Kitchen Reality — Compromises in Design

I learned some hard lessons this past weekend about compromise. Our kitchen is going to be BEAUTIFUL, but……..

It will not have all the cool arches we wanted or the detailed glass door or the variable height cabinets. Our final design is not what was in my head or what I managed to draw beforehand. All of that work we put in before going to see the cabinet maker felt like it had been in vain. He said he was able to create the arch design we wanted, but it would cost us A LOT of money because they would have to make templates for every single cabinet door and it would be very slow. So while I mourned the loss of what I thought was going to be the most perfect amazing kitchen ever, I also came to the realization that….

It will be so functional and still beautiful!! We were still able to do the pull out shelves and side of the fridge pantry and open shelving and the trashcan nook and the sink bump out. The upper cabinets in half the room will be 45″ tall! We were able to add in our water/coffee station as a floating cabinet. The insides of the cabinets will have things like tray dividers and utensil dividers and a lazy susan and a blind corner pull-out shelf and everything is soft close. The hardware is chunky and easy for my hands to grab. We went with all 6″ cabinet pulls (no knobs!!!) so we had to pay a little more but I like that they will be consistent and larger in scale. I gravitated more towards ones a little more rounded like this one or this one, but my husband liked the detail on these rectangular ones and I like that they’re visually large, so it was a good compromise. (The cabinet pulls I linked above are affiliate links and I would get a small commission from them if you decide to purchase them too. They’re exactly what we bought and looked at and I was really impressed with their weight and quality, which is why I’m recommending them!)
We ended up with cherry wood (instead of hickory or elm or butternut like we really wanted but were all at least 10% more in cost) but the stain is a beautiful walnut color with a black glaze on top. The color is deep and rich and will look amazing with our floors!!! They’ll actually be pretty similar in color. I thought I wanted cabinets that were a little lighter than our floors, but seeing all the lighter options, nothing spoke to me. I’ve always loved dark cabinets. They’re very Craftsman. And while I might wish we had some white cabinetry mixed in, I think having the dark wood is going to be timeless. I’m 33 years old (sheesh….. am I allowed to say that on the internet???) and I’ve liked dark wood for 33 years, so I think it’s safe to say that I’ll like it 20 years from now too. We nixed the glass accent door (for now) and made that cabinet solid wood. It will still cap off the wall nicely for tile backsplash and we may change it to glass later on.

Our biggest compromise though was the style of the cabinet doors. They will all be the same style rather than two different ones mixed together. No beautiful arches. We also had to go with standard doors and drawers rather than inset ones. Inset cabinets are more difficult to make, so they cost more. I LOVE the style of inset doors, but we in the end, we couldn’t justify the cost. The doors we picked will be large and not leave a lot of cabinet edge displayed behind them, which was my inner compromise. My husband didn’t really care either way on inset vs standard. To be fair, they are MUCH closer to the style I would have picked by myself and he compromised more than me. They will have a simple outside edge with simple trim on the doors. We added a little bit of an inner bevel/decorative curvy thing to fit my husband’s tastes a bit more. To make up for them being a more simple style, I let him pick the trim. We will have allll the trim–top and bottom of the cabinet boxes AND huge crown molding along all the tops. It’s a bit fancier than I would have picked, but it made him happy and I think it will be really pretty. 

Our Amish cabinet maker is a pretty great graffiti artist and drew our kitchen on the floor. It’s so nice to walk through the kitchen and imagine being in there. 


It may not be the kitchen I had in my head, but I’m still really excited about it. After hours of agonizing over every single small decision, I know it will be beautiful! And I’m proud of us for sticking to the budget and making choices based on function.

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