Home & Garden

Try gray cabinets with steel appliances

Q. We have a small, rectangular kitchen that sits open to the eating area. It has new steel appliances, which I can't afford to change, but I'm not sure what color cabinets would look best to take the clinical edge off the shiny steel. I'd also like your opinion on the backsplash area, which is now white tile. Thanks for all your imaginative ideas.

You are right to be thinking about your kitchen as an integral part of the whole open-plan living space. Considering the expense of the cabinetry, counters and appliances, the kitchen decor most likely will outlast the color choices in your living and dining areas.

Think about the overall mood you would like to convey in your home, and then look to a palette of colors that enhances that feeling.

Steel appliances are still the most popular, although we are seeing more colors, such as bronze, on the horizon ('50s retro is returning). However, your cabinets take up much more visual space and will set the tone. You can go all wood for a country or formal style, dark green, blue or red if you want to create some drama, or acid greens and yellows for updated, edgy appeal.

The updated kitchen shown here is a youthful, modern space that has it all. The stainless-steel appliances are flanked by the newest shade of gray cabinets with brushed nickel hardware.

A bright band of yellow glass tiles livens up the backsplash area. This back wall of cabinets and backsplash becomes the focal wall for the living space. Choose accessories for your dining area that will connect with the yellow and/or gray, and this busy living space will work as a single, vibrant unit.

Too much oak?

Q. We are renovating, and the main floor will be an open-concept living/dining and kitchen. The dining-room furniture is my grandmother's medium-oak table, chairs, hutch and china cabinet. Do you have suggestions for the kitchen cabinets and hardwood floors that would go with the dining set? I love oak but fear that more will be too much.

I agree with you that all-wood is overpowering; it feels too heavy to me. But this is a personal choice, and there are those who disagree. There are no rules – simply choose what makes you happy.

I would check out the amazing selection of door designs and paint colors available in kitchen cabinets. Select a traditional door style that will complement your dining-room set, and a heritage color – berry-blue or blood-red paint or stain.

Another option is to go with wood, left natural or painted white, but mix the cabinet doors so that some uppers have glass inserts. For the kitchen floor, high-quality vinyl and linoleum are practical materials that come in a huge variety of designs and colors. Dark-blue-and-white checkerboard would be stunning.