Choosing Kitchen Materials for Your Hawaii Remodel

The kitchen has evolved from standard (and sometimes boring) oak cabinets and old-fashioned countertop materials to a modern showpiece of infinite variety. From sustainable wood cabinetry to exotic stones counters, the design options available to you are greater than ever before and will allow you to turn your kitchen from a utilitarian into a communal space.

Below are tips on choosing materials for your kitchen, including how to get a high-end look without spending a ton of money:

Choosing Countertop Materials

There are so many countertop materials to choose from that many people simply just don’t know where to start. With such a huge price range within one material group (such as natural stone), homeowners can get overwhelmed deciding which materials are best for their kitchens, but the best place to start is you design vision’s price point.

Looking for an affordable countertop options? Consider plastic laminate. There are  patterns and colors available that, when paired with a tile back splash and nice paint colors, can look very sophisticated. New-age edging details eliminate seams that damage and chip easily, making the countertop more closely resemble high-end products.

For middle-of-the road budgets, look into solid surface materials such as Corian. These materials have evolved well beyond the basic white into patterns that emulate stone, so don’t be hesitant to explore the options they provide.  Added bonus: you can have a sink prefabricated into the countertop for a more seamless look and feel. A more unusual alternative is using linoleum flooring such as Marmoleum.

Natural stone is perhaps the most popular choice for countertops and a visit to your local stone yard can quickly overwhelm you with hundreds of choices, but don’t be intimidated. To help you find a suitable stone quickly, ask for materials within a certain price range and color range.

If you’re interested in stone, be aware that it came come with some bonuses (and setbacks) that synthetic materials don’t. Many natural stones, like Carrera Marble or Jerusalem Limestone, will absorb liquids such as wines and sauces, which can stain permanently.  Which may not be a problem! Some clients like the staining,  referred to as a ‘patina’, which can add a degree of character and uniqueness to your kitchen. On the other hand some can’t stand it would do better looking at other stone types to achieve their desired look. Fortunately there are solutions for both types. If you’re a non-stain kind of person, choose a quartz instead.

When you find a stone you like, take a sample home and see how it holds up to spilled wine, ketchup, mustard and oils. Beware of stones with a lot of fillers. Fillers are a sign of low quality and allow the stone to damage easily and even fall out. You might even try seeing how your prospective stone holds up to nicks and scratches, which usually accumulate in any kitchen.

Other choices include countertops made of paper, glass, and concrete. Many of these are fine for kitchen use, but some will not hold up well over time. If you are using a material that is not ‘tried and true’, try to inspect a similar installation that has been in use for a few years. You may like the appearance when new, but in a few years if it looks old and damaged, you may not be so happy. Do your research and be sure to bring up your long-term wear and tear concerns during your consultation, our experience in all these materials may be able to offer you some feedback when making your decision

Choosing Cabinets

One tip when choosing cabinets is to look at the interior door style in your home. Often times choosing a coordinating cabinet door style to match other style elements within the area is an easy and safe way to ensure that the new kitchen design integrates into the design of your home.

Of course, you can deviate from this! Consider choosing a different material for an island and a more elaborate door style as stand out pieces. However, don’t make the mistake of selecting an overly fancy door style unless your house warrants it. You don’t want your friends to come into your kitchen and say, “Wow, look at your fancy cabinets!” You want them to say, “Wow, look at your amazing kitchen!”

If you have kids and pets, consider a stained wood cabinet rather than a painted cabinet. Generally stained cabinets look better, last longer, and are easier to touch up when nicked. If you want a faux or decorative finish, it’s generally better to go with a slightly less distressed finished  in order to avoid an over-distressed kitchen. Once all the doors are installed, it can look very over done if you’re too heavy-handed on faux or decorative finishes.

Choosing Flooring

The first thing to consider for flooring choices is the materials of the floors of adjacent spaces. If there are wood floors in adjacent rooms, a good solution can be to extend the wood into the kitchen. This is especially true in a small space, where continuing the same flooring material will usually make a space look larger.

If you do not want wood floors in the kitchen, consider a tile that is a similar color value to adjacent wood floor, that way the transition is not harsh and it does not divide the space. A  resilient material like cork can be an excellent choice for kitchen as it is slightly soft underfoot and more forgiving if you drop a dish on it. Natural materials like Marmoleum are also great are a good ‘green’ choice since they are made from natural materials.

Choosing a Backsplash

The backsplash has a huge visual impact that helps tie other materials together. It’s often chosen last, for cohesion’s sake, and is often one of the most difficult choices.

If you’re having trouble choosing a material, look to the other surfaces in the kitchen for inspiration. In a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a stainless steel backsplash  can be a good choice. For a less expensive alternative, look at plastic laminates that look like stainless steel and can even installed by do-it-yourselfers (but resist the temptation to use these on countertops as many are not rated for horizontal surface use). Another alternative would be to use a stainless steel tile, which are now available in many shapes and sizes – and even in options that stick on and don’t require grout.

Glass tile is another good choice to tie together different color materials. There are so many different glass tiles available today that it can be challenging to pick one. A safe place to start is by choosing a glass tile that pulls colors from your countertop and cabinets.

Other material you may consider are sheets of glass, plastic laminate, stone tile, ceramic tile, or even wood (painted or sealed, of course). Beadboard can be an inexpensive choice for a traditional kitchen. But be sure to seal the gap between the countertop and the wood with a good sealant so that water doesn’t wick under the wood and cause it to rot.

One Step at a Time

Choosing materials for the kitchen can be challenging, but developing one element of your design at a time will get you closer to the kitchen of your dreams. Making decisions in the order we’ve suggested will get you through the design process as quickly and successfully as possible so that you can get onto construction, and finally to enjoying your new kitchen.

All projects begin with a brief on-site consultation: 808-221-2868