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Design Like a Pro

Have you ever gotten “stuck” in the kitchen remodeling process? For example, many property owners find it difficult to pick out and pair cabinets and countertops. After all, it’s not just about liking the color and style of the individual materials: it’s also about whether they look good together in your kitchen.

Indecision doesn’t need to be a roadblock in your investment. Here are top tips to finding the best pairing of kitchen cabinets and countertops:

Talk to a professional

A professional remodeling contractor or designer can make your life so much easier. An expert will not only help guide you through the kitchen renovation process but can also provide you with context. A seasoned designer or contractor has worked in dozens—if not hundreds—of kitchens and can suggest cabinet and countertop pairings that work well together, based on your preferences and tastes.

If you’re taking the DIY approach, start your journey at a kitchen remodeling store. Many have kitchen design consultants on staff to advise homeowners on what colors, styles, and materials pair best together.

Select your style

Home remodeling shows have introduced a variety of kitchen themes into the popular lexicon, including “farmhouse,” “contemporary,” and “classic.” Each style has its own countertop and cabinet pairings. Think of these styles as guides: while you don’t have to completely emulate every aspect of a particular style, staying within their boundaries gives you a starting point for selecting sinks, appliances, accessories, paint, backsplash, and more.

Be sure to think about how your preferred kitchen style fits within the rest of your home. Your kitchen might contain an island, but it isn’t one. You don’t want your kitchen to stick out like a sore thumb from your living room, dining room, and other adjoining spaces. For this reason, a farmhouse-style kitchen might not be a good fit in a contemporary townhome.

Try before you buy

Many stores sell small pieces of countertop and cabinet material for homeowners to take home with them. Store showrooms are well-lit and designed to put countertops and cabinets in the best-possible light—pun intended. To get a feel for how a pairing will really look in your kitchen, you will need to get some samples to put under actual light in your kitchen.

If your kitchen features natural light from a window or skylight, set the materials down and then start a timer. At various points in the day, return to your kitchen to see what the materials look like in different types of light. This will give you a good feel for what the cabinets and countertops will actually look like when you’re entertaining, cooking dinner, or making breakfast.

Of course, this try-before-you-buy approach has another advantage: it slows down the process, giving you time to think about your choice before making the final decision.

Samantha Johnson is a remodeling writer for Superior Stone & Cabinet, a cabinet and countertop superstore in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.