Glass or acrylic panels are a clean, bright option for walls around worktops and cabinets
I have survived the kitchen reno from heck. It's not over yet, but I have to believe we're now in the home stretch. After a successful installation of wall-to-wall tall units to enclose the chimney breast and reconfigure the existing arrangement with integrated appliances, the 'business end' of the kitchen with the cabinets, sink, etc., revealed the horrors of extensive damp after it was all torn out. Not what you want to see. The walls had to be replastered and damp-proofed and this delayed the rest of the installation by ten days, but that's ok because I love living in my bedroom and washing dishes in the bathtub! On the bright side, the house will seem huge when the kitchen is completed, the living room has been cleared of the kitchen cupboard contents and the extension is no longer housing the cabinetry and everything else that is waiting to be installed.
Now that completion is (I hope) imminent, I am looking for ideas for decorating the walls. I hadn't really looked into it too much because the new kitchen bears no resemblance to the old one, in configuration, colours and style, and I knew I had to see it finished first to have a clear sense of direction. There is actually quite a lot of free wall space along the one side of the room and I'm seeing that as an opportunity to create something interesting. But not too interesting. Balancing the elements is key. Stylish harmony is the goal here.
In my inspiration quest, I have found some stunningly decorated fitted kitchens, and also lots of dull ones and expensive eyesores that mix too many styles, textures and shades, possibly in an attempt to accommodate all of the homeowner's favourites, rather than paring it all down to what works best together. What I do know is that I don't want painted walls. A big part of the reason is that most homes in the UK have plastered walls (new builds have now done away with it but this house was built in the late 1920s), and it seems that skilled plasterers have been in short supply since the stuff was invented. Some walls are smooth while others resemble the surface of the moon. Also, somehow a greasy fingerprint or two (probably mine) will find its way onto the freshly painted wall, won't wash off completely and its presence will become a haunting obsession. Finally, there are too many beautiful and cool things to do with walls to automatically default to paint.
Let's look at some wall decorating options to complement and bring together a minimalist, neutral-coloured kitchen of solid matte white tall doors, cabinets and island in concrete-effect doors (trust me, they're great, you'll see when its all completed), Silestone matte white worktops and a white wood floor with a subtle grey-taupe grain:
This textured wallpaper keeps the colour scheme neutral without being boring. It's a quiet, refined pattern that might keep a large empty wall from feeling, well, empty. The reason the wall has been left open? We simply didn't need more units there and I didn't see the point in paying to have a U-shape rather than an L arrangement of cabinets at that end of the kitchen for the sake of symmetry. And having that openness accommodates the visual impact of our large island (it had to be square-shaped to accommodate the 80cm induction hob, the extractor motor which is huge, and have enough worktop for a breakfast bar. Also, leaving the one wall free creates the option for relocating the kitchen entrance to create a better flow. A big, expensive job that probably won't happen, but at least we have the potential to do it one day if we're able.
Metallics wouldn't usually be on my radar for consideration for the walls, but I saw a white modern kitchen once with a graphite metallic wallcovering and it looked amazing. Not flashy, but polished and finished with a high-end look. The other style here is a vertical ombre stripe. A little would go a long way and a few samples to get a real feel for the effect would be necessary before making a commitment.
A concrete effect could be brilliant, carrying through the effect of the doors. Or it could feel cold. That's why samples were invented. These kinds of effects can quite successfully be achieved with DIY techniques with paint and special rollers, but I just don't have it in me to take it on after everything I've been through! (FYI - this kitchen was supposed to have been completed last August. This has been going on that long. Yep.)
Let's revisit ombre, this time in the traditional dip-dye pattern. It's another option I wouldn't have considered without having a good look around with an open mind. The graphite shade could be deep and gorgeous and give a polished finish to the room, while the muted yellow could create a sunny effect. Again, these are strong visual designs that need to be trialed first. They would either make the room or ruin it. I was actually leaning toward giving samples a go, imagining walking into a kitchen that makes you go 'wow' and feels like something special without being too dominating, but then I saw what must be the bane of all UK decorators' existence: the radiator. Another thing I'm not used to having come from Canada where central heating comes by the way of a basement furnace with a ventilation system discreetly hidden in the walls and floors. But here we've got boilers and big radiators in each room, and no matter how streamlined they've become, they mess with your plans for the walls. The kitchen rad is located on one of these free walls would make the ombre look awkward unless the dark and light was reversed, which isn't how I envision the pattern.
The acrylic panels shown in the header photo are another way to go, but it's a very expensive option for covering larger surfaces like entire walls. I'm considering it as an alternative to tile for the space between the far end of floor cabinets and a large hydraulic-door storage unit that's going above it.
I'm going to leave the inspirations here before I overwhelm myself! Later this week the kitchen should *finally* be completed minus the worktops and I can start ordering samples. I'm really looking forward to it. Watch this space....