Kitchen Design: Color For The Long Term

Guest Post from Susan Serra of The Kitchen Designer

So, we are ending this series on color in the kitchen by looking to the future and thinking about color, and how you can use it as part of your kitchen design over time. Do you have a crystal ball? I didn't think so. I don't either. But, hopefully, by virtue of my hindsight, insight and a bit of foresight, plus not having thought about much else over (cough) years (note to self, feed the kids) I hope I can provide a helpful perspective on a few ways to look at color over the long term.
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We are in an era, as I stated yesterday, of having vastly increased confidence in our own personal style and in how we express ourselves in our homes. This confidence means that we will consider a broader array of design possibilities which might appeal to us. But, most of all, it means that we're all ready to take greater risks! Risks in everything — materials, design concepts, and color!
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I would venture to say that selecting colors, let alone evaluating risk tolerance in color, is among the most difficult decisions to make when planning either a kitchen renovation OR a kitchen facelift, where the larger elements stay as is, but the "layer" of accessories are yet to be chosen. Those accessories can be expensive!

Here's my perspective on where we are now. I feel that yes, we are all happy and confident and ready to express our individuality via the materials and colors that we select for our kitchen design — but we also want whatever we choose to stand the test of time. We do not want to tire of too much of "anything" in our homes.

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The recent financial crisis brought home that money may well be more precious than we previously realized, so better to be a bit conservative when improving one's interiors. Added to that is a renewed (or new) environmental responsibility that is compelling us to not discard our possessions so quickly just because something new has come along or we have grown tired of a previous design choice in a particular color, for example.

Where does that position color for the future? Obviously, you must follow your own heart. If your heart tells you that you MUST have fire engine red cabinetry, but that little voice tells you that there is a chance you could tire of it, then you may want to follow the bigger environmentally conscious voice which says to paint one wall fire engine red instead, in case you develop another voice in ten years that says "throw the red cabinets out!" Looking at color in several different lifestyle scenarios at the front end, is really what you want to do now.

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So, then, I can't buy the fire engine red cabinetry? If you may throw it all out in ten years, well, yes, it's something to feel guilty about. That's our current knowledge base as of today.

I'd have to advise making the assumption that short-term use of large design elements is harmful to the environment. That also goes for fire engine red countertops and appliances. If you truly feel that you'll be a red lover forevermore, then those are the people who should be buying the red appliances, countertops, and red glossy cabinetry. Those, who have a real commitment to it. I hate the word should, but making purchases last long-term is where it's at right now!

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Paint has got to be at the forefront now more than ever, to give you the color jolt you need. If you tire of it, no biggie.

Otherwise, my personal philosophy is that I DO like change in my home. So, here's a tip. Change your kitchen interior frequently. Buy the things you love. When you get tired of them, simply move them to another room. That goes for artwork (which I think everyone should have in the kitchen...there's that word again), colorful pottery that can be used for utensils, colorful dishes (having more than one set of dishes is just fun) and of course having multiple colorful servingware, table cloths and placements, and replacing a tile backsplash after a period of time, say (in my world) 8-10+ years to give you a fresh look but keeping the basics intact.

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Those elements, and more, will hopefully be of sufficient interest over time to keep things fresh — sort of a rotating collection of color stories.

It's been a terrific experience to share my thoughts on color in the kitchen with you! Thank you AT and The Kitchn for the invitation. Questions or comments, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for sharing, Susan! We so appreciate you bringing your wonderful design sense and eye for color to The Kitchn this week!

More posts on color from Susan Serra:
Modern Kitchen Design: A New Authenticity
White Kitchens: The Absence of Color
Color in the Kitchen...On the Cheap
A Pinch of Sugar Color

Visit Susan Serra's weblog:
The Kitchen Designer

(Images: Skona Hem; Susan Serra)

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