Lighten Up

Kitchen updates can be tricky because it is hard to decide what to tackle and why to tackle it. Recognizing what is needed to update the kitchen and spending the money in the right place is challenging. However, if we focus on the big picture we will get the most visual bang for the buck. Last week we looked into the living room of a Gardenia model that was taken from brown to light and bright. This week we will take a look at the kitchen of the same Gardenia model. We often reface kitchens adding white cabinetry but what if the brown cabinets are in great shape? Let’s learn this week how we can keep the cabinets as they are while adding lightness and brightness to the kitchen somewhere in the heart of The Villages.

• Cabinets Bright and ties into rest of house.
The cabinets themselves were a great color of brown with reddish undertones that made them look rich. Also, they were in great shape with very little wear and tear. There was absolutely no reason to change the cabinets. The granite looked great too! However, the kitchen altogether looked a bit dated and all the accessories and art were brown.

• New Paint
As we discussed last week, we chose Biscuit SW 6211 which is a light peachy tan that adds lots of light to any space. The warm tones of the paint complemented all the brown cabinets and the granite as well. We always paint in an eggshell or satin finish because those finishes reflect light. Flat paint absorbs light.

• Wainscot underneath the bar
In any model with an island, the island always looks good with white wainscot. This wainscot was installed by adding half round to the wall to create boxes and painting the entire area white from top to bottom. When the kitchen is brown or darker such as expresso, the white wainscot under the bar pops in contrast to the dark cabinetry and the contrast complements everything by adding light.

• Wainscot in the eat in kitchenette
We added wainscot to the kitchenette to lighten the space and provide a visual connection to the white wainscot under the kitchen bar. When the wainscot is installed using just half round this a very affordable treatment that provides visual bang for the buck.

• Large art and symmetry
I love to display large art over the cabinets in the Gardenia Model because when you turn and look into the kitchen the cabinetry is enhanced by focusing and delineating the large focal wall above the stove and microwave. The coastal picture titled, “New Beginnings” provides an eye catching pop above the cabinets. The large picture brings the light teal from the living room into the kitchen visually connecting the two spaces. This is a great reminder that even above cabinets a focal point is required and it will be the longest wall. We placed a large wicker basket over the pantry and filled it with greens. For the descending cabinets we placed a woven sweet grass charger on a stand on the top cabinet and two identical ferns in teal pots to balance each side of the cabinetry. These items are all that you need to make a great visual impression above the cabinets. Larger items and less of them are a great way to accessorize.

• Cabinet tops on refrigerator side
It is not shown in the picture but on the cabinets above the refrigerator we added one large pot with greens and two smaller matching pots so that the collection made one large grouping. To finish it we hung a smaller piece of art about 24 wide by 22 high and the light from the ceiling highlights it perfectly.

• Lighting
We added under cabinet lighting which looks amazing. The under cabinet lighting serves two purposes; the first being function so that you see better when preparing food because the light is in front of you. The second purpose is decorative. At night the kitchen looks really good with the low lights.

• Focal wall art in kitchenette
The kitchenette focal wall received a large water color titled, “Conch Cottage” by Gene Rizzo. This picture is 40 wide by 56 high and fills the wall nicely. Again, larger and less always makes a great visual impression.

• Foyer rug idea
We used a 5×8 indoor outdoor rug in the foyer. The rug brings the teal into the foyer and provides a generous spot to walk on for wet feet. Also, since the rug is indoor-outdoor it can be cleaned outside with a pressure washer.

• Mirrors
Since light is at a premium in most houses we hung a mirror above the entry way table in the foyer. This mirror will collect light and throw it back into the foyer. Also, we hung a mirror over the table on the big wall that leads into the laundry room. This mirror grabs light from the window that it opposes in the living room.

P.S. –Attention all club presidents! We give free decorating seminars. It is lots of fun and very informative. Call and schedule your club today. Also, we are on-line check out our web-site at and you can always e-mail us at or Call Ruth your full service decorator at 352-804-2056.

Before and After Pics Below