Category Archives: Color

3 Tips for Selecting Kitchen Cabinets

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your Pinterest feed pinning inspiration pictures that you like left and right?  Many of them don’t have anything in common but yes, that pic of gorgeous pendants is amazing…

and if you were designing your dream kitchen you would have to have a hidden dry erase board in it.

On Pinterest it’s fun to dream that you CAN HAVE IT ALL. Pinning and dreaming are free and your boards have all the space in the world to build your dreams.

But what happens when it’s time to take a good look at your Pinterest board actually make these dreams come to life? Within your budget, your square footage, and without looking like a hodgepodge of individual good ideas.  You may find yourself feeling much like how Esther does about selecting a theme for her sixth birthday party… overwhelmed.

Use these 3 Tips for Selecting Kitchen Cabinets to help avoid that feeling.

Think Long Term

Cabinetry and flooring are two of the harder and more expensive finishes to replace in a house.  So just like we did with our flooring we wanted to select a cabinet style and finish that wouldn’t date itself in five years or that might not be great for resale value.  So while I do love colorful kitchens like this one…

I plan to bright spots of color in barstools, flowers, and artwork like this kitchen.

But you know if yellow is your favorite color and it has been for twenty years and your pretty sure it will be for twenty mores years go ahead and use yellow cabinets.

For this reason I also stayed away from selecting gray cabinets.

I love them but grays have so many different undertones like red, blue, and green that i didn’t want to be restrained to using only accent colors that worked with the undertone of the gray.  I do however love gray cabinets and still think it looks beautiful in our townhouse kitchen.

Think Cohesively

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is making sure the style and color of your finish work with everything else you have selected for the kitchen.  I knew from the beginning that I wanted a white subway tile backsplash like in our townhouse kitchen.  It adds a clean and classic look to any kitchen and is also inexpensive. You may remember from one of our earlier posts that we are reusing the black granite counters that were in the kitchen.

These counters are really what the entire kitchen design revolves around.

So while I love the white on white on white look…

I needed to know how white cabinets and a white subway tile backsplash looked with black granite.

I liked what I saw. So now the decision remained… which type of cabinets to use.

Think Budget Wise

We have a set budget for the entire Whistle Haven project.  After working five years as an interior designer in healthcare design I learned a thing or two about making spaces look beautiful on a budget.  It’s easy to create a beautiful space with endless amounts of money but good design happens when you stick to and work within a budget AND create a beautiful space at the same time.  That’s been my goal with Whistle Haven.

So while we could afford to have custom cabinets made and installed I really felt like we would have missed out on some of the bells and whistles that I wanted in our kitchen. Like soft-closing cabinets, huge pull-out drawers, and under cabinet lighting.  Michael Luke and I are also a couple that loves tackling a good DIY project.  After reading several reviews on the quality of their modular cabinets and with the opening of their store here in Memphis in December we just couldn’t resist going with IKEA cabinets.

We chose the Bodbyn style in off-white… which really reads more as a white.  I’m absolutely in love with the detailing on the doors and look forward to seeing my kitchen surrounded by beautiful white cabinets.  IKEA offers so many options that there are virtually limitless ways you can customize your kitchen design to fit your lifestyle. If you haven’t ever visited an IKEA showroom before you are really missing out on all the fun of walking through living space after living space and testing out all the drawers and doors and finding neat storage solutions hidden within.

All the parts to our kitchen cabinets were delivered almost two weeks ago and are waiting on ML and me to tackle them once our flooring gets installed.  By choosing IKEA cabinets with their 25 year warranty… which we are really excited about, we are saving thousands of dollars vs. custom and semi-custom cabinets from other brands! Plus, I get all the bells and whistles I wanted with my cabinets.

I promise another post soon with all the details on how we designed on our IKEA kitchen and what the whole process looks like from the first sketches to cabinet delivery. In the meantime, what is your one board that you pin the most to?

For me it’s my crochet board.  I’m always looking for cute crochet patterns and stylish ways to incorporate crochet into my home design.


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Champagne It Is

Once we got the floor busted up we realized that it was time to make a decision on flooring.  I’m normally a pretty quick decision maker.  ML is one of those people who like to exhaust all their resources and not make any decisions until he has done thorough research. So we make quite a combo.  I do the initial sample pulling, pinning of ideas, and share my ideas with him and then he challenges me to keep going while he gathers all the technical information and pricing details.  Normally by the end of this process it’s usually pretty evident what our best choice is. With our flooring it really wasn’t any different.

So let’s talk about it.


The first decision we had to make was what type of flooring did we want to use throughout the downstairs.  With soon to be three kids, two pets, and hopefully lots of friends in the house we knew it needed to be durable and practical.   Before I dive into the three types of flooring we considered let me just share that as popular and practical as ceramic “wood” tile is it just isn’t for us. I don’t know why and I can’t explain it but my feet are very picky about the type of flooring they walk on barefooted and cold, gritty ceramic tile just isn’t one of them. Plus, since we live so close to the train tracks I really want a floor that will work to absorb some of the sound.

Originally we through we wanted hardwood flooring because it could be sanded and refinished down the road if we ever wanted to change the stain color.  The more we looked at our options the more we realized this might not be the best choice.

For one thing laminate and engineered flooring was sometimes half the cost.  Meaning that later down the road if we ever wanted to change flooring it would be just as affordable to replace it.   Laminate flooring has really come in a long way and in terms of durability it is probably one of the best choices of the three types of flooring.

It’s also a great way to get the look of expensive flooring for a fraction of the cost. I mean look at some of these beautiful options available. It was certainly enticing but in the end we ended up choosing engineered hardwood flooring.

Engineered hardwood is made of a core of hardwood or plywood with a layer of hardwood veneer affixed to the top surface.  It’s more resistant to moisture and heat compared to solid hardwood. Since it’s actually made of wood it sounds like wood when you walk on it instead of the sometimes hollow sound you get when you walk on laminate flooring. Since less hardwood is used in the construction of each flooring plank the cost of the material is less. Once again broadening our choices of flooring to choose from because some of those expensive hardwoods get on up there in price!

The hardest part wasn’t choosing the type of flooring though it was choosing the type of wood, finish, and stain that we wanted in our flooring.

So if you’ve been on Pinterest any at all lately you may have noticed that gray floors are the flooring to have right now.  

They are absolutely beautiful but flooring is not as easy to swap out as paint or pillows on the sofa.  Flooring selection is a long-term commitment and as beautiful as the gray flooring we didn’t want to choose something trendy that we might regret five or ten years down the road.  So gray flooring was out.

Our initial serious favorite was a flooring with a dark almost chocolate/coffee stain.

This beautiful dark flooring really contrasts with white trim and cabinets and gives off a subtle clean and contemporary feeling.  It’s as if it’s saying, “I’m stylish and know what i’m doing here. I’m bold and beautiful!” But then I talked to my sister who is in her second house with dark flooring and she shared with me how hard it is to keep looking clean and that the dark flooring shows every little pieces of dirt.  Ok, remember the part of the story where I’m a mom to almost three kids and two pets.  I’m also a mom who is NOT good at cleaning and certainly  not used to cleaning the floor daily.  So the chocolate/coffee flooring was out.

Before  I move onto where we actually landed with our flooring choice let me just say that for some reason I didn’t want a super light or yellow finish flooring. So the typical look of the lighter oak flooring wasn’t really something we considered.

To help us nail down a flooring stain finish we turned to our fire place. The brick in it has some beautiful reds and blues that we wanted the flooring to pull from.  We laid out samples against the fireplace and finally began to narrow down the stain color for the floor.  

We chose the second flooring from the left. It is a medium color wood finish with hints of red in it that highlights the natural grain of the wood. And you know… I has totally won me over and I get the feeling I’m going to love it more than the dark chocolate flooring that first caught my eye.


We pulled sample pieces from several vendors here in the Memphis area before finally deciding but in the end chose the Mullican Lincolnshire Hickory Champagne.  I can already envision the planks bringing a feeling of warmth to the rooms. We are crazy about the slight color variations throughout the flooring. From the beginning we were pretty sold on using hickory.  It’s one of the harder woods used for flooring meaning that it won’t scratch as easily as birch, walnut, or oak.  Because we want the floor to be durable and because we love the look we chose a hand scraped finish with some distressing.

I love the look of distressed flooring because my vision is to have a wood flooring that looks like it could have been there since the house was built in 1979.  Of course the 5″ wide planks may give away the fact that it hasn’t been but don’t you just love the look of wide planks?

So there you have it.  That’s all the thinking that went behind our flooring choice. Well really not all the thinking because I left the more boring  parts out. But if you are considering including engineered flooring in your home renovation project or in your new home take some time and research the wear layer on top of the wood finish, the thickness of the wood veneer, the warranty on the product you are looking at, and if your flooring choice can be re-sanded and finished in the future.

Our hickory flooring will run throughout the downstairs except for the laundry room and half bath off of the kitchen and in our master bathroom.

So as we keep moving forward in our decision making process of selecting finishes, how do you choose to incorporate trendy fashions in your house?  Interchangeable artwork, pillows, bold colors on the walls?

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Master & Commander

Construction is well under way at Whistle Haven but the dining room walls are not the only thing we have removed.  Nope. My goal is to completely update the feel of this 1979 house by replacing finishes and fixtures AND opening the space up.  So let’s talk kitchen.

From the beginning we knew we were going to change a good bit of the kitchen layout.  The existing cabinet layout wasn’t going to work because one of our goals was to open up the kitchen to the dining room and to the living room.  To do this we needed to almost completely remove the wall that the stove was on.

The doorway on the far left of the picture above leads to the living room and the space beyond the stove and counter leads to the dining room. Before any major demolition could be done though the granite counters and cabinets needed to be removed.

The house was listed as a foreclosure and for some strange reason the bank actually had new granite counters installed. So while black granite probably wouldn’t be my first choice for a counter it’s estimated that we have around $4000 in new counters that can be salvaged.  So even though the footprint of the kitchen cabinets will change we will be able to reuse the existing granite counters… saving us a good deal of money.

And like any interior designer I love a good challenge.  It’s been fun incorporating these black counters into our dream kitchen design.  But before we get to the dream kitchen part lets back up to the demo part.

We took down most of the cabinets ourselves. And by we I mean Michael Luke did most of the work and I helped in small ways like removing shoe molding and shooting videos of him hard at work.

And while it would have been fun to take a hammer or ax to those cabinets obliterating them from the wall we tried to keep them intact because they may find a new life in Michael Luke’s work room just off the garage.

So what will the new kitchen layout look like?  The new kitchen is going to become my command central for the house. From the spot where the sink is in the picture above I will have a view of both the front and back doors and all main living areas of the house.  Just call me Master & Commander (of the house).

Cabinets will span the entire wall of the kitchen with the sink and refrigerator remaining in the same place.  In front of the cabinets will be a nine foot long island with seating for six people  The island area will be our main seating area in the kitchen vs. the traditional stand alone table with chairs that would have been used in the previous layout.

The floor plan above shows the large cased opening that provide a clear view of the dining room and living areas.  Along with seating at the island in the kitchen we left a little room by the window for a small bistro table of sorts for Michael Luke and I to use in the mornings for our quiet times or breakfast together before the girls wake up.

Ok, so let’s take a look and see what a difference removing a wall can make.  Below is the original view into the kitchen from the living room.

And then we opened up the view by removing the wall all the way to the stairs!

Doesn’t it really open the space up?  And here’s the view from the kitchen looking into the living room from that same opening. Remember this was the wall that had the stove on it.

And here is my master and commander view of the downstairs. The picture is taken from behind where the new island will go.

And finally a look back at the opening into the dining room from the kitchen. 

So that’s pretty much where we are now with the kitchen. Michael Luke has completely removed the tile floor and now we are just waiting on the installation of flooring and then we can get to work installing the kitchen cabinets.  I’m so excited about all the finishes and can’t wait to go into details with you in another post.  In the meantime, tell me the one thing you would not leave out of your dream kitchen? For me it’s adequate storage for all my large counter top appliances like my VitaMix, InstantPot, and griddle.



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