By: Susan Serra

As a designer, I frequently venture into the fashion world. I have always had a love of fashion, and as any designer will tell you, it influences many aspects of interior design.

Accessories – handbags, jewelry, the right makeup, the perfect menswear tie and let’s not forget shoes–are the equivalent to the role that finishes play in a kitchen design. Finishes tie the kitchen together visually, and tell the story of your personal design expression.

To start the process of finish selection, make a list of all the items that have a finish. Faucets and kitchen accessories, lighting (perhaps you have several different lighting fixtures), cabinet hardware, door and window hardware, metal finishes on appliances, the list goes on. Decorative objects in metal tones will also play a role in the finish story.

Next, take stock of the finish story throughout your home. The presence of metallic finishes, especially in rooms surrounding the kitchen, play a part in your home’s “global” finish story.

Like the trends on the runway, each year we see finish trends in the kitchen. Right now homeowners are loving oil-rubbed bronzes, beautiful golds often contrasting with stark white, adding a much-desired warmth to the kitchen.


Large metallic design elements, such as range hoods, refrigerators, and other appliances, play a dominant role in kitchen design, particularly if left uncovered by wood panels. Do you want the commercial/”Top Chef” look of all stainless steel appliances in the kitchen? Understand the proportions and the balance of size and take into account the location of your stainless appliances. This will highly impact which finishes you choose through the kitchen space.

For example, combining large stainless steel appliances (cool tone) with smaller, oil-rubbed bronze hardware (warm tone) may be at odds visually and proportionately. However, add in light fixtures, faucetry and other elements, and the mix is more balanced. Mixing finishes IS an art – combined with a bit of math!

Explore your sense of style – mix up your finish tones for a look that is both authentic and interesting, even fun!

Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS founder of Bornholm KitchenSusan Serra Associates, Inc., and is both a professional designer and foodie at heart. Her love for all things design is highlighted on her blog, The Kitchen Designer.


Since 1873, Kohler Co. has been improving the level of gracious living among its customers by providing exceptional products and services for the home. As a recognized global brand, Kohler leads the way in design, craftsmanship and innovation. Kohler's product offering spans across all price points, offering consumers a wide variety of options in kitchen and bath fixtures, faucets, and more.

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