Friday, July 31, 2015

DIY Gray Kitchen Reveal - An 80's Kitchen Goes Cottage Style

Our kitchen has served us well over the years. We built our home in the 80's and the kitchen reflected the style of that period. The space was filled with warm wood tones and had a rustic charm that we enjoyed, but the time had come for an update.

We have a lot of stained wood throughout our home, as this was the popular choice of the time....stained wood floors, cabinets, wainscoting, trim, doors....I am talking a lot of stained wood!

As much as I loved the warmth of our stained wood and the sense of home it brought about, a big part of me was longing for - dare I say it ... PAINTED WOOD.

Yes, I had a serious craving for a lighter version of our house but the thought of painting all that wood terrified me. Surely, there had to be another way to bring a lighter palette to our home without having to paint ALL THAT WOOD. I tried painting the walls lighter colors, bringing in lighter decor pieces and even painted some of our furniture. This helped some, but it didn't give me the overall look that I was yearning for.

Over time I convinced myself that the daunting task far exceeded any possible benefit, that it was too much work and that it was just not going to happen.

But, then along came home improvement shows and blogs and pinterest and a non-stop barrage of lovely painted interiors that seemed to be calling my name and taunting me to get with the program.

At some point, I cracked and the painting battle began. I started slowly with a small bathroom. The freshly painted wood was everything I dreamed it could be. It brightened the room and gave the space a clean, updated look that I was longing for. Pandoras box had been opened and there was no turning back.

For this kitchen update, keeping a warm and cozy feel to the room was very important to me so I opted for a 'Cottage Style Kitchen'. When I think of cottage style, I picture a simple, fresh and natural feeling to the space. When you step into the room, it should make you feel at ease.

We are old school, in that we live by the adage - use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Our cabinets were still in decent shape, so we chose to give them a lift by painting them. We also made a couple small tweaks to the trim to bring our kitchen out of the dark ages and into this brave new world.

I heard one too many stories about painted windows sticking, so our solution was to leave the sashes stained and paint the jambs, casings and sills. It ended up being one of my favorite features, as I think it emanates the cottage feel that I was going for.

As you can see, our mahogany floors still need refinishing, but that is a battle for another day.

My decorating style has evolved over the years. I like to think that my older and wiser self has it all figured out, but I know that is not the case. Because of this, I try to go with classic choices that have staying power. Knowing that my tastes change, the neutral palette allows me to alter the look by switching out a few simple decor pieces. Today I was in the mood for touches of yellow, but next week lavender might be on my mind.

We don't get a lot of natural light in our kitchen, so the newly painted cabinets, trim and walls made a huge difference.

Plants and pottery make everything nicer - don't you think?

We replaced the old handles with brushed silver knobs. This one simple change softened the look of the cabinets and gave them a more casual feel.

Source List:

- Wall Color - Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore
- Cabinet Color - Silver Fox by Benjamin Moore
- Kitchen and Broom Closet Door Color - Bear Creek by Benjamin Moore
- Wainscoting and Window Trim - Valspar Signature White at Lowes
- Cabinet Knobs - Heirloom Silver Cabinet Knobs by Liberty at Home Depot
- Faucet - American Standard Two-Control Kitchen Faucet in Satin Nickel at Lowes (since discontinued)

And finally, the before and after. Seeing the old kitchen next to our updated version really shows how some paint, elbow grease and a hankering for a lighter world have come together. I am so glad we gave our kitchen the boost that it so badly needed. It just makes my heart sing.

Linking up with the following lovely blogs:

Print Friendly and PDF


  1. I so know what you mean! I've been dying to paint our kitchen cabinets, but they are nice wood cabinets and I'm terrified of ruining them! I LOVE how your kitchen turned out! It's beautiful and so fresh and cozy! You did a great job!

  2. Looks terrific! What a difference! I have a early 90's oak kitchen that I'm dying to change but am scared. I've enjoyed reading how you finally came to your decision...I'm at the "daunting task vs benefit" phase but with your pictures, I can see the results would be worth it. One day.... thanks for the inspiration. Hope you are enjoying every detail of your "new" kitchen!

  3. I love the change. The white really brightened it up. I also like that you kept the wood to the window. Makes it more like a cottage. I want to do my kitchen cupboards to but am afraid I may mess it up and then there is no going back. I think I will start with the bathroom like you did. It is definitely a cozy kitchen! Diane

  4. Beautiful job. You should be thrilled.

  5. Wow, it certainly does give the cottage look and it is beautiful. I like the colors you chose, especially for the cabinets . And I agree, the potted plants, the wreath on the window panes, add a nice touch.

  6. The new look is so light and fresh. It looks great! We had our wood kitchen cabinets painted several years ago and I haven't had a single regret. Our kitchen was so dark and dated! Now I want to tackle the bathroom cabinets on my own. I'll have to get your tips on painting cabinets so I can take the plunge!

  7. Great color choices. I love how the fireplace is show cased through the cabinets, making the gray perfect for the kitchen.

  8. Wow! What a transformation! It looks amazing! I have always wanted to do grey cabinets in a kitchen! Thank you for sharing :)

  9. How beautiful, Suzanne! You have so many nice pieces and I love that you keep things to a minimum without the clutter. It took me a long while to paint the wood as well but so glad when I finally got up the nerve. Everything in this room flows seamlessly! I can see why it makes your heart sing. Isn't it wonderful walking into a room that makes you smile?
    Congrats on a great job!

  10. Absolutely beautiful!!!! I am in love with your kitchen! You did a beautiful job!

  11. We are contemplating moving to a different home....built in 1983. The oak cabinets are in terrific shape..but SO 80's ;-) I've painted kitchen cabinets before and will do it again to update the house. And all you out there who are afraid the "Oak Police" will arrest me: it won't happen ;-) Go forth and paint :-)

  12. Just beautiful! Great job! Looks fantastic! Love the color choices! I would leave the floors as they are though. Just my thought. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Your newly painted kitchen looks beautiful!

  14. Really fantastic transformation! I'm in total agreement that neutral is the way to go.....It blends in with whatever trends or season is happening. It is amazing what a little paint can do, isn't it?

  15. Oh I love it! The color is perfect and it just brightens the whole space up. I agree with the window I love the look of the two tone here. Beautiful job!

  16. Wow your kitchen looks awesome!! Love the colors you picked, they really brightened up the room.

  17. I love your kitchen, so light and clean, airy looking. Must have been such a relief to get cabinets, walls painted, really made such a wonderful difference. Not all of us can gut our kitchens, have new appliances and cabinets. Wish we could but not happening on SS. Enjoy your wonderful lovely awesome kitchen. You deserve to after all hard work.
    Looking at your kitchen gives me inspiration to get back to work on ours. We have a single wide mfg. home 16x80 so painting our walls means painting those awful vinyl stuff on walls. So happy there is primer in paint now so don't have to put primer on then paint. First time we inquired about painting our walls were told had to prime or paint would slide off. Sure glad that guy at Lowe's at that time was very wrong. We painted our very dark living room last summer, what a difference. Had that vinyl paper on walls with awful patterns. Used a very light gray that's almost white but is so pretty and so light in room now. We painted and lightened up furniture also. Used some aquas and white, made own art using frames from thrift stores. Got different couch from Habitat. Put vintage table cloths on a club chair to lighten it up, was awful plaid. Seemed like more I did the more I found I wanted to do. We got part of kitchen painted walls but need to paint vinyl papered cabinets. We'll just keep on painting on thru kitchen, mudroom on common walls. I'm so happy there is paint with primer in it now. Makes things so much easier to get done with a hesitant painter in house. Have wonderful week

  18. Suzanne, your kitchen looks GREAT!! I totally understand the "EEEK" feeling of painting that wood, but man, when it turns out gorgeous, you know it was worth it! I really like how you painted the sills and kept the sashes stained. Great job!!

  19. I love your solution for your windows. I've been struggling about whether or not to paint ours because we replaced all our baseboards with white. The 2 windows I did paint were such a pain. I could handle this though. Thanks for the inspiration.

  20. What a beautiful transformation! I have a soft spot for gray cabinets and this looks gorgeous. So refreshing.

  21. I LOVE IT! I have the exact same knobs-

    Enjoy your "new" kitchen.


  22. What a difference paint makes. I love the gray, it is beautiful, as is your window, oh and your plants too. Love it all, turned out wonderful!!

  23. Seems like you never run out of ideas, Suzanne! I love how you changed your kitchen theme from sepia to greyscale. Your kitchen looked brighter and more elegant after the renovation. I'm so happy for the success of your project. Thanks for sharing those changes with us!

    Lynn Williamson @ DAL Builders

  24. Wow- I just love how it turned out! I am dying for gray cabinets, but as we don't plan in staying in this house, I am not ready to put the work in yet. Thanks so much for linking up to the Handmade Hangout! I will be featuring you on this week's party when the new linky goes live today (Thurs) at 6pm ET- on my blog Hope to see you there again!

  25. This is an old post so Not sure if you are reading the comments still. I also have an 80's house with natural woodwork everywhere though previous owners started painting some of it. Some remains, including the kitchen - lovely wood floors, huge wood windows, cheap, mostly manufactured wood cabinets with real wood doors. Your kitchen has several similarities to what I'm considering, including leaving the window sashes as stained wood but painting the trim around them. Are you still happy with this look? I also not you have black counters but nobacksplash. Is that still working for you?

    1. This is our old house, but I will try to answer your questions. I was very happy with the stained window sashes and painted trim. Looking back at these photos, I still like the look! If you enjoy a cozy cottage style, I would recommend it highly. Regarding the backsplash, if you look a little closer we actually did have a backsplash. Hope this helps you, Suzanne.

  26. I know this is an old post and you are no longer in this home but I just wanted to say WOW—what an inspiring transformation! We have a house full of stained wood and I came across this while searching for photos of windows with stained window sashes and painted trim. Did you do this to all windows in the house, or just the kitchen? Also, in the photo showing the table, it appears that you left the door beyond stained but painted the door casing white. Did you do this to all doors (other than kitchen and broom closet door which were painted dark gray)? Did you find that the painted horizontal wainscoting expanded/contracted seasonally, exposing stained surfaces you couldn’t reach when painting? Thank you.


I love reading each and every comment and welcome any questions or feedback you may have.

^ Scroll to Top