Grey and White Kitchen Makeover


If you’re looking to give your kitchen a facelift and some style, grey and white are the colors to choose! They’re clean and contemporary and take well to whatever other colors you love to decorate with.  Our guest today shared her breakfast nook with us awhile back, and now she’s here to share the rest of her gorgeous grey and white kitchen makeover:

grey and white kitchen makeover with tile backsplash and chalkboard, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

Scroll down to learn more about Deme’s kitchen.

When you’re choosing a grey for the kitchen, just about anything goes! You choose what you love, based on your style and the lighting and design of your space. 

You can go lighter like Mom and Her Drill shared here:

gray and white kitchen makeover, Mom and Her Drill featured on Remodelaholic

Or a little bit darker like Shanty 2 Chic’s gorgeous kitchen:gray kitchen cabinets, Shanty2Chic

Or even to charcoal like this gorgeous kitchen (Style At Home via DecorPad).charcoal gray kitchen, Style At Home via Decorpad

But no matter what shade you choose, the updates can take your kitchen from blah to BEAUTIFUL! See how Deme painted and updated her kitchen to end up with a gorgeous grey and white kitchen.

Grey and White Kitchen Makeover
by Deme of House For Five

Hey there!  I’m Deme and I’m so excited to be hanging out at Remodelaholic today!  I blog over at House For Five where we share bits of our life as a family of five, and our learn-as-we-go adventures in DIY home improvement.   After renting 5 homes in 6 years, we’re so thankful for a place we can get our hands dirty and make our own!  Our 1968 house has great bones, was well maintained and is wrapped in wallpaper from every decade.  We’re slowly peeling the wallpaper off the walls (and out of our hair) as we make it home.

Today, I am beyond thrilled that I even have a completed kitchen to share with you because there were moments of this makeover that I thought we might be living with primed cabinets, no cabinets doors, and a corroded sink for the rest of our days.  This summer we made the push to finish the job that has lingered in various stages for almost a year.  We could not be happier with our like-new grey and white kitchen!

grey and white kitchen makeover, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

 We were lucky ducks to have our breakfast nook featured here at Remodelaholic last year.   

grey striped kitchen nook, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

It was all happy and bright and fresh and done.  Until you panned out and turned around to see the rest of the kitchen…

kitchen without wallpaper before grey and white makeover, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic
Sorry for burning your eyeballs there.  I should have warned you.  This picture is actually after the 1st phase (of three) where we had replaced the ancient appliances, pealed the tooty fruity wall paper border, and updated the breakfast nook. We also took out that enormous light box and had recessed lights installed.
The plan for this last phase?
-Paint the cabinets 
-Swap out the hardware
-Replace the back splash
-Replace the range hood
-Address the sink/faucet
-Organize a coffee station

This kitchen was completely redone in the early 80’s, so the cabinets were a high quality oak and still in great shape.  I knew without a doubt, the best way to freshen up the kitchen on our tiny budget was by painting the cabinets.

I’ve always loved a fresh white kitchen, and started painting the upper cabinets first in a semi-gloss Swiss Coffee by Valspar.  I googled several how-to’s and stuck with the same basic steps that I follow when spray painting wood furniture.

Clean – Sand – Prime – Paint – Sand between coats
These cabinets were in great shape but had their fair share of built-up gunk, especially on the doors near the stove.  My best weapon for getting it all off quickly was simply a damp microfiber cloth (scrubbers on one side, soft of the other). 
how to prep kitchen cabinets to paint grey and white, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic
After they were clean and dry I gave them a good sanding to smooth out any imperfections and to give the primer a nice surface to grip onto.  After wiping off the dust from sanding, I started painting.  It took two coats of primer and two coats of paint with another round of touch ups to get the right coverage. 
Some people may prefer to cut in with a brush and use a foam roller designed for doors and cabinets for the larger surface areas, but after giving that a shot, I found that I preferred using my favorite Wooster Shortcut brush for the whole job.
 use a Wooster Shortcut for painting kitchen cabinets, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

Remodelaholic note: You can find this brush at your local hardware store or here on Amazon

The key to getting a smooth finish was thin coats of paint to avoid drips/streaks, and lightly sanding in between coats with a super fine grit sandpaper (most are even marked as “in between coats” in the hardware store).  It requires patience, which runs in short supply around here, but the end result is worth it.

By the time I finished the uppers, the desert summer hit and it was too hot to paint.  Which gave me a couple of months to think about doing something different with the lower cabinets.  Dang Pinterest.  I really loved the two-tone look with light uppers and dark lowers, but was too chicken. I was so close to playing it safe and going all white, but finally showed the hubs some pics of two-toned cabinets.  “Tell me your honest opinion….”. 

And darn if that man doesn’t surprise me.  “If you’re going to do it, don’t go half way.  Go darker.  Even if it’s a color.”  Say whaaat?  No wait, don’t say anything else.  One gallon of dark grey paint was purchased the next day (Ocean Storm by Valspar in semi-gloss).  

grey kitchen cabinets - Ocean Storm by Valspar, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

This time I was sure to get a paint with built in primer.  I skipped the primer and all it took was 2 coats of paint and another round of touch-ups.  Win!

I don’t even know how to describe how happy I am with the grey choice.  It completely makes the kitchen, and is perfect for our family with 3 kids under 6 years old.  The dirt and fingerprints are much less noticeable.

grey and white painted kitchen reveal, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

We also painted that small strip of wall below the ceiling the same Swiss Coffee white as the upper cabinets (but in an eggshell finish). Taking the white on the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling, visually extended the cabinets giving the room some extra visual height.

extend white painted cabinets to the ceiling to add visual height, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic


Swap out the Hardware

Having both dark and light cabinets to consider made the hardware choice a little more difficult.  The appliances are stainless and the faucet a darker slate, so I wanted something that would relate to both.  I brought home all sorts of samples….nickel, brass, iron, bronze, polished, brushed….and in the end landed on the very first one I picked up from Lowe’s in a polished pewter. 

grey and white kitchen cabinets with polished pewter hardware, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

 Since the old hardware on the doors was a pull with two holes, we simply put the knobs in the top hole and filled the bottom one with wood putty.   Once it was dry, and after a little sanding and paint, the hole disappeared.  You can also glue a wood dowel in the hole to limit the amount of putty you need to use and the shrinking that can happen when it dries.  If you find the putty receded further into the hole when it dried, then just apply a little more and sand it down to level with the door surface once it’s dry.

grey and white kitchen cabinets with polished pewter knobs, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

The hardware reads lighter on the grey cabinets and darker on the white, and changes in different light throughout the day.  It wasn’t too modern for the traditional roots of this kitchen but unique enough to feel updated and fresh.

grey and white kitchen in Swiss Coffee and Ocean Storm, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic


Replace the Backsplash

We saw these tiles at Costco about 8 months ago.  We knew we weren’t ready to install them yet, but at $18 for 5 square feet in a color we couldn’t resist, they came home with us.

We ended up having to shift gears to finish our master bedroom update to meet a deadline and out of town guests were on their way with our kitchen very much in mid-reno.

demo the backsplash, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

I knew we couldn’t finish the floors in our master and the tile work in time, so we enlisted the help of a friend-of-a-friend contractor.  After seeing Tim work his magic, I realized that was one DIY task I was glad to have in the hands of a professional.  With all those intricate cuts, it would have taken me weeks…months….maybe years to finish.

tile backsplash in grey and white kitchen, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

And man, were they a game changer!  They completely lightened up the room.

tile backsplash in grey and white kitchen makeover, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic


Replace the Range Hood

You can see the old bone colored range hood in the pic above.  There was grease.  A lot of it.  And we’ll just leave it at that.  Fortunately, the hood was a standard size, so my husband swapped it out while I was out running errands one day (no pics!).   Once it was installed, we had this empty space behind the stove…

 new range hood in grey and white kitchen, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

We thought we had just enough tile to do this area, but it was all the scrap bits and pieces.  We feared we might be short (or die a slow death of piecing together the tile jigsaw puzzle) and with Costco all sold out, we decided to do something different…

painted chalkboard over the stove instead of backsplash, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

A coat of primer followed by three coats of chalkboard paint and we had ourselves a perfect spot to jot down recipes, cooking reminders (start the crockpot at 1pm!), or even leave notes for each other. It’s so nice to be able to read the ingredients from across the kitchen instead of squinting and fumbling with a recipe card. 

grey and white kitchen with tile backsplash and chalkboard, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic 


Address the Sink/Faucet

 Gross and frustrating.  That was our sink.  The old faucet handles were starting to corrode even under the plastic handles.  The shallow sink/standard low-arc faucet combo was the bane of my large dish washing existence.  Every pot and pan was just a pain to wash, and water inevitably ended up all over the counter.  

grey and white kitchen - old sink, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

 I’m certain I heard cheering when this baby finally came out…replacing the kitchen sink, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

We scraped all the old caulk off the counter top with a knife and razor blade, made sure the surface was clean and dry, then used new caulk to seal and set the new deep white sink in place.

new kitchen sink, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

So. much. better.

Figuring out the plumbing was like a puzzle of pipe pieces that required multiple trips to the hardware store, and my 6’4″ husband to squeeze himself into a comically small space.  I’m pretty sure he’s still traumatized from it. Thankfully, when it came time to install the faucet, it was smooth sailing!

installing a new faucet, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

This Pasadena faucet by Pfister came with a handy install tool that made it easy to tighten those parts in hard to reach places.

pasadena faucet, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

The faucet is in a slate finish, which we ADORE.  It’s darker than stainless and slightly more matte.  The faucet has a high arc and pull down sprayer with different stream/spray modes, two of the most important features to us.  Vanna here, will demonstrate.

pasadena faucet in slate, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

And more importantly it has a smudge-resistant finish that has lived up to it’s name!  All I have to do is wipe off any drops of water and she looks as good as new.  Washing dishes is a whole lot more enjoyable!

smudge-resistant pasadena faucet in slate for a grey and white kitchen, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

We also used a couple of deep coffee mugs to make a portable herb garden.  We just filled the bottom with a layer of small pebbles and transferred some small potted herbs to them.  They’re perfect for starting seeds too!

coffee mug herb garden, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic
grey coffee mug herb planters in the windowsill, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic


Organize a Coffee Station

Throughout most of this kitchen makeover, the space looked very mid-construction zone.  We lived without cabinet doors for a long time while I procrasti-painted, and it gave us the chance to experiment with open shelving.  I love the look of open shelves, but I don’t love the dust. But one open shelf in the right spot, I could handle.

open cabinets in grey and white kitchen, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

We ended up leaving off three doors – the two small ones above the microwave and the large cabinet door next to it – and we painted the insets the same dark grey as the lower cabinets. 

The gold striped baskets (spray painted over their original orange and green) hold our tea.  The large coffee jar houses our grounds and the bowl next to it has our filters and scoop.  Mugs and yummy goodness live on the bottom shelf.

use an open cabinet as a coffee station, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

Having all our coffee making/drinking necessities in one accessible spot makes things so easy and that much more enjoyable.  It’s also right between the sink and the fridge so we don’t have to run all over the kitchen for water to start the pot and creamer to fill our cups. 

A few colorful accessories later and we could finally stick a fork in er!
colorful accessories for a grey and white kitchen, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic
two-tone grey and white kitchen makeover, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic 

How about a final before and after?

grey and white kitchen before and after, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic
grey and white kitchen makeover before and after, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

As an added bonus, the breakfast nook no longer looks out of place. 

grey striped kitchen nook, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

The cost breakdown for this kitchen update looks like this (with the exception of the back splash tile everything home improvement related came from Lowe’s – with an extra 10% off with our military discount)…

Paint & brushes – $68
Hardware – $64
Tile & Grout –  $122
Labor for back splash (demo/tile/grout) – $120
Switch plates -$12
Range hood – $97
Rug – $39 
Sink – $99
Faucet – c/o Pfister
Accessories & miscellaneous supplies – $42

Total: $663

Shortly after we finished this phase of our kitchen reno, we got news that we would be relocating to Ohio for my husband’s work.  I had just recently been able to let go of that crippling “what if a buyer doesn’t like this someday” fear, and actually did what I really wanted in this space.  Hopefully, there’s a buyer out there that loves it as much as we do!  In between now and then, we’re going to soak up every minute we have in this happy space.

grey and white kitchen makeover with tile backsplash and chalkboard, House For Five featured on Remodelaholic

*The 3rd phase of this kitchen reno was supposed to address counter tops and flooring, but we’ll just have to leave that for the new home owners :)

P.S.  Is it wrong to rip out a faucet and take it with you when you move?  How about a back splash?


 Deme, we love it! And we can’t wait to see what you do in a new home with a blank slate :)

Visit Deme over at House For Five to see all of her creative ideas and her cute family. 

Wanting more gray and white kitchen inspiration? Check out 25 more gray and white kitchens over at Tipsaholic.

Meet the Author: Cass

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. Since then, Remodelaholic has become a great community and resource for all those wanting t Read More


  1. Allie says

    Great, great job! Looks so modern and fabulous. I’m wondering what is on the kick plates below the cabinets. Is that stainless steel? I didn’t see it mentioned in the article. Sorry if I missed it. Again great job!

  2. Christen Geron says

    This looks amazing! So sad you’ll have to leave it though. Question: where did you find a white cast iron sink for $99? I can’t find a deep one for less than $300.

  3. Dalia says

    It looks fabulous! I love the two tone combo. Now you have me considering it. I have postponed painting my kitchen forever, while trying to decide what “white” will look okay considering my floors are super light. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • says

      Thanks Dalia! If you know you’re going to paint, it won’t hurt to throw a couple of samples on a bottom cabinet to see how they look with your floors. The end of our peninsula was a sample zone before we committed :)

  4. Crystal says

    I love the gray color you chose!! Also, the backsplash is beautiful!! Love it! You should have no problem selling your house :)

  5. Joan Barstad says

    Deme…this is the first time I have looked at a page like this. I absolutely LOVE your kitchen! The idea of two colors for the cabinets has me jumping up and down. We’re not DIYers…but I can dream, anyway. The open cabinet for the coffee area is sooo smart…
    What a shame that you will have to leave this beautiful kitchen. But, think of what you can do to your new house!!! Going to be looking forward to seeing what you do.
    Hopefully I will be able to click the right thing on this page, so I can get back here later.

  6. says

    This is STUNNING! So impressed with all the hard work gone into this kitchen.
    I’m currently adding a grey and white kitchen to my house and this post got me all giddy for when it’s finished :)
    Karen x

  7. Jane says

    this was such a helpful post- thank you for going to the effort to explain the process in so much detail. I love how your make over went. I’m sure your family will enjoy many happy years creating yummy goodness here. :)

  8. paula du preez says

    Whow I am also renovating my kitchen from dark cabinetts to white and planning grey walls. You inspire me and your kitchen is very very beautifull thanks and goodluck fromout South Africa

  9. Ngoc says

    Wonderful kitchen makeover. Love the two tone cabinets. Been wanting to do that, but hubby keep saying maybe future buyers wouldn’t like it. But sometimes you have to do what you love and not worry about other people.

    Love the backsplash. Do you remember the name of it? I know they discontinued it at Costco, but hoping that I can find it somewhere else close to that great price.

    • says

      We worried about future buyers too and finally decided to just go for it – so glad we did!

      The tile is by Golden Select and it’s the stone and glass mosaic tiles in Casablanca Marble. Hope that helps and good luck on your own kitchen project!!

  10. Sandy says

    You cabinetry is almost identical to mine. I have been ready for about 10 years to re-do our kitchen…just other projects always come first! Keeping these cabinets had no place in my plans until I saw your post. ….which I was drawn to for the sheer color and size appeal. I had to do a double take when you said painting cabinets was the first thing on your agenda….I just can’t believe they are the same cabinets! So now you have me re-thinking! I guess my fear is that painted cabinet doors might be sticky or tacky when they close?? Is this a problem at all?

    • says

      Hi Sandy! I think it all comes down to paint quality and giving the cabinets adequate time to dry and cure before hanging the doors. It’s sort of like a manicure….your nails will be dry to the touch after a short time but they are still prone to chipping or smudging until they cure/harden. You’ll see a wide range of recommended wait times for letting cabinets dry and cure after painting (anywhere from a couple day to 30 days). We waited a week and didn’t have any issues. Between drying time and choosing a quality paint, you’ll avoid any of those sticky/tacky paint issues. Lightly sanding between coats also gave us a nice smooth finish. Good luck!

  11. Kathleen says

    For the exact brand and color of top cabinets and bottom cabinet gray
    As well as any part of wall that did not have backsplash on it

  12. Camilla says

    I love this makeover. I am looking at budget friendly ways to update the 70’s kitchen in my home. I’ve been waffling between shelling down the money for a brand new kitchen or just a modern make-over. This walkthrough of the process to update your kitchen has made me decide that a makeover is really all it needs.

    Curious question: is the chalkboard easy to keep clean? My stove area tends to get rather greasy, so I’m looking for good, easy to clean alternatives. :)

    • says

      Hi Camilla!

      We did not have any issues keeping the chalkboard clean. It can be easily wiped down with a damp cloth. We mostly use chalkboard markers in this area – they don’t smudge if accidentally touched (like regular chalk) but wipe off easily with a damp paper towel. Kept things nice and clean for us. Hope that helps and good luck on your own kitchen!

  13. Amanda says

    I noticed you took out the outdated lighting and changed to can lights. I have a similar light fixture in my kitchen and am wanting to take it down, did you have any Sheetrock repair that needed to be done? I think we will have to patch ours.

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