Post by Kevin Reese (KR), kreese@tharpcabinets.com 

The following is an Interview with Tharp Custom Cabinetry Designer Gil O’Connor (GO) as he shared his thoughts about kitchen cabinet color trends. Gil has been a designer with Tharp since 2013. We met and talked at Tharp’s cabinetry showroom in Loveland, Colorado, where we have multiple kitchen layouts on display.  Gil enjoys working with clients that are building a new home or remodeling their current home and educates them on the colors and options, so we can deliver the kitchen of their dreams.

KR: Are your clients surprised by the multiple combinations of wood types, paint types and stain types?

GO: Yes, a lot of times, it comes down to the feel that the customer wants, if they want something that’s natural, natural woods with a clear coat for protection are really popular now, especially here in Colorado. Knowing that the product is made of natural wood has a strong visual attraction, as you see the grain and the knots; it really has more life to it than just a painted cabinet. It has been popular to incorporate natural features into the kitchen, even if you select a painted cabinet. Adding a natural wood or a stained wood shelf or a stained wood kitchen island brings in that warmth that wood really offers. A good example is a kitchen with white cabinets and a natural walnut wood island. This combination will continue to be a great look for many years to come.

KR: What are the color trends for 2021 and can you really change the mood of a room by just adding color?

GO: We have tons of options. Just to give you a quick idea: we have about 11 different wood species that have different colors and properties. We have a standard line of about 15 stain colors, and we have approximately 15 paint colors that are part of our standard line up.  White and grey have been popular for a long time, and continue to be, but a lot of people want to add a splash of something brighter and bolder that speaks to their character, in addition to the whites and greys. A lot of people come to our showroom with a special color that they want to incorporate into their kitchen. Let me give you an example of some of the custom colors that I have used recently that are on trend here in Colorado. There is a Greyish Brown paint that’s called Iron Ore by Sherwin-Williams. It’s a neutral color that looks like industrial steel, it’s a nice dark bold color with just a hint of brown.  Another custom color that I recently paired with white is called Splashy, it’s also a Sherwin-Williams color and it’s bold, beachy, fresh, brings brightness and makes the space more cheerful. It’s a great color to spice up a white or a natural wood kitchen.  Mint Green is a popular custom color too. A lot of times, these color trends are started by appliance companies, and our customers want to match or compliment their new appliances.  I like my clients to have an open mind when we work together, and if they are willing to go that direction and take a leap, there are some really cool colors that can add that wow factor to their kitchen design.

KR: Do certain colors hold up better than others from daily usage?

GO: A white island is not ideal especially if you have seating there. If clients, their kids or guests wear shoes when pulling up to the kitchen island, I try to talk them into a walnut or another natural wood that will hide the wear and tear a little better. We have to remember that these are functional spaces that are used every day by our clients, we want them to be beautiful, not only on day one, but ten years down the road as well.

KR: With so many potential colors and textures in a room, how do you tie it together?

GO: Most times, our clients will come to us first since the cabinetry is the largest part of the remodel budget, figure out what this will cost and how it will fit into their budget, and then go from there. Clients will bring photos or samples of flooring, tile, paint colors, window coverings, appliances, countertops, rugs and other elements that will make up the new room. Our focus is the cabinetry and the cabinet finishes, and everything needs to work together. Many of our clients hire an interior designer and they bring their interior designer partner to our initial showroom meeting.

KR: The whole process from start to finish is complicated, but it seems like there’s an evolution of choices, correct?

GO: Yes, some people will come in thinking I want a white kitchen and then they find out that there are all of these beautiful stain colors, paints and woods that I can choose from to make their new space a little more interesting, unique and special. That’s why people come to Tharp, because they want the experience to create something that’s special for their home, not just the cookie-cutter cabinets that you can get anywhere.

KR: What are your recommendations on how to accommodate for lighting in the new kitchen?

GO: Colors could look different how they capture the light. Natural light makes so much of a difference and here in Colorado, we have many bright sunny days. We also take into account the lights you have in the room such as overhead lighting. We recommend that the color temperature and brightness of the evening lighting has a natural feel to best display your new kitchen cabinets.

KR: In addition to colors, what can you tell us about textures?

GO: Wood is a good example of how you can incorporate texture, even if it’s just visual, not necessarily the feel. Wood has visual texture, it has grain and pattern. That’s one of the big advantages over painted finishes. Paint is very flat and it doesn’t have a lot of depth. Even our most beautiful shades of blue or green are still a satin finish and it’s not like looking into the hood of a car where you have more depth in the gloss and sheen, but in wood you really incorporate the texture that makes it more visually interesting. You think about the surfaces in a kitchen, they are usually smooth and easy to clean and that is why they are appealing. Wood offers that visual interest and texture.

KR: Do the colors look different in our showroom than in your client’s house?

GO: When someone is looking at samples in our showroom, I encourage them to take the samples home with them to see how they look in the space. It could look very different in the morning vs afternoon vs night as the lighting in their house totally changes throughout the day.

KR: What can you tell me about the psychology of color?

GO: There’s a lot that goes into color, and colors can really change the mood of a room. Colors can be calming or invigorating, and bottom-line; we hope our clients love it, that’s the goal. When customers are remodeling their home, they may want to change colors to get something brand new, and other people pick colors that they are comfortable with, and they want their selection to be safe and familiar. We still sell red oak cabinets with a natural stain that was used extensively in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and then there are people that say that’s the last thing they want in their home. Maybe they want something totally different, and they can’t wait for their family and friends to come over and say WOW, STUNNING, LOOKS AMAZING!!!