top of page

Major Tips on How to Choose Hard Finishes and Answers to Your Design Questions!

Want a comprehensive online course to help you go through your kitchen remodel? Check out our Kitchen Design Course here:

When beginning to choose your finishes, refer back to our first blog- Your Budget and realize you may not be able to choose every feature exactly how you want it. It's hard, necessary work to complete a budget, because it helps guide your steps forward. You'll know what you're willing to splurge on & what is better left as a budget-friendly item.

Gather Your ideas on Pinterest or Houzz boards

- See what your drawn to and save the photos without thinking too hard about it. Then, after saving 10 or so photos, go back through your and recognize common themes: Do many of your photos have similar floor coloring, or type? Do the counters have a similar theme? What about cabinets?

It is here you'll want to compile a list of "this or that" and begin trying to limit your choices to save yourself from getting overwhelmed when you do start shopping for your products.

It is good to have 1 or 2 ideas of what you want your space to look like and realize you can't create a similar "feel" or "concept" by using different products then what you originally thought.

General Tips:

What finishes to choose first Choose?

Choose items that either a. Have very limited options or b. Will take up the most square footage in your space. (Like flooring, and countertops) then try to adjust cabinet color, paint, and backsplash around these two items.

Another savvy idea is to try to limit time frame to help you make decisions.

If you have a busy household you won't want to see a lot of crumbs/leftover pieces, so you may want something lighter in color with just a bit of movement or color in it, which will not necessarily "hide", but temporarily disguise a dirty counter. If you go all black, or dark, crumbs, water spots, etc are extremely noticeable.

Granite Countertop, Katie Getman Design


When you start looking at countertops- try to have an idea of what you'd like your finished space to look like, but give yourself a backup option and realize that having an open mind can be really helpful when trying to stay in budget and achieve the overall look you want. Also keep in mind that your counters lay flat- and standing outside your kitchen looking in, you'll mostly see your backsplash. You may want to opt for a "more fun" or "busier" pattern in the backsplash vs the countertops.

These are one of those items that are costly to change, so you want to be wise about your decision.

Consider wear:

Marble: is soft, and can stain easily if not taken care of. If you have active, young kiddos this may not be the best option for you.

Granite: Generally considered a middle grade or decent strength material but can chip/crack (keep in mind that almost anything can!). Less whites with granite because of where granite is found in the earth. Typically if you want more true whites, you'll be looking at a marble or maybe a quartzite.These need to be cared for by wiping a sealer over the top once or twice a year. Some think this is a big maintenance issue, but it is just like wiling down your counters and letting them sit over night. Very simple.

Quartzite: The strongest earth-found, natural type of counter finish. Designers often spec quartzite because of its durability, and you can achieve a similar look to marble. Buyer Beware- this is a pricy product, but well worth the investment. These need to be cared for by wiping a sealer over the top once or twice a year.

Quartz and other Solid Surface:

These are manufactured products that vary in composition. I won't go into each kind- just know that most of these are of good quality and will give you a very consistent look through out. You can know what to expect with each slab. There a ton of colors and types available. There is a rumor that these products do not stain, but if you look at most warranties, that is simply not true. These types do not require any sealing and you should be careful which products you use as to not void a warranty.


Typically you want your paint to "sit in the background" unless you are doing a very bold room or look. In that case, still, the point is that paint is a feature meant to coordinate with multiple finishes in your home. Normally, in a mostly neutral environment (going for whites, grays, and warm neutrals), I choose the countertops first and coordinate with paint after. It is very easy to pull a color/tone from your countertop sample by comparing with your paint samples.


Coordinate with the colors/tones in your counters! This is where things can get very fun. Your style will really be communicated through your backsplash. Do you wsnt something on the traditional side? Long subways have been very popular. You could even choose a fun pattern. The goal is to find something that coordinates with your countertops, and paint, while also speaking your personality.

Picking out your hard finishes is one of my FAVORITE parts of my job- I'd love to stop the overwhelm and help you bring together pieces you love for a curated, and perfectly finished space!

Shopping for Backsplash Tile (Before COVID!)

Answering Your Questions Directly!

First Question:

Undercabinet lighting (Installing LED's)

Before you begin deciding if hardwired or a rope light/light panel is right for you, measure the length of your cabinets in sections, the goal is to find out what length of LED lighting pieces you'll need. If it's possible to hardwire just one strip of LED's into your electrical, this could be an easy and quick investment for you. An hourly rate, or labor minimum, from an electrician could be all you are looking at fee-wise.

Another option is to take the lengths of lighting you need, and find out which LED ropes or panels come in appropriate lengths according to your kitchen layout. The goal would be to find a lighting system that only uses one plugin, and hopefully in an inconspicuous area, to keep your plugins open for your other kitchen utensils and keep a "clean" looking kitchen.

The best and most recommended type of undercabinet lighting is either an LED Rope or an LED Panel.

There are many tutorials on Youtube if you're considering doing either of these yourself. LED Panels can be hardwired, if you want to plug them in now for a quick fix, and plan down the road to have an electrician hardwire them at a later date. Here is a popular choice on Amazon (dimmable, and wave motion for auto turn on):

EShine Undercabinet Lighting from Amazon:

Second Question:

What areas of a kitchen remodel tend to improve resale value?

This is an excellent question! The kitchen has been an increasingly important social center for the home, and as such, a hot and pricey topic for those looking to buy and/or sell their home.

Of course, these recommendations depend on the existing kitchen, its placement and positioning in the home and existing features. You can always hire an interior designer for an hour consultation, virtual walk through, or choose a "designer for a day" package to get a full take on which updates will be most valuable to you and get the designer's advice on products you are looking to purchase for updating this home.

Here are My Top 5 Recommendations in order for remodeling a kitchen for resale value:

  1. Countertops- No yellow or golds, and nothing "dirty". People want their kitchen to feel clean. This is partly why white is so popular right now- it is clean, light, and airy. Plus easy to pair well with a lot of styles.

  2. Backsplash- Choose something like a 2x10 or 3x12 tile, a contemporary and transitional option, diverse for whomever is looking to buy.

  3. Lighting- This recommendation, and ranking, might come as a surprise. However, most people do not understand the value of good lighting. Good lighting makes a DIY or off-paint color seem easy to fix. If there is bad lighting. Even if your cabinet color is something outdated, others will not want to tackle the electrical themselves (no one is interested in fluorescents!)

  4. Cabinet Color- If you have the option to paint your cabinets yourself, and if it is done right, your ROI can be pretty high if you choose a neutral and clean paint color.

  5. Paint- Try to pain the kitchen a color that is neutral and ties in with the rest of the home. A feeling of consistency will help the space feel updated.

Katie Getman Design, Concept Board, Interested in having one made for you? email:

Third Question:

What are affordable and simple options for an alternative to kitchen cupboards?

If you are thinking you want to update your cabinets. but not wanting to entire replace them there are a few things you can do.

A. Consider only a couple of open shelves, removing the cabinets completely and giving your space a quick updated look.

B. Order new faces of the cabinets by using a website like:,, or a myriad of others after searching "reface cabinet doors"

C. Hire a friend or contractor to do a simple refacing of your cabinets, by making your cabinets a "shaker" style. There are tons of DIY tutorials on this.

Fourth Question:

What is your advice when clients want open shelving in a kitchen?

Do you have a family? What type of storage needs do you have?

If you ever consider moving- would your home be marketed as a family home? If so, it is important to consider the great need of storage families of 4 or more have.

Open shelves are great for decorating, but they are not great for storage, so this is something to keep in mind.

Want more? Check out our Kitchen Design Course here:

Thanks so much for joining us and be sure to email us with your design needs! Your just a consultation away from walking through your process seamlessly!


bottom of page