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The Most Important Decisions When It Comes To Kitchen Design Aesthetics

Updated: Jul 1

Welcome to the second installment of the kitchen design series! (If you want to read the first installment click here ) This time we’re talking all about aesthetics.

So, you know you might want some energy-efficient appliances, maybe a space for a wine rack, a big center island - but what about the all the finish selections? The overall look and feel of your new kitchen design?

Seems like it should be easy to decide how your kitchen will look - but it's not! Take it from the expert, choosing the style for your kitchen can be the hardest part.

Why? Because there are so many choices! Color decisions, tile shape, cabinet style and wood type, hardware finish and style, countertop material, backsplash - all of these choices and more can be overwhelming. It helps to have an expert to work with you on these decisions.

In this article, I'll go over how to design a kitchen. Knowing what to expect makes it easier to make these decisions, but make no mistake: it's still tough.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It's where we have long talks with friends and relatives.

It's where we cook masterpieces and make cookies with the kids. It's where we plan holiday dinners, where we talk on the phone while we scrub the counters, where we sit lazily in the morning drinking our coffee. We're attached to our kitchens. It's one of the most personal places in the house, but also one of the most communal. So of course, we want it to look perfect. We need good kitchen design ideas to help us.

If you're wondering how to design a kitchen, the following kitchen design ideas can help. Here's what you need to know:


Kitchen Cabinet Design

Kitchen design ideas start with cabinets, the crown jewel of the kitchen.


Let's talk cabinet door style. There are quite a few you'll need to explore before making your decision.

  • Slab. The name here is fairly self-explanatory. Slab style cabinet doors are undecorated and have a smooth finish. They're modern and sleek. The undecorated finish on slab cabinets really draws your attention to the wood grain and coloring of the cabinets. Keep this in mind when selecting the type of wood or laminate you’ll use.

  • Raised panel. Raised panel cabinet doors have what look like raised panels in the center on the surface of the door. Raised panels are traditional cabinets - you see them in many kitchens.

  • Reversed raised panel. Reversed raised panel cabinet doors look like raised panel doors flipped inside out. The center inset portion is recessed. You don't see them quite as often as standard raised panel cabinets.

  • Beaded panel. Beaded panel cabinet doors have a bead board-esque patterning on them. I like these cabinets because they stand out as a little different from some of the other styles, so they attract attention without turning the cabinets into the focal point of the room

  • Flat panel. These “shaker style” cabinets are very popular. I love how elegant and simple they are. They're perfect in just about any style of kitchen, from contemporary to traditional.

Wood Species

Cabinets can be made from a variety of wood species, including cherry, knotty alder, maple, hickory and oak. Each species of wood has its own unique wood grain pattern, so I recommend that you explore all the possibilities if you're planning to leave the wood grain unpainted.

FYI - You may also encounter MDF when you're exploring different cabinet materials. MDF is an engineered wood made from natural wood and resin. This type of material doesn't have the same look as natural wood, but it's easy to maintain and it's highly resistant to moisture. It's also a little more budget-friendly than natural wood.

Before selecting the type of wood that's right for your kitchen design cabinets, visit a showroom to view the types of wood in person.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Staining. Some types of wood accept stain more easily than others. If you'd like to stain your cabinets, consider a wood with large pores, like oak. Wood with small, tight pores (like maple) can stain unevenly.

  • Painting. Some types of wood are easier to paint than others. Maple is an example of a wood that's easy to paint because it boasts a fine grain that produces a smooth finish.

  • Scratching. Some woods are more easily scratched than others. If you need a very durable wood, consider hickory or maple.


Are you thinking about painting your cabinets? White cabinets were very popular for years, but lately homeowners are drawn to cabinets of different colors - greens and blues in particular. You can pick whatever color suits you, just don't feel limited by what's popular right now.

Some tips for choosing the right color:

  • Paint larger samples before making your decision - don't go by a small swatch.

  • Get suggestions from a decorator or a color specialist if you're having trouble.

  • Don't be afraid to step outside the box - the change may be more refreshing and exciting that you realize!


Don’t underestimate the value of the cabinet hardware. It may seem like a small detail, but the details are what make cabinets so lovely. I like to think of the hardware as the jewelry that finishes a good outfit :)

Some tips for choosing the right hardware:

  • Knobs or pulls? Cabinet hardware can be divided into two different types: knobs and pulls. Some homeowners use a combination (knobs on doors, pulls on drawers), some choose only one or the other. If you're choosing pulls only, remember to position the pulls horizontally on drawers and vertically on doors.

  • Finish. What type of finish for your hardware? Remember to coordinate the metal hardware with other metal finishes in the room (like your faucet).

  • Style. Modern style pulls and knobs can be more squared off. Traditional styles will usually have more detail included, maybe a decorative shape within the pull itself. Be sure to pick something that goes with the overall style of your cabinets and the kitchen.

  • Comfort. Before committing to knobs and pulls, consider what's comfortable for you. If possible, go to a showroom to see and touch the options in person.


Kitchen Countertop Design

Picking the countertop material is one of my favorite things about redecorating a kitchen. While there are a million different materials to choose from, stone tends to be the most popular among homeowners.

Granite. This incredibly durable, very hard stone is most often speckled (although it can be veined). It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, but most often is seen in earthy shades like brown, gold, gray and black. Granite is porous too, which means it needs to be sealed, or it can become stained.

Quartz. Quartz is a man-made stone made from crushed stone and resin. It's very hard, not porous at all (no sealing required) and it can be made to mimic basically any type of natural stone. Some quartz options have very natural looking veining that imitates real stone, too! In other words, you get the best of all worlds with quartz.

Marble. Marble is a softer stone than granite, so it can be easy to scratch and stain. In the kitchen, marble needs to be protected from sharp objects like countertop appliances and knives. It also needs to be sealed, just like granite. Marble comes in a range of colors, but is most commonly found in white and gray.

The list goes on - work with your designer to find a countertop material you love. View the various types of stone in person before making your decision.


Backsplash Tiles for Kitchen Design

The backsplash is your opportunity to express yourself in the kitchen. Work with your designer to choose colors that you love and tiles you love as well.

Remember that tiles come in different shapes and sizes and can be made from a variety of materials, including glass, ceramic and even metal. In fact, I love metal and how shiny and bold it is!

I suggest choosing the backsplash last, after selecting the color (or stain) of your cabinets, the flooring type and countertop material. Selecting the backsplash last makes it easy to coordinate the backsplash with all other features in the kitchen.

The slab backsplash is popular and I’ve noticed that homeowners have recently embraced it. The slab backsplash basically turns the backsplash into a continuation of the countertop. The same material is used for both the countertop and the backsplash, providing an elegant and modern look. This is a great choice, but it’s also more expensive than tiled backsplashes because it's the same price as the countertop.

Want a budget-friendly, cute backsplash material? Two words: subway tiles. They are timeless and classic for a range of kitchen styles!

Need advice on how to design a kitchen? I've got you covered for kitchen design ideas.

Kitchen remodels are notoriously expensive, not to mention time-consuming. They're just too big of a deal to allow them to get messed up. Before you start on your kitchen remodel, give me a call! I can offer advice on how to design your kitchen, from kitchen cabinets to kitchen tile. Together, we can go through kitchen design ideas that will fit best and plan a remodel you'll love.

Until next time,

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