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6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a Lifetime

by | Aug 14, 2013 | Decorating Inspiration, Kitchens

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6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a Lifetime

Update: my current kitchen remodel

Do you have your own favorite kitchen style? Kitchens are my favorite rooms to study and design. I’m in withdrawal right now since mine is done! HEH! I would love a house of kitchens (um, yeah) so when one kitchen was done, I could go work on another one! That would be fun, I think. I do love the design part of kitchen remodeling.

But since there are no more kitchens at my house to work on (not that I’m really complaining about that, I am thrilled with the one I have and pretty happy to be DONE!), I will gaze at pictures of kitchens to get my fix. That way I will be ready for another kitchen, too, just in case.

Dreaming about kitchens is almost as fun as actually doing one! It got me thinking about the mix of elements she used that made me love it.

What is it about certain kitchens I love so much?

Today I am sharing a few kitchens that caught my eye and will share six tips or observations about why perhaps I loved them all. I think observing rooms you love and studying their finer details is how we can learn to appreciate design and understand our own taste better. It isn’t all about having money, it is about having personal taste for a DIY kitchen if you choose to!

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a LifetimeDesigner Sawyer Berson

I can pass a million kitchens on Pinterest or in a magazine before one really sings to me. I feel like I must be really picky about kitchens, but I’ve come to learn that I have distinct elements I like, even if they all come together in a unique way. I have refined my taste over the years but even as styles change, some things remain constant for me in design.

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a Lifetime

Case in point, I still love my old kitchen (above) as much as the day I designed it maybe eleven long years ago (back in the dark days before blogging and Pinterest!) I agonized over each detail all by myself with a stack of magazines, but I’m SO glad I did.

Accessories might change with time but the room itself would still feel right to me, just like it was back then (even though there were things I didn’t get to change due to our budget, like our floors — they were things that could have evolved or been updated later.)

As I study kitchens I love, I try to find some common ground on why they stand out to me above the rest. So I love playing the game of observation when I look at pictures of homes, studying each one to decide what it is I like about them.

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a LifetimeAtlanta Homes

The other fun game I play is a ‘take away’ game after I’ve gathered a bunch of my favorite room photos together. I wonder if there is any common element or unified principle that I could ‘take away’ and maybe use on my own home.

I think that is a fun way to do a kitchen. Neither of my kitchen remodels were high end and neither are in similar styles of houses, but I was able to put together the most important elements for both of them that make me happy because I had studied so many pictures of what I loved.

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a Lifetime

My previous kitchen remodel

I knew what elements mattered to me the most and what were items I could update or change easily to accommodate evolving times and styles. And I was able to stay true to the style I love in a way that complemented the unique style of the house.

Most importantly for my budget, I was able to get a more “high end” feel without the high price tag because I was aware of the vibe I knew loved rather than paying for all expensive elements to accomplish it.

And sometime soon maybe I’ll have to do a comparison between my own two kitchens because while they are different, there are commonalities that makes me love them both.

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a LifetimeTraditional Home

Sometimes I confuse myself about why I like two different kitchens. Why am I not a stickler about wood counters since I loved them so much in the old kitchen? Why can I absolutely love a kitchen with a funky yellow island and still be happy in an all white more serious kitchen? Why do I pass by some photos of kitchens and not feel my heart leap out of my chest and other ones stop me in my tracks to drool?

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a LifetimeJas Design Build

Usually if I think about it long enough, I find the common ground that helps me make sense of MY style preferences. I start to look for elements I can love for a lifetime and then secondly, how I could adapt them to blend with the style and existing features of house I have. 

So what are the reasons I love these kitchens?

Finally, I’ll answer that question below!

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a LifetimeSarah Sherman Samuel

Here are 6 take away tips about why I love these kitchens.

1. Simple classic details, overly fussy is not my fave.

2. Contrast in color or an abundance of texture for interest.

3. Solid stone or wood counters are all good — simple black, white or gray or wood.

4. Some open shelves or glass doors for every kitchen.

5. Interesting lighting, faucets and/or hardware are a must.

6. Smaller and cozier rather than gigantic open kitchens.

If a kitchen has ALL of those elements, I am more likely to love it.

Did I miss some other common ground?

Even if mine are not your personal favorite elements, you can do this exercise yourself.

Find six or more kitchens that make your heart sing.

Then see if you can find the common thread that makes sense of your style!

6 Tips for a Kitchen You Can Love for a Lifetime

How about you?

Do you play these games when you look at design photos?


  1. Sarah

    I am loving those marble counter tops and that yellow island. I could move into any of these kitchens happily!

  2. Sharon Lefavor

    I could live with Sawyer Berson’s kitchen. I love the white stacked cabinets. Granted I would never be able to reach the upper cabinets.

  3. Celena

    I love the clean lines in all those cabinets! I’d love to redo JUST the cabinets in my mobile home. I wonder if that would be terribly expensive???

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Cabinets can be expensive but if it’s a small space it might be worth it to you to really love your kitchen! I would contact a contractor and ask because my contractor for my last kitchen got a much better deal on cabinets because he basically put them together himself on site (he ordered the drawers and doors and made the cabinet boxes himself). Also perhaps you could find some at a reStore that you or a contractor could modify to your liking!

  4. melle@feathered ruffles

    how about if I send you pictures of my kitchen, tell you what we’ve got planned as far as moving stuff (like major appliances and door ways) around, what my absolute must-haves are, and you can send me plans for MY kitchen. LOL!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Sounds like fun!! Ha, no promises I could get to it, but I might be tempted to offer some ideas!

  5. Shannon [Our Home Notebook]

    I loved seeing the why behind some of your favourite kitchens. They’re beautiful. It helps me think about the elements that I really love too.

  6. Jennifer

    I had serious kitchen withdrawl for a good year after I finished mine. I just couldn’t stop designing the perfect kitchen in my head for my next house even though we have no plans to move, lol. My kitchen was just a facelift and I made decisions as it progressed. After we painted the cabinets white it felt sterile, but adding wood details/wainscoting, then glass cabinets, then hardware, and finally bamboo shades for texture is what turned it into what I wanted. There are even more things I’d love to add eventually-a wood vent hood, a rug after my puppy is housebroken, and pendants above the island. It’s all in the details!

  7. Betsy Derr

    Oh, yes! I play that game, too! It’s one of my favorite things to do. I often randomly select a favorite room photo, then go try and duplicate something I see in the photo, using what I already have. That’s what I call FUN!
    My Dream Kitchen:
    1. Island with beaded board, painted different color than cabinets (most likely green), wood counter
    2. A few glass cabinets (no open shelves – too dusty here in the desert!)
    3. Under Cabinet Lighting
    4. Cream colored cabinets with contrasting counters
    5. A gorgeous chandelier
    6. Farmhouse Sink with skirt underneath
    7. Fronts of refrigerator and dishwasher to look like cabinetry
    8. Wood floors
    9. A built-in hutch with feet
    10. Stainless Steel appliances
    11. Lamp on counter
    12. A few ceiling beams
    13. Cup pulls on all drawers w/matching knobs- Oil rubbed?
    14. Cute sign over coffee station
    15. Table nearby with 2 upholstered end chairs

  8. Laura

    Melissa, I really enjoy reading your posts. You have inspired me to start a blog on my own ( and share my own personal life and home decor adventures.

  9. Marilyn

    Referring to the layout of your “old kitchen.” I notice you did not have a “landing” place on either side of your refrigerator. I’m planning a layout for a kitchen that would leave only a 12″ landing next to the refrigerator. There would be space to put items behind me on the island–do you think that is sufficient? Thanks.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      We did not have room for a landing next to the fridge, nor much in the way of a landing near the stove top. Since we went with the original layout of the room we couldn’t adjust those things. Instead, we compromised what maybe was the “right” way to do it for what worked just fine. We definitely used the island directly behind the stove and fridge, as well as the counter to the right. The stove itself worked as a landing space too, if I needed to set a pot down or something down for a second, I just set it on top of the stove! The floor worked too. Funny how we can make do even if something isn’t ideal. Saving money on the layout was pretty huge to us so it was worth being flexible on.

  10. Ginger

    I noticed that 4 of the pics also have detail on the ceiling while one has planked walls. Could that be an item of interest? I have planked ceilings so it is also a feature I love. Beautiful kitchens!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes, I adore wood details on ceilings! They can be so blank without wood or molding or beams! But alas, since I wasn’t able to plank our ceiling or add molding or beams at least yet, I planked a small section of wall instead. Gives me a similar vibe to the overall room (at least in my mind ha), even though it isn’t as awesome as an entire ceiling. Good observation!

      • Dierdre Main

        I love the planked ceiling too! And on a budget, painted beadboard give a great addition to the wall.

  11. Tracy

    Loved this post, especially your kitchen and the one by Sarah Sherman Samuel. To be honest, if it’s white with a splash of colour here and there then I’m going to like it.
    I’m going to look back at all your old posts.


  12. MarieRoxanne

    The kitchens that make me drool are a French Country Farmhouse style. I will never have that in my small condo. I need money to purchase the necessary appliances. (old fashioned style of stove, fridge and microwave, they cost thousands of dollars each) I really love the big farmhouse sinks with skirts and glass cupboards where I can display colorful fancy embossed plates with embossed flowers or animals. How I dream of a perfect kitchen like that!
    But I make do with what I was given and just keep that dream kitchen in my mind where I can go escape once in a while.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yep, keep that dream alive! But if the big dream items are not practical for where you live now or the budget you have, I’m sure you can add some elements that will give you a touch of that French Country Farmhouse style. At least in furniture, accessories and dishes!

  13. Sarah {702 Park Project}

    I’m currently in love with white on white on white in kitchens. I just feel like it is so crisp and classic. I want to do white cabinets and white quartz countertops, with some glass cabinet fronts and some solid. Wood floors and an island painted a different color will add the depth I think it will need. Thanks for some inspiration! :)

  14. Julie S

    That first kitchen with the orange and blue made my eyes pop. Upon closer inspection, I have that exact same look and color of table and chairs, and my three main house colors are orange, blue and green. PINNED. Thanks for inspiring me! I think you have great taste in kitchens, btw. The one with the weathered table in the middle also caught my eye.

  15. Tanya

    You can come over anytime and study my kitchen if you want :)

  16. Jay Lillien

    I love all of these kitchen pictures!! and i love that all of the pictures have nice window installation for me windows in the kitchen are a must to give that more relaxed feel because kitchens are always so busy. Great tips too!

  17. Dierdre Main

    Good plan to break it down like that. I often look at photos and think “I love it, but I could never do it in my space…” But if I figured out why I like it, I could likely incorpoarte some of the ideas into my space too. Usually, I love the bright colors, but out of the 6 kitchens you posted, I think the white one with the simple subway tile is my favorite. Now, to figure out why…

  18. Helene

    I began a whole kitchen remodel about this time last year. Like you, several months later, even though I was “done” and quite happy with the results, I couldn’t stop looking at kitchens and trying to decide what I liked most about them. A year later and I am just now being able to put the project down, so to speak. Perhaps that is a good sign that we enjoyed the ride? Anyhow, I would be personally thrilled if you did a point by point comparison between your two kitchens! They are both breathtaking and seem to reflect your family’s personality and the home’s locale superbly. It would be fun to read the whys and wherefores that were behind all your decisions.

  19. Tonya

    It was nice to see some galley-type images in this post. Most beautiful kitchens we see in blogland are big, open kitchens (which I do love). I have a very small, walk-through galley kitchen that is the first room in the house(have to go through it to get into the rest of the house) and I’m always looking for ideas to make it prettier as it is the first-impression-setter for my home.

  20. Michele

    Great post Melissa. Lots of points to help people think about their own planning and design and what speaks to them specifically. You should create a kitchen design book! Haha. I was just thinking how it seemed like something you’d read as part of a good design instructional piece. You’re passionate about it. Why not? :D
    Oh and put a picture of Jack and Lily on the cover (and throughout) and you’d be sure to sell a zillion copies. Bahaha. I’d buy it!

  21. Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm

    This is a great post! The orange and blue accents in the first kitchen are fabulous! I despise “perching” and am not a fan of islands but those blue island chairs are the best I’ve ever seen. I do like open, spacious kitchens; there must be enough room for people to sit as well as help and in smaller, cozier kitchens people bump into each other, no matter how good the design.
    I like an L shaped kitchen, birch cabinets, piano hinges on the cabinets, a dish rack, a fireplace and a long table for both prep work and sharing meals. I’ve had pumpkin, blueberry, white and now red walls and loved them all. Just this week, I discovered I prefer a freezer on the side and not on the bottom but the last refrigerator we purchased is freezer on the bottom. It’s more difficult to locate frozen goods and, there are days my wonky back, thinks ill of me for having to stand on my head to search for frozen food. Black appliances still suite me as they center and hold the kitchen.
    My next kitchen is going to have under cabinet lighting because track lighting isn’t enough…not for these old eyes. A couple of weeks ago I placed a small lamp on the counter and that helps a lot! I still want comfortable seating, on the rug, in front of the fireplace as well as comfortable seating at the table, my old sepia print of The Gleaners over the fireplace, my thistle candle stick holders on the mantle. Also, my next kitchen will have a gas cook stove with a convection oven.
    A suggestion…spend some time wandering around a home appliance store looking at refrigerators, stoves, etc. It helps to know what’s available and that helps one make good decisions.

  22. glenda

    I love beadboard but have never used it, and I dont have any, is it pretty easy to work with?

  23. Deborah

    I just found your blog and am now a follower. I am in the middle of a major kitchen remodel (everything gone and walls being removed). After having lived in our home for years. I have envisioned removing walls I am finally doing it. We are working with the design/builder on the project. I found your advice wonderful, as I have been following a similar approach for our kitchen. Including creating a Pinterest file that I am sharing with the designer. This is our kitchen and I want it to reflect us. I am using the designer to help with flow, and kitchen usage. The decor and little touches are all mine. We do bounce ideas off of each others as we continue to refine the design. I love they way builders approach building today. You work on paper and in 3D designs until you have what appeals. Then when it is time to build you have limited surprises and changes. I love your style and feel we kindred spirits. Thanks for sharing and happy designing.

  24. Paul

    Hi, I love the blue bar stools and orange lamp shades in the first photo by designer Katie Rosenfeld. Any chance someone knows how I can get hold of them for myself?

  25. Christina

    You make a nice point about money and taste. Having taste can help you do more with less, especially with a DIY remodel.

  26. Carole M :)

    I love your blog here, Melissa! Looking at these fabulous kitchens gets my re-do juices flowing, again. LoL Just moved into a newer house, so hubby and I have been checking out these kitchen ideas. Six years ago we remodeled a “whole” house and we enjoyed remodeling my new kitchen together (he’s so resourceful!). All of my lower cabinet shelves he made to pull out so my baking supplies were easier to get to, as well as my baking and stove top pots-n-pans were more accessible. He’s planning on making my lower cabinet here to function the same way for me ~ yay! Since we both liked the looks of burning the wood on the cabinets, we went with that “look” (yes, knowing we could always change it to painted or stained later, when chances for getting tired of it would more than likely happen ~ LoL) It was just so much fun making it ours! :>D It wasn’t perfect by any means, but we enjoyed putting our ideas together. Ain’t nothin’ like making a house “yours”.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you Carole! How exciting to be working on a new home and kitchen! I’m glad you stopped by, thank you for your comment and sharing.


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