The Dream White Kitchen
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Our kitchen… one of those projects that seems so simple until you spend literally years in the middle of it. It was well worth the wait, though! It looks amazing, and despite my painter’s opinion that “white is dated” (where has he been?), having a white kitchen really is all it’s cracked up to be!
Here’s where we started 2.5 years ago in April of 2013. To be fair, this before is an awful photo that I never ended to use as a “before” photo, but in the craziness of moving with 2 small kids while starting major work on the house as we moved in, this is what I have to work with.
The kitchen had just been complete renovated 4 years prior with new appliances, cabinets, counters, backsplash, and lighting. It had a lot of positives, like quality materials used. Unfortunately, the aesthetic was very heavy for the house and our tastes. In a larger, more rustic old-world home, the stained cabinets and darker counters would be great. The bulky lights would feel much more at home in a richer, deeper, larger space. So, the first things we did were change out the lights, counters and backsplash.
We also painted the walls & trim, changed out the faucet, and replaced the dark cabinet hardware to gorgeous heritage-style glass octogons. Then we got stuck. I had thought I wanted to paint the cabinets the same white colors that we painted the trim, but it made the gorgeous marble floors look dirty and out of place. I would have gone with a dark wood floor for this house, but the marble really is gorgeous and practical. It did, however, leave me puzzled about the cabinet color.
In the meantime, I painted the kitchen island grey. I didn’t want it to be matchy-matchy with the with the rest of the kitchen anyway.
Taking inspiration from the counter stools, I considered staining the cabinets a rich chocolate color. That color I imagine the floors would be if the previous owner hadn’t just put in the marble that I’d come to love.
But I kept coming back to that island. Ultimately, I decided that if I couldn’t go white, I should go gray. Instead of the 23 colors I tried on our walls, I picked only 2 samples to try after spending a few days with Google image searches. Then, before I could change my mind, I hired the painter and the most wonderful result came out a week later…
That gorgeous, soft grey bounced the wonderful light that we get in our kitchen around and I would up with that perfect, white kitchen.
The island is a different, deeper grey (Benjamin-Moore AC-26, Ozark Shadows) and the walls are a much lighter, almost white grey (Benjamin Moore OC-31, Fog Mist). For the cabinets, we went with one of the standards in light grey, Sherwin-Williams “Popular Grey”.
We also made a last-minute decision to use pulls on the kitchen drawers instead of the octagonal glass and chrome knobs we had on both doors and drawers. They are so much more practical for loaded, heavy drawers. We picked the cup-style pull handles because they really went with the modern-traditional look of the house and also hide any imperfectly filled holes from the original knobs.
I also love how the butcher-block island brings the warmth of the wood-toned furniture throughout our house. There is a tolken piece of wood furniture in every room. Although I love painted furniture in many instances, I’m not a member of the “paint everything white” club. I still love the beauty of naturally aged, uniquely cut hardwoods of yesteryear. I may even keep a few furniture pieces that I like but don’t love because I can’t bear the thought of a craigslist furniture flipper painting over the amazing details of quarter-sawn oak.
But don’t worry, this is still a post about the beautiful a result we got from painting some old-school, stained, handmade, maple kitchen cabinets a soft white-gray. There’s a place for natural woods and there’s a place for painted woods. That said, there is rarely a place for honey-orange kitchen cabinets whether they are original 1980’s woodwork or new, custom cabinets for a client with an unfortunate designer.
You might notice something else as well that you won’t often see in my homes. I’m generally not in the “decorate the tops of your cabinets” camp. After years of resistance, however, I found that this particular kitchen really benefits from this touch. It has a slanted-yet-tall ceiling and cabinets that high up would be completely impractical. Displaying my collection of white, silver-toned, and glass serving pieces freed more space than I even realized they were using in the cabinets and draws your eye up, making the high ceilings on the inner-side of the kitchen a focal point. It really feels like the ceiling is now magically higher.
The white, silver, and glass dishes tie into the aesthetic of the kitchen and really the whole house as well. We replaced the lights and hardware with chrome and nickel options when we gave the oil-rubbed bronze the boot. Suddenly, the kitchen really flows with the rest of the house instead of being one of many rooms. It has also completely re-inspired the formal living and dining, but that’s a topic for another day.
Our retro, 1940’s counter stools still work nicely. As much as I love soft, neutral homes, I’m really loving contrasting with a few key items. They really help to bring darker items, like the appliances, back home.
I did play with adding dishes on top of the cabinets on the outer wall of the kitchen, but with the sloped ceilings, it felt cramped and out of place. I love that the cabinets had a shelf to tie that theme in back on the other side.
Although we had to work with the recent previous remodel in this kitchen (you know I love to have all of the creative control!), I’m really pleased with the result. I love the energy of my kitchen now. I’m even cooking more! Yes, it was totally worth it. And, white kitchens are all they are cracked up to be!