Thank you for your responses to my last post about vulnerability. I truly appreciate your comments, emails and feedback and am delighted that so many found it inspiring. I believe wholeheartedly in taking emotional risks, as I have learned first hand how magnificent the rewards can be. I am grateful you allowed me a moment to veer off topic, and to the one who gently suggested I stick to my day job — duly noted šŸ™‚



The design decisions regarding cabinetry for the entire house needed to be made just before the holidays. I knew I wanted Shaker-style (more on that below), but besides that, there were mostly question marks. Being a full on type-A, wanting to make well informed decisions I wouldn't regret later, I first went to look at a local cabinet making facility with my contractor  Steve to get ideas and see how exactly they are constructed, painted, etc.







This company specializes in a painting technique that is baked on (this is not the technical term) resulting in a very durable and chip-proof product. However to me, it almost had the appearance of Ikea furniure (nothing against Ikea), but kind of synthetic.

What I had in mind were cabinets that have a furniture like quality. Not so perfectly smooth and factory-made looking. I briefly researched local cabinet makers, but with time running out I decided to fly down our former cabinet maker from Seattle – Martin  -  to weigh in and see if he would be willing to construct all the cabinetry from Washington and drive them here. Luckily he was on board!!

I wish I had photos to show you of the kitchen Martin did for us in Seattle, but it was back in the day of non-digital cameras, so the photos are, for now,  packed and stored. Martin doesn't have a website, but luckily I found a photo of a kitchen he did that was published in a magazine.

Martin kitchen

Martin and I collaborated on the design by first looking at images I have bookmarked over the years. Since Martin mainly does Shaker cabinets, that was where we began. Here's a good description of that style taken from

"The unadorned cabinet style was first produced by the Shakers around the 1790s. The Shakers were a religious group that valued simplicity and solid craftsmanship. One of the hallmarks of Shaker cabinetry is dovetailed wood joints. No glue or nails are used in corners, so that the wood swells and contracts uniformly, resulting in an extraordinarily sturdy joint.

The Shakers valued neatness and orderliness. Furniture is well-suited to its task, with multiple drawers, shelves, etc., so that there is a place for everything. Built-in furniture was popular with Shakers because it fit the space exactly and had a specific function

Ornamentation for Shaker furniture was considered unnecessary. Once the piece had reached a point of exact functioning, it was finished. Plain fronts, limited trim and simple hardware were all that was required.

With its simple, clean lines, Shaker style furniture is suited to any decor. It can be modernized with high-tech finishes and ornate hardware, or fit comfortably in a traditional home using warm woods and old-fashioned pulls."

There are many decisions that go into cabinetry design. Here is a short cheat sheet of a few of them:

1. Exposed hinges vs. invisible.

As you can see from the image below, Shaker cabinet doors can be flush mounted, meaning they are not inset in the boxes and thus have hidden hinges.

 Also, notice the use of mixed metals. I love it. Often clients will ask me about whether it's ok to mix finishes and get nervous about the idea of not having all the metals be the same. I prefer a non-matchy look here (although in many cases I do!) and like combining silver and gold jewelry, so in my opinion it looks great and there are no rules!

Kitchen - invisible hinges and mixed metals

Here is an example of inset with exposed hinges. Ours will be very similar to these.

Grey kitchen island - greige

2. How do the cabinets meet the ceiling and floor?

I really like the simple base on these cabinets for the kitchen. The contrast of the dark hardware against the light cabinets is really pretty too. It looks like the knobs are painted the same color as the doors. Since there are so many and would have looked too busy in a darker finish, I think this was really smart.

Cabinet base

We have beams similar to these below going in the kitchen, so how to deal with how they meet with the tops of the cabinets took some attention. This image provided great inspiration.

Farmhouse kitchen
3. Storage and practicality vs. design.

The biggest tip I can pass along to those designing a kitchen is the benefit of drawers instead of doors in the lower cabinets. Other than under the sink, cabinets are not necessary and are actually a big pain. Think of how hard it is to find an item that has been pushed to the back.

We decided not have any cabinet doors in our kitchen including in the island. We are even putting our dishes in a drawer! The only exceptions are doors that when open, reveal a drawer for spices, cookie sheets, oils and recylcling.

There are many details in this kitchen that are similar to ours. The layout with windows on each side of the range, black trim and drawers.

Lights over windows

Another design vs. practicality decision was open shelving. I've thought about this quite a bit. I really like the look and many of the images I've saved have open shelves. In the end, I decided I'm not cut out to pull this off, nor are the habits of my family. I cook often, and despite the assurance of open shelf owners that they do not get dirty, I don't think that would be the case in our house. I had an open metro shelf in our house that was on the opposite side of the kitchen and found that I had to take everything off and clean it every few months. 

The other reality is that not every plate and mug and bowl match in our house. Being a full on type A, appreciating a clean look, seeing the mismatched items would drive me nuts.
Dark frames - greige

In the end we decided to have only two upper cabinets and they go from the countertop to the ceiling (no counter space between). 

Once Martin and I decided on the above, the next step was to plan where everything was going to go. I compiled a list of kitchen items and wrote notes on the drawings to map out where everything would be stored.

Here are the finished drawings (hand done- Martin is old school!)

Kitchen floor plan

Kitchen floorplan1

Cabinetry Elevation

Cabinetry - window wall

Island Elevation
Island elevation1

Desk Wall Elevation
Desk wall elevation1
There are still a few more kitchen decisions to be made – paint color, countertop and tile selection and island wood finish (I'm leaning towards unpainted Walnut). So stayed tuned for future posts. In the meantime, if you would like to see more images I've collected, please go to my Pinterest page –  here


Have a wonderful week!

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