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Looking back on a completed project, many homeowners—when asked why they waited so long to start—note that the hardest part is knowing where to begin. There’s just so much to consider when renovating a kitchen, from setting a total budget and finding the right materials to making decisions on style and colors. In this article, we’ll provide some guidance on this last part: picking what you want your kitchen to look like and pairing together counter tops and cabinets for an aesthetically pleasing, matching combination.

Select a style

The rising popularity of home remodeling television has gifted us a whole new lexicon of remodeling buzzwords: “ROI,” “open kitchen,” “reno.” But, the biggest impact of these programs as a whole has been the popularization of several kitchen styles. These kitchen designs are built around a single motif, and are often tied to an evocative idea of what homeowners want their kitchen to represent and be: “cozy,” “stylish,” “clean,” or “homey.” 

There are three predominant kitchen styles at the moment: classic, contemporary (modern), and farmhouse. Each is distinct from one another: contemporary kitchens feature stainless steel appliances and sinks, use subway tile for back splash, and feature dark colors such as black quartz and granite counter tops. Farmhouse kitchens, in contrast, feature warm colors, natural wood, and—of course—that now-famous over sized white ceramic sink. Classic kitchens steal a bit of design inspiration from both directions, with neutral colors found in modern kitchens alongside some cozier elements from the farmhouse style.

Unless you’re also planning on renovating your living room, dining room, bathrooms, and beyond, make sure your desired kitchen style fits within the greater context of your home. A farmhouse-style kitchen in an otherwise modern-style condo might feel out-of-place, just as a contemporary kitchen might in an otherwise cozy, down-to-earth home. When in doubt, solicit a second opinion from your friends and family—or, even better yet, a design professional. More on this below!

Choose what gets a starring role

The old adage, “Too many cooks in the kitchen” actually applies to your kitchen remodeling project. If everything—counter tops, cabinets, floors, and back splash—is trying to be the visual focal point of the kitchen, the end result, more times than not, is a mismatched mess. Too often, homeowners want everything in their kitchen to make a visual statement, not realizing that this often results in nothing holding the eye’s attention. 

Instead, work with contrasts—both in color and boldness. A beautiful granite counter top with large, natural veins in the stone is best paired with neutral-colored cabinets, like a simple white, off-white, or light grey. Cabinets that feature natural wood in rich, dark colors like mahogany or amber are a great fit with white or off-white quartz. 

Of course, if a statement piece isn’t the right fit for your kitchen’s style, you can stick with neutral choices for both your counter top and cabinets. For example, dark grey cabinets with white quartz is a popular combination in many homes.

Make things easier by working with a professional

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but homeowners have a lot more than just their own personal taste to account for. Even if you’re not thinking about listing your home today, you still need your kitchen remodeling choices to speak to prospective buyers in the event you list your home a year, five years, or ten years from now. As any realtor can (and will) tell you, no one likes the “unicorn” on the block—a home that is so unique that it sticks out from others in its size and price range.

The good news is that you don’t have to do this on your own. A kitchen design professional can help you find counter tops and cabinets you love at the right price to fit within your budget. They can steer you toward popular combinations, provide personalized advice on what works best together, and really help you bring your desired kitchen style to life with flooring, lighting, back-splash, and paint choices.

If you’re just now starting your kitchen remodeling journey, you’re at a great spot to bring a designer or contractor into the conversation. Ask your neighbors for recommendations, read online reviews, and vet out some trusted professionals in your area.

Find the perfect match for your kitchen

For a closer look at winning color combinations and to get even more style inspiration, check out this info graphic from Superior Stone & Cabinet in Phoenix, Arizona. It contains suggested cabinet and counter top pairings, as well as even more tips for moving forward on your remodeling project.