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Rehab for my kitchen and help from you

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Suggestions, especially from designer-types, will be greatly appreciated. We are remodeling, except it's more like rehab because we are in a starter house and on a tight budget. So, there's nothing elaborate going on here. We've decided on appliances, cabinets, sink and flooring. New cabs are natural maple. Floor is light cherry (but darker than maple cabs). The appliances are stainless, my spouse's only requirement (I lost the argument for white...). We love our contractor; he did our bathrooms several years ago - he's a boyscout in every way. Fine enough.
The hard part is countertop and backsplash. We know we will go with ceramic tile or tumbled stone for the backsplash and laminate for the countertop. BUT COLOR? WHAT COLOR to go with natural maple cabs. How to unify this whole thing? By the way, the kitchen is galley style; dimensions are 15 x 7. Obviously, we would like our small kitchen to appear larger and somehow unified.
Suggestions please. Many thanks.

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  1. You're being earthy, so I'd suggest a dark green.

    1. One of the optical keys to making a space appear larger is to minimize contrasts in value between large surfaces and planes. So if to enlarge the kitchen visually is your top priority, then a color lighter than the dark green would be more effective in expanding the space.

      What I personally like about lifespan's suggestion, though, is that the maple will really stand out against it, so if your new cabinets have beautiful grain, the darker green would show that off very nicely. I understand your floors are light cherry versus dark, but cherry usually darkens with time. The dark green would be a nice contrast against the undertones in cherry. A medium-value blue with a warm base would also do that.

      If you really want the kitchen to appear larger, then a choice closer to the value of the cabinets and flooring would be better, since the eye wouldn't be stopped so dramatically at corners where one surface ends and another begins. Something like a deep apricot might do that. Or, if you want to look at paint samples just to get an idea of colors for the backsplash and counter, another suggestion would be something close to Benjamin Moore's Pittsfield Buff.

      What colors do you *like*, though? It needs to be something that makes both you and your spouse feel good when you're in living with it everyday. In that regard, you need to take into account where you live, which exposure the kitchen has and how the light acts in it during different seasons and different times of the day. As an example, we live in New England and specifically an area that gets a lot of rain and snow. One in three days is overcast here. I always choose warm-toned colors, to lift us up on grey days. However, if I lived in Florida, I'd probably look more toward cool-based colors.

      And what are you doing with the walls, btw?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Normandie

        Hi Normandie -
        Thank you so very much for your thoughtful comments. Reading your post gave me much food for thought. First, I realized that I had not done my homework. Our choices for light maple cabinets and wood flooring were reflexive! We knew that we were drawn to the materials, but we had not envisioned the whole room stylistically; nor had we given much consideration to other materials we might use. Your questions were the impetus for many hours of study and struggle. I am happy to report that we have made preliminary decisions, choosing 3 different countertops and coordinating backsplashes. (I am partial to beveled subway tiles in white or off-white, whichever is appropriate for a particular countertop, but I would appreciate hearing the "negatives" about such a choice, if any reader knows of some.) I have ordered larger samples of the three countertop options, so that we can make an informed final decision. We also made preliminary paint color choices to coordinate with each of the three countertops. Your comments about light (and geography) were especially helpful. We live in Connecticut and the perception of light (and cheeriness) is important.
        Thanks again for your kindness.

      2. A single piece of slate.