Now that I've given you my tips for how to choose inspiration images when you have a room (or a home, or even just one wall) to design, I'm excited to share what's inspiring the design of our own kitchen.
In my dreams, I'm designing a new build kitchen from scratch and picking out custom natural wood cabinets that feel warm but clean. Marble countertops and a white backsplash would freshen it up and keep it feeling modern but timeless. And of course I wouldn't stain or etch the countertops because this is a dream.
But we aren't building a house, and as much as I would love to completely change this kitchen and design the kitchen of my dreams, it’s brand new and mostly good (or at least decent) quality, and that would just be crazy expensive. We have other things to budget for right now besides a remodel (like furniture for the rest of the house! and travel is always one of our top priorities), and even if we didn’t, I don’t think I could stomach starting over on a kitchen that’s literally just been done.
However, there are lots of little changes that can be made, relatively inexpensively, that make a huge difference. Some people call this a "first round" or initial update - where you don't do a complete renovation or overhaul the room, but make a few key changes that are affordable and still have a big impact on how the space looks and feels. Sometimes this is just to hold you over until you can afford a complete remodel in 5-10 years, but for lots of people (probably us), this is pretty much the extent of what will be done because you can't afford to or don't want to spend a ton of money - but you can still make your space prettier, more functional, and somewhere that you enjoy being!
One of the small updates you can make (and affordable if you put in the work yourself) is painting cabinets. I'm really loving this warm grey color in kitchens - it looks light and clean, but not quite as sterile as white. It also just feels a little bit softer than white, and it's definitely timeless.
The backsplash that was originally put in our kitchen just doesn't match anything in the rest of kitchen (or the whole house for that matter), and replacing that with a simple, affordable tile will also make a huge difference, and be relatively inexpensive. I would love a handmade white subway tile for some texture, or a marble subway, but simple white subway tile is super affordable and always classic.
And the third affordable, simple change that most people can make in their kitchen is replacing cabinet hardware. Changing the finish or adding something more modern to a traditional cabinet can really update the look of a kitchen, and I am for sure a proponent of spending a little bit more on good hardware. A few hundred dollars for high quality hardware can make a kitchen look much more expensive without having to do any big updates. I really love matte black or brass for cabinet knobs and pulls, but our house has oil rubbed bronze finishes on everything (except in the powder bath for some reason). Even though I would love to change it, it's not a horrible finish, and it really does suit the style of the house, which is one hundred percent a Texas ranch. Since we probably won't live here forever, we want to be mindful to choose things that we like, but also fit in with our home's style. It might seem silly to change the hardware out for something in the same finish, but right now our hardware is so overtly ranch style that it's almost kitschy, so I think something cleaner and much more simple will make a huge difference.
We may one day replace our dark, busy granite countertops with white or light quartz, but that day isn't any time soon. So as I'm choosing the finishes and deciding what to change in the kitchen, I want to make sure that it works well with our current countertops (but also softens them because they're extremely muddy looking), but also won't have to be changed if we put in quartz. The last two pictures show something similar to that "someday" look with warm grey cabinets, white/light counters, and white backsplash, but without changing the countertops, we're going to have something more like this:
Except that our grout color will be different, and our countertops are even more busy/dark than those, and the hardware might be a little different...but it's close! The details with everything that I actually picked for the design are coming soon!