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Mountain Fixer: The Kitchen Cabinet Evolution

Remember that time we spent months and so many hours of sampling, sourcing, pinning and rendering to ultimately choose shaker cabinetry?? I feel like every day over here, we are dancing this super unsexy line dance that shuffles between doing something custom and interesting and still making sure it’s timeless and functional. Sometimes, we choose “fashion over function” as my contractor says, but in the kitchen, we want to make sure those two desires are equally thought out. We could have designed this kitchen SO much faster if we wanted to do something more standard and basic B. But when you are renovating and paying for the labor of a custom design anyway, then we shouldn’t miss an opportunity to have it look custom (or do you?)

If you’re just joining us, you might want to do a quick catch up on the cabinet function and final kitchen floor plan post here, as well as the materials vote from the I Design, You Decide post. Okay, all studied up and ready to move on? Good.

I want to take you through the process of how we designed the cabinet doors and drawers, because man has this kitchen lived MANY lives from inspiration to where we ended up landing on the design.

At first, I was desperate for what you’ll see below, by deVOL.

Black Wood Modern Scandinavian Kitchen
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They partnered with wood worker Sebastien Cox on creating a rough sawn and stained wood plank cabinetry front. It’s the perfect “modern mountain” cabinet front in my opinion and since it’s stained, it mixes easily with any wood tone in the floors or ceiling. Part of me wishes I could go back in time and just book them to do the kitchen but at the time (like four months ago) their lead time was four to six months and while we didn’t get a quote, I would imagine it would be rather expensive (as it should be). The contractor for the mountain house has an in-house cabinetry team, which makes the process quite seamless, with a three-week lead time (this is very short compared to industry standard, by the way). Of course, we didn’t want to totally rip off what deVOL + Sebastien Cox designed, but I really really wanted that look. So we bought a bunch of wood—both rough sawn and smooth—and started staining them to experiment.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Stained Single Wood Planks 2

The samples turned out kinda scary, and definitely too much of a risk for me. Sure, we did this, not professionals and they aren’t perfectly done, but it didn’t make us feel confident. They looked silly and DIY. If you use paint, you lose most of the grain, so we used colored stains, but transparent and semi-transparent. The Newburyport Blue one is the closest to the look we wanted, but I wasn’t convinced it would look GOOD. If we were doing a DIY budget kitchen, I might have gone for it, but I didn’t want to spend $30K on cabinetry and have it look “cute” and DIY. The rough sawn seemed like it would be also really hard to keep clean and even if sealed, I wondered if it would it give my kids splinters.

My contractor was also super concerned about the planks being applied together to create a panel. It seems like deVOL has small gaps in between theirs with some sort of wood bracket on the back to keep them together. I think this can absolutely be done, but we weren’t convinced we had the resources, experience or skills to execute it. (My contractor has been doing this for 40 years so he’s super experience but not in doing this exact thing so even he was like “I’m nervous it won’t meet your expectation”). I mean, there is a reason that deVOL + Sebastien costs a lot; they are masters and spent years perfecting this design. We were not and have not. We researched how they created that perfect color variation and it’s a special combination/recipe of vegetable dye and stain. Also, I knew I couldn’t exactly knock it off and that we would have to take the same idea and do something different with it, but we weren’t sure what that would be.

Dark Painted Wood Kitchen Copper Backsplash
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We also had the added challenge of needing floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and my contractor DEFINITELY didn’t trust this wood on a larger scale. He knew it would warp, and change with the weather and he didn’t want to be responsible for that, especially since we were doing flush or inset cabinet fronts. Floor-to-ceiling wood cabinets tend to warp REGARDLESS (MDF does a better job of staying in place) so adding in this challenge of multiple planks of wood seemed like a bad idea. This, by the way, is why people apply cabinet fronts on top of stiles and rails instead of inset or flush—you have so much more room for error because the cabinet door can hide any small gaps (but it isn’t as modern or forward). (For example, the image below on the right…those are cabinet and drawer fronts sitting on top of the stiles and rails—the horizontal and vertical wood frame between each door.)

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Kitchen Evolution Cabinet Door Type
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So my contractor said he would try to cook up his version, something that gave the vertical plank effect, but just in grooves. He took cabinet door fronts made out of alder wood and routed grooves in it, then spray painted it a Smurf blue :).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Kitchen Evolution Blue Painted Wood

He said that we could have the grooves any depth or width (the blade would determine this) and then the grooves could be spaced evenly or not. This seemed like a decent idea, but we were still concerned about the paint color, tone and finish. Those above were just spray painted and obviously not what we were going for.

So again, we shifted. I didn’t so much give up on creating our version of the deVOL design but instead, I found some imagery that got me excited about staining reclaimed wood black.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Kitchen I Design You Decide Inspo Pic 4
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A slowly emerging trend of this type of almost “burnt” looking wood is certainly on the rise. It’s called shou sugi ban and it’s STUNNING. It’s a Japanese technique of preserving wood (which is normally used outdoors) by charring the surface.

Shou Sugi Ban Black Wood Modern Exterior
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A company in Oregon deals it out and we LOVE it. We saw it in person at a store in San Francisco called The Future Perfect during a team trip earlier this summer, see below.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Kitchen Evolution Inspo Shou Sugi Ban

While I really wanted that look, around the same time we found this reclaimed wood near us in LA and stained it black. It didn’t have the crackle of the shou sugi ban but we loved it and it was STUNNING.

Here’s an example of a similar look in action:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Inspo Shou Sugi Ban 1
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The key is that it needs a lot of texture and grooves, otherwise it just looks like newly painted wood. The stain sunk into it perfectly in this beautiful matte finish.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchen Island Black Stained Reclaimed Wood

But our contractor still had a lot of concerns about the stability of this wood for the floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. He said that he trusted it on the island because it would mostly be clad (besides the panel-ready dishwasher and the trash pull-out). So we decided to do this treatment on just the island and then rethink the cabinetry front on all the lowers and the floor-to-ceiling. Now can it be done? Sure, but I think to make it super stable and not warp it would take us hiring someone who has done this many many times and can guarantee that.

Next, we actually fell in love with the alder that he had used as a sample and we threw that into a rendering.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Alder 02 Final

Honestly, I really wanted real wood cabinetry in here in the first place, but there were so many variables: A. We hadn’t chosen the wood floor yet (and still haven’t) mostly because trying to get it to work with the ceiling and not have it be $60k is proving VERY, VERY DIFFICULT, and B. I’m still not happy with the ceiling so even picking the wood for the floor and cabinets gives me anxiety. So trying to mix three different very important woods, in addition to the black on the island was starting to scare me. It would have to be PERFECT and I didn’t feel 100% confident.  We ordered more samples of the alder and THANK GOODNESS we did because it came in WAY too pink.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Raw Alder Final

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Alder 01 Final

Now, in a perfect world, I would have had the wood floor locked down, and then maybe we could have had wood on the cabinetry. But things have to move forward and as of now, there is no wood floor, therefore it’s hard to choose the perfect tone of wood for the cabinetry.

Of course, you can stain a wood “any color” in theory, but getting that pink out of the wood and creating that perfect tone is not as easy as you think without going really dark and we didn’t know what tone we wanted because it was all based on the ceiling that has like 95 different tones of yellow and pink (SEE WHY I JUST WANT TO PAINT THE CEILING WHITE SO WE CAN HAVE WOOD TONE FREEDOM IN THE REST OF THE HOUSE?????)

Honestly. There are just so many ways to skin a cat and decisions had to be made.

So then we decided to do the grooves in the alder, but painted, like so:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Painted Alder

We like this a lot but then realized it’s pretty much the same thing that my friend Sara Sherman Samuel + Semihandmade had done.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Inspo Sss 1
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Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Inspo Sss 2
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As much as I love this, I didn’t want to do exactly what another designer had designed and have them think we knocked them off. Again, when you are doing something custom you really should do something CUSTOM and special.

So we started playing with the scale of the grooves and brought them way closer, inspired by the below shots.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Kitchen Evolution Inspo Small Grooves
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We popped that scale into a rendering and showed Brian. We were all pretty into it, although the shadow lines did make it busier, but just a flat panel could look like closet doors which is NOT what we wanted.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooves 01

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooves 02

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooves 03

Brian didn’t like this. He thought it was way too contemporary, and it didn’t feel like the cabin that he had envisioned. And I understood that and tried to make it feel a bit more traditional by adding a Shaker panel around it and that is where we landed.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooved Shaker 01 Final

We went with a 2-inch panel that meant our hardware had to be tiny in order to fit, but we loved that look. The fridge that we chose (which was ordered months and months ago) had two freezer drawers and those lines broke up the floor the ceiling, so to balance that we broke it up in even more places so it didn’t look so random. Instead of one continuous line from floor-to-ceiling, we broke it up where the top freezer drawer is all the way across the wall.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooved Shaker 02 Final

Then we added another line to balance that out (where the microwave is, and I think it’s actually a lift-up cabinet but more on that later).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooved Shaker 03 Final

But it still felt a little cold and contemporary and just like A LOT of white.

Next, we started playing with the idea of breaking up the cabinetry with glass panels to add depth, dimension and warmth.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooved Shaker Glass 01 Final

We instantly loved the idea, although three felt too heavy. Besides, we didn’t want to see the food inside the pantry, but seeing into the dry bar and the appliance cabinet would be fine and also help guests figure out where things are located (which I realize might be a challenge).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooved Shaker Glass 02

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Grooved Shaker Glass 03

So we reduced the glass to two cabinets and loved how it looked (you’ll also see how we played with different hardware).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Final Glass 01

In these versions, we have this thicker, wavier glass but Brian wasn’t into that so I think we are going to do clear glass. The original idea was so that the “blurrier” glass would mask the contents, but once we decided to only do it on the dry bar and the appliance cabinetry, we are okay with seeing inside as it’s going to be pretty.

Kitchensumnt Final Glass 02 Final

Kitchensumnt Final Glass 03

We loved how it looked and you guys voted for the above version (off-white cabinetry and the matte black dark island)…

BUT…one morning I was in my kitchen, trying to clean the front of our current cabinets and was annoyed by how the food sticks in the corners of the Shaker cabinetry and when you try to get it out, you often can chip the lacquer paint. That’s when I realized (and some of you mentioned this) UGH, those tiny grooves are going to be impossible to clean and will be disgusting within a year. 

Turns out, there is a reason people use Shaker or flat-paneled cabinet doors and drawers—they are easy to keep clean.

So after all of that, can you believe we are down to this?

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat 01 Final

Shaker. SHAKER!!!! I mean, I LOVE a Shaker, but am I being super boring? I KNOW I’ll never get sick of it, I KNOW it’ll be a classic forever, and we are customizing it a bit with a super slim panel (2 1/4 inches). We are also putting wood inside the glass cabinets, I think that will be pretty and look custom. Inside those cabinets, we have some really pretty detailing which I think will help elevate them, as well. Also, the island with the black wood is more of the “moment” and you can’t have like five moments in a kitchen. Also, that stone is SO pretty which you can’t tell in the renderings and we are doing a 2-inch face on it which I think will make it look edgier. But, I always try to do something a little unexpected—just a twist on something traditional—like my brass grout in my first kitchen or the grates on the cabinet in our current kitchen. So I suppose this glass cabinet with the sweet little latches maybe is our other moment?

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat 02 Final

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat 03

I do feel like I might be missing an opportunity, but I also don’t want to “over design” this house, which is something that I know I’m prone to. I promised myself that I would limit the materials and finishes in this house to help it feel more minimal, clean and Scandinavian, but I still need SOME contrast and warmth to ensure it meets Brian’s “rustic cabin” needs. Shaker feels classic and can go “cabin” or “chalet” really easily.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat Full Height

We are mixing flat panel and shaker and as I’m writing that I’m realizing that we may need to tweak them a bit. That is totally another story and stay tuned.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat Peninsula

So as I’m staring at this, I can say that we aren’t doing anything too innovative in this cabinetry and that makes me kinda sad. We are only using a 2-inch panel around the cabinetry and it’s usually 2 1/2 so that slimmer line will be nice. Also, the lighting is INSANE and that stone is far more beautiful in person than it is in the rendering, I PROMISE.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat Cooktop

Emily Henderson Mountain House Kitchen Evolution Kitchensumnt Flat Island

Once you see the black wood, you get reminded why the rest is more simple, and it really does work in our rustic/refined/Scandi/cabin/chalet/kill me/California vibe. But the shaker on its own is not setting any innovation records (and I’m clearly a little bummed about it).

So, what would we do if we could go back in time? I think probably hire a local cabinet maker who could take over the design of the fronts to ensure that something more interesting could work. Or hell, hire Sebastien Cox himself and deVOL to do their beautiful work.

But it’s in production, folks. And I have to remind myself that sometimes doing what is simpler and more classic is actually more beautiful and will ultimately be more timeless. CAN YOU PLEASE ALL AGREE WITH ME IN THE COMMENTS BEFORE I STOP THE PRODUCTION WHICH WOULD THEN PUT US PAST OUR CONTENT DEADLINES?



The former human being that used to be Emily Henderson but is currently taken over by an indecisive crazy person who gets to talk about her indecision on a daily basis for her job.


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256 thoughts on “Mountain Fixer: The Kitchen Cabinet Evolution

  1. It’s gonna be beautiful. Why not clad the interior of the cabinets in the same black wood as the island?

    1. We might. I kinda love the warmth of the wood back there and to bring in one other finish that is subtle, but its definitely something i’m still toying with. The inside of the other cabinets are wood, but more cabinet grade because they are for food pantry, etc. Stay tuned 🙂

      1. No! Please leave the warmer light toned wood in the cabinets. It is beautiful and a great accent to the black and white.

  2. Ok deVOL is just stunning all the time. In the perfect world all of our kitchens would be designed by them and be magical. But I appreciate that you’re living in the real world with the rest of us. Is the shaker cabinet a ground breaking risk? No. However, I agree that this will let the eye focus on the more interesting island. Again, these renderings are so impressive and really give the idea of a space, but what you put in it to style it out is really what will determine the feel of this kitchen. The white shaker is a blank canvas for better or worse.

    Have you considered that brass fixtures on top of white shaker is adding to the contemporary feel and also maybe feels like many other spaces you have designed? The black hardware was refreshing on the renderings, but only my 2 cents and of course I haven’t seen any of it in real life.

    1. Agreed! Black hardware would be more interesting! I also agree with the previous comment about cladding inside of glass cabinets with black wood.

      1. Hilariously I don’t know what we have even decided on RE hardware! I’m still thinking there is something newer/fresher out there, too. The black was feeling so cold (I love black hardware) especially where it was more of the micro knob and the squared off handle. So in the brass it at some warmth, but my original intent was black for this kitchen. We dappled in the leather trend, too and we have a bunch of roundups planned – ‘the hardware I didn’t choose’ Stay tuned …

        1. I vote black hardware too. Especially on the island. You could get a texture that feels “mountain manly.” The brass feels more glamour girl to me and it distracts from the island’s spotlight.

        2. It’s funny. As I was reading this I wondered about maybe leather. It brings in the same warmth that you mentioned RE the wood interior of the cabinets and is also rustic. I still struggle with the practicality of it, though. How does it look in a year’s time?

          1. We have leather handles in our pantry cabinets, which are used frequently, and they look great after a year – the same as when they were installed.. I think leather is a great idea. White shaker cabinets are beautiful, and I am sure will look lovely, but they do not feel that rustic or mountainy or manly. The leather would help in that regard.

        3. I love the LOOK of micro knobs, but the lack of functionality drives me bonkers. Our cabinet doors are always grimy around the knobs! If you want the cabin to be easy and low-maintenance, it might be wise to at least consider something else.

        4. We just installed our kitchen with a grooved panel front throughout. Again drawing inspiration from those beautiful Devol kitchens.
          Oh to not be constrained by budget and distance !!

          It’s traditional but we’ve chosen more contemporary colour combos (Dulux Domino lowers and Dulux Mangaweka uppers) to modernise the overall look.

          I comment here as I note the discussion re brass vs black handles for hardware. We were trying to use something very slimline and sleek as to not detract from the groove panelling but struggled to find a suitable choice that wasn’t bespoke and a zillion dollars per handle. In the end we chose a finish that is black but has an aged rubbed brass textural look the closer you get. This might be the kind of product that could suit your project as you get the best of both worlds as is it quite rustic but modern at the same time. It’s from an Australian brand Kethy. I’m sure you have access to a tonne more choice in the US but might be worth checking out ?! Good luck and cannot wait to see where you land in the end !

        5. Hi Emily, I am sure you know, just in case you didn’t devol does beautiful Hardware. At 45 pounds, for there aged classic brass cup handles, it isn’t bad. (Eg Christopher peacock few hundred plus) Even just 9 of them for that counter under the window and run. I get what you are saying, can’t change, but just one more singing moment – hence consider adding brass to the kick toe plate, functionally way more practical than a painted finish, and not as expected.

      2. What about hardware that mixes black metal and wood together? I think you could find a modern looking one that will bridge the gap between the traditional cabinets and the modern/rustic feel while regaining a little of the warmth from the wood.

    2. I was going to say the same thing about the hardware! White shaker is classic. The brass is beautiful but feel I feel like I’ve seen it 4,276 times. Picking some fresh-looking knobs a pulls would go a long way, I think!

    3. I agree 100% on the hardware. We’ve seen the brass fixtures SO many times in various EHD designs. I think this is the opportunity to do something different, bring added interest to the cabinets, etc. and it’s low risk since it’s hardware! Would love to see a “I design you decide” for the hardware…black and other options, different shapes, etc…maybe wood? Anything but brass. Black would tie in the island nicely too…

        1. I love the shaker look. And what you have going on is amazing and will be stunning. I have some ideas about the hardware that you might love! Stuff that is bespoke and modern and kinda deVOL esque. Can I point you to it?

        2. Meanwhile I love the handles because it looks like our kitchen!

          That said, maybe too “glam” for Scandi vibes? Then again…maybe not?

          p.s. I love the cabinetry you landed on AND the black island, even though I originally voted for white (the black is def the way to go now that I see it all together).

  3. hahaha you are hilarious. Your rustic/refined/Scandi/cabin/chalet/kill me/California vibe is totally on point Emily. Please stop second guessing your choices. Not every single thing has to extra ordinary. Like you said, sometimes classic and simple is best. Personally, do not like the grooves. They look way too busy. Shakers FTW !

  4. I love where you ended up. Design is supposed to be about making things beautiful, not about having to prove how innovative you are with every single thing. I can completely understand the pressure to be innovative in your profession, but you’re completely right – you can’t have 5 moments in one kitchen. The cabinets are STUNNING, and the house is gorgeous. Done and done. May your family be happy and healthy and well there.

    1. I totally agree with Erin. Emily, step back and simmer down! it’s going to be beautiful.

      Here’s my 2 cents. I live in a house built in 1929. We have a butler’s pantry with glass fronted doors. I love seeing my beautiful dishes and guests do appreciate not having to open and close cabinets looking for a mug or a plate or a cordial glass. HOWEVER, we have those latches, and no one closes them. NO ONE, do you hear me? Not even I close them, so the doors are forever ajar.

      With a cabinet door you just close it. With the latches, you either have to slam it (please don’t) or twist the little doohickey while you have things in your hands. They look cute, but so not functional. It’s arrrrgh every day.

      love you Emily!

      1. OOH … interesting. But I love those latches!! and yet I think you are totally right … something to think about, for sure.

        1. Color! I am totally digging the design of this, and if you hadn’t told me it wasn’t innovative enough, I never would have thought it. That said, I totally dug your color vibe at your previous house, as well as your “let’s get weird” mantra. Would LOVE to see the perimeter cabinets in a cool color–it would be super deVol, in an Emily way. I think this house is going to be so good–comfortable, livable, cool, the whole nine yards!

        2. You can just put a soft-close mechanism in the door (or even a magnet!) and not have the doors ajar, regardless of whether the latches are latched. I get that this is an issue in a 1929 house, but not a problem that new kitchen infrastructure can’t fix!

        3. I was going to chime in with the same comment re latches. I’ve lived in old houses where they are original and near impossible to use (I actually kept pliers out for some), but even new ones are a pain and doors are always left ajar. I love the look of them so much, but they are not worth it in my opinion.

        4. We had those latches in an old house built in 1905 that we owned once upon a time. I LOVED using those cupboards in my kitchen EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!! They were the sort of thing I noticed and enjoyed continually. I got very used to the twisting motion as I opened the cupboards and it became automatic for me. I never thought about it. I will say that the latches were old enough and worn enough that you could push the cupboard closed without slamming. Still, I would put up with a small extra step in order to have the latches again. Sometimes we love things just because we do. Those latches had my heart!

        5. Maybe they wouldn’t be quite so annoying in a vacation home where you’re not dealing with them every day of your life? I agree that they’re so charming!

          P.S. I love where you ended up. The cabinets are lovely, and the light fixtures and island will look fabulous! When I saw the grooves, I immediately thought of how awful they would be to clean.

        6. I have seen people remove the tongue of the latch so it doesn’t really function but you still get the look. You would then use the same hidden hinges that are on all the other doors, preferably soft-close.

      2. @Priscilla SAME. I have latches on my laundry room cabinets. They are adorable, but every time I pull out my heavy detergent from the cabinet, I silently curse myself for choosing those latches. So not functional, and I’m not even using them every day. I can’t imagine the curse words that would fly out of my mouth if I had them in my kitchen!!

      3. I guess I might slam my cabinet doors a little to shut them. Really of feel like I just give a little push and the latch snaps shut. This could be because I had to replace the original latches with reproduction stamped metal ones (the originals were stamped too) because after I stripped the paint from the hardware I found that the chrome had corroded. My sister still has her original latches and they are terrible. Partially because they are tiny, covered in so much paint, but also some of the springs are busted and don’t work anymore.

        I wouldn’t be scared off the cabinet latches. Even if they don’t close at first, it just takes a gentle push of the door to engage the latch.

      4. OMG! My mom has these cabinets and I walk around closing the latches constantly. I love them but yes, no one ever closes them (except me). If that would bug you, I would look for something else.

  5. I think this looks great but I don’t like the brass hardware- I think slimline Matt black would work better especially on the island where the wood & Ben hoop are the heroes. Designing for yourself is a killer – designing for yourself and a huge audience is just bonkers!!! Stop second guessing & get on with it …..and paint that darn ceiling white!!!!!!!! 🙂

    1. I AGREE with you on the island and it has bugged me. So there we are considering doing something different than the white shaker. it feels too ‘glam’ all of a sudden.

    2. Agree about the ceiling. It is paralyzing you on so many other decisions. Paint it white!

  6. There are so many other special custom-looking elements in this kitchen. I think the shaker cabinets help those stand out.

    Keep moving forward. It’s going to be gorgeous. Now let’s just keep our fingers crossed for black cabinetry to prevail in the adjoining family room. 🙂

  7. I loved the final design more than all the others. Way to sell it. 🙂 The other designs felt a bit too over the top for me. This feels like the perfect stretch for a homeowner instead of something out of NY fashion week that I would never wear.

  8. i LOVE where you ended up with the white shakers…You’re right in that it’s always classic and timeless. I can’t wait to see actual pictures of how this house ends up!!! Also I DEFINITELY think you should paint the ceiling white!!! It was gorgeoussss in your last house! 🙂

  9. I’m struggled to vote on the kitchen because with the groves the cabinets looked so busy in the white, but I did really like the black island. I don’t think I voted until day 3. This option is so much better. Love it! Although I’m in love with the alder wood mockup (agree with you about the pink undertones in reality).

  10. I’m sooo bummed about this! I mean i agree the grooves would be annoying to clean but as a vacation home i feel like that’s minimal compared to an every day kitchen.

    I also agree with a previous commenter about not loving the hardware. I preferred the black.

    And lastly, i think the clear glass should be re evaluated. Again. There must be a better option?!

        1. Switch your grooves to horizontal and space them to be letterboard width apart. Throw them into the mud room, playroom, or another casual family space so you can leave sweet letterboard messages for each other. Reclaimed black stained wood with white letters or that gorgeous alderwood with black or white letters. If it’s too trendy/dated, toss the letters and keep those beautiful grooves blank!

        2. Yes! Much less traffic in the family room. The overall Scandi-vibe should be simple and calm with finished surprises. The grooves on cabinets in the family room would accomplish just that, while the gorgeous black island and the stone are the surprise in the kitchen.

  11. I LOVE the shaker cabinets! I think it’s a smart decision for many reasons. I also think black hardware is worth another look. Its going to be stunning!

  12. 1) devol is doing avant-garde kitchens as a marketing tool to sell products. You’re doing a kitchen for real life. And the rest of us who might take real life ideas from you don’t want crud in our cabinet grooves either.

    2) I think where you’re different from other design content is still in styling. So I’d rather see a relatively un avant-garde base, similar to something I might actually have, so that you can style it in super interesting ways that don’t require a complete renovation.

    1. I agree with 2 above. We love and follow you Emily because you are able to elevate the everyday. We may try and get your look with basic shaker cabinets incur homes but look to you for lighting, accessories, colors, PAINT, etc. A million ladies of the chalet will be DIY painting reclaimed wood black after this. You have a whole house within which to make special moments. Zoom out…this project is special as a whole.

      1. Totally agree with these comments. THAT is what draws in your audience and what brings us to your blog each week!

  13. I think the proportions of the shaker detail you are using look subtle and custom. I think in real life the proportion of the panel and the shape of the cabinetry will read modern and custom (more so than you realize in the rendering). Also, I think you are right that keeping the cabinetry simple will make the ‘design moment’ island design stand out more.

  14. Nonetheless, the shaker cabinets are the prettiest and it’s in that last rendering that I really notice the island and the light fixtures. They seem to get overshadowed by the cabinets in the other renderings

    1. I agree about the shakers looking great and allowing for the the other elements shine.
      In fact, if this had been an option originally I wouldn’t have hesitated voting for it. It’s going to look fabulous Emily!

    2. Totally agree that the shaker cabinets give the island and the awesome light fixtures the breathing room to shine. On top of that you say this insanely beautiful countertop there that isn’t reading well on renderings. At some point the eye will need to rest!

      I’m Team painted ceiling

  15. This is going to be stunning!!! I love that you are trying to push out of your comfort zone and this makes the island and lighting stand out and they are really the focus. Can’t wait to see it in real life.

    What if you did painted white floors? That would probably be a messy shit show but just trying to think of solutions. You probably do have to paint the ceilings white in order to get a good wood on the floor.

  16. I’m not sure why you care if ‘someone thinks you knocked off your design’ since I’m sure the Shakers don’t care, besides is anything really original?

  17. I really love where you ended up. I’m not just saying that because you asked us to 🙂
    It’s lovely, and balanced, and calm but interesting, with plenty of moments. And it’s not even built or styled out yet. That last rendering really sold it for me. The dynamic between the island and the cabinets and the fixtures and the lighting – it’s fantastic.

  18. All of this made me laugh out loud because isn’ this the stream of consciousness that every designer goes through?? I’m glad you have the personal maturity and wisdom to choose something that, while classic instead of of-the-moment, you know will work for you for the long run and suit your family. You’re making the RIGHT CHOICE.

    Why don’t you do those beams in a wood finish? That would add a definite layer of “cabin” warmth and tie into the highly contested wood ceiling in the other areas. (Which you absolutely MUSN’T paint, haha.)

    1. Thanks Stacie 🙂 The ceiling is already painted white and its kinda the darkest room, even with the new window, BUT I do think that if we would start from scratch that would be what we’d do. maybe if/whe we reclad the living room ceiling we’ll do the same treatment to this, too.

  19. You’ve got to paint the ceiling white. Now that I am seeing more of the rooms come together (bathroom/kitchen) that wood ceiling is too “rustic”. White will make it feel cozy but fresher (like the kitchen.

    1. I’m team Paint It White too. I love the look of wood but not when it’s competing with the floor, etc. and whenever I see a before & after with white painted wood, I love it. Although…could you stain the ceiling really dark, almost black? Now I’d like to see a rendering of that. I think you were having trouble with different wood tones between the beams & the ceiling…maybe if they were all really dark (or all white, ha), they would blend? But then would it be *too* dark? I have no idea!

      1. I think you might be right about painting it white…I had been Team Keep the Wood, but now that I’ve seen the rest of the designs for the bathrooms and kitchen, I think the wood ceiling might look waaay too rustic. All the rest of the design is going in a more sleek direction, so I wonder if the contrast will be too incongruous? Regardless, I love the dark wood for the island and can’t wait to see how it turns out!

      2. I’ve shown brian SO MANY photos of beautiful dark ceilings and he responds, ‘you are joking, right?’ We are up here right now and he was staring at the ceiling. Now that the windows are in and the wood is STUNNING it makes the ceiling look even worse!

  20. Classic is classic because it’s GOOD! You made me lol with “kill me” and also made me feel better about the struggle to make a ridiculous amount of decisions. I’m currently living my dream life and getting to CHOOSE FINISHES for our new construction, and I get mad at myself for being overwhelemed and scared to death about my dream come true. ?. You’re gonna have plenty of opportunity to put your spin on it with accessories, etc. It’s gorgeous…great strong foundation for the other moments!

    1. The struggle is SO REAL. And we are so far into the process with so many people helping and its still SO MUCH. Good luck 🙂

  21. Hi, I love these renderings , its so helpful to visualize, what program are you using to accomplish this. Everything is so clearly defined.

    Thanks so much!

  22. I LOVE IT! Sure it’s not as innovative as us designers always want to be, but I think there are major things to be said for classic and timeless! As much fun as doing something innovative and trendy is, it’s just that “trendy” and it will fade. Plus the black stained island is going to be SO GORGEOUS! You do you girlfriend.

  23. Totally into the shaker, cleanliness is a blessing when it comes to rentals. The burnt island will be your accent so it doesn’t read as too boring.

    But I will say, with this simpler design, it made that light fixture now read as so straight and a little dull. I kind wished for a pop, and think that would be the place.

  24. I didn’t think I had strong opinions either way on this kitchen, but I definitely felt relief seeing the shaker cabinets. They just seem to compliment the beautiful island so well. I think the slim lines of the previous design felt very modern in an anachronistic way. It’s like sometimes I want to try on a modern sculptural dress with interesting lines and it looks so cool on the hanger that I just have to try it on. Then I realize in the dressing room that, while it looks cool, it just doesn’t look like me and I’m trying too hard and the Zac Posen in my head is like “just wear something simple and beautiful.”

  25. I want to remodel my kitchen next year and will add on a small addition to make my tiny kitchen small. I have been looking at kitchen magazines and kitchen remodeling stores and cannot find anything that looks “right.” I like House and Home magazine and recall a kitchen article that advised that you should design the kitchen that fits you and not what is popular. That has always been in the back of my mind and when I saw your blog, I realized what really goes into kitchen design. Your developmental and creative approach is wonderful.

  26. I lost track of whether or not this had to be the final decision, but why not do the cabinets in a color? A deep Green or a mossy gray green would be very mountain esque and I think would tie in those statement lights you are going for. Right now the kitchen is feeling way too modern Victorian with those modern lights, white cabinets and countertops and brass hardware. I think the brass hardware is especially a miss – too blingy for a laid-back mountain cabin. Also, I think your cabinets can be classic and you can bring “moments” in other ways – look for a really interesting door for that door on the left, maybe tile or wallpaper for that back wall behind the range, maybe a patterned floor in just the kitchen…. Keep the cabinets simple so everything else can shine!

    1. Agree with this completely! You’ve lost the ‘mountain’ feel everywhere except the island…I’m totally on board the shaker train, but the bright white with brass and the modern light fixture makes me think ‘champagne and canapes’ belong in this kitchen, instead of ‘chili and hot chocolate’, and other cabin-y things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful….but for a mountain retreat, why not go cozier?

    2. Oooo…. shaker cabinets in a cozy color would be amazing and cabin-y. And with the wood inside the glass cabinets? I think it’d be GORGEOUS!

    3. Yes, and all the white is making it seem so generic…like you were afraid of color because of “resale.” It’s sad when it’s going to be a place you’re in for at least ten years. Why design for the next owners?

      Not that this is really the case here. It’s just starting to lean that way to me. Very nice, but no wow.

  27. I agree with everyone else about the hardware – the white Shaker + brass is a pretty “done” look and doesn’t seem to mesh with the style you’re going for here. I especially don’t like those brass bin pulls… that’s the hardware in the kitchen of the temporary corporate housing I’m in right now :-/

    What about something black with some texture to it so that it feels a little more organic/rustic/cabin-y, but in a modern shape? I know that sounds weird, but I think you could make it work like what you’re doing with the pebble tile!

    You’re totally right that you don’t need 5 moments in the kitchen, but I think 2 is appropriate and that they should be strong ones.

    1. Ooooh, yeah! I just had some custom bookcases built, and the center bookcase has glass doors on the upper half. My guy had a source who made custom bronze knobs which we used on those doors. They have just enough rusticity (a real word?), but aren’t overly blingy. Of course, only needing two knobs, it was affordable for me — not the case here.

  28. Shaker, good.
    Black island, good.
    Hardware, go crazy! Do something fun! Even steel handles in the shape of tree branches! Or fish! ;).
    Not everything has to be serious and IT and the newest possible – we like you for the body of your work, you don’t turn into someone new with every new room. But you know that! This is applause. xoxox.

  29. Have to comment because I think the final design is AMAZING. Go Shaker! I agree with what’s been said here that it allows the other, more custom and designed elements to shine. The only thing I’m stuck on is the brass hardware. I agree that it leans a little glam, which I don’t think is what you’re going for here. Would be great to see a mockup with the black matte hardware, or perhaps a copper that mirrors that coppery tone in the light fixture? Yay Emily! You, Brian and your team are doing such an amazing job. I am loving following along this Mountain House journey 🙂

  30. I’m a little disappointed you weren’t able to do natural wood paneling. The design renderings you had for that read as both modern, scandinavian, and natural (which works with rustic). Rarely do you see a wood cabinet kitchen, and even less commonly do you see one done well. I would say paint the living room ceiling white (which I have been against till now), and do wood front paneling in the kitchen. It was warm, tied in with nature, and would be the most stunning option.

    1. Yes completely agree. The rendering with the Adler wood paneling was beautiful and really created a mood in the kitchen. It would be beautiful with or without the grooves. My fav.

    2. OMG yes! Definitely! The white ceiling would really help solve tje problem of the myltiple wood finishes in thea house and would allow for wood cabinets which would look very fresh if done simply. I would love to see a light wood kitchen! Enough with the white!

    3. Totally agree. The alder cabinets are stunning. There are amazing products out there that would help mitigate the pink tone. Rubio Monocoat might be the answer to your prayers. You can completely change the wood look with their precolor treatments and reactive effects, all while maintaining the wood grain. This product was a game changer when I decided I couldn’t deal with pink-toned red oak floors. Their instagram page has lots of inspiring pics.

    4. Yes yes yes! I was totally on team Keep the Wood but think beautiful wood cabinets a la your friend’s LA house would be amazing.

  31. i was loving the detail of the grooves but i love the clean openness of the shaker too! I cant wait to see it all come together — and also don’t stop sharing the ramblings of your brain. It’s one of the reasons I love reading this blog! I feel like we get to be part of the project.

  32. I realllllly wish you would do black fixtures and not brass.
    I’m worried about the open space in the cabinets. I think it would look better if it were larger and more continuous. Would you do more of an open space coffee bar there or something? It looks weird with 2 disjointed open cabinets. Maybe you could find some kind of vintage hutch to put there. I am VERY pro-shaker!! Great choice. Sorry this isn’t helpful.

    1. I agree about the spaced out two glass cabinets looking odd. I’d prefer to see them side by side but I’m pretty sure the design/placement of what is behind all the various doors, has sailed.

  33. Hey Girl Hey!

    You are all good! I (and think many) love your spaces because you design IRL and are forced to think creatively about functional designs that work FOR REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL LIVES!

    If we want showstoppers we can refer to the magazines for rich people’s houses that have butlers and only live in them a few months a year.

    You do such amazing and beautiful and provocative things within the confines of still being liveable.

  34. i love love love the shaker cabinets, the colors, and the hardware. Rugs, accessories and window hardware will add a ton of additional texture and character. the island into your living room – does that have stools? does your main island have stools?

  35. I LOVE the look of the wood inside the cabinets. I think that will be stunning and is the second “moment” you’re looking for. In the original renderings with the three glass-front cabinets, I agree it looks heavy, but now that you’re adding wood and the glass is clear, I’d vote for leaning in and going back to three and just get some pretty containers to store food in (or put the food another cabinet and instead sprinkle in some ceramics/other decorative pieces to fill the space).

  36. I think you can update and take risk with the hardware. What about something black/hammered/horn/branch like ?? If the rest is class go with a more creative hardware.

  37. Love it just the way it is! You are so talented and an exacting designing technician, so I can understand the indecision and desire to make it special, special, more special. But, having followed you for years, I know you will make it beautiful and unique, while still timeless. And that is saying something. To production, I say!

    1. Yes! It is WAY WAY to shallow. I hate a sink that is not at least the depth the width of a plate

  38. Looks amazing. big believer in simple is better and your light fixtures are killer. They shine a lot more with a simple design. They are the editorial moment and Im sure the counter will be amazing.
    yes not everything has to be so designed it will look awesome!

  39. With demo starting on my kitchen today, I’ve had the same internal debates about whether or not my kitchen was creative/fun/interesting/not cliche and overdone. Sigh. What you’ve picked is classic and beautiful and the layout is amazing!

  40. When I get overwhelmed by design choices and I’m staring at a deadline, I remember my mantra:

    Do The Simple Thing.

    Always works out for the best. You did good. Onward!

  41. Its nice. Just nice. It doesn’t feel ant different than any other nice kitchen on pinterest. It doesn’t feel special and that makes me sad. It feels like settling.

  42. I love the shaker, the island really shines this way. I do prefer the black hardware on the island, so the wood stands out not the hardware.

  43. Smart move. I’m pretty sure I instantly tried to disuade you from the tiny groves on every cabinet at first posting. It is just such a pain and for a vacation home (for you), and a home that others will use (airbnb???) and not take as great of care of as you would, it would be a huge mistake. You have a lot of cabinets. Simple is better. It is calming and quiet and lets the stone and lights shine. I’m convinced you made the right decision…or at least the best decision you have presented so far. Maybe something else is out there and you haven’t landed on it yet, but in 3 years it is just more content! You will love what you get…at least for a time. Now go poor yourself some vino…it is nearly 11:00 AM in CA right now!

  44. I still think you should paint the ceiling white and put wood everywhere else! I loved the renderings with the alder cabinets.

    If not, why not wood hardware?

  45. I LOVE IT! Like you said, shaker is classic and so very cabin but also modern. I totally 100% love the flat paneled drawers, I always think drawers should be flat and doors shaker, but I’m no interior designer. I can relate with wanted to do something edgy and unexpected, but I think you found the perfect balance with the shakers and island. It’s gonna be so good! The reclaimed wood, btw, would probably be a pain to clean and attract lint like a white cat on a black shirt.

  46. What if (hear me out) the glass cabinets become open shelving and you throw some kind of textured *something* behind it — think painted white brick or maybe even the dark stained wood? I feel like what often works in Scandinavian design is the charming combination of doneness/undoneness. Also, it’d invite a little more of that rustic “texture” that Brian seems to gravitate towards. Finally, it would create an opportunity for some greenery, lighting and would help make that wall also feel like it’s own “moment”.

    1. This is a great idea! I’m worried about traffic flow while those glass doors are open for drink fixin’- at least I think this turned into the bar area?

  47. I really like the look of the grooved fronts! Shakers are too busy with lines in different directions and boring because they’re so ubiquitous. Those grooves are unusual and more harmonious. Ahh!

  48. I LOOOOVE this design!! It’s going to be gorgeous when everything is combined into the room. Allowing those cabinets to take a back seat to the island and the lighting is GOOD design…and then having that little bling of natural wood inside the cabinets to reference the wood in the rest of the house!!! Oh my. Love.

  49. HI Emily,
    I laugh every time I read your posts because I went through it all about a year ago. My kitchen came out similar to what you are looking for (I think).
    For the island we used white oak planks and stained them my favorite color: Stargazer by Dunn and ? (California company). The white oak planks are smooth yet the grain absorbs the stain to give it a texture without it being rough. We did a barn wood island top to “crunch it up” as I say and not look too formal or over-designed. It also looks nice against all the other hard surfaces.
    For outside cabinets, I went with white Shaker and with a small line around the edge to give it that fitted feel without the cost (I had to cut somewhere after the custom island and everything else that went wrong with kitchen redos). I am so happy I did this because the less grooves, the less the honey, chocolate, jelly build up and they are very easy to clean.
    I still wanted bead board somewhere so I did fir bead board WALLS. It looks great.
    For hardware, I felt that the brass was too trendy and I’d get sick of it so I went with the dark bronze but more modern shape. I splurged on the hardware and got real bronze from Sun Valley Bronze (long lead time but that is the last thing you do so it wasn’t an issue and way worth it).
    Honed marble countertops.
    Let me know if you want me to send pictures.
    I think it is beautiful and it would look good in a mountain home.

  50. YES 100% DO SHAKER. Let’s be honest— really cool, innovative design is wonderful in magazines. But this is a place that is meant to be LIVED IN. And nothing is more off-putting to a mom (or any “living in the real world” person, for that matter) than to look at a beautiful space, love it, and have to say, “But I could never have that because I have people in my life that I love.” I want to see designs that inspire me AND are accessible. You consistently deliver that, and that’s why I love and follow your work! You’re not so “above this world” that the average person can’t relate to you. SO DO SHAKER, and make the rest of us feel not so crazy for wanting a kitchen that’s easy to maintain… because who wants to clean tiny little grooves in kitchen cabinets when there are sweet kiddos and a husband to snuggle?

  51. I love the direction you are going. Your design may not be as unique as what you would prefer, but it makes it more attainable for your readers. The brass hardware is awesome, don’t let anyone tell you different. 🙂 Everything you have going looks amazing and I can’t wait to see it! I would love to have this for my own kitchen and I’m considering how it might work. I know there are a lot of people that “challenge” you on your blog and seems that you have to defend your decisions often, but don’t let anyone stop your creativity as a designer. You are very awesome and have been a fan since “Design Star.”

  52. Its gonna be amazing, Like you said you have your crazy amazing design moments in the island and lighting, let those shine

  53. It’s beautiful. Seeing all the effort you put into it and all the back-and-forth you go through makes me feel normal about how I am with our house. Sometimes innovation for innovation sake isn’t worth it and classics are classic for a reason.

  54. Oh my goodness, I think every person who has ever dared to do any sort of rennovation project can feel your pain on this. Great job! At the risk of sounding boring or predictable, I do really prefer this final option best. It will be stunning!

  55. The main thing to remember is that this is a vacation house, where you should feel relaxed and happy. And staring at kitchen crud stuck in cabinet grooves is not relaxing. Also, if others will be using your vacation house – looking at someone else’s crud is double-gross. So stick with what’s easy to clean. Same with leather cabinet pulls – I love the look but how is that going to weather in a kitchen? How will pancake batter clean off of those?
    I have original wainscoting in my kitchen and bathroom and I loved it at first and now I look at those dusty grooves with hatred.
    The warmer wood in the glass-fronted cabinets is lovely. Don’t go darker there.

  56. oh boy oh boy Emily! this gives *me* anxiety so I feel ya sista! I know this is not what you are looking to hear but scrolling through, the pic with the dark island and flanking Alder cabinetry is the most stunning AND rustic AND cabin-ey AND scandi……… I will echo what everyone said about the hardware- it’s too glam (so is the kids bathroom btw). Sigh. This message is for Brian: please see that you are less likely to get the rustic feel if you worry too much about the ceiling wood…pretty please? It doesn’t have to be a stark white ceiling- there’s lovely warm/earthy whites out there (look at how Leanne Ford has used it so beautifully and nothing looks too ‘modern’ or ‘stark’)- Emily will do so too! Case in point: look at the inspo pics from De Vol in this post. The most beautiful element is the light and dark wood contrast NOT the dark, grooved wood all by itself. I worry that this current design looks too blah and not scandi and too much like my current condo which is a standard (I love it, don’t get me wrong) white and almost black kitchen. I have had to add alot of lighter wood accessories in there to make it feel more scandi and less modern/stark which is missing here and you have a chance to add it before it’s too late.
    Emily, as someone who viciously studies and mulls over scandinavian interiors, the other thing I want to point out is that there is so much beauty that some of these designs carry that stems from them being less than ‘perfectly’ thought out. Such interiors are endearing in a special way which is what I think you are looking for? If all that’s keeping you from doing the alder/light wood cabinets is not knowing what floor you will have, think again. Look at how much depth a little bit of oak/yellow wood thrown into the island adds to the Devol kitchen and the floor doesn’t necessarily perfectly compliment but it all works! (also I am hopeful that Brian will ultimately be ok with painting the ceiling wink wink).
    phew! sorry for the crazy long thoughts but I reeeeally wanna see a scandi rustic kitchen and this ones not it (sad face)
    all said with lots of love and hugs,

    1. Good comment, but I gotta say everything Leanne Ford does looks too stark and modern for me!

    2. yes, yes, yes! The Alder wood cabinet images are BY FAR the most stunning and unique and true to the directive of the mountain house (rustic and scandinavian modern). The shaker cabinets, while pretty, are boring and you’ll always feel let down. I know the wood might be scary to try, but just do it! You’ll love it!

  57. I think this looks amazing. I think your final instincts were right that this kitchen was starting to get a little “overdesigned.” The wood inside the glass cabinets, coupled with the show-stopping island, plus neat hardware, and awesome counters, equals as many “moments” as a kitchen can comfortably have! ha! Kitchens should be timeless and hardworking (read, easy(ish) to keep clean!) BTW, I LOVE that you let us inside your mind and walked us through the design process!

  58. The brass hardware is too glam in colour and in shape. Black is possible, leather could be gorgeous. Or some non- shiny metal in a rustic or organic but not twee design…..leaves, branches, acorns pine cones. Or wait, it’s a lake house so some kind of boat hardware feel . Excited now!

  59. The island is going to be the star! The cabinets you’ve chosen aren’t meant to compete! Also, I love the wood (not black) inside the glass cabinets–warms things up.

  60. You’re right. It’s meh. What about more interesting hardware? Bring the black in? Paint the inside of the glass front cabinets with a color rather than wood clad? Tile the inside of those same cabinets with something geometric and fun? It’s not having its moment.

    1. More interesting hardware. Even goofy, fun hardware. Like, aluminum fish for handles, or tree branches.

      No, I’m not kidding. Just want some play and “cabin” in the way I think of it:). Also super easy to change the minute you get sick of it.

  61. I’ll start by saying I think the whole design is great. I love the stained black wood cladding and simple cabinets.

    But mostly I wanted to comment on a pet peeve of mine that I’m trying to get people to stop doing. Stop saying “there’s many ways to skin a cat.” I just think it’s such a horrible phrase that people just need to stop using. It’s horrible to think about people skinning cats and then of the many ways it’s possible. I’m not even a cat person but the phrase just rubs me wrong in so many ways.

    End Rant…..

  62. All I kept thinking about is how disgusting the grooves were going to be — it would be so hard to clean it. And your kitchen should feel CLEAN above all else! I have grooves in my island and it drives me crazy.

  63. Sorry but DeVol kitchens don’t appeal to me in the slightest. Your kitchen is going to very pretty, and functional in exactly the way your family wants it to be. Please stop driving yourself crazy.

  64. What about doing the black reclaimed on all the cupboards with counters on them and the white only on the wall of cabinets?

  65. I really liked the grooved door/drawer style but I get that they would be hard to keep clean. For a more custom look I would suggest an even smaller dimension on the door frames (what you have been referring to as the panels are actually stiles and rails – the panel is the center piece) maybe even as small as one inch wide would be pretty. Another suggestion is to add a simple beveled inside edge detail to the frames (where the small-bone detail is on your LA kitchen doors) which would make cleaning even easier because there’d be no horizontal surfaces and would look more custom. Have you researched natural wood handles? There are some good ones out there and I think they would look especially nice on the black island.

  66. The white does not feel very cabin-y too me, I’d love to see the cabinets in a muted color. And I get that you’re aiming to creating some contrast with the light fixture, but I fear it reads too modern and minimal amd kind of dull in here.

  67. so I wrote this long comment but not sure if it posted cuz I can’t see it, ha! So sorry if this is repetition but here I go again:
    This current design is pretty and nice BUT it is not cabin-ey NOR rustic and definitely doesn’t read scandi. One big reason for this could be, the ceiling in these renderings is white but I thought we are looking away from so many nice options bc the wood is staying well, woody? that said, I hate to say this but being honest (with love and hugs) but the best version is the dark and alder wood. The de vol kitchen is gorgeous not just bc of hte dark element but the contrast between the dark and the light wood and the hint of unexpected ?oak of the island/table peeking through. All the white here takes away from it and to me, it sways far away from one of the key things that scandi design has, which is, looking ‘effortless’. This feels almost too thought out and too perfect. Sigh. I loved where you started out with your inspiration for the cabin but I really really wish you didn’t move away from it (which is still possible I think?). Don’t let the ceiling stuff get in the way of having a true cabin and scandi feel. I don’t think having light floors in addition to your current kitchen will cut it (I have white ash floors, very similar cabinet lowers and white uppers and pantry and I have had to add a TON of lighter wood as accessories to make it feel more scandi). Try not overthinking it and look at your initial rendering with the Alder (too pink is not a bad thing, it photographs beautifully) and think about other lighter woods such as maple or white oak too bc they are beautiful as well. Please. Please. Just being honest and wanting to see something different yet classic which feels more scandi than this one.

  68. The wood cabinets render stopped my heart! If I had this kitchen dilemma, I would paint the ceiling white with black beams and get dream floors and complimentary wood cabinets. Check all the boxes for Scandi/rustic/refined/chalet/California cabin. But that’s just me. I have no doubt you will make this beautiful and new and Emily Henderson lovely.

  69. When you said you couldn’t pick raw wood for the front cabinetry because you didn’t know the wood floor you’ll use yet my first thought was “Why a wood floor? It should be stone!” Or at least a porcelain imitation of stone. I realize these aren’t as cheap in the US as they are here, but wouldn’t it be better for that overall “mountain cabin vibe”?

  70. I can’t tell you reassuring it is to the rest of us when the inimitable Emily Henderson has moments of indecision and panic. We are building a lake cabin and I am living your angst! BTW: the final design is gorgeous and timeless and exactly what a kitchen needs to be.
    Thanks for the laughs amidst the chaos! SO enjoy your blog!

  71. Was really interesting to see the thought process in designing this beautiful kitchen. Was happy to learn that bouts of indecision are normal and even the best professionals are vulnerable.

    I agree that brass hardware isn’t the best choice.

    The way the cabinets align with the refrigerator drawers looks beautiful, but may be a problem if you ever need to replace your refrigerator.

    Agree with suggestions to paint the ceiling. The current ceiling wood tones seem to be fighting you at every turn.

  72. Love the white shaker style. They will be perfect. The deVOL are super cool but that look isn’t going to be timeless is my bet. I wouldn’t want to spend big bucks for super cool cabinets that are going to look dated or something in a few years. Remember 80s white cabinets with the slim stained wood trim at the bottom that served as the door pull. Somebody probably thought those were super cool too. Lol

  73. I think the shaker cabinets are a great contrast to all the more interesting things going on – all the vertical lines would have driven me nuts. More importantly I LOVE these process posts! The how and why are the things that keep me coming back. Thanks for taking the time to share it all.

  74. It is going to be gorgeous! I really cannot wait to see the final result, and I am sure you’ll be thrilled with it. There are SO MANY special details and touches all over this house already – smart to not overdo it in the kitchen!

  75. Your sadly hilarious frustration comes through loud and clear on this post! I feel for you, I truly do, as I’m tracking with you through the whole process and then you get to… white Shaker panels (laughing crying emoji). I don’t have any brilliant suggestions today but I truly believe that the real finishes will be so much more impressive in actual reality vs the [top notch] renderings. And yes… when Every. Single. Thing. in a room is “special” it all tries to grab your attention at once and ends up feeling like it’s trying too hard and was badly designed. So, props for getting through the process, and hugs for the stress and exasperation of it!

  76. Love it! It’s working out so well. It’s clean, minimalist, classic, and beautiful! Well done.

  77. I think why you’re struggling with the wood ceilings (which I personally think are beautiful – varying tones and all) is because the rest of the house is looking very California modern traditional (which is what you see a lot on Instagram) and so you can’t reconcile the two. You’ve chosen great modern finishes in the bathrooms and bunk room but with all the inset cabinetry, stone and brass, it’s basically like a new build California house (albeit “custom”). I hope this doesn’t offend. I don’t think you see inset cabinetry in Scandinavian houses ever. It’s more organic and less “done”. So, if you’re still going for the Scandinavian aesthetic, I think you have to rethink the cabinetry and all the brass. Or just be happy with the California modern you’re designing towards.

  78. Two things:

    1. I had those latches and hated them. They were hard to open, and even harder to shut.

    2. What if you didn’t have cabinet doors at all where you are putting the glass front doors? If you’re going to see everything anyway, why not just have open shelving there. My thinking is…if you have to open the doors to make coffee (is that a coffee maker?) or toast, then you’d have to leave the doors open until the coffee or toast is ready. Or you’d have to open the doors every time someone wants coffee. Or have to keep them open while you butter your toast (even though this probably wouldn’t take too long, unless you really like butter.) I feel like it’s an accident waiting to happen with doors having to stay open. Or are they the kind of doors that open and slide back? In that case…nevermind!

    Anyway, I enjoy seeing your thought process! Love everything you do! (except please no more brass)

  79. Also, if you want to keep the island and be more Scandinavian, I would go for fully modern flat panels and add lots of wood elements by keeping the ceilings wood and the furniture. Otherwise, Shaker inset cabinets really don’t seem to match the style.

  80. I agree with all the others. I really, truly like the shaker cabinets. I always thought the groove design was way too busy. I’m afraid it would have looked like you were trying too hard to do something unique instead of just going with what looks good. I get that you feel a lot of pressure to really design, but with more simple cabinets, your opportunity to design a beautiful kitchen still exists. The combo of the choices you’ve made and the way that it is styled is what will make it you. If you were already living in this house with all of the other rooms done and you had lots of time to be fantasizing about the perfect kitchen, then you could have pulled off one of those other ideas. But it’s just not realistic when you are renovating and designing every single room on a deadline. You will have your special moments in the kitchen as well as special moments all over the house (like that bunk room). It’s gonna be georgeous.

  81. The simple white cabinets are the perfect compliment to the island, stone and lighting and I think it’s going to be amazing when it’s done!

  82. Making “forever-choices” like expensive kitchens is daunting. But I can’t imagine that you would ever regret going shaker. They are keepers! Could I suggest doing other hardware? I don’t think brass is neither “scandi”, nor “cabin-like”, and also maybe too trendy (aren’t we all about to tire of the brass-trend?).

  83. Emily, everything you do is pure magic. You could use cardboard and somehow make it beautiful. 🙂 I love the style you guys landed on!

  84. Gosh, I feel your anguish Emily. However, not everything can be the ‘star’ of the show. The Shakers provide the perfect backdrop to the gorgeous island, light fixture and whatever you determine for hardware and stools. It’s going to be beautiful, and you will love it forever. xo

  85. I really like the Shaker decision. Maybe since your island is your “risk” as it is, you could go edgier with the sink? And by edgier I don’t mean more modern, but just something…different. I don’t know, the farmhouse sink just feels a little played out and if you’re going to run with the design of the black wood (which I loooove) I think a really cool sink would be awesome. Something custom or new?

  86. I always vote for classic…especially on big items like cabinetry. Honestly all I can think about on some of the more custom/designer styles is how fadt it will be dated and how expensive it will be to change it. Even if money is no object for you, there are better things to do with money than change your cabinets every few years. I really liked the tiny grooves, but you are right that they’d probably be a mess! The lighting and island are super cool, so I think you’re good! Ultimately you have to LIVE with the design, not just make it interesting for the internet.

  87. When I saw the first design for the cabinets with the thin grooves, my first thought was, “That is going to be a NIGHTMARE to keep clean.” I have a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old – and since your kids are young too, I was thinking you were being pretty brave…haha 😉 I can get behind anything that is easier to keep clean and looking nice, especially with filthy little hands. And, I actually prefer the streamlined look of the new cabinets. Props to you for designing for yourself in front of a bunch of people – that’s got to be a TOUGH job! It’s going to be beautiful!

  88. Your custom casework is SOOOO custom!! I love that you refined (over and over again) the size and layout of all the individual components. That’s the important part. I too am partial to shaker, primarily because it DOES stress the custom layout of a kitchen. This kitchen is perfect for this room which is the definition of CUSTOM. Now for my 2 cents…Even though I am planning a wall in the kitchen I am designing right now similar to what you have (a clean wall of casework) – I recommend NO doors on your areas of glass. The interior wood (weather it’s black or natural) will add warmth and texture (a la mountain cabin). Also, you are the QUEEN (if not the ruler of the world) when it comes to styling shelving. I would love to see some EHD styling on those shelves with no glass. Plus this will solve the closing issue.

  89. Emily,
    You’re too funny! Your latest design is perfect . . . seriously, go forth and don’t look back!

  90. The white shaker cabinets look really nice. It makes the black on the island pop. I agree with a previous comment, put the black wood inside the cabinets will really tie things together. And black hardware looks beautiful on those white cabinets and would tie in with the overhead light. No matter what you end up choosing, the mountain house is going to be amazing.

  91. Sadly, your lengthy post brought me around to the grooves and I was excited; the plain shaker is a bit lackluster in comparison (even though, plain shaker is the only thing I’d ever do myself!). What I can’t help noticing is that the ceilings are white in all of your renderings . . . isn’t the fact that the ceilings won’t be white in person going to throw off your design a bit? I kind of think you’re going to end up with white ceilings! Brian better resign himself. Ha!

  92. You should check out Delta Mill Works- my friend’s company out of Austin that makes beautiful wood!

  93. If you did the alder cabinets, would Brian be more ok with painting the wood ceiling white? I get that the production is started, but the wood cabinets really made me gasp when paired with the black reclaimed wood island. Feels a lot more unique, mountain home esque.

  94. I can’t believe how vulnerable you are, and it makes me admire and appreciate you so much! I am nearing the end of my own kitchen remodel, and I love seeing that you have the same puzzles and struggles to solve as everyone else.

    I LOVE the slim Shaker cabinets and the wall of cabinetry is gorgeous…proceed! Your styling will make it “Mountain”. ❤️

  95. Dear Emily- With all due respect (and believe me I have tons of respect for you and your designing hear!t), I hope you can stop worrying so much about the ceiling! NOBODY ever looks at the floor and the ceiling simultaneously. And if you keep staring at the ceiling you’ll get a crick in your neck! Douglas Fir “de-pinks” itself over time. With the finish off and time for oxidation it will darken a bit and maybe go (horrors!) a little orange-ish over time. The rest of your ceiling will oxidize too. It will all calm down and somehow work together as most things from nature do. I speak from experience having lived in a house with oak floors, cherry cabinets, a doug fir ceilings and doors. I didn’t pick those out, but the house was about 11 years old when we bought it and frankly, until I had lived there for a while I didn’t even realize they were all different woods! (And I’m a designer!) It became super clear when we added onto the kitchen cabinets with brand new cherry. When the new cabinets came it they were PINK! A year later nobody could tell the new cabinets from the old. I imagine its possible that the Alder would de-pink, too, but I have no experience with it. I digress.

    I’m on board with the shaker cabs! LOVE the black island and I would hate to see the Mountain house with brass kitchen hardware (OR a white ceiling!) Though I LOVE the brass faucet and accents in the lighting and other areas of the house. My 2 cents.

  96. Natural wood kitchen cabinets would have been my vote and if it takes painting the ceiling white to get it – that would have been a trade off I was willing to accept.

    Speaking of wood cabinets – I wanna see Corbett’s kitchen! You promised!

  97. I love the alder look. The white with brass does Not look like a mountain house to me at all. Maybe if you did leather pulls or even wooden ones or cake up with some cool rustic metal ones no one’s tried before… but this looks more glam than a mountain house to me.
    Beautiful and practical and even timeless just not mountain/cabin/shalet feeling. Maybe if they were all flat front and not shaker? With more rustic hardware?

  98. The Shaker cabinets are nice and an improvement on the grooved ones, I think. But, I agree with the others who think the hardware is too formal and flashy and doesn’t bring a cool, cabin vibe to the kitchen. And with those who think painted, white cabinets are ubiquitous and somewhat “suburban.”
    This is meant sincerely, but I’m perplexed by how rushed so much of your design work is recently. You have so much talent style-wise, but are not as experienced with design, which is difficult and takes time. Are deadlines set by others? Are you unable to request longer lead-times? I say this because I think you’d come up with more interesting and fresh designs if you had more time. Especially since this is your second home, it’d have been nice to watch it evolve more slowly and purposefully. Most of it is beautiful, but not as great and special as your and its’ potential. And somewhat disappointing for a fan since your Design Star days.

  99. Your projects always come out looking amazing, or at worst, really pleasing. While it’s hard to understand exactly what the room will look like once the ceiling and flooring decisions have been made, I am really sorry and sort of shocked to say that the white shaker fronts sound boring and a little too contemporary. I usually love shaker, but it seems as though these take away from the visual here. It could be that the rendering doesn’t accurately portray other colors, though, because the whole thing looks very, very white. ? Have you considered the potential to go with a color more like Sherwin-Williams Moderate White? Or more of a greige? A warm, not-white neutral seems like it would play more Scandi with that gorgeous black island. (Don’t get me wrong – I loooove white.) But you’re the pro, and I’m sure you will make the most boring element absolutely sing!

  100. I completely agree with this decision. You’re going to love it. One year from now you’ll write how you thought this was a boring potential mistake, but now you love the easier cleaning, yes, but you also love the clean, classic backdrop for all the other cool stuff going on. You just wish you had fought for some kind of less translucent glass in the doors.

  101. I love this post and kitchen!
    Emily- you are definately an enneagram 7 (personality type)- lots of fun, lots of ideas, hard to pin down total commitment because of FOMO. I love it 🙂

  102. I’m completely unhelpful but I like to cut to the chase. Paint the dang ceilings already and do wood cabinets in that kitchen because that’s what is the prettiest. Will the shaker be awesome. Absolutely. I have shaker. Everybody has shaker because it’s classic. But, this cabin should feel different and special.

  103. I love the white shaker and so glad you decided to go this direction. All of those grooves were going to be a nightmare! You will be so thankful you settled on these cabinets. Trust it.

  104. Love the wood on the inside of the cabinets, that helps a lot. But I really really wish you wouldn’t do the brass hardware. It just doesn’t seem mountain house like and you’ve done it before. I feel like the hardware is an easy place to try something new.

  105. It’s stunning…and I like the brass better than the black…who cares if you’ve done it before, as long as it is beautiful now.

  106. I love your final (final?) plan! I think the simplicity of the plain white cabinets works so well with the black island and I’m in love with the touch of wood inside the glass cabinets. And I won’t budge – the ceiling should totally be white! It just brings the whole thing together. I was one of those who were terrified at the thought of cleaning those cabinets before? I feel like I would end up hating them. Sometimes I suppose you have to go with function over form. The design is stunning still, a beautiful blend of traditional and contemporary.

  107. I think custom cabinets are most useful for totally nailing the scale of things (i.e. form) and maximizing function, both of which you are doing. I really, really loved the grooved fronts. Shaker is… shaker. But it does hang back and let the island be the moment. I hope that you don’t use that exact same black-stained reclaimed wood on anything else because I worry it would take away from that moment. The light wood in the glass-door cabinet interiors is a great way to bring warmth to that wall and therefore allow you to go back to black cabinet hardware, which feels more appropriate. I love the idea of using the grooved facade somewhere else in the house where it won’t be exposed to as much wear and tear.

  108. Re handles – & rustic, how about commissioning a blacksmith to make some wrought iron handles to your design. Is there an iron balustrade going in somewhere that could marry back the theme?

  109. I also had the same feeling about the hardware. Seems like that may be your opportunity. The brassmdoes seem to be moving away from the natural, mountain house vibes. Also, I am the same exact way about making decisions sometimes… especially when you have a vision but all these external factors send you down 10 different paths of compromise until you want to run in your closet and lock yourself inside. Hehe I always have a much easier time designing or planning for others than I do for myself. It’s a blessing and a curse to be an “over-thinker” (although for me it’s always the appropriate, necessary amount of thinking). It’s going to be beautiful in the end and there are always other ways to add mountain house charm. Xo

  110. I had a nearly identical experience with my kitchen. I fell hard for the Sebastian Cox line and tried to have it locally replicated. I went through one million iterations including a tongue and groove door that mimics that devol look before ending up with a simple slab front white oak door. I wrote about it last year on medium. I also used shou sugi ban siding from Nakamoto (the Oregon vendor?) on my house. This post was like looking in a mirror. I feel your pain and I love where you ended up. I also vote black hardware.

  111. The kitchen is gorgeous! You’re right (not a shock at all) that not everything in a space can “be something”. Lacking functionality makes no sense at all in a kitchen especially. Once you operate in this space, you’ll feel like the genius you are and not a crazy person at all!!

  112. Could that 2” panel you’re speaking of be an accent wood tone? What color will the trim on the window and the slider be? Match that, maybe and bring a grid dimension in without the need for extra cleaning?

  113. You’re spot on Emily with this kitchen…love and appreciate how you allowed the direction of this space to evolve (as anxiety provoking as that may be)!! That’s how some of the best art is created! And I agree that you can’t go wrong with Shaker cabinets, along with the warmth of the wood interiors and the added glass on two of the cabinets (that in of itself creates a nice, clean and simple symmetry that appeals to the eye) Less is more especially since that glorious statement of an island is the centerpiece!! As for cabinet pulls, I’m inclined to stick with black. However if you want some warmth to the pulls, have you considered an antique brass finish like some shown in this link? Just my crazy two cents. I know whatever you choose for pulls along with the entire kitchen, will be beyond stunning!! Stay encouraged and know you’ve so got this!!

  114. The island is the star. The cabinets are the back up singers. This is simple and clean and real. Also, I totally appreciate the public dithering and questioning – from a professional! – it makes me feel like I’m not the only indecisive crazy person when it comes to certain big design decisions. I’m a newbie to your site and I love watching your process evolve. Thank you!!

  115. I’m jumping on the no brass train. I now realize that is what threw me on the bath. Loved all the green, but in combo with the brass it was like it was trying too hard. It takes away from the green stone instead of complimenting it. Going darker on the many big water items would be better contrast and bring the mountain/rustic look back in while still taking modern design chance on the green stone. Maybe just darker brass or blackish? Saying all that- is it too late?

  116. I loved the grooved doors. My big beef with keeping my white shaker doors clean is the little ledge on the lower horizontal rail collects grime and wiping it off always leaves some of that grime shoved into the corners. A vertically grooved panel without rails would clean up a lot more easily, IMO. But I really like the balance you have achieved with the final design.

  117. It’s so refreshing to see that even experienced designers deal with the overwhelm of options and concern over making a “imperfect” choice! I am starting a modest kitchen renovation for the first time (and thank goodness, working with a designer!). We’re in the process of choosing cabinets: natural wood or painted? flat panel or slightly beveled? dark? light? busy grain? subtle grain? Today we settled (for now) on a look I’d spotted online with wood uppers and black painted lowers, and think it’s fresh and fun, and even my designers agreed! Thank you, Emily, for sharing your process and the thinking behind it! You inspire me!

  118. Too much white! the Shaker is great, they become any style but could you have some color please? Not dark but something to break up all that white or do the alder. It is so beautiful and like one reader suggested the pink goes away. And the hardware, please choose something like in the deVol site or at least more rustic and darker to tie in to the island. And why a white sink? Maybe hammered copper or some other material, to me that could be a place to have a “moment” that would really enhance the look. There is so much beautiful cabinetry but in my mind it need to be broken up a little. You know i am a long time reader and love your work.

  119. Wow- so much creativity in your shop and you settle for run of the mill shaker cabinets ?

    I’m so bummed for you.

  120. I appreciate that you aren’t pushing for something you know will be problematic just for the wow factor. Just like when the readers voted to keep the fireplace stone, it is nice for a designer to take a practical approach! Good job!

  121. Why not do custom wood pulls instead of brass? They can still be polished but it’s something different from your usual and it will more rustic and less trendy.

    1. Why not do custom wood pulls instead of brass? They can still be polished but it’s something different from your usual and it will more rustic and less trendy. There are so many gorgeous and refined options out there. No more metal though! And what about a nod to the 70s with a colorful sink— navy or deep green or black to keep it from feeling to pitch perfect. I’m dying for some little odd ball moment to keep it from being so tightly wound.

  122. Love reading about the whole design process. And I am loving the end result that you came up with but I do agree with the comments about wanting different hardware. I also think you should consider using the dark wood on the interior of the glass-fronted cabinets. I also love that you’re letting your husband have a strong voice in the decisions. This is his mountain house too!

  123. Your shaker design looks beautiful. It’ll be perfect because it will allow the stone, the fantastic lighting, and the island to shine. I’m a person who’s eyes get tired in a room where there are too many “moments.” Your kitchen will be fabulous.
    And, regarding the wood floor, with all the wood elements have you considered stone or tile? It’s so much easier to clean and you can do in floor heating which is fabulous with tall ceilings.

  124. Honestly I wasn’t too excited about the direction you were going with the kitchen but I LOVE where you’ve ended. Classic and gorgeous with some really cool elements. Perfect! Don’t change it!!

  125. I was just looking at the rendering and, in essence, it almost seems like you have three islands (since you nixed the uppers on all, but that one wall). Why not swap out the black to the full wall of cabinets and let the three “islands” be white shaker? That would be a huge impact – a real “moment” – and then you could use a contrasting interior on the glass-fronted cabinets – wood, white, etc… That could really be beautiful!

  126. Looking at your renderings, I noticed that, in essence, you have three islands since you nixed the uppers on all, but the one wall of full-height cabinets. Why now swap out the black wood to be the full-heights cabinets – a real moment – and then clad the other three islands in the white shaker? You would have a huge impact and then you could clad the interior of the glass-fronted cabinets in wood, white, etc, for real contrast. That could be beautiful and a real presence in the room!

  127. I Love it. Looks simple, classic, gorgeous. I know you are going for WOW but sometimes it’s the gestalt that is the WOW

  128. Yes – I love where you ended up, too. When the last pictures came, it felt easier on my eyes – probably because there were indeed too many competing “moments” in previous ones. Don’t second-guess anymore!

    Also – I like that lighter would in the visible shelfing – ties in your window trim and doesn’t feel too heavy. Just let your black hardware be the tie-in for the island. Looks beautiful, Emily! Thanks for taking the time to explain your process : ).

  129. I love the island. That black cabinetry is gorgeous. My two cents worth would be that the wood inserts should be the same black – having the 3 different finishes and then adding possibly a wood floor seems a bit much. I actually like the shaker panels you chose – I personally probably would not have gone white but it is certainly timeless.

  130. I like the simple white cabinetry because it allows the unique black wood island to stand out more. I don’t know if you’ve officially landed on brass hardware, but my vote is for black hardware over the brass.

  131. You made the right choice for a practical home. It’s still timeless and beautiful, but will be much easier to clean!

  132. I love it all and I really love the gold hardware, and warm wood in the cabinets. Balances the classic with the more modern island and lighting. Obsessed.

  133. ☹️this is sad and boring. All wood is the way to go. Did you consider bleached walnut? Btw I got a sebatian Cox bid for the house we are building. It actually was not that outrageous.

  134. I think you should paint your ceilings white. It will elevate the look of the home and make it much more restful. Your eyes will always look to it as a regret if you don’t follow your instinct on it.

  135. I may have missed this in an earlier post, what is the stone you’re using for the countertops?

  136. It looks nice but I always find shaker cabinets a bit “expected”. I suppose that’s what makes them classic though since so many people use them.

    I appreciate that you’re going for a smaller 2″ panel but I might have even gone smaller. This company does Ikea doors in Canada and they have a slimline shaker that reminds me more of furniture than a traditional shaker cabinet. I really like it (even when i don’t like shaker!). I wonder though witht he scale of the room whether smaller would read more as a flat panel.

    I do like seeing the wood inside the cabinets through the glass. that will look really sharp!

  137. Girl, breathe.

    This kitchen is beautiful. I would never have through to pair that stained reclaim wood with the classic Shaker and I think the tension there is really interesting.

    At the end of the day, you will be living here with your husband and your family. There is nothing at all wrong with making the choice that will keep all those people happy for years to come. You’re an incredible talent and we all know that. You don’t have to push the envelope with every choice just to prove it!


  138. I love this kitchen! And it IS innovative. That island is going to be stunning and fresh and new! And the shaker cabinets are stunning too. The kitchen is going to have a great feel when you’re in it.

  139. So many opinions! I’ve already commented a couple days ago but coming back to say…

    1. After sleeping on it, it does seem the kitchen is lacking in mountain vibes. For me it’s especially that vast wall of floor to ceiling white. While beautiful, it doesn’t give me a sense of place even with the black rustic island and wood backing the glass door areas. Still feels suburban. Even flat white panels would be better/more Scandi & modern than Shaker white panels. Nevertheless, the rad lighting and island cladding are definitely amazing and get their moment with this design.
    I think in my ideal world you’d switch to natural wood white oak cabinets, like you showed in some of your initial inspo pics months ago, and yes I’m still waiting to see Corbett’s kitchen! I agree the alder is a no because of the pink tones, but why not a different pale wood?

    2. Dark non-sleek hardware please – someone had a good idea of custom pulls from a blacksmith, or wood and metal combined like a few people linked to.

    3. The farmhouse sink seems really generic to me, ESPECIALLY now the panels are Shaker. Almost anything would be better IMO and there are some cool, more rustic/mountainy options available out there. Please change that!


  140. Obviously I’m sure you’ve seen this already but did you experiment with an iron sulfate treatment? The kitchen layout and wall of pine paneled cabinets also looks similar!

  141. LOVED the grooves, but totally get your point about cleaning. Also adored the rendering with the raw alder wood (so warm and inviting!) and prefer the black over the brass handles / knobs.

    It’s gonna be GAWGEOUS!

  142. It is seriously beautiful and actually my favorite version of all you showed. It is going to be perfect. ?

  143. I read every word of your thought process. I think your kitchen is exciting and the Black is both unique and edgy. If you have some amazing stone coming in, you do have to keep the other cabinetry subdued but beautiful.

    My choreography professor always said, “if you want to show off a jewel, keep the setting simple.” He was teaching us about creating “moments” in a piece of choreography and therefore the transitions would be simple so that when that moment came, the audience was ready for it.
    In your case, the shaker cabinets are a simple setting to show off the light, the island, the fixtures, the cabinet hardware, the stone countertops…
    You know in LA when someone is just too much? Like a playboy bunny sort of look—hair, boobs, lips, sexy clothes, shoes…don’t let that be your kitchen.

  144. Honestly, I prefer your final choices to all of the previous options. I think that any real wow moments should be surrounded with classic/timeless beauty to keep it from looking dated and gouty. You will love it forever and if you decide to change anything, I’ll bet it’s tbe island cladding one day, not the shakers. It pairs with every style, every time. I’d never choose any other style for such a substantial feature If i we’re doing any other “moment” in a room. Your future self will thank you when it isn’t too taste specific and 30,000 more to renovate in 5-10 years;)

  145. The Shaker is the best look by far! I was getting disheartened by all the groove options; they gave the eye no place to rest and detracted from the stunning island. Love the warm wood in the glass-front cabinets and agree with everyone else on finding special hardware. The leather pull idea sounds intriguing.

  146. You have just about designed the kitchen I am planning…
    Mine: Much smaller kitchen with white flat front, full overlay cabinets, dark island and my 4 uppers are clear glass fronts with warm vertical grain, stained wood interiors.
    Yours: The plan for the reclaimed stained wood on the island is fantastic and the interior plan on the wall of cabinets is super enviable! I can only dream of a kitchen that is the size of yours. Love what you are planning!

  147. Please don’t ever stop blogging! I love how you go through the entire thought process. Everyone has indecisive moments for fear of “messing up” and it is so nice to know that someone as talented as you also has these worries and still comes up with GORGEOUS spaces. Love your work! Those renderings are basically my dream kitchen (simple shaker cabinets and all).

  148. I love the shaker. The other one was too much line repitition. Your eye didnt flow all over the kitchen. It was good but I was super present to the line repetition in the cabinet style. I think you made the right decision.

  149. I’ve never commented on your blog, but I saw on your earlier post that you are going with nearly all Viking appliances. My house currently has an all-Viking kitchen (circa 2009) and I must say I would NEVER choose Viking again. They are the most unreliable (although gorgeous) appliances. Every Viking appliance I have has broken at least once, twice and the fridge now 3 times. I have heard the same story from other sad owners of Viking appliances. My Viking repairman said he will never recommend the brand, and only their cooking appliances are worthwhile. Their refrigeration appliances are licensed/designed by GE, and to a lesser quality than GE’s high-end brands.

    Viking double oven – broken twice. Spent $3k fixing the bottom oven, broke again after 5 months, still need to call repair man.
    Viking fridge – spent over $8k in 3 separate repairs
    Viking wine fridge – over $800 in repairs
    Viking built-in ice maker – $500 in first repair, second repair I replaced with Marvel
    Viking cooktop range – griddle broken but haven’t bothered to replace
    2 Viking dishwashers – each have broken multiple times; next time they break I’m replacing with another brand

    Please please don’t make the same mistake. I’m sure it’s quite expensive to get a Viking repairman out to Lake Arrowhead.

  150. Ok, what if….

    Instead of clear glass for the cabinet doors you used fluted glass? It would lightly obscure the contents, AND give you the feeling of those groves that were nixed for sanity reasons.

    Doing a flat paneled door with some sort of inset to create the frame look. I’m imagine the same boarder of the shaker panels, but with a brass or blackened iron slim inlaid into the wood.

    And if you didn’t like how the freezer drawers break the floor to ceiling look up, you could omit the top and bottom parts of the framing and have the stiles or vertical inlay continue from one panel to another (vertically)

  151. I’m a designer and for a lakehouse kitchen (where we are walking a VERY similar line of cabin/quintessential Lakehouse vibe but slightly more upscale/minimalist/spare/more quiet) we are doing shaker on top, flat on bottom, in rift sawn white oak. I’ve had the same thoughts of “Is it too boring?” But our blackened steel range hood will be dynamite along with the island light fixtures, so yeah, didn’t want too many stars in the show. And the flat panel on bottom let’s us make the island very sculptural (wood waterfall with stne on top). Honestly my worry has been “Is this kitchen going too upscale, not rustic/traditional enough?” and the shakers say “Don’t worry, we’re keepin’ things down to earth and simple here.” **Have you run into the issue with flat panel on doors needing to be veneer? We are doing some redesigning because they told us veneer would be 1/44 inch and for this Lakehouse with 12 kids, 7 dogs rough housing that would get annihilated with no chance of repair!

  152. Wow. I got stressed just reading the post lol. I think where you ended up is good, but I am not a big fan of the gold hardware. Feels like something a tad more unique there might fit with the feel Brian wants, as well as add a gentle statement touch. What about something that echos the wood and black in that fab light over the island? And that light is so so so so good it makes me want to get a second job so I can afford one.

  153. My $0.02: your kitchen needs to be functional above all else, and I think you’ve chosen the best route for that. I cringed at all the early choices thinking about cleaning and kids, etc. You will have plenty of options for fashion. And the kitchen still looks fantastic!

  154. Sorry to write this, but this kitchen cabinetry doesn’t look like a mountain cabin to me at all.

    I am not sure what is happening with your “design” process over the past few months, but your posts are filled with confusion and overthinking and overoptimizing. It makes me sad, not happy for you.

    I think I will take a break from your blog now.

    I hope you find happiness with all these projects and all this money being spent.

  155. I think it looks fine! Practicality does have to be important in a space – you aren’t designing a museum exhibit, you’re designing a house, which people will stay in and USE.

    I think the end result is beautiful. I particularly like the wood inside the glass cabinets.

  156. I am so glad the you went with the shaker look. The grooves were busy, and cleaning would have been tough. My only comment is that I would take those glass front cabinets and add a shaker panel at the top. they seem too open and revealing. almost like a hole in the room. The wood inside is perfect, but the opening is just too large for my test.

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