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Decorating & Furniture/chair-rails & Oak Trim


My husband and I just bought a house that has Oak cabinets in the kitchen ( with brass - yuck. There is a chair rail, oak trim and mostly oak flooring in the entire house. Although I like the flooring (especially the older wood floors- there is new and old)I do not like the country look. I prefer more of an electic/contemporary/asian feel- if that makes sense at all. I am wondering how I can design on a budget. I like white trim but my husband and I are mortified as to how much work that may end up being. I thought of removing the chair-rail but I am afraid that we will make holes in the walls! Can I still obtain an updated look by painting the chair-rail? I also thought of replacing some of the cabinet doors in the kitchen with glass and changing out the knobs with a brushed nickel or something. I need an expert opinion. Help!

Your kitchen can be updated easier than you think!

Today's kitchens are so very eclectic and designed to suit a client's lifestyle.  Kitchens today are lighter and use less wall cabinetry.  There is more open space and shelving exposed, which turns the attention on the dishware.

My suggestion:  Remove some the wall cabinet doors...keep a balance, if you remove one on the right, then remove one on the left.

Place Asian/Contemporary style kitchen ware on the shelves.  Add color, texture and style.

2nd Suggestion:  Stain the chair rail a darker color to complement the existing cabinets.  Take this stain and stain the rear of the exposed cabinets or the rear of the glass cabinets.  Use the contrasting stain to add interest and to update the look of the kitchen. You can use it on other areas such as an island or the hood.  Not too much...just enough to add that punch of color to tie it all together.

One Asian kitchen I designed used this light/dark affect and it was gorgeous!  Don't forget to add dishware to complement the color palette.

Good Luck!
Alicia Valair, CID, CKD, Allied Member ASID

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Alicia Valair, CID, CKD, Allied Member ASID


Whole house interior space planning and decorating; kitchen layout, and design trends; residential themed environments; selecting furnishings and accessories for your lifestyle.


12 years experience as an interior designer, FIDER graduate and business owner for 5 years. Speciality area: residential interior designer, NKBA certified kitchen designer, and home office designer


Homes of Color magazine, Las Vegas Life magazine, Tucson Home and Garden magazine.

B.A. Interior Design, Marymount University, Arlington, VA

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