kitchen can be a great place to let your creativity pop. The trick is
to not let your personal style overwhelm the space. Choose focal
points and let the other finishes enhance, not compete, with your
"We are seeing a lot of custom
hoods made of different materials that can be a really great way to
create a focal point," says Elizabeth Tranberg, designer with
CabinetWerks in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. "I’ve seen people do
plaster work on a hood and finish with carving. That is a great
accent, but don’t choose cabinetry that would compete. Choose
something more classic and simple to set it off."
Tranberg says decorative hardware of
today offers more room for creativity than the limited choices of the
past. To make your mark on the hardware, choose spots to highlight and
pull back on the cabinetry. "There are literally millions of
choices for hardware, but you want the kitchen to flow and not
overwhelm the space," she says. "If you have an island that
is made to look like furniture, you can make decorative hardware
choices to really make it a focal point, but the rest of the hardware
should probably be more classic to really let it stand out."
Paul Greenspan, president of Milwaukee
Kitchen and Bath in Mequon, agrees that the island provides
opportunity for creative expression. "You can choose a countertop
that is different than the rest of the space or a different wood for
the island to really make it a focal point," Greenspan says.
"If you know what you are doing, you can mix your granite tops
but you have to be careful not to clash. Hardware is a great spot to
create elements of drama — think of it as jewelry — don’t overdo
Designers are noting more intricate
work on backsplashes as a focal point as well. Tile, glass, custom
murals are all ways to let your creative side flourish. "We’ve
done some great glass work on backsplashes, metal and stone,"
Greenspan says. "You can really make a one-of-a-kind work of art
on the backsplash, but the rest of the walls should coordinate and not
overwhelm the piece."
Tranberg suggests choosing just one
wall to make a color statement rather than overwhelm the whole room.
Decorative pendant lighting can be a great way to accent and provide
ambience, but make sure you don’t block a window or another design
Wood trim, flooring and cabinets should
blend with the style of the rest of the house, Greenspan says. Trim
can be different from the cabinet woods. Greenspan says wood flooring
is a great way to add color and warmth to a space. Exotic woods like
zebra, tiger, bird’s-eye maple and teak are a great way to express
yourself. Some finishes work better with contemporary design. "We’ve
seen a lot of concrete, which can work well for a contemporary, urban
feel," Greenspan says. "You can accent a bar or an island
with concrete and choose something else for the rest of the counters.
Cable lighting tends to work better with contemporary architecture as
Tranberg says a general guideline is
that lighter counters and darker wood on the cabinets work better for
a contemporary home while classic cabinetry might flow better with a
more traditional home. "You want variety, but nothing too
busy," Tranberg says. "You want to balance out your accent
pieces and not clutter the space."
"Basically, you should design what
you want and really enjoy what you have because you are living in the
space," Greenspan says. "Designers can stop you from making
a mistake, but you really should design for your own needs."