Gray or white kitchen!

threeapplesMay 19, 2011

We are designing a Georgian home and will have espresso-colored hardwood floors in the kitchen and I am debating either white cabinets with gray walls or the opposite. I think both can be classic looking and work with the house, but i cannot decide. I love carrera marble for the island and countertops, but my husband is a messy cook, we have two little kids, and the whole world is trying to convince me that red wine, spaghetti sauce, and everything else is going to stain and etch it (a friend who owns a marble polishing company says the same thing). So, I am desperately trying to find a granite that doesn't look like granite and will work with this color scheme. Any thoughts on the cabinet color? Do I need to choose paint color for adjacent rooms before I decide upon this? Thanks!

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Fori is not pleased

Sounds like a wonderful color scheme. In my tests, marble doesn't stain badly at all...and since you have a friend with a marble polishing company, who cares about etching! :)

But to be practical, you could consider marble as a backsplash, slab or tile, with a stainless (or other durable) chunk behind the range/cooktop. You SHOULD work it in somewhere.

Maybe check out the engineered quartz counters (Zodiaq, Silestone, Caesarstone, etc.) for a counter.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:06PM
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Cabinet color is harder to change than wall color. That's what swung me for sure into the white cabinet camp. Gray is a very classy color, but I'd say it's a little more modern as a cabinet color, whereas white is possibly more classic but also all over the place right now. Either combination sounds elegant; can you picture how you'd feel in the space with either color combination?

I have neither the budget nor the desire for stone countertops, so I don't know much about them, but have you looked into a light colored soapstone or quartz? Seems like a different stone might be easier to work with instead of finding "a granite that doesn't look like granite."

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:07PM
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Thanks to both of you! I can't picture myself in the feel of the space--I'm so bad at visualizing that. One thing I worry about is that this kitchen will be seen from our grand room, which will be formal. I worry how white walls and gray cabinets would stand out as viewed from that room. And, what to do with the big white wall with no cabinets on it that would be opposite the main kitchen wall with cabinets, range, etc.
On another note, stainless is too modern for me as a backsplash for the stove and I don't like tile. What on earth would I do for it? I'm obviously still very new at this. Would marble be a terrible idea as a backsplash? Can anyone with white marble comment on how this works with husbands and children like mine? thanks!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:46PM
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We're working with the same color scheme and we decided to go with white cabinets for the reasons mentioned above with a quartzite called White Fantasy (AKA or similar to Super White, White Princess). We've done lots of tests on the quartzite and have had no staining or etching issues. There are a number of threads with pictures of this quartzite, which varies pretty significantly from slab to slab. But gray cabinets are beautiful too, so you can't go wrong IMHO. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 10:57PM
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What about gray walls, white cabinets, white marble backsplash (I picture marble tiles, but likely slabs are possible) and stainless steel counters? SS is similar to a classic zinc or pewter countertop (not so modern in countertop form as in backsplash form), less expensive than zinc or pewter, and easier to care for than stone.

Can you find artwork to fill the wall across from the main kitchen wall? A friend of mine used a painting on the wall opposite her kitchen to inspire the color scheme for the entire kitchen. Perhaps that wall could even be a darker shade of gray, if it fits in with your home's architecture.

My computer is being ridiculously slow tonight or I'd try to find some pictures to post for inspiration. Perhaps boxerpups will chime in!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 11:13PM
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Someone mentioned quartzite. It is discussed on here quite a bit but I had never seen it in person until a couple of weeks ago. It is in a showhouse in the Parade of Homes where I live and it is gorgeous!!! HOWEVER, I talked to the designer and she said it is $$$$$$$!!!! Like $100+ / sf pricey. So I have no idea what your budget is. If that's in your budget, GO FOR IT!

I thought I'd offer another suggestion -- Cambria (quartz) is coming out with more new colors (they just rolled out a batch of new colors about 6 months ago, and now they're coming out with more). One of the new ones I'm curious to see is "Torquay." It seems like it might give you that marble look with the "bullet-proofness" of quartz.

Just a thought!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:16AM
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I love a mix of white and gray. This picture above is
from HGTV. I wish I knew the exact color. Gorgeous.

Diamond Baratta Designs

Scheeler Kitchen

Weddington Designs

Store Kitchen Designs

Hefner Kitchen Marble honed


Blossom Interiors

New cast gray



A bit of art to balance the gray and white.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:27AM
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Grey and a color sometimes inventoried as "stone" were actually pretty common 18th and 19th c. paint colors. White was a more expensive pigment. So, although there is no such thing as a historic kitchen for a Georgian-period house unless you cook over an open hearth, its likely that any painted furniture in the kitchen would have been painted a color other than white. I think grey would be a good choice.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:42AM
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What great inspiration pics (as usual!) from boxerpups!!! I love the white/grey combo and think either cabinet color would look classic and beautiful! My advice is to pick an inspiration pic that sings to you and then go with it, and don't look back (like I'm doing now seeing those beautiful grey cabinets!!).

Dash3108 - I think the price of the quartzite varies significantly depending on what area you live in. I'm in CT and found it to be LESS THAN mid-level granites, but I think people on the west coast have found it to be more expensive if they can even find it. In fact, this was the one area in our kitchen budget where we're actually saving money with our final selection -- crazy!! So don't rule it out, if you like it . . .

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 9:27AM
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As I type this, I am having Silestone Bianco River installed. I chose it because it is reminiscent of marble. My family is VERY hard on things & I just felt like I would be too worried about marble (I know many feel it is not as high maintenance as some would say, but it would just stress me out). We chose a soft gray for the cabs (SW Fawn Brindle) & white on the walls.

I don't think you can go wrong with either choice as gray/white is a beautiful & classic combo.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 1:57PM
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I find a bit of color (cream, grey, pale greens etc) more interesting than pure white cabinets. This is just me

Regarding historic color... FWIW
I watched a movie a while back, Cheaper by the Dozen, a movie about a couple who revolutionized efficiency in industrialized design. The movie is set in 1920s and 1930s. All the trim and woodwork in the house(a mansion in NJ that they bought) was painted dark grey. The movie was made in the 50s. Very interesting isn't it?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 2:35PM
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I have a white/gray granite (valley white, but I've also seen it labeled white river, and maybe white spring), and I think that would look great with either. Mine was 65/sq ft, which was definitely on the lower end of granite here. We have 3 kids, are messy, and we haven't had any problem with it so far.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 3:16PM
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Boxerpups- Beautiful pictures, as always!

Threeapples- Here is a link to Sarah Richardson's farmhouse kitchen, which has gray base cabinets and white uppers, with the yellow island. They're all Ikea cabinets, custom spray painted. Hope this helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Sarah Richardson's farmhouse kitchen

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 4:01PM
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3apples, I have nearly finished my kitchen renovation thanks to all the help on here. I have off white cabs and gray wood look tile on the floor. I, just like you , wanted marble but my ever practical chef husband said no way. I ended up with Mother of pearl quartzite it has very unique quality and plenty of gray tones in it.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 5:09PM
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Thanks everyone! What a helpful group this forum has. Here are my two main inspiration photos. Our cabinets will be simple raised panel full overlay. The floor is a dark espresso hardwood, and I'm looking into a scaliastone hood by francois and company with a pewter overlay. I'm including some photos to help. oh, and how silly is it to do white marble counters and backsplash with a messy husband and two little kids? Is it just really a huge mistake?

woodmode south hampton:

this second picture shows the exact range hood i am contemplating.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 10:14PM
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Judging from your inspiration pics, it looks like you might favor the white cabinets. That's how I ultimately decided for our kitchen. Someone on GW once advised someone else to take a step back, look at their collection of inspiration pics and notice the common element(s). When I did that it became clear that I loved white cabinets.

For what it's worth, I don't think marble is silly at all. There are lots of helpful threads on GW re: marble and it seems like the conerns are all workable. I would have done it in a heartbeat, but my DH felt strongly against it, so we went with the White Fantasy granite instead. I'm horrible at visualizing, so I hope it all works out like I want it to!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:52PM
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Can anyone identify the barstools in first kitchen photo from boxerpups, with the green barn pendants, i cant see the photo credit to hunt for the source. I also seem technologically challenged to paste the photo in another "whats this barstool" thread.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 3:35PM
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why not use both? we did gray lowers and white uppers. also look into that caesarstone that looks like marble...there's one that looks like carrera...we used one called organic which has lots of moonscapey looking gray on a white background.
here's our newly finished gray&white:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 4:08PM
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House Beautiful July 2009

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 7:18PM
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    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 8:16PM
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erinct, what about my two photos makes you feel i prefer the white? i cannot decide! this is so hard.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 9:44PM
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In both of your inspiration pictures gray seems to be more of an accent color, and the common cabinet color is white. I also have the Wood-Mode South Hampton kitchen in my inspiration folder. I tried to visualize that kitchen (and a few others in my folder) with gray cabinets and I didn't think it would work well (I should point out that I'm really bad at visualizing though!). Maybe it's the other materials that threw me off, but I don't think so.

I really don't think you can go wrong either way, but I do think that white cabinets would give you more options should you ever want to change your color scheme, and I also think it's easier to make color transitions into other rooms with white cabinets (at least in my house). But that's just my very humble opinion!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:59PM
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thanks, erinct. i think i'm going to search for countertop slabs and take it from there. i'll post updates as i have them. :)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:15PM
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I'm sure whatever you do will be beautiful! I'll be on the lookout for updates!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 7:39PM
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threeapples, I can't wait to see your progress!

Thanks to all who posted pics...helped me realize how much I love gray and white, so I'll be doing gray counters with my white cabinets. :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 8:15PM
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A couple of Boxerpups' pix had me hyperventilating, especially those walls covered with the marble subways--ummm! I really like gray, love gray and white and gray and cream. At my age in your place, though, I would definitely absolutely go with white cabinets. As others have said, bring the gray in other ways. Much as I have always liked gray: Beware of the special appeal items currently in style have. It moves them right up the list anywhere from "sure, I like" to "must have," but when the crowd moves on to oh and ah over something else, the appeal drops back to whatever is normal for you, and the same magazines that rhapsodized over it move on to talking about the owners' need to change that dreary/cold/uninviting/dated/boring/whatever gray to (insert whatever's in style right then). Gray is HOT right now. White never really goes out.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 3:26PM
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Three--good idea to go look for slabs first. It might help in your situation.

I've always wanted white cabs. I even painted the old, dark, dingy, 70's cabs in my house white 11 years ago to hold on until we could do a full reno like we're doing now. Someone here suggested gray cabs to my recently instead of white. Now, the more I see gray cabs, the more I love them. Did you see Flatwater's thread with his yummy gray cabs?? And reading your thread has me starting to question what color I really want also!

As far as marble goes, I wanted to say that I fell in love with a couple of marblicious gray Carrara slabs.

Yes, I have a messy DH who sometimes "cooks" and two small children. I'm doing it anyway. Read the hundreds of threads here about marble. If its sealed well, it won't stain. You will get etching, but the etches I have on my sample of unsealed Carrara are only visible if I lean down and look at it in just the right angle. If you find some slabs you like, get a sample to bring home and experiment.

I don't think you're crazy for wanting marble at all. I really like Bianco Antico granite...for a granite. I just couldn't pull the trigger to put a slab on hold because deep down I knew it wasn't what would make me truly happy. The Carrara does that. However, if those pretty white-ish quartzites were more available in my area and weren't so expensive, I may have gone that way. Less or no etching.

Off to contemplate gray vs. white cabs! Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 3:49PM
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breezygirl, this was the best post--thanks! i'm gonna look for a slab first and take it from there. i love the slabs you posted, they are so gorgeous!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 8:57PM
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