Once upon a time (okay, in 2009) my friends Donna and Gary bought a condo and updated and remodeled the whole thing.
The most striking transformation - ugly duckling to beautiful swan - was the kitchen. And here's the color story of how the design evolved.
It went from this...
The basic footprint of the condo kitchen worked fine. Donna wanted to raise the ceiling, keep her white appliances and beautiful granite-top table.
So she built the color scheme step-by-step, using color as building blocks, as she chose each element for her kitchen.
Donna loves Ikea's brown-black cabinet color, but rather than replace her cabinets, she transformed them with paint.
And yes, using a fantastic product called Cabinet Rescue, painting laminate cabinets isn't hard to do! For how-to, see Refinish Kitchen Cabinets.
Her color matching inspiration?
A ripe Haas avocado in a bowl on the kitchen table!
It was the perfect brown-black shade for the cabinets. (The paint counter guy is probably still talking about the time he color scanned an avocado.)
Donna loves the elegant neutrals in Pottery Barn catalogs.
She decided on a soft gray wall paint, with white trim and ceiling that would match the white appliances she was keeping.
The light-colored walls and bright white raised ceiling keep the rich deep brown of the cabinets from making the room feel small and dark.
Donna's pretty granite-topped kitchen table - which we realized at some point matches her cat! - was something she wanted to keep and use as a focal point.
She looked at pricey granite countertops that were similar, but since the whole house needed a makeover, budget kitchen remodeling was a priority.
So Donna decided to go with an inexpensive, sleek 6" pale gray ceramic countertop tile (with matching epoxy grout) which wouldn't compete but rather enhance the beauty of the granite tabletop.
The tile color also brightens the work areas so she doesn't need under-cabinet lighting.
Floor tile in a taupe color - brown with gray tones - doesn't show dirt (flooring that's very dark or very light shows every little speck) and enhances the grays and browns of the room.
And - is this weird or what? - in another hilarious coincidence, the floor tile matches the family dog!
The multi-toned backsplash gives the kitchen a rustic charm, and the varying tile colors add texture, depth and interest to the simple, classic colors of the surfaces around them.
The stainless steel sink - a unique super-deep one from the local Ikea store (only around $160!) - is matched by the cabinet hardware (also from Ikea store) and other stainless accents.
Cushion fabrics in the new custom kitchen booth echo the other colors in the room.
Thinking of remodeling?
Keep a notebook or scrapbook of notes, clippings and ideas.
Kitchen magazines are expensive - look through them in the grocery checkout line. If you see pix of a kitchen you really like, buy that magazine.
Stop in at home centers and pick up any free cabinet manufacturers' catalogs.