This is how we gave our early 2000s-era kitchen a big makeover on a budget!
We are so excited to be sharing the entire condo kitchen reveal with you today! The entire project took place over a couple of weeks, and we were able to completely transform our 2005-era kitchen into a seamless, timeless heart of the home. The largest obstacle was working around our dark granite countertops, which was common in builder-grade flips in the early 2000s. (For those who have asked, these are Uba Tuba – or Ubatuba – granite. They feature a black base with gold, green and/or pinkish flecks.) The countertops function beautifully, but we were on a mission to make them feel more modern.
A quick note! This is the kitchen in our condo, our first Chicago home. These posts give you the backstory of the condo: why we’re selling the condo | our to-do list before we sell | q+a with a real estate pro
It looks SO. MUCH. BIGGER! The combination of warm white walls (Valspar Cozy White) and taupe cabinets (Valspar Lamb’s Ear) create the illusion of a taller ceiling, even though we didn’t change a thing to the layout. Let’s do another before and after:
The 3 Changes That Made All the Difference
Fresh paint (1), a tile backsplash (2) and a mix of metals (3!) made all the difference in this small-but-mighty kitchen. Our goal for this space was two-fold. We not only want the future homeowners to move-in without needing to change a thing, but more than that, we want them to fall in love with the space.
1| Painting the Cabinets
This was the trickiest part to get right, but once we found our color, we were off to the races! We wanted the granite countertops to feel more intentional, like an integral part of the kitchen plan. We always felt they seemed so harsh (especially against the red-toned wood cabinets), and now they feel like this wonderful contrast!
I struggled initially to find a color that would tone down the pinkiness in our granite, and after phoning a friend (thanks, Julia!), I was reminded that to tone down the pink in the countertops, I needed to find a taupe with pink undertones, too. At first I thought I needed a green undertone (because green is the complement to red), but all that did was highlight all the pink in the countertops. Once my brain made the connection to find a taupe with a pink undertone, I landed on the winning color in less than a minute: Valspar’s Lamb’s Ear!
Think of it this way: If a girl with red hair wears a green shirt, both her hair and her shirt will POP! If that same girl wears a red shirt, neither the hair nor the shirt has an opportunity to standout.
2| Tiling the Backsplash
After removing the 4″ Uba Tuba granite splashguard, we installed this 2.5″ x 9″ tile backsplash. The tile has a handmade look and feel, so to keep it from feeling too traditional, we chose to do a stacked pattern with a low-contrast grout. This upgrade, while small, adds a richness that can’t be beat. (Fun things to consider: Imagine how different a backsplash can make a space feel if you choose contrasting grout. Or a gloss finish. Or a patterned tile!)
Tip: Extending tile down to the floor is a more luxe look for very little added expense. See our tiling tutorial + video right here, if you’d like!
3| Introducing Mixed Metals
Brass, matte black and stainless steel appliances can all live harmoniously together, as long as you have a plan! This was ours: we chose a matte black faucet (a steal, and well made!) to blend into the countertop, brass knobs on the cabinets to add sparkle (but not contrast), and a wide semi-flush brass light fixture to top it off. A glass pendant (similar) above the peninsula keeps the sight lines clear while adding a small hit of contrast in the black down rod.
The Final Details
To complete the look and to semi-stage it for showings, we added warm wood stools with cushions (for texture!) and minimal styling with cutting boards, ceramic vessels and faux greenery. A small runner ties all the colors together, with its blush + greige tones.
One more before and after, because, FUN!
Thank you for rooting us on while we shared our process in real-time! We love doing projects like this alongside you.
Valspar Cozy White 3008-10C (walls) | Valspar Lamb’s Ear CI145 (cabinets) | Valspar Ultra White (millwork) | 2.5″ x 9″ tile backsplash | brass ceiling light | schoolhouse pendant light (similar) | matte black faucet | counter-height stools | small rug | ceramic vase + faux greenery | pedestal bowl | brass cabinet knobs