Michael Murray, general manager of Rachael Ray Home, has spent decades helping people create spaces they love. He shares the big changes and small tweaks you can make to get a cozy, clean home for autumn.

kitchen with white and black cabinets and numbers
u003cemu003e1. Get a semi-open-shelf look with glass doors. They make it easy to see what’s up high and force you to stay tidy while keeping your stuff safely stored (unlike real open shelving, which just makes me nervous).2. u003c/emu003eemIf you don’t have room for art in your kitchen, add personality with handmade or vintage containers for utensils and dried goods—these special vessels keep the room from feeling sterile. 3. /ememDon’t be afraid of black on black! Dark counters and cabinets look cohesive and contemporary. Just brighten things up with light walls or backsplashes./em
| Credit: Photography by David A. Land/OTTO

Q: I hate my kitchen’s black cabinets but can’t afford to get new ones. Can I paint the bodies white and just change the doors?

First of all, I personally like black cabinets. Maybe I'm alone in the woods on this one, but I think they look chic! So you might reconsider ditching them. Instead, use hardware to change the focus of the room. Install some oil-rubbed bronze knobs and fixtures, or, if you really want to go crazy, try out brushed-brass hardware and a brushed-brass faucet. That'll make the dark surfaces look sleek and intentional. 

If you're set on painting them, have a little fun with the color. You can do white, sure, but you could also do a beautiful green or blue. If you want a non-white neutral, Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter is one of my favorites. You might also consider chalk paint, which is very forgiving because it's supposed to look sloppy—I mean, imperfect! Whatever you choose, I recommend painting the cabinets, then sanding off a few of the edges to let whatever finish was underneath come out a bit. Then as you beat them up, it'll look like those nicks and scratches were on purpose.

Q: We have rough cedar panels on some of the walls in our home. What can I do with them? They’re hard to dust, especially with the high ceilings. I have thought about painting, but I’m not sure if that’s the way to go.

Absolutely paint cedar. It's much easier to maintain, and it really lightens the room. If you have a lot of cedar, it can be kind of daunting visually. So I always recommend a light greige, as Rachael likes to call it. A nice coat of eggshell-finish paint in a greige hue grounds the room, makes it feel warm, and requires very little maintenance. 

Q: How do you get started when you’re moving into a new construction? With so much open space, it’s hard to know where to even begin. 

You don't want to—and you shouldn't—feel like you're living in a vacant space. Filling it with furniture, decor, and accessories makes it feel like home, but you need to have a plan. Make a shopping list. When you go to the grocery store, you don't just buy chips and cookies (or maybe you do, but that's not a great idea). You buy the staples first and then build out. It's the same with your home. Don't buy tons of little pieces of furniture and decor until your space is full. Prioritize: Get your big pieces of furniture first, rugs second, drapes third, accents after that. You'll be much happier with the final look if you plan and coordinate your pieces.

Of course, you don't have to buy all new stuff, and you really shouldn't. You want the pieces in your home to have a story, so mix new purchases with things you already have. If you've got a bunch of furniture that doesn't quite fit together, chalk-paint all of it white for a shabby-chic set of accent pieces. Then fill in with new pieces that add to the story. They'll get old eventually, too, so don't worry about your place looking perfect. When all is said and done, be happy with—and grateful for—what you have!

Have a home design question from Michael Murray? Email us at editor@rachaelraymag.com for a chance to be featured in a future issue! 

This recipe originally appeared in our Summer 2020 issue. Get the magazine here.