Selecting Home Finishes – How to Make the Right Choices

Selecting Home Finishes – How to Make the Right Choices

When building or renovating, it is never too early to begin thinking about your home’s finishes. Finishes are the fixed elements, such as cabinetry, flooring, trim, plumbing and lighting fixtures. A kitchen, for instance, can have 12 to 14 different finishes, all of which must be coordinated in color, style and scale. Your home’s finishes are typically expensive to replace so keep in mind you will be living with your choices for a long time.

Taking your time and getting professional help is a wise investment.

2014003-white kitchen


The goal is to have the finishes throughout your home coordinated; they need not be exactly the same, but should have a consistent look and feel, with rooms flowing from one to the other. Walking from your kitchen into the living room shouldn’t feel like you have walked into someone else’s home.

However, with so many beautiful products to choose from, HOW do you get through this maze of decisions and be happy with the end result?

Here are a few guidelines with future posts providing more suggestions.

Please note – the photos below are used simply to illustrate guidelines I like to follow.

Most Granite Will Dominate the Room

While some granite have an overall read as a single color such as black or dark brown, most typically contain many colors and patterns. Because of the amount of countertop in a kitchen, the granite’s coloration and pattern will dominate the room, forcing the other finishes to work with it. Many of the examples below contain granite and illustrate the challenges it can present.

Limit the Number of Finishes and Patterns

There are so many attractive products that it can be tempting to incorporate several, thinking more is better. For instance, marble subway tile, glass pencil tile and granite countertop all look great right?  Individually, yes. Together, they may not look so good.

To simplify your decision making, choose one of the 4 main surfaces in a kitchen to be the star – the floor, countertop, backsplash or cabinets. Then select the other finishes to coordinate with the star.

In the photo below, the counter top and backsplash both have strong patterns. They also have different undertones:  the backsplash has pink tones while the counter has yellow (see next guideline).

2014003-bold granite w stone tile backsplash


In this example, the backsplash is more subdued, but still completes with the granite.

2014003-granite and travertine backsplash


In a similar kitchen with a plain backsplash,  the granite plays the leading role.

2014003-granite with subway tile backsplash


In this example, the kitchen has very little contrast; the floor, counter and backsplash all have a similar mottled pattern, yet each has a different undertone (pink backsplash, green counter and yellow flooring).  Remember that tile can be like granite – a lot of colors and pattern and difficult to coordinate with other finishes.

Contrast is needed to give this room depth.

2014003-brown kitchen

Simplifying the finishes provides the needed contrast as shown below. Note how the chevron pattern rug is now the star.

2014003-dark cabinets with white counter


Avoid Mixing Pink and Yellow Beiges

It is a common misconception that beige is neutral. In fact, all beiges have an undertone of color, typically pink, yellow or green.  Placing the product you are considering, whether tile, granite or paint chip, next to a sheet of white paper will help reveal its undertone. Also compare the product with other beiges whose undertones are obvious.

When selecting beige finishes, choose products with the same undertone and avoid combining pink and yellow beiges.

2014003-yellow granite with travertine backsplash


Beware of the Elephant in the Room

Every room needs a focal point – something to draw the eye as soon as you enter the room. Just make sure the focal point is planned and not something unintentional, like one of your finishes. For this reason, bold patterns should be used with intent, recognizing their presence means the rest of the room will have a secondary or supporting role. Know which finish or detail is screaming “Look at me” the loudest!

Slate tile is beautiful but in this bathroom your eye is immediately drawn to the floor. Warmer wall colors would tone down this effect.

2014003-slate tile in bathroom


When considering a bold or busy pattern, ask yourself: 1) do you really love the color and 2) will you be happy with this statement finish for a long time.

2014003-tile backsplash


2014003-marble counter and backsplash


This beautiful marble slab is definitely making a statement. Note the green undertone of the cabinets and pink undertone of the tile.

As you can see, selecting your home’s finishes can be challenging. If you need assistance, please call or email – I would be delighted to help with your project. Sometimes all you need is a second opinion.

What are your favorite finish combinations?

Selecting Home Finishes – How to Make the Right Choices
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