Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

I have a lot of cupboards and they make the kitchen feel small and cramped. I need some help in guiding my thoughts on what to do to update the room while making it feel roomier.

I like SW Pure White for the upper cupboards (cutting out the middle of some cupboard doors to fit glass in them) and SW Bittersweet Chocolate for the lower cupboards. For the wall, I am looking at a shade of blue from your spring catalog. Is having white and dark cupboards the best of both worlds or overkill? And what to do about the ceiling?

I also don’t have an entry way/mud room at the back door, so I was considering doing something like the last picture (from Pinterest) on the north wall. The kitchen itself measures approx. 16′ x 10′ and the north wall is approx. 7 1/2′ x 8′.

I like a clean, simple, classic yet modern look – I just don’t know how to achieve it!

Thanks for your help. 🙂


Kitchen Cabinets




Painting cabinets can be lots of fun as you begin to see the results of your labor. We like your choice of colors and have a few suggestions for you as you continue on your journey. Let’s discuss the three different areas for which you had questions.

1. Overall paint colors

2. Your new “mud room” wall

3. Other styling suggestions for the kitchen

For your overall paint colors, we suggest going one of two ways with your colors …

1. If you go with a blue wall color, we recommend using only white for the cabinets and then accent with Bittersweet Chocolate within the space. For the ceiling, use an extremely light shade of the wall color.

2. If you want to use Bittersweet Chocolate on the base cabinets, then we recommend staying within a small range of white and off-white paint colors for all the other surfaces, bringing blue in as the accent color.

Our recommendation for your new “mud room” wall …

Instead of cutting up your one large wall with trim work, consider using paint to create a frame and then mount your coat hanging hardware within that frame. We think you could have fun with this wall space by incorporating all your favorite colors along with different pieces of artwork. Below is an over-sized example of how we used the concept in a living area.

Painted Frame

There are a few additional styling suggestions we would like to offer…

1. Add seeded glass inserts to all upper cabinets

2. Install a tile backslash that will compliment your chosen colors

3. Install Roman Shades over the larger and smaller windows

4. If you paint all your cabinets white, paint the table in Bittersweet Chocolate

5. Replace chairs with molded acrylic chairs

6. Add a small chandelier over the table and a couple of pendants over the peninsula.

Happy Decorating and we look forward to seeing your after photos!

The How to Decorate Team

Do you have a decorating dilemma? Send us your own questions here.