Every time I walk into the kitchen department of a big box store, I cringe at the horrible kitchen displays. They are always and without fail a mish-mash of undertones and colours, uppers and lowers all different and well, generally a hot mess.
Recently, after snapping a few photos, I wondered if what they’re actually trying to do, is what I did at the very beginning of my design career.
I posted an ad in a local real estate magazine and it had three images. One teeny tiny little image said ‘colour consultations’ with a random doorway where you could see two colours at once. The next one was a bad before and a really dark after (before photoshop), also miniature, the third one was a photo of a styled fireplace that said ‘decorating’. They were all dark, way too small and frankly looked very bad all grouped together.
My idea was to show variety, “I can decorate in any style” which is a common novice decorator mistake, but looking at those images, a potential client would end up wondering, “What? So strange to see all three rooms in the same house (even though of course they were not in the same house)?”
So I’m wondering if these big box stores (to give them the benefit of the doubt) are simply trying to use up their display space to show as much variety of cabinets and finishes that they have available?
Regardless, it does not work AT ALL.
So here’s what they are NOT saying:
Under no circumstances, should you use these as inspiration for your home
While we’re here, can I just say the glazed cabinet is OUT? It was definitely trending during the brown trend but as you can see, the above two looks basically belong in a cabin in the woods. And nothing wrong with that, if that’s the look you’re after, however, notice how both the countertops and backsplashes killed the look of these cabinets.
Why is it important to know the trends? So you can recognize what’s timeless and classic instead
I sincerely hope that the kitchen designers at these stores are not putting together these kinds of “interesting” combinations full of “variety” for their clients. But even if they are not, I worry that people are copying these displays in their homes. Especially now that so many people ARE renovating because they’ve been staring at their homes too long!
Regardless, I’d like to save you from such a mistake as I’ve seen too many creative DIY kitchens like this in homes everywhere.
It could also be that this display of variety is intended to speak to the DIY homeowner looking for something “unique”, and if they are not aware of the trends the way a designer or design enthusiast is, it seems inevitable they will end up with something busy, mismatched and trendy. And invest lots of money in a new kitchen with no longevity at all.
But as I am not the design police, people will do what they want and like. We’ve seen before how well that turns out. Therefore, I can’t help but feel the urge to intervene, because it hurts my heart to see people end up unhappy with a once in a lifetime renovation, whether it’s right away after it’s installed, or only a few short years later.
Here’s the wisdom of experience I would like to share with every homeowner that walks into a big box store to design their kitchen:
Boring now equals timeless later
Your kitchen will have much more longevity in a smooth, natural light wood tone, solid white or cream on the cabinets with a simple white or cream backsplash. The cliche less is more really does apply.
This simply (not super fancy) kitchen I designed for my sister Lea, six years ago still looks timeless because the finishes are boring.
It would be interesting to see the big box stores displaying more timeless combinations instead of amazingly adept examples of exactly what not to do.
My good friend Claire Jefford, a designer and True Colour Expert in Burlington, Ontario, also has two videos devoted to this very subject of bad kitchens in big box stores:
Remember my advice is best read BEFORE you make all these mistakes. If you’ve already made them, know that you are NOT alone, these are beginner mistakes that everyone makes before they know better.
If you’d like help with your renovation or new build, add your name to the waitlist here. Once or twice a month we open them up for a few hours until we are sold out again.
If you’d like to learn how to choose colours for your exteriors, buy my Masterclass for Exterior Colour Selection here.