage as much as the next gal. But the spa with water jets -— especially when it doesn't come with a nice lady to give me a pedicure — seems a bit unnecessary for the home.


Foot bath

Equally cute and silly: The whirlpool tub just for Puppers.


Dog spa


Seriously, I don't like to be reminded that there are dogs living more luxurious lives than mine.


 We Like Our Wine. The United States ranks third in the world when it comes to wine consumption, according to the folks at Gaggenau. Based on the wine storage and refrigeration being featured in kitchens, butler's pantries, media rooms and master suites, I'd think we were Number One. Check it out.



Butler's pantry Master suite Wine refrigeration and storage


It's Hip to be Square

LG Steam Laundry Pair

LG Steam Laundry Pair

Design trends come in all shapes and sizes, but squares stole the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in 2008. While squares are nothing new and sweeping curves are by no means on their way out, we couldn't help but notice lots of booths flaunting squares as their "new" shape. Here is just a sampling of the four-sided stuff we saw.


Square Pair

This new steam laundry pair from LG Appliances updates the old bubble-door look of their laundry sets with a rounded square door. The new shape adds some function too, making it easier to load more laundry in the 4.5 cubic foot drum.


Boxy hardware is a regular feature on cabinets, but it's making a statement on more appliance pulls these days. Sub-Zero debuted its new appliance pull shape-an elongated rectangle. The pull also features a delicate curve to soften the look of the BI-series refrigerator.


Sub-Zero BI Series

Sub-Zero BI Series


And of course we can't help but love good old square-shaped knobs. This hardware from Topex showcases a classic square look as well as a curved alternative while the new Buckle collection from Atlas Homewares features the popular boxy look of buckles that fashionistas prefer.


Topex Hardware

Topex Hardware


Atlas Hardware

Atlas Hardware


Square Flair

Square motifs in design can create a look that is either classic or contemporary. We saw both at design spaces hosted by Sub-Zero/Wolf. In Mick de Giulio's "living kitchen," designed more for hanging out than for fancy entertainment, we were impressed by this square sink and its removable cutting board.


de Giulio kitchen design


Meanwhile, designer William P. Draper complemented delicate curves in his design space with contrasting grid-like designs on a backsplash and chairs.


Draper DBS, Inc.


Splendid Surfaces

Corian Private Collection new colors

Corian's new colors, clockwise from upper left: Juniper, Jasmine, Thyme, Witch Hazel, Saffron, Elderberry, Rosemary, Sandalwood.

Glamorous. Glorious. Sophisticated. Chic. My list of adjectives for the countertop and tile options at the 2009 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show goes on longer than Celine Dion's heart. As decorator and designer Lyn Peterson noted during her talk on kitchen trends, "All the noise and action now is in kitchen surfaces."

I've admired Corian's Private Collection since it debuted a few years ago, but the eight new colors (shown above) just added blew me away. The depth of color and the movement of the patterns give the new colors an elegance and subtlety more often associated with natural stone.

Ann Sacks unveiled a real stunner: Dahlia, one of three organic designs in the new Blake Studios collection of hand-made porcelain and clay tiles. With its rippled surface and etched floral pattern, a Dahlia mural or backsplash brings texture and dimension into any design.


Ann Sacks Dahlia tile mural

Dahlia shown in red, one of 18 available colors.


More textured surfaces showed up at CaesarStone, which introduced Motivo, a quartz product with an embossed surface in two different patterns of contrasting high-gloss and matte finishes. Motivo can be used for counters, walls, or custom applications. Looks like wallpaper, but with the benefits of quartz: resistant to heat and scratches, and easy to clean.


CaesarStone Motivo in CrocodileCaesarStone Motivo in Lace

CaesarStone Motivo in Crocodile (black) and Lace (white).


If none of the above strike your fancy-and you're willing to spare $300 a square foot-Cosentino (maker of Silestone) has just the thing: Prexury, a collection of semi-precious stones, petrified woods and fossils. Just like granite, these 12 surface options come in large slabs that can be fabricated to your specs.


Cosentino Prexury in Carnelian

Cosentino Prexury in Carnelian.


Kitchen Love

Topex cabinet hardware with Swarovski crystals

This sparkling hardware from Topex-featuring Swarovski crystal-will add brilliance to even the most timeworn cabinets.

Have you fallen out of love with your kitchen over the years? Does it now seem cramped and dull? This edition of Sensible Style, right in time for Valentine's Day, can rekindle your passion for the hardest-working space in your home. Doesn't yours deserve some new love?


Cabinet Jewelry

Dress up your cabinets with rich, elegant hardware for a completely new look. Just as the right bracelet and necklace can take a work suit from day into evening, the right knobs and pulls for your kitchen can take them from so-so to sensational. If your budget won't handle replacing all of your hardware, choose a single focal point piece — like an island or hutch — and just decorate it. To really set off its new jewelry, paint this piece a different color than the rest of your cabinets.


Eye Candy

Several of my clients over the years have hesitated to change their tired, old, kitchen tile floors because they extended all the way throughout the first floor of their homes, and they weren't ready for that level of change. For anyone who wants to add some visual impact to your kitchen without a full-scale flooring change, consider adding a tile "rug" to your kitchen. This can give your space an updated look without remodeling the entire space. There are two key considerations in making this work well: 1) You're going to need a skilled, experienced tile setter to handle the job. 2) You're going to have to coordinate the tile rug pattern, colors and scale to work with your existing space. I suggest bringing in a professional designer to help you pull this off.


Crossville tile floor in black and white.

Create a fresh, new kitchen floor with a coordinating tile rug like this one from Crossville.



Flower Power

Fresh flowers bring softness and life to an overworked kitchen. They can add a touch of elegance or whimsy. They can also add a desired accent color. Best of all, they can make you smile whenever you walk into the room. If fresh flowers are too extravagant on a regular basis, find quality silks to create the look on a lasting basis. Something to keep in mind as you imagine a vase of peonies or tulips on your island: Kitchens are very busy places. Choose a container for your florals that isn't easily broken if slammed by a wayward elbow or skillet.


Match pewter vase with pink roses.

I love the muted richness of pewter, shown here in a vase from Match, in a kitchen. It will compliment and soften your stainless.



Romance Enhancer

Remember those honeymoon moments on the Left Bank, or in the Piazza San Marco...…You and your beloved savored endless cappuccinos at a sidewalk café, drinking in the romance of the encounter. You can enjoy those moments again in your very own kitchen with the creation of a coffee station. This could include a built-in coffeemaker, a companion accessory drawer to hold your espresso service and adjacent cabinetry for your coffee, filters and the like. Built-ins usually entail professional planning and installation, but if you live for the bean, this could be well worth the investment.


Miele built-in coffemaker.

A coffee zone with a built-in coffee maker, like this one from Miele, can add real enjoyment to your kitchen.



Island Staycation

An island for your kitchen won't carry you to far-off fantasy lands, but it can carry essential daily or entertaining items that your current, already-crammed cabinets won't hold. It can also provide landing space for additional prep tasks, or even umbrella drinks! Choose one whose door style and finish will coordinate attractively with your current cabinets. It will become a new focal point for your kitchen, and can instantly update it without a major remodel. Be sure that there are at least 42 inches between this new island and your existing cabinets and appliances for it to be a welcome addition, not a space-hogging intrusion, to your kitchen.


Ballard Designs kitchen island

An island can add valuable real estate to your kitchen. Some, like this Bedford model from Ballard Designs, are portable and can go along with you if you move.



Visit my blog for more ways to fall in love with your kitchen again.


Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2011, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or




Small Kitchens, Big Splurges

A small country kitchen with yellow cabinets.

These maple cabinets from Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry feature a custom color finish.

What if your kitchen is totally teeny-tiny? Consider yourself lucky. Kitchens like these give you the opportunity to splurge on higher-end products, even on a smaller budget. While it's more challenging to squeeze the storage and work space you need into tighter kitchens, it's much, much easier to add style without breaking the bank.


Custom Cabinetry

In a medium or large kitchen, custom cabinetry can be a tremendous expense. In a small kitchen, the expense is far less, because there are fewer cabinets to order and install. So the benefits start to outweigh the costs. These benefits typically include:

  • Soft-close, full-extension drawers and roll-out trays to maximize storage usability

  • Soft-close doors for quieter operation

  • Custom widths that increase storage capacity and reduce unsightly fillers

  • Exposed furniture-style ends

  • Deluxe joinery

  • Superior, multi-step, hand-applied finishes

  • Lifetime warranties on construction and finish


Performance Countertops

Regular readers of Gold Notes (my design blog) know that I'm a big proponent of engineered stone countertops. They offer the heat and scratch-resistance of granite, but with a non-porous, stain-resistant finish that never needs sealing. Sensible Style is all about easy maintenance, and these counters, typically made from 93 percent quartz, offer that feature. They also offer a manufacturer's warranty, which I consider an added benefit.

The only drawback to these engineered tops has been their cost. Sometimes higher than granite, they are a large expense in a large space. For clients with smaller kitchens — and less counter space — they move into the affordable range.


A contemporary kitchen with quartz countertops.

Engineered stone countertops-like these in Chrome from Silestone by Cosentino-offer easy maintenance, stain resistance, durability and a manufacturer warranty.



Backsplash Bling

Backsplashes offer a phenomenal, highly visible way to add style to your kitchen. And with less square footage to work with, you can splurge on designer tile without breaking the bank. To create a focal point that is both stylish and sensible. be sure that the look and colors of your new backsplash integrate with the overall feel of your kitchen.


Kitchen with white cabinets and green tile walls.

Backsplashes-like the one shown here using Ann Sacks Capriccio ceramic tiles -add a style note to your kitchen.



Heavenly Hardware

Less space means fewer cabinets, which also means fewer knobs and pulls. So you can splurge on great-looking hardware without burning through your budget. For a sensible approach, only use knobs or standard-spread (3 to 4 inch) pulls. That way, if you tire of them later (or want to take them with you when you move), it will be easier to replace them with something else.


Dark wood cabinet with large silver branch as hardware.

Make a design statement with cabinet hardware, such as this Linea Oliva vertical pull by Sóko.



Finer Faucets and Fixtures

Sinks and faucets are often selected later in the design process, so they tend to be subject to harsher budget cuts. In a smaller kitchen, you may have the chance to get higher-end items in this category.

If you're going to use an undermount stainless steel sink with a stone counter, choose a better quality fixture, as undermount sinks are more difficult than drop-in sinks to replace later. Look for 18-gauge or 16-gauge steel. (The lower the number, the better the quality.) Other great sink options include granite and fireclay, both of which are durable and easy to maintain.

Faucets can be stylish as well as functional, and are a terrific splurge opportunity. Look added-value features such as integral filtration, motion sensors, or high-arc pull-outs, which make for easier pot cleaning. Optional accessories include soap dispensers and hot-water dispensers.


Granite kitchen sink with a high-arc faucet.

Made from Silgranit (an 80 percent granite composite material), this "super single" Blancoperforma Sink by Blanco offers durability, easy maintenance and optional food prep accessories.



Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or




Color Combinations

A kitchen with warm maple cabinets, gray counters and gray tile flooring.

Contemporary: Maple cabinets from KraftMaid with a Praline finish pair well with stainless steel appliances, gray countertops and gray flooring. Photo courtesy of Kraftmaid Cabinetry.

Among the most commonly asked kitchen design questions are which colors and materials work best together. That's what we'll be looking at this time around in Sensible Style, using three of the most popular cabinet finishes as a starting point.


Maple Mastery

Maple is a wood species, not a color, but it's most often associated with golden- or light- to mid-brown-toned stains. These give you a ton of versatility in flooring, appliance and countertop combinations. Here are a few options to get you started.

Classic combinations: Dark gold and rich tan cabinets work well with black or stainless steel appliances and dark countertops, such as black and dark green natural or engineered stone. Select a wood or tile floor in the same gold or tan/brown family as the cabinets — but about two shades lighter or darker — to coordinate. As maple tends to have little visible grain pattern, maple can work well with vivid woods like oak or cherry.

Contemporary combinations: Dark gold and rich tan cabinets also can work well with gray counters — especially concrete or a matte-finish quartz — for a more updated look. I suggest pairing them with stainless appliances and a slate or slate-look floor. You could also opt for a bamboo in a coordinating gold or tan about a shade or two lighter than the cabinets.


A kitchen with warm maple cabinets, gray counters and gray tile flooring.


Cherries Jubliee

Cherry is one of the most popular wood species available, and ranges in color from a natural, strawberry-blond finish to a ruby red to darker cinnamon and chocolate finishes. I have found the last two to be the most requested among my clientele, and the ones I've seen the most often in kitchen publications.

Classic combinations: For an elegant look, cinnamon- and chocolate-finished cherry woods work beautifully with natural stone tops in pale golds and creams. I would pair these with paneled or stainless appliances with minimal black accents for the richest look. A light tiled floor that picks up on the gold or cream tones in the counters will work the best. Because cherry tends to have stronger graining patterns, I generally don't love wood floors with it: the grain pattern in the cabinets and the graining of the floor can get too busy together.

Contemporary combinations: Cinnamon- and chocolate-colored cabinets paired with monochromatic white countertops give a very strong, updated look. Again, I'd opt for stainless appliances with minimal black accents, or paneled appliances, for the best match. A nearly white terrazo, tile, or stained concrete floor would complement the contemporary look.


A kitchen with dark cherry cabinetry and light stone counters and floors.

Photo courtesy of Kraftmaid Cabinetry.

Contemporary: A Cognac finish on cherry cabinetry coordinates stylishly with stainless appliances and fixtures, white countertops, and off-white flooring.




White Album

White cabinets run the gamut from entry-level builder laminates to high-gloss European lacquers. The most common whites you'll find are painted maple — my personal favorite — and thermofoil synthetics, which often have a bit of a plastic look to them. I would suggest the painted wood cabinets even if you're budget-sensitive, as painted finishes have become more widely available in affordable stock cabinet lines and will give your kitchen a more timeless look.

 Classic Combinations: White cabinets pair beautifully with white, paneled or stainless appliances. (You can use black with them, but then the appliances become more of a focal point than they deserve to be.) I adore white cabinets with black or dark green stone tops and mid-toned or dark-stained hardwood floors. Another stunning, albeit less neutral, pairing is blue pearl granite with creamy, ivory-colored cabinets. White marble or granite tops with white cabinets and lighter wood or stone floors is another great traditional combination.


A large classic kitchen with white cabinets and hardwood flooring.

Photo courtesy of Kraftmaid Cabinetry.

Classic: A Dove White finish on maple cabinets pairs elegantly with stainless appliances, white stone countertops and hardwood flooring.




Contemporary Combinations: High-gloss lacquer finishes in white give a sharp, contemporary look to a kitchen. They work best with paneled and stainless steel appliances, although sleek white appliances also can work. When going modern with a white kitchen, you can go bold with an orange quartz countertop or multi-colored recycled glass countertop, or go sleek with a pale gray or white material, for more of an "un-kitchen" look. You could also add stainless and glass cabinet doors and other stainless details, like legs or toekicks, for a modern look. (The trendier you go, however, the quicker your kitchen will date itself.)


Visit my blog for more classic and contemporary color combinations in the kitchen, including black and colorful cabinets.


Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or




6 Small Kitchen Tips

White kitchen with Ikea backsplash organizer

Backsplash organizers take advantage of untapped space in your kitchen and free up countertops and cabinet space. Shown: organizers from the Ikea Grundtal series.

Sensible Style, by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS, a kitchen designer and writer in Tampa, FL, is about kitchens that work as hard as you do. It's about materials that are durable and easy to maintain; a work flow that fits your hectic schedule; and creating a kitchen that reflects your priorities, your budget and your lifestyle.

This posting tackles the two most vexing issues associated with small kitchens: how to maximize your storage capacity and how to make a small kitchen look great. Small kitchens never seem to have enough cupboard space for all the items their owners want to store. After carefully culling to make sure you're only storing items regularly used for cooking, meal preparation and clean up in your kitchen, you can increase your storage capacity in several ways. 


Tip #1: Use your backsplash

Backsplashes offer dozens of square feet of untapped storage potential. Usually considered only for decorative purposes, these 18- inch spans between your countertops and wall cabinets can be put to great use as zoned, organized storage. For example, you can clear some counter space by installing a backsplash-mounted utensil crock near your cooktop. You could also mount a spice organizer in your meal prep zone, freeing up some cabinet storage


Tip #2: Use empty walls or ceiling space

Enclume wall mount pot rack

This wall-mounted pot rack by Enclume lets you take advantage of unused wall space in your kitchen for both hanging and shelf top storage.




Even small kitchens typically have an unused wall or ceiling space above a peninsula that can be tapped for additional storage. By adding a pot rack to your kitchen, you can free up base cabinet space that would otherwise hold your cookware. There are racks available in almost any style and size to accommodate your needs. Small kitchens typically lack islands, but a peninsula housing a cooktop can be a good spot to tap into added storage potential.


Tip #3: Use the back of doors

Rev-A-Shelf cabinet organizer

This wood door storage shelf set by Rev-a-Shelf can be added to your base cabinets to increase their organization and storage potential.


Another way to add organization and storage capacity to your kitchen is to install accessories on the backs of doors. For example, you can hang an organizer for your cleaning supplies behind the door of the cabinet holding your sink. Additionally, you can add pantry capacity by putting a canned goods or food wrap holder on the back of its door. There are numerous options that can add to your kitchen's efficiency, as well as its storage potential.


Tip #4: Minimize contrasts
Compact kitchens tend to look smaller and choppier when there are too many colors and patterns running through them. Minimizing contrasts, on the other hand, makes them feel airier and spacious. You can achieve this effect by selecting solid-colored countertops, for example, and maple or painted cabinets, rather than oak, hickory or glazed finishes.


SieMatic compact kitchen with gray and beige cabinets

This compact kitchen from SieMatic looks larger because the cabinets match the shelving and countertops, and the wall, flooring and appliances coordinate to minimize contrasts.



Tip #5: Add glass
Replacing solid door fronts on your wall cabinets with glass fronts can also make your small kitchen look larger and brighter. To enhance the space-enhancing effect, you can paint the insides of your cabinets the same color as your walls.


Kitchen with glass cabinets and yellow walls.

This kitchen by designer Laurie Burke of Westlake Village, CA, looks larger and brighter thanks to its glass-front wall cabinets.



Tip #6: Light it up

Small kitchen with undercabinet and in-cabinet lighting.

This small kitchen by Kitchen/Interior Showcase in Spokane, WA, features three layers of lighting to enhance its beauty and spaciousness.



Kitchens look better-and bigger-with great lighting. When I take on a kitchen design project for my clients, I always look for every opportunity to add lights to the space. This includes ceiling-mounted fixtures or recessed cans, undercabinet lighting, and (where applicable) island or peninsula lighting. Sometimes I also apply above-cabinet and in-cabinet accent lighting. This layered approach to lighting makes working in the space easier and safer. It also enhances the beauty of your countertops, cabinets and flooring.




Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or




Color Charged

Pantone's color of the year, Honeysuckle pink.

Pantone's color of the year, Honeysuckle pink.

"Courageous. Confident. Vital... It's a color for every day, with nothing 'everyday' about it." -- Pantone LLC on its 2011 Color of the Year.


Maybe Pantone 18-2120 Honeysuckle is your color of the year, too. You love its vibrant pink energy and want it in your kitchen. But how do you incorporate a hot, trendy shade without dating your kitchen or anchoring yourself into a strong color you may not love down the line?

Trust me on this one: Don't buy honeysuckle-painted cabinets, large appliances or honeysuckle stone countertops unless you've loved pink your whole life and are absolutely certain you'll never, ever, sell your house.

You can still use this rich hue in your kitchen, but a little bit of a strong color goes a long way. Here are some Sensible Style approaches to integrating a strong color like this.



Dish towels, like the ones found in the Verano line from Crate & Barrel (pictured), are easy ways to incorporate color without commitment. Photo from Crate & Barrel.



Go soft

  • Integrate your preferred color into your kitchen fabrics:

  • Find chandelier shades in your color of choice.

  • Add dish towels in solids or patterns that tie in that shade.

  • Find place mats and napkins that bring in your color du jour.

  • Tie it on with seat cushion fabric.


For more soft color solutions, click here.


Pretty serving pieces, like Ikea's Yngaren bowl shown here, can integrate today's color without tomorrow regrets! Photo from Ikea.


Serve it up

  • Add the color in serving platters and bowls.

  • Choose canisters in your selected shade.

  • Incorporate it in your bakeware collection.

  • Find cooking utensils or serving utensils with handles in that shade.

For more serveware style color solutions, click here.



Accent tile, like Perennial Poppy Mosaic from Ann Sacks, can incorporate today's hot color with others for a pleasing, permanent, kitchen addition. Photo from Ann Sacks.



Bigger splash

OK, perhaps those last items were too wimpy and you want your accent color to make a stronger impression. I'm still going to try to talk you out of big, expensive, permanent elements like cabinetry, countertops and flooring. But try these methods to give your kitchen an accent color that makes a big impression:


  • Find a countertop appliance available in your color choice.
  • Install cabinet hardware; it's available in pretty much any color.
  • Use the color you love in easy-to-change wall paint.
  • Apply an accent tile to integrate into your backsplash.



For more serveware style color solutions, click here.


Final thoughts

Remember that your space should reflect your personal likes and loves, not those of a website, TV show or magazine. I'm not a pink person and I also have no insecurities about missing out on Pantone's color of the year. I may miss next year's, too, without any regrets. But I have friends and clients who love the "now" color and style. So this post is dedicated to the trendies among us. You know who you are.

To read the entire Sensible Style - Color Charged posting on Gold Notes, click here.


Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

 © 2011, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or