Painted kitchen cabinets by Bailey Custom Woodworking in Springfield, IL.

Here at Bailey Custom Woodworking, we know more than most how important it is to have an eye for design. Luckily, despite popular belief, you don’t have to be born with the skill, but can rather teach yourself. In fact, many people already know and use the skills of visual design without even realizing it. In part one of our Train Your Eye for Kitchen Redesigns blog series, we discussed seven design basics to familiarize yourself with: Unity, balance, rhythm, focal point(s), contrast, proportions, and details. We hope that you did your homework and started to pay attention to where you see the elements (hint: they are everywhere). In part two, we will be revisiting them and flushing out how to use them in the design process.

Unity and Visual Composition

The first design basic, unity, is a truly holistic concept that brings together and uses all the other six design elements. To have true unity, you need a kitchen that is balanced, has rhythm in progression, repetition, or alternation of design elements, with points that draw the eye, a bit of contrast in color, texture, or lines, is properly proportioned, and has all the perfect little details.

This can seem pretty overwhelming but with most things, it’s about as simply as it is complicated. But, starting big with an idea like unity helps make it easier. What overall design style are you going to go with? Latin? traditional? South-Western? Contemporary? Post-modern? This will give you a baseline for what you have to work with in terms of colors, textures, design motifs, and materials to use.

In addition, you should consider what you want to say with the kitchen. Any design style can be adjusted to any message. Just because you chose a traditional design or any other design doesn’t mean you have to fit the stereotypes of that look. Here at Bailey Custom Woodworking, we take pride in creating custom cabinets for kitchens of any style and any feel. That way you get the exact kitchen you are looking for.

Focal Points

Much like the concept of unity, focal points are a holistic concept that entails all of the others if done correctly. It’s true that you can simply put in a backsplash or a part of the kitchen that you want to stand out, but to really tie in a focal point, it works with the rhythms of the kitchen design, the balance, the contrasting elements, and all the other design points. Thinking about your focal point, is a key element to tying your kitchen together. But also a great place to start designing your specifics.

Focal points can differ from kitchen to kitchen and can involve backsplashes, mosaics, or architectural features such as custom cabinetry or arches. One you have where your eye will land, you can work your way backwards, playing with different lines, lighting, and contrasts, to draw the eye towards the focal point. By working backwards, your design automatically has unity, harmony, and cohesion.


From the basic needs of lines, lighting, and contrast, that you established with the first part of your kitchen design, we now will balance the design with types symmetry, colors, and contrast.


Symmetry refers to the pattern that a design follows. There are three types:

  • Symmetrical designs are mirrored on either side and aim for a balanced feel in the kitchen.
  • Asymmetrical designs can ignore some of the ideas of balance to create designs that still draw the eye but isn’t mirrored on each side.
  • Radial designs are more rare than the other two but follows a circular design radiating from a single part of the kitchen or the focal point.

With any kitchen design, these concepts are often intermixed.


Color is used in a variety of ways and expressions. Much of what you choose for your color will depend on what you want to say with the kitchen. Monochromatic, complementary, or contrasting colors are all important elements to choose from. In fact, the use of color can even affect how you want to design your kitchen physically depending on the features you have.


This is the element of differences in design. Just like you have dark and light, smooth and rough, lines and curves, tall and short, or wide and narrow, you need to have differences that will keep things interesting and your eyes moving. Even if you want to have a monochromatic kitchen that only says “clean” the right lines and textures, can liven the space, and even add to the concept of clean while avoiding an uncomfortable hospital feeling.

Movement Through Rhythm

The next step is to consider your rhythm. This is the visual movement of the design. So far we have established picking a feeling and overall design, then building your kitchen backwards from your focal point using visual basics to establish a path for the eyes. Here we want to look at rhythm and how to use it to control the pace of drawing in the eye. There are three types of rhythms to use


This is the repeating of any line, direction, color, shape, and so on. It helps create movement, and can be alternated, or build in from one contrasting element to the next. Such as small to large, dark to light, or smooth to rough.


Although we just mentioned it, it’s important to consider progression separately. Kitchens tend to progress in a number of ways, from usability, to amount of storage in an area, to the use of a cabinet, or color, backsplash, and a range of other elements. All of them follow a pattern that is in a larger pattern.


This can be helped by progression, but is a more subtle art of quietly announcing the differences in areas. For instance, the area around your oven and stove tend to be clustered with more cabinets giving it more of a feel for work, while a curve countertop on the outskirts of the kitchen may have far fewer cabinets and gives more of a relaxed vibe and is positioned inward for conversation. Even larger areas need transitions. An arched entryway or a change in flooring also help the eye to see the room as a different space.


When it comes to details, this is where it’s most important not to fret too much. As with the rest of the design process, as a certain point it simply comes down to a few different correct answers. The details are the little things that tie the room up that you’ll start to see with practice. If you have doubts about this part, you can consult your contractors or a design specialist.

With these design elements in mind, you can develop the kitchen of your dreams. If you live in the Springfield, IL areas and are looking for the kitchen of your dreams, but need a consulting eye or custom woodwork, contact Bailey Custom Woodwork. We are the premier custom woodworking firm in Springfield and can create custom cabinets, custom staircases, Custom archways, or near any other wooden part of your home. With us, your home is truly yours and exactly they way you want it. Contact us today!