Just as matching food with the right wine can elevate a simple meal to the level of a culinary experience, artfully pairing design elements in your kitchen can turn a utilitarian room into a chef’s paradise.

Just as you would seek wine selection advice from a sommelier, it pays to get some design pairing tips from a kitchen expert. Diana Schrage, senior interior designer at the Kohler Design Center, offers these tips for making successful design pairing decisions for your kitchen:

Sinks and faucets


“The experience of cooking in a kitchen where function and beauty are paramount can be as delightful as the gourmet meal itself,” Schrage says. “Think of this when beginning your kitchen redesign.”

You may already have a sink or a faucet in mind and can use either piece as your starting point. Identify what it is about this particular sink or faucet that appeals to you so the direction of your redesign becomes clearer and clearer.

If your faucet preference runs toward sleek, modern lines, you’ll want to pair it with a sink that complements that design aesthetic such as stainless steel or a contemporary-looking and unde-mounted cast iron product. If you love the farmhouse-classic apron front sink, consider a nostalgic faucet design evocative of this time period; perhaps even a wall mount instead of deck mount faucet.


Color and finish also are key considerations for sink and faucet pairings. Will the color of your sink complement the finish of the faucet? Some sink finishes, like stainless, or enameled cast iron, will allow more flexibility when choosing a faucet to go with it.

Cabinets and countertops

Design harmony also is important when you’re matching countertops and cabinets. You may have always loved the look of stainless steel, but if your cabinets are clearly country, the warm colors and solid looks of a cast iron sink may be a better fit.

If you have the luxury of choosing both elements to match, your design job will be easier. But if you’re committed to the cabinets you already have, then consider countertop materials that are timeless and universal, like granite or marble. Even if the design of your cabinets ties you into a specific material choice, remember you’ll have plenty of color options available.


If your countertop and/or cabinet choice makes a bold design statement, avoid pairing it with distracting wall or flooring choices. A neutral backdrop like cream walls or gray slate floor tile can give countertops and cabinets the room they need to really pop.