Stainless steel, wood and most stones are typically going to look great for a long time.The kitchen is the cornerstone of any home. With so many tasks to cover, including food storage and preparation, family congregation, communication organization and homework central, it's difficult to create a space that's functional and beautiful.
Luckily, creating a fantastic, harmonious design using the three main components of a kitchen — cabinets, countertops and appliances — isn't as difficult as it seems if you identify what you need, what you love and what works in your space.
Kitchens come in a variety of shapes and sizes so you'll want to consider how much room you have to play with, what kind of natural light is available and how it connects to the surrounding rooms in the house before even thinking about design.
"The first thing I tell clients to think about is, how do you really want the space to read? What considerations are there?" said Mick de Giulio, owner of de Giulio Kitchens, a Chicago-area design firm. "If you have space that lacks natural light, for example, start looking for materials that are lighter in value to help brighten the space."
If you have an open floor plan, select materials, colors and finishes that also work with the adjoining space. If you have a more closed space, take a step outside the door to see how it looks from another room.
If you have a smaller, darker kitchen and want to make the space seem bigger than it is, consider more uniformity in your design. If you have lots of room, you might want to consider breaking up the space by utilizing more variety in color and style.
Above all, consider your style and what you like. If you like a more eclectic look, try going for a mix of warm and cooler tones. If you want something sleek or consistent, pick a base style or color and apply it throughout the kitchen.
Think a la carte
De Giulio recommends thinking of your kitchen more like you would think of any other room in the house. Don't worry about complete coordination and instead piece together what you like and install it when you can.
"If you looked at your kitchen like you would look at your dining room your dining room, everything probably doesn't match," he said. "Your table, your china cabinet, you'll buy those a la carte. If you look at treating your kitchen the same way, it opens up more design possibilities."
If you're going for a timeless look, neutrals are the perfect choice. Stainless steel, wood and most stones are typically going to look great for a long time. You really can't go wrong with sleek stainless steel appliances, wood cabinets and a light or dark granite countertop.
Stainless steel appliances can go with everything from a bright blue marble island to painted red cabinets. And when viewed in contrast with the rest of the kitchen, neutrals help showcase the more unique or striking elements. More neutral white or black appliances will highlight beautiful wood cabinets or a lovely glass countertop.
If you're more interested in personalizing your space, find what you love and fill your kitchen with it. Of course, that doesn't mean that if you love purple you should jump into purple cabinets. Kitchens are filled with different surfaces where you can try something different.
A backsplash is the perfect place to integrate color. Don't be afraid to make your sink countertop a different color than the kitchen island countertop. If you have neutral painted cabinets, try painting the inside a more interesting color.
Look for alternatives
Even if you've dreamed for years of installing granite countertops, look at the alternatives. You may find that quartz actually fits your style better or a wood countertop better suits your needs and the look of your kitchen.
"There are so many options out there it confuses people to go through them all, but in the end people have said that the most expensive part (of your kitchen) is really regret," de Giulio said. "It's an expensive room at any level and if you explore the options that are available you'll know you made the right choice.