Sometimes a client has a specific vision in mind when it comes to kitchen design. That vision might look good in their head, but as a designer, what do you do when you know it won’t work? If you can’t guide them in another direction, then you have a choice. You can opt not to work with them, or you can use your skills as a designer to give the client what they want and make it look fabulous despite the challenge.

Example 1: A Brown-on-Brown Kitchen Design

If a client has dark brown hardwood floors, they often want their kitchen cabinetry to match. Sometimes this look is fabulous, but it also can turn out looking too muddy, especially in a small kitchen or one with limited lighting.

So, as a designer, you need to find ways to lighten up the look. Start with painting the walls a gorgeous white to brighten the space. Then select a solid white or very light beige quartz countertop with a bit of sparkle in it. Use chrome hardware on the cabinets for additional shine and to help reflect the light. Install recessed lighting and even a skylight, when possible, to also cut the dark look and produce a great result.

Example 2: A Completely White Kitchen Design

Many clients love the clean and classic look of a white kitchen. However, too much white can look cold and unwelcoming. When white cabinets, flooring, countertops, and a white backsplash are what the client insists on, you’ll need to break up the white in small ways to improve the appearance.

For the countertop, choose a fabulous white marble with minimal veining. Even a small amount of veining will help the kitchen from looking too sterile. Also, include some cabinets with glass fronts, maybe one on each side of the range hood, to vary the look. Use brushed nickel hardware on the cabinetry along with stainless steel appliances.

If possible, for small appliances–such as a toaster, coffeemaker, and blender–opt for a light green or another subdued color. You can also use this color for the handles or knobs on the kitchen island cabinetry. You can show the client how fabulous a little color looks but with items that they can inexpensively replace if they want.

Example 3: A Multi-Colored or Multi-Patterned Kitchen Design

Sometimes, as a designer, instead of a sterile-looking kitchen, the client insists on a kitchen design that’s too colorful or busy. Multiple colors and patterns can produce a dizzying effect that most people will grow weary of, so it’s essential to minimize the frenzied appearance where you can.

One of the best ways to tone down such a look is to choose a base color, such as white, to run throughout the kitchen. For multi-colored cabinetry, paint the frames white and use white hardware. White appliances will also go a long way in breaking up the look of a busy or too-colorful design. Paint the base of the kitchen island white and the walls white. To minimize the look of a multi-colored backsplash or countertop, use small white appliances and white decorator bowls.

As a designer, you don’t always get the ideal client. But when you can work with such a client, giving them something they love and something that you can also be proud of, then the rewards far outweigh the difficulty, and you’ll grow as a designer.