Street of Dreams-inspired kitchen upgrades for all budgets: ‘White cabinets are here to stay’

If you’re completely remodeling or just updating handles on kitchen cabinets, the 2021 NW Natural Street of Dreams new home tour through Aug. 22 in Happy Valley has rooms full of ideas.

With a $20 ticket, Street of Dreams tour goers will see projects by the area’s top builders and interior designers at two Happy Valley developments: Heritage Crest, a gated community of custom houses at 12500 S.E. Mount Scott Blvd., and Pleasant Valley Villages, a master-planned community with new production houses by Holt Homes at 11878 S.E. Bridal Veil Falls Place.

The busiest room, the kitchen, is also referred to as the heart of a home because it’s where people gather to be cared for and nourished with food. It’s also the costliest space to improve with cabinets and appliances, and often requires professional help from a designer, electrician and plumber.

Interior designer Whitney Hicks was Holt Homes’ project manager for the three model houses on the Street of Dreams tours at Pleasant Valley Villages. She and her team selected finishes and furnishings and she worked closely with staging and surface design partners to present distinctive looks.

Here are Hicks’ tips to give your kitchen a fresh look:

Color themes need to complement: Avoid setting yourself up for a color conflict in an open kitchen that’s part of a great room. Select a palette for the kitchen that does not clash with the sofa or anything else in sight. “Focus on texture and neutrals rather than a bold color if the furnishings palette is already bold, or might be in the future,” says Hicks.

In the kitchen of the Elevated Evergreen model home, Hicks and her team called for a full-height green tile backsplash. In the Columbia Comfort model home, a fossil beige tile with character was selected. “An antiqued or hand-crafted finish on a neutral color field will age well with the home as designs change,” she says.

Cabinets should be timeless: It’s expensive to remodel a kitchen, and cabinets can make up 30% of the costs. Ensure that five to 10 years in the future you won’t think the look has gone out of style. A risk-free choice: “White cabinets are here to stay, because they’re a classic and beautiful look and a backdrop in which to make colorful salads and gorgeous meals,” says Hicks.

She adds that dark stained cabinets are making a comeback.

Clear off counters: If you can, hide appliances in cabinets to keep counters cleared to have space to cook. When not prepping a meal, uncluttered counters will look more inviting. “Display live plants and a bowl of fresh fruit instead,” says Hicks.

Homes on display during the NW Natural Street of Dreams show

Matte-black hardware in the Pacific Peak model home on the 2021 NW Natural Street of Dreams home tour adds a modern and industrial look.

Hardware updates: Make a statement with cabinet knobs and pulls. “Small-scale hardware is a great way to do a quick, affordable change, and it’s an option for renters, too,” says Hicks. “Just swap the old ones back before you leave.”

Hicks and her team installed matte-black hardware in the Pacific Peak model home to add a modern and industrial look. “Ceramic drawer pulls and knobs bring a little touch of vintage without leaning in too hard,” she adds.

Lighting options: Natural light is ideal if you’re building or remodeling, says Hicks. Instead of a center fixture, install recessed lighting on dimmers so you have more choices of light intensity depending on what you’re doing. Under-cabinet lighting not only illuminates countertops to avoid harsh shadows in work areas, but it elevates the look and feel of the whole space.

Benches and built-in banquette provide seating and hidden storage.

Find underused space to use as storage. Tall pantries near a refrigerator can hold lots of food in a relatively small space. Collect items in stackable containers, drawers, baskets or bins. The Container Store has storage solutions plus the Marie Kondo Collection.

Install a charging station near the island’s bar stools.

A coffee bar should be a station on it own and a dedicated baking center needs an appliance garage and large drawers within reach to store baking gadgets, which are for sale at Bed Bath & Beyond and Walmart.

Sur La Table’s sale and clearance page has brands like All-Clad, Le Creuset and Staub, from pots and pans to chef’s knives and more. Sur La Table’s online, multi-session courses teach essential techniques, from quick meals to making macarons and even cocktail mixology (starting at $29 per household).

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman