An expert's guide to choosing kitchen finishes


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An expert's guide to choosing kitchen finishes

By emily.bailey

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

An expert's guide to choosing kitchen finishes

Lost your way in the field of options for kitchen hardware finishes? This advice will put your renovation back on track.



Deciding on finishes is one of the most challenging parts of a remodel — particularly a kitchen remodel. Browse the Houzz discussion boards and you'll get a taste of how confusing the process can be. 

Of course, what makes it even more complicated is that there's no set rule to choosing materials and finishes. "There are as many rules as there are clients and designers, or even combinations of clients and designers," says architect Thomas Ahmann. Every project is different. But there are still some general guidelines that can help you make sense of your kitchen remodel. We talked to three Houzz professionals — Ahmann, Steve Justrich and Robert Kelly — who gave us their best professional tips for choosing a kitchen materials palette.

1. Start with your Countertops

“Countertops require careful contemplation, especially for a large island, as this can be the biggest single item of color and texture,” says Ahmann. This large surface area is a great place to start and can be the basis for the rest of your kitchen’s materials palette.


Choose a countertop that’s durable and easy to clean. Justrich recommends looking into granite or composite materials like Caesarstone first. For a bigger statement, go for stainless steel, zinc or natural wood. Aim for light, smooth and reflective materials. Large-format tiles or slabs of stone will minimize grout lines and create a smooth and easy-to-clean surface. 


Kelly recommends sticking with a single countertop material, with a slight variation at the pantry or island, for consistency and simplicity.

2. Consider the cabinetry

Depending on the kitchen, Ahmann might start with the cabinet as the beginning of the materials palette. “This is what ends up being most ‘in your face,’ as the wall cabinets are smack dab at eye level,” he says. 

Kelly keeps his materials choices as simple and natural as possible. Slate, marble and wood are all common choices. He recommends sticking to a small palette — three or four materials — to keep it simple. Look for light-colored cabinetry to keep the space open and bright, using other materials in small doses for visual depth and texture.

3. Use additional finishes to pull the space together

“Let contrast be the key,” says Justrich. “If the counters are rich and dark, go with a lighter backsplash. A monochromatic approach is great, but if the countertop is visually active, calm it down on the backsplash.” Choose a backsplash color that visually contrasts with your countertop and cabinetry. Floors are usually decided based on the surrounding rooms, but make sure the colors won’t clash with what’s in your kitchen. 


The other little things — lighting, fixtures, bar stools and hardware — can tie the look of the kitchen together. Again, less is more here. “Kitchens of multiple materials and colors require a lot of finesse,” says Ahmann. 

How did you choose your kitchen materials palette? Share your photos with us on Facebook and Instagram.
This article first appeared on Houzz on August 11, 2012.


Vanessa Brunner | Houzz editorial staff

Vanessa Brunner | Houzz

Houzz editoral staff.