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Kitchen inspiration for the not-so-inspired

So, today I’d like to talk about how to find inspiration when you really are just so overwhelmed with ideas that you can’t focus anymore. This made me think of the topic I’m about to talk about: how to get through a [kitchen] renovation when you aren’t particularly visual or creative.  I’d say most people have at least a touch of creativity in them, but coming from a creative background I know that most people are not able to visualize things as a whole when seeing only pieces. Don’t feel bad, it’s just the way most brains work! I am much more confident in this area than most, and I think that comes from “being born” with creative bones, but also from honing these skills as an artist and a graphic designer.

The only time I have trouble is when buying things online, because the colors and textures you see on your computer screen can just be SO incredibly different from what you actually thought they were. I always get samples when shopping online. However, I can go to the big box store, grab a sheet of tile, and know with great certainty that this is going to work with the color of my cabinets, flooring, and countertop. I can stand in the store and literally visualize these elements together, with the tile up on the wall, and know that I will or will not like it. I know this is unusual.

So, what if you are not me? You stand in that tile aisle for house, trying to pick something only to bring it home and hate it? Next time, you bring the cabinet in, and are still so overwhelmed that you take 3 things home, only to find that the countertop clashes when you get the samples home? What do you do next?  Sometimes don’t you just think, “I’ll know it when I see it, but this isn’t it”?

I have a few ideas!

Here’s a screenshot from my pinterest pinboard

Pin Your Style.

I think the hardest part of any kitchen remodel is finding out what your style really is. One way to find it, believe it or not, is using pinterest. Make an idea board just called “Kitchen Design ideas”, then visit inspiration websites just as Houzz, BHG, etc. and pin anything and everything kitchen related you see that you like. Even pin things that may not be “kitchen” items, but you love anyway. Go crazy!

Before long, your board will be full of photos, and you will begin to see patterns emerging. A lot of things you pin will have a common theme: like white cabinets, or granite countertops with lots of movement, or breakfast nooks.Don’t restrict yourself!  Just because you have an older home and most of your design reflects that, you may tend not to save/clip ideas that lean toward modern style. However, pinning these items anyway, even though they won’t work on their own, may give you ideas to what modern elements you are attracted to. A lot of these elements when combined with a more classic style can look beautiful and stunning when married together. There are all types of new styles that combine modern and rustic elements, farmhouse sinks with crazy industrial lighting and high-tech faucets with beadboard backsplashes. Anything goes anymore!

It’s really fun to see what you come up with when you don’t put any pressure on yourself or restrict yourself from picking things that you normally wouldn’t. My kitchen redesign board is ALL OVER THE PLACE. And I love it! I pin whatever I like and don’t restrict myself. However, you will still see many trends if you take a look: clean lines, unexpected pops of color, a “lived in” feel, shiny stuff (lol).

Although my board doesn’t necessarily define my style (unless you call it eclectic), it does make me conscious of what I’m attracted to, and what I’m not. What I think works well together, and what doesn’t work for me. Redesigning a kitchen and choosing materials involves a lot of personal decisions. It’s your opportunity to put your stamp on things. What you love I may hate, what I love you may hate. Who cares! That’s what there’s so many options.

Inspiration: In a Bag?

This morning I stumbled upon a website called design in a bag. They are an online design resource that put’s together little design packets, or bags, that can help you pull all the elements of your kitchen renovation (or bath renovation) seamlessly.  I am not one to write blog posts advertising another website, and whether you actually purchase the “bags” from this company really makes no difference to me. But, what I do love is the concept. Upon visiting the shop section of the website you are prompted to choose your style or color palette.  The styles you can choose from are modern, classic, and vintage. The color palettes range from cool, to warm, to neutral. So, even if you aren’t interested in purchasing,checking out the bags may give you more clarification on what you are actually attracted to, and what that style/color really is (i.e. Warm Vintage, Cool Modern, Neutral Classic).

Vintage Inspiration Bag

I chose Vintage as an example. Upon scrolling over the vintage “bags”, you can see a photo of selected materials that will go well together: from cabinet color, wall color, tile, and countertop choices. Below is a screenshot of the detail page, which not only shows the photo, but where to put each individual element in your kitchen.

It also gives a generic pricing amount for the tile pictured. To get all of the names of the products within the bag you have to purchase it, for about $70-$120.00.  I’d recommend taking those pieces, and using them a a guide. For example, maybe you really love the natural wood tones and the beautiful tile… but the tile feels a bit dark to you. Try looking for a similar tile that may be a little bit “lighter” but still is in the earthtone color scheme. You can easily find some options that would brighten (or lighten) up the space without straying from the style of the design bag:

This quartzine natural stone has a similar “vintage” feel with lots of texture for interest, but is much lighter and brighter
This tile has more saturated color, but still has a very vintage vibe. The geometric pattern also ties in a little bit more to modern style.
Perhaps this vintage pattern suits you better? It would still go great with the selections above.


Piecemeal Design

Piecemeal renovations involve incorporating new elements into a space a little at a time (aka: as your budget allows), instead of doing a complete overhaul/gut job.  It’s a difficult way to design, but it’s a reality for most people.  This is what I’m currently doing with my kitchen redesign.  A big part of piecemeal design is to find something that will work “in the now” but also wont restrict your dream design choices — those big budget items that you want, but can’t afford until you save up!

Obviously what I have, and what I eventually want, are very, very different. But, I am working at this. I’ve chosen countertop and tile that will not clash with my kitchen cabinets. Even though I don’t particularly like the color of my existing cabinetry, I can’t ignore it, so I need to think about how they will work in the space until have the budget to change the cabinets to white.

This is the custom backsplash I decided on. Not only is it beautiful, but it mimics the effect of the subway tile in the “dream kitchen” photo. The biggest difference is the addition of the marbled colored tile mixed with the white. This not only adds interest, but also incorporates flecks of the color of my current cabinetry into the design so it will fit with my existing kitchen.


This is the countertop I chose. While it has much more movement than the “dream kitchen” photo, I actually like the energy. It also picks up color from the tile backsplash I chose (above) and my current cabinets, but will work in a kitchen with white cabinetry in the future as well.

With only a small amount of compromise, I was able to find a countertop and backsplash that will go with both my “reality” and my “dream” kitchens. The end result is actually even more beautiful and unique than that of my dream kitchen inspiration photo. I’m glad I took the time to make sure everything works now while keeping on track with my future renovation goals.

I hope some of these examples gave you the inspiration to move forward with your project! The key to success is planning for the future (dream) while considering the present (reality).

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