When to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

Here's my latest kitchen remodel project. Isn't she pretty?

And the before. Quite a transformation, huh? 

My client contacted me about a year ago. She was getting ready to undertake her kitchen remodel, but needed guidance on materials, colors and overall design. Her first question to me was "Do I replace my cabinets? Or paint them?" 

I answered her question with a couple more questions. Did the kitchen function well for her? Did it have enough storage and was it easy for her to get around? Yes. It had plenty of storage and she was happy with the overall layout. 

Then I asked her what problem she was trying to solve? And would replacing her cabinetry solve that problem?

This was a bit of an "aha" moment for her. And it is for most of us. Before we proceed with any design project it is important to identity the problem we are trying to solve. If we don't know what the problem is, then we don't know what to fix...or how to fix it. 

We identified the problem as an aesthetic one. She just didn't like the way her kitchen looked...or felt. I suggested she save herself thousands of dollars and paint the cabinets as opposed to replacing them. They were in excellent condition, and although the door style wasn't exactly what she would have chosen if she was buying new, they weren't bad at all. And with a coat of paint and new hardware, they would take on an entirely different character. Replacing the cabinetry would have solved the problem in some regards. It would have given her a new look and feel, but it wasn't necessary for her to fix the problem. Painting the cabinetry was a much simpler and less costly solution. 

My client knew she wanted white cabinetry. She had already pulled some inspiration images of kitchens she liked when we first met. Over the next couple of months I helped guide her on countertop materials, hardware and fixture finishes and style, lighting, paint color and custom tile design. We collaborated through the process with my client playing the role of project manager - my favorite way to work! 

For those of you drooling over the gorgeous backsplash, the tile is from Oceanside Glass Tile. We did a custom blend in Facets 1/2" x 1/2" mosaic. They have a super cool online tool to play with proportions of colors, so you can get very specific about your blend. 

And...for those of you drooling over the wood island countertop, it is a beautiful piece of reclaimed walnut from Heritage Salvage in Petaluma. I love the warmth and patina that it brings into the space. 

The end result is a stunning space that truly reflects the energy of my client. I'd take this kitchen, wouldn't you?

Pratt & Lambert Style & Design Guild

I've got some fun news this Friday. Pratt & Lambert Paints has officially launched their re-vamped Style & Design Guild and I'm honored to be one of the members!

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The Style and Design Guild is "a think-tank for the design industry composed of an exclusive team of interior designers, architects, stylists, writers and fashion-forward thinkers who have a shared passion for visual intrigue and for pushing the limits of design."

The other members are: Michael Bagley, Joseph Boehm, Luis Caicedo, Stacy Garcia, Maria Killam, Laura Kirar, Rae McConville, Kate Smith, Asler Valero, Kendall Wilkinson and Eldon Wong. I'm in very good color company!

So head on over when you get a chance. You can check out my favorite Pratt & Lambert colors and my top five design tips, including this one:

“Eliminate the need for perfection. It is the enemy of creativity. When we strive for perfection in design we can sometimes overlook the most beautiful solutions. It’s the imperfections of a space that make it feel most like home.”

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Five Arguments for Painting Your Room First

It's no secret that there are a lot of design rules floating around out there. One that is most prevalent is that, when decorating a space, you should always select your area rug first. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say this is completely un-true. Selecting your area rug first can be a great way to start. But I have a real problem with using words like "always" when doling out design advice. It can be dangerous because it fuels the already-existing fear that many people have about decorating. With these rules comes the perception that, if they are not followed precisely, your design will be wrong. They limit our creativity, make us question our personal style and innate artistic instincts, and squash our confidence. Not very helpful for the design process!

Another rule that I hear often is that you should always paint your room last. Again - I don't necessarily think this is bad advice, except for the word "always". Yes, it can be a good idea to select your paint color after everything else. The biggest argument for this "rule" is that paint color choices are infinite, whereas sofas, rugs, and window treatments are only available in a limited color supply. By saving your wall paint selection for the end, you won't be limited by any particular color or colorway. However, this approach to a room's design can lead to color becoming an afterthought. Something that is selected just because it goes with everything else, as opposed to a hue that is consciously vetted for is distinct mood, characteristics and our personal relationship with it.

I actually think it can be a very smart design approach to paint your room first. Before any other major design decisions are made. Not always, but it can be. And here's why:

Five Arguments for Painting Your Room First

1. You Don't Know Where to Start
If you are struggling with a hundred other decisions in the design of a space, start with the paint color. This selection will help you make other decisions because you've created a constant. Something to refer back to with all your other color and design decisions. Yes, you are sort of taking a leap because...oh my god, how will you know that you'll be able to find furniture that will go with your wall color after you've painted? What if you can't find anything? Then what - will you have to repaint? Maybe. Maybe not. But try to calm down and trust that it will all work out. And if you do have to repaint, remind yourself that it's not the end of the world. At least you got started!

2. You Found a Color You Love
You've had your eye on a room you pinned to Pinterest for about a year now. You are obsessed. There is nothing you want more than to paint your room that color. Paint it. You will be happy. Yes, you will have to hunt and test a few colors to create the right version for your room and your lighting conditions. You might even need to hire a color expert to consult with to achieve that very particular look and mood that makes you drool. But once you do you will wonder what took you so long. And instead of staring at your computer screen admiring someone else's color, you will be admiring and living in your own beautiful space. Take that, Pinterest!

3. You Want to Create a Very Particular Mood
Maybe it's a moody Mad Men-esque office. Or a dainty, feminine powder room. Paint color is the strongest player in the mood game. Use it first. Get that mood thing going. Nothing will change the feel of a space more than paint color. Well, maybe a full, tear-down remodel, but then we're comparing apples to oranges. Or reds to oranges. Either way, designing a mood is definitely a reason to select paint color first. And, once again, if you are having trouble equating a mood to a particular color, bring in a color expert. It's what we do. 

4. You Are Stuck
Maybe you are remodeling. Maybe you just moved into a new house. Maybe you need to buy a few new pieces of furniture. Maybe you're bored. Maybe you just lost your job. Or a boyfriend. Or your mojo. Paint color can get you unstuck. In design and in life. If you don't believe it, try it. Then get back to me. There is magic and power in color.  Embrace it fearlessly and I promise you'll get things moving again. You may have to repaint that kooky lime green wall that you thought was a good idea right after you were dumped by what's-his-name, but big deal? It's cheaper than therapy, and the upside is you may come up with a really cool design idea through your broken-hearted artistic angst.  

5. You Have Extra Paint in the Garage
Ok - this is probably the last thing you'd expect to hear from me. And I do include this argument with a cautionary warning: don't use a color you don't like just because you have an extra gallon lying around. But do re-use a color if you have an extra gallon lying around AND you still find it beautiful and amazing and it fits the desired mood and function of a space. Here's an example. I had extra paint left over from our previous house. We lived there only a year, and painted six months in. So, we really only got to enjoy the color for about six months before we moved out. When we moved into our new house, I still loved the color and wanted to use it somewhere. We had just enough left over to paint the hallway, so I painted it. It looks great. And I have one less paint can in the garage. 

If you need help selecting the perfect colors for your space, call me or email me. I can help. 

Mediterranean Bungalow: Exterior Color Design Before and After

I had the pleasure of working with my clients on their Burlingame home's exterior this past spring. I was in the neighborhood for another exterior color consultation yesterday, and finally swung by to take a few pics. And wow - what a transformation! Sometimes the end result of a project is even better than imagined. I'm hoping to get back to take a few more photos soon. We did some cool color design on the back patio add-on that I can't wait to see. In the meantime, take a look at the before and afters. Goodbye dreary beige box, hello sunny California bungalow!

If you are getting ready to paint your home's exterior and need help selecting colors, call me at 650.867.3896 or send me an email at kelly@storyandspace.com. I can help! 

Front Door: Before and After

I finally got to painting our front door and siding this past weekend. What a difference, huh? I still have to paint the porch and some trim (and get a new light fixture!!!) but I'm amazed at the transformation already. 

Take a look at the before and after:

I also painted our house number and mailbox. 

Ahhh....the magic of color.