top of page

A partial kitchen renovation...or what to do when life gives you oranges.

Updated: Apr 8

Or orange granite that is.

Remember when I was discussing my own issues with redesigning my master bathroom? Not being able to just tear out everything I disliked and start over gave me a bit of a mental and emotional block. But sometimes you have to work with what you've got. When life gives you lemons and all that. So today I wanted to share with you the client project that made me stop and realize that I didn't need to start from scratch.

A client of mine had just purchased a new home and did the sensible thing. He got to work having the whole house painted and some repairs done. He invested in some solid, neutral furniture that he knew would last him a long time. But then he got stuck. He WANTED more color. He WANTED some personality in the spaces. But he just didn't know how to work around THE BIG ORANGE ELEPHANT IN.....THE KITCHEN! Enter the partial kitchen renovation.

View from kitchen looking into open plan family room showing updated wall colors and new furnishings contrasted with the old kitchen.

The previous owners had picked out this orange-toned granite and plopped it on top of orange-toned wood cabinetry. From this angle it doesn't look too bad, but when you turn around...

Kitchen with orange toned wood cabinetry, orange toned granite countertops and backsplash, inadequate lighting and mismatched appliances. can see just how much of a statement all that orange makes! My client did not want to make that statement! Additionally some unfortunate lighting choices and mismatched appliances left the kitchen feeling dark and very dated as well.

Before he called me my client already had a good start choosing a nice warm grey for the walls, but he was confused about what to do next. He didn't have the money for a big kitchen renovation right away. And he didn't want to replace the countertops until he COULD do the big renovation. But he couldn't wrap his head around how to make the countertops work in the mean time.

So where did I start with this partial kitchen renovation?

I started by creating a color palette that would work WITH the granite and make it feel more intentional. I pulled out my handy color decks and matched a golden tone in the stone to a paint chip. Working with the client's new wall color and the gold from the stone, I pulled it all together with a dark navy, a warm white and a natural straw color.

Paint palette for kitchen using existing wall and countertop color, and adding in navy, white and tan.

This combination feels relaxed, casual and a little bit coastal. Once I had the palette figured out it was time to get the elements of the kitchen working together.

Concept board for partial kitchen renovation.

You can see from this concept board that now the stone feels like part of a more cohesive design.

For the perimeter cabinets I specified the warm white color on both uppers and lowers to brighten up what was a very dark area. I also recommended adding a filler piece above the cabinetry to give the illusion of it extending up to the ceiling like in the picture at the top. The lowered cabinets just added to the dated feel of the space and created dark shadows up by the ceiling.

Short stock cabinetry that was made  to look more custom with filler piece and trim above cabinets.

Here's another example of what I'm talking about from Centsible Chateau. You can see that finishing out that area above the cabinets creates some more visual height and eliminates the dark shadows.

Cabinet pull in champagne finish.

A champagne finished cabinet pull lends a fresher more modern feel while relating to the colors in the stone.

White refrigerator with champagne door pulls.

White appliances with the same champagne hardware color maintains the uninterrupted lines of the cabinetry.

I specified the dark navy color and an applied board and batten treatment on the island for some contrast and visual interest. Creating more of a feature out of the island will help draw the eye to IT, and away from the STONE. Some backless stools painted white and upholstered in a natural colored Crypton fabric add a nice contrast against the island while eliminating anxiety over stains.

Now let's talk lighting. Here's another look at what was there.

Detail of poor lighting in kitchen.

All of the existing lighting was far too dim, and because it was directional, it created shadows around bright "hot" spots on the benchtop. When you were standing underneath one of those spotlights at just the wrong angle, it shone uncomfortably into your eyes. The fixtures themselves hung too low and made the ceiling feel like it was coming down on you.

Detail of ceiling fan in kitchen.

Then there was this fan which I have no words for.

To replace the fan and the light over the island I chose a coastal inspired flush mount light. The color relates to the rest of the hardware and the frosted shade diffuses the light so it's not so harsh.

New ceiling fixture specified for kitchen.

Then, for the rest of the fixtures I specified a slim LED potlight.

LED pancake pot light retrofit.

These little lights look like traditional potlights on the surface, but they are very thin and don't need a lot of space in the ceiling. They can be installed in any regular junction box, but can also fit in tight spaces like over joists and in plaster ceilings in a pancake box. The LEDs are tunable, so can be adjusted from 3000K (or the warmth of an incandescent bulb) to 5000K (which is closer to daylight). For a workspace like the kitchen I would choose something in between these two values. Using a cooler light in the range of 4000K will also subdue the warm tones of the countertops. At 500 Lumens a piece (measure of brightness), these LED lights will make a substantial difference in the the livability of the kitchen.

Now I had a jumping off point for the rest of the first floor, and here are the rest of my concept boards for the project.

Living Room

Living room concept board using color palette developed for partial kitchen update.

Dining Room

Dining room concept board using existing furniture and decor in color palette developed for partial kitchen update.


Entry concept board using color palette developed for partial kitchen update.

There is A LOT that went into the design choices in the other rooms, so I will save that for another time! But what I hope you can see is that I was able to create a cohesive plan that felt like it was designed intentionally by working WITH the thing my client couldn't change.

Orange elephant clipart.

So what is the ORANGE ELEPHANT in your home? If it's something you can't change right now there's still hope! Think about ways that you can make that thing feel intentional and you're on your way to a more peaceful coexistence. And peace with your home is a luxury we all deserve!

You can receive notifications of new blog posts by clicking on the "Sign Up" button at the top of this page.


If you would like to see more Interior Design Inspiration head over to my Portfolio for a little eye candy.

If you need more assistance pulling a look together for you space, you can read more about what I offer on my Services page.


bottom of page