I’ve got a question for you – do you like open shelving in a kitchen?
Short answer: I don’t!
I know it’s controversial, but this is one trend I just can’t get behind. And I don’t typically recommend open shelving in the kitchen for my clients, either.
Most clients that I design kitchens for really can’t afford to lose the valuable storage space that upper cabinets provide. And open shelves are no substitution for well-organized closed storage.
Kitchens are already clutter-magnets with all of the dishes, cookware, gadgets, gizmos, small appliances, and linens that need to be stored there. And to me, there’s nothing more peaceful than closing those cabinet doors and seeing a clean and organized kitchen.
Open shelves take work to style beautifully and take even more work to maintain.
The one exception?
If you have an incredibly spacious kitchen where you can sacrifice the closed storage that upper cabinets bring in favor of more decorative open shelves, then go for it.
But, keep in mind that open shelving in a kitchen looks best when all of the dishes on display are uniform and neatly arranged. A row of white coffee mugs and stack of white dinner plates look ultra-chic, while a row of mismatched coffee mugs from your college years and dinner plates you’ve collected over time can make your kitchen look like a kooky flea market.
And if that’s not the look you’re going for, you’re going to curse those gosh-darn open shelves.
Here’s the long and short of it:
Open shelves in the kitchen can be fabulous if you’ve got beautiful monochromatic dishware to display and plenty of closed storage elsewhere for your other (probably less beautiful but definitely useful) kitchenwares.
Otherwise – keep your upper cabinets and keep your kitchen sanity.
Thinking of redesigning your kitchen?
I’ve got a FREE kitchen design checklist for you! This is the exact tool I use at Lesley Myrick Art + Design when I start a new kitchen remodel project. It includes four major categories to consider as well as alllll the nitty-gritty details you’ll need to cover in each category.
Having this checklist as a guideline helps me start and manage a kitchen design with confidence, and I hope it will do the same for you. Download it right here.
This is one of those things that seems a little quirky and taboo, and people are really unsure if this is okay – can you use rugs in the kitchen?
My answer: heck yes to rugs in the kitchen!
Area rugs are an awesome way to bring a jolt of color, pattern, softness, and sound-dampening to a space. And a kitchen, with all its hard surfaces, can really benefit from something soft and squishy like an area rug.
An area rug (or more likely given the space constraints, a runner) is a rad addition to a galley kitchen or a kitchen with an island. I like to leave a few inches of space on either side of the runner to let some floor peek out, but I don’t want the rug so narrow that my feet hang off of it when I’m working at the counter (ugh).
What do you need to know about rugs in the kitchen?
First: that any rug in the kitchen is going to get wet and dirty. It’s inevitable. So be sure to select a rug that’s durable and easy to clean. A 100% wool runner is a great choice for a kitchen, as is any kind of indoor/outdoor rug.
A good-quality vintage rug that has stood the test of time is also a rad idea for a kitchen. That distressed look is going to be super-forgiving with kitchen spills and stains.
But please, for the love of all that is holy, stay away from rugs that contain viscose fibers! While viscose looks real pretty (it has the look and feel of silk) that stuff is a nightmare to maintain, in the kitchen or otherwise. Viscose rugs shed, stain easily (even plain water can leave marks), and are a big no-no from many designers I speak with. Rugs crafted of a natural fiber like wool, or a durable synthetic like polypropylene are far better choices for a kitchen.
If you’re dreaming of updating your kitchen, be sure to grab the FREE Essential Kitchen Design Checklist to help you get started.
Your kitchen lighting – just like your diet – needs balance to be healthy, happy, and functional. If you’re wondering how to choose lighting for a kitchen, there are 3 types of lighting your kitchen requires, and I’m going to give you the scoop on all three.
Disclosure: Some of the products featured were sponsored by a brand I use and love for myself and for my clients, Lamps Plus. Thank for your support!
We do a lot of stuff in our kitchens,
from cooking to cleaning to homework to entertaining to eating ice cream out of the carton in front of the freezer late at night. (No? Just me?) And one of the BIGGEST differences between an average kitchen and a phenomenal one is lighting.
Nope, not cool backsplash tiles or cabinet knobs – it’s lighting.
So, what are the three types of lighting your kitchen needs?
Ambient, task, and accent lighting.
…is the main source of light in a room, and it needs to cast general light everywhere. In modern kitchens, ambient lighting is most often seen as recessed lighting (also called can lights or pot lights), but since my Texas kitchen was built in 1959 and had no recessed ceiling lights (UGH!) we chose this cool industrial-inspired 4-light oil-rubbed bronze track fixture instead.
I don’t love the look of most track lights – I find them too modern and sterile – but I loved the warmth of the oil-rubbed bronze and antique brass. Plus, give me an Edison bulb any day of the week! I love the cozy, vintage glow.
…is designed to bring extra illumination to areas where specific tasks happen (like chopping food or eating ice cream standing in front of the freezer). Ambient lighting is a great start, but doesn’t cut it on its own.
We installed an antique gold Sputnik-style chandelier to light up the table in our eat-in kitchen, and also a Kichler wood and iron mini-pendant over the sink. Pendant lights over an island are also a great example of kitchen task lighting.
Finally, accent lighting…
…brings that little extra bit of zhush to a room. To continue with talk about ice cream, think of it like you’ve got the sundae (ambient lighting) covered in whipped cream (task lighting), and now it’s time to add the cherry on top (accent lighting).
Accent lighting creates a magical glow that makes a space more special. In a kitchen, you’ll often find accent lighting as under-cabinet lighting, above-cabinet lighting, toe kick lighting, or even in accent lamps. While the under-cabinet lights are off in these photos (because natural light is where it’s at for interior photography), know that I love and use under-cabinet lighting all the time.
Now that you know about the three main types of lighting a room needs, it’s time to talk about:
how to choose lighting for a kitchen.
First, I refer to my Essential Kitchen Design Checklist! Having this checklist as a guideline helps me start and manage a kitchen design with confidence, and I hope it will do the same for you. Download it totally free, right here.
Second, I take inventory of what lighting I have that’s working, what fixtures need to be replaced, and what additional lighting needs to be added by an electrician. While keeping in mind that I need all three types of layered lighting – ambient, task, and accent – I make a list of all the light fixtures I’m looking for, from recessed lights to pendants.
I don’t start my search in the dark (LIGHTING PUN!). I make sure I have a list and a plan so that I can get the best result – and the best-looking kitchen – possible.
And last but not least, I go shopping! I’m a big fan of sourcing online, and Lamps Plus is one of my fave secret sources for cool, affordable lighting.
FYI, I pay really close attention to customer reviews to see if there’s anything I need to be aware of (like, if the fixture looks more brassy in person than in the photos) and I also carefully check the dimensions of the fixtures before ordering. Those measurements are essential when ordering online – you might end up with a chandelier that’s way smaller (or way larger!) than you expected if you’re not carefully checking dimensions.
If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen lighting,
or if you’re considering a full remodel, be sure to grab the FREE Essential Kitchen Design Checklist to help get you started.
Designing a kitchen is a TOTAL BEAST. There are soooo many details to consider, from countertops to cabinets to cooktops. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to select grout or overlooked including undercabinet lighting when creating a kitchen design for a client. Don’t you wish there was a kitchen design checklist with all the items you’d need to select for your kickass new kitchen?
Get ready – I’ve got something rad for you.
It took me years (and a few mistakes along the way) to come up with a comprehensive checklist to make sure I had all my bases covered, and this thing is IT. And I’m sharing it with you, totally free, to save you time, money, and mistakes:
The Essential Kitchen Design Checklist
There are four major categories to consider when designing a kitchen:
Fixtures + Finishes, Plumbing, Appliances, and Storage.
Fixtures and Finishes includes the fun stuff, like counterops and cabinet colors. It also includes the boring (but necessary) stuff that needs to be selected, like the edge style and thickness for the countertop, and the grout color for the floor tiles. These are the kind of seemingly small design decisions that have a big impact on the overall result of a kitchen remodel, yet most homeowners aren’t prepared to make these kinds of selections and this indecision can really bottleneck a project.
Plumbing also seems simple (you need a faucet, right?) until you realize how many other elements are part of this decision, like the type of faucet mount (Centerset? Widespread?), finish (Chrome? Brass? Matte black?), or features (Pulldown? Touch-activated?).
If you’re designing a whole new kitchen layout, then the world of appliances is your oyster! Be sure to pay attention to size and electrical needs so that your contractor and electrician make the correct allowances (and so that your fancy new oven works properly!).
If you’re working with an existing kitchen layout, pay attention to how wide the openings are for your appliances – a 24″ wide opening will not fit a 24″ wide appliance, and you’ll need to factor in a little wiggle-room to make sure things fit.
And of course, storage is a major consideration in a kitchen design. This is the time to look into awesome storage solutions to make your life easier, like pull-outs, drawer dividers, and baking sheet dividers.
This FREE kitchen design checklist is the exact tool I use at Lesley Myrick Art + Design when I start a new kitchen remodel project. It includes four major categories to consider as well as alllll the nitty-gritty details you’ll need to cover in each category.
Having this checklist as a guideline helps me start and manage a kitchen design with confidence, and I hope it will do the same for you. Download it right here.
Who doesn’t love a good before-and-after? Get ready, because all month long I’m sharing a tour of our Texas home, including the living room, master bedroom, kids bedroom, my office, my husband’s office, and the kitchen. Finally – the dark teal kitchen!
Disclosure: Some of the products in this before-and-after were sponsored by brands I use and love for myself and for my clients, including Sherwin-Williams, Metrie, Lamps Plus, House of Antique Hardware, and The Findery. Thanks for your support!
The 1950s were great.
Sure, they were great – like, 70 years ago. But kitchens do not usually stand the test of time, and our Waco kitchen from 1959 was no exception. While there was an attempt to update this space by a former homeowner in the 1990s, it wasn’t exactly a home run.
Here’s what the kitchen looked like the day we moved in:
The cabinets were original to the home and had been painted white at some point, which certainly isn’t terrible, but they were definitely dingy. The flooring was awful ceramic tile made to look like slate, with grout lines a mile wide. (Ugghhh it got so dirty!) The wallpaper? Yeah, I could’ve lived without that. And that fluorescent faux-skylight light fixture? That needed to be ripped out, like, yesterday.
But the absolute worst part about this kitchen? The countertops. I’d have loved something as retro chic as Formica, but nope – these countertops were made of 4×4 white square tiles.
As a countertop.
So what improvements did we make to this kitchen?
As with the rest of the house, the flooring was the first major change. We ran the same vinyl plank through the entire house, which was such a needed update. The only flooring we kept as-is was the cool herringbone brick in the front entry, which you can see a snippet of in the photo above.
Lighting was next on the list, and boy did a couple of new fixtures update the look of this kitchen! We replaced the outdated fluorescent box with a cool industrial track light, and updated the chandelier in the dining area with a funky brass Sputnik-style pendant, thanks to Lamps Plus.
After we added crown molding and new baseboards from Metrie, everything got a fresh coat of my favorite crisp white paint, Sherwin-Williams Extra White. Everything, that is, except the lower cabinets, which we painted DARK TEAL! I loved Sherwin-Williams Cascades so much in this kitchen that I used the same color in my new office.
A dark teal kitchen had been my dream like, forever, and I’m so happy with how it turned out. Especially when we added this orange and fuschia wool runner which made the teal really pop.
The boring white cabinet knobs were replaced with distressed antique brass knurled knobs, which brought a lot of texture and vintage character. And the backsplash was an awesomely easy DIY update – because it’s not tile. I tried out Quadrostyle Stickers because I’ve been so curious about peel-and-stick backsplashes, and this one was a smashing success. (Even my contractor didn’t realize it wasn’t tile until he looked closer.)
Since we kept the original cabinetry,
we were able to splurge on new countertops, and I have to tell you, concrete countertops are the bomb-diggity. Since our dining table was zinc and looked a little like natural concrete, we chose white concrete for the counters. Twisted Concrete in Texas totally made my countertop dreams come true. No more grout lines to clean!
In the dining area of our dark teal kitchen,
we kept the mismatched chairs that we had collected over the years, and had a reclaimed zinc-top table custom made by The Findery in Waco, Texas. We loved the vintage iron bases, and were able to keep the same bases (but add a new, larger butcher block top) in our new home.
The oversize abstract art was made by me, inspired by Atlanta artist Britt Bass Turner. (Her paintings are waaaay better than mine, btw.) And the draperies are from World Market, but sadly, are no longer available.
Thanks so much for following along with the before-and-afters of my Texas home, including our dark teal kitchen. This was such a special house since it was the first home Nate and I bought, and the first house we were really able to put our stamp on. We were truly able to bust this home out of boring (and bust it out of ugly!) and I’d love to help you bust out of your boring home too. Let’s talk.
I looooove me a good project reveal! This Waco family-friendly kitchen remodel was such a blast to work on, and any time a client gives the go-ahead for a bright blue island you just KNOW the end result is going to be smashing.
If you remember the “before” photos, my client was trapped in a generic wannabe-farmhouse kitchen with a faux shiplap wall. A sledgehammer took care of our little shiplap problem lickety-split, and the custom-designed massive 11′ long island became a much-deserved focal point. This sweet family has 3 kids under 3 and a large island to seat everyone comfortably was a must-have (as was a low-maintenance quartz countertop).
Mixing metals, layering textures, and playing with color and pattern was key to bring interest to this otherwise neutral space. Black hardware and fixtures are unexpected and fresh, which meant that brass and chrome accents could layer in without being too dominating. (I’m obsessed with those black hexagon drawer pulls!)
The large reclaimed barn door was already in the home, and I love it because warms up the otherwise cool palette in the kitchen. Without warm woods, a blue and white kitchen would feel pretty sterile. Brass + wood = instant warmth and contrast.
You can never go wrong with tea towels that feature animals dressed like humans, right? Even kitchens need a little quirk factor.
And just for fun, while we were busy smashing down shiplap and busting up bad tile floors we did a little makeover of the laundry room and master closet too. The ho-hum laundry room got jazzed up with graphic concrete tiles and a fresh quartz countertop, and we designed a pretty little office nook in the master closet to create a much-needed private home workspace for mama.
I bet they’re going to have a pretty epic Thanksgiving dinner in their new super family-friendly kitchen! (And I hope they invite me, too.)
Photos: Jeff Jones Photography
This Waco family-friendly kitchen remodel is in full swing – we’re about four weeks in to an eight-week renovation. I love designing projects of this scope. A full-scale renovation means there will be an UHHHMAZING reveal at the end and I can’t wait to see it all come together.
Here’s the scoop: my clients weren’t happy with the layout of their kitchen thanks to a weird floating wall and a strangely shaped island, and there was also a “f**king shiplap wall” (their words, not mine – although I find it hilarious!) that they wanted removed. The kitchen was certainly pretty, but totally average. Greige walls, white cabinets, beige granite, beige floor tiles. You know the stuff. Here are a few before photos to give you an idea of just how borrrring this kitchen was:
It’s not shown in these photos, but there was a huge amount of space between the stove and the sink (located on the island), making working in the kitchen pretty impractical. This family has three young kids and they ain’t got time for a badly designed space.
The dining area also left a little to be desired:
So what’s the design plan for this kitchen?
Spoiler alert: it involves teal, funky tile, and some badass pendant lighting.
These are two of the moodboards I presented to the clients to communicate the overall vibe and color palette of the space. The layout and some of the decorative elements have changed a bit during the design and renovation process, but I don’t want to ruin the final reveal so I’ll keep the updates a mystery.
Just know that I might be sneaking a white llama planter in there somewhere, as seen on this pinboard where I’ve gathered fixture and finish ideas for this remodel.
If you’re curious, this is how the remodel is progressing:
Buy-bye, fake shiplap. That wall is already gone entirely (replaced by a sturdy support beam hidden in the attic) and things are moving quickly on this Waco family-friendly kitchen remodel. Big reveal coming in a few months!
One of the biggest design investments in the home is your kitchen. If yours is less-than-awesome, how do you know if it’s worth investing in a kickass complete remodel or if a less expensive makeover will do the trick? Here’s when you should renovate a kitchen (and when you should just leave it alone):
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.
Let’s talk kitchens, baby.
Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here, interior stylist and owner of Lesley Myrick Art + Design where we create interiors with an offbeat edge.
Kitchens. If yours is kinda needing some love,
How do you know if it’s just time to do an aesthetic upgrade or a full-out renovation?
I recommend my clients make aesthetic changes when it just comes down to the fact that they don’t like the look or design of a certain element.
Now, what if the issues with the kitchen go beyond just “I don’t like my doors?”
What if there are practical and functional issues?
There’s not enough light coming from the ceiling, or your kitchen was built in the 1950s and the shelves are not adjustable so your cereal boxes don’t fit – which is a real problem I’m currently having.
Or, there’s something else function-wise that’s really inhibiting your use of the kitchen and – if you plan to move any time soon – the resale of that home.
When it comes down to functional issues –
– something isn’t meeting your needs, something is broken beyond repair, something doesn’t have enough of what you need to be adequate – that’s when it’s time to really consider gutting and renovating, starting fresh, and designing a new kitchen that’s going to meet those needs and look totally kickass.
In a kitchen aesthetic improvements are a bandaid solution. If you’ve got a kitchen with some small problems a bandaid solution is probably going to be just fine.
When function AND aesthetics are lacking,
that’s when it’s time to consider doing some more major work on your kitchen.
Now, some people think selling a house, you’ve gotta update the kitchen. That’s not always necessarily the case. I would recommend consulting with a designer or realtor and getting a professional opinion.
Sometimes renovating a kitchen can be a great thing for resale
and can bring in a profit; but sometimes, having a kitchen that needs some work can actually be a negotiating tactic while you’re selling and it can work to your advantage not to put the work in to it.
So – don’t do a kitchen renovation for someone else.
Do it for you. Do it to make your home feel better, work better, function better, and so you can live better.