can i tone down this granite?

robindenver9August 30, 2012

we are looking to buy a new house, and while this kitchen is beautiful, it is totally NOT to my taste. the granite has much too much movement and it looks really "dressy" to me, wheras I typically prefer a much more casual look.

other than that, i really like the space. i'd rather not have to rip out the granite and replace with something less dramatic, but that seems like the only option.

please, any good ideas?

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I would not tear out that granite, it looks like mascarello and is just beautiful. I would think about redoing the busy back splash and maybe even painting those cabinets an off white. It looks amazing with off white. Here's a picture for you.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:33AM
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Hmm...I see what you mean, sort of. It's not really my style either; I'm a casual person, too. Though for me, the granite is less problematic than the backsplash. I don't see the kitchen as dressy, I see it as busy/fussy. I think the backsplash is too busy and distratcing. The kitchen is also too woodtoned for me. I like wood, but the floor and cabinets are too closely matched for my tastes.

I am not a great decorator or even a good decision-maker, but when I look at your kitchen, I want to take out the backsplash and replace it with something really simple, and gel stain those cabinets to a dark espresso color. That might quiet things down a bit.

I might even get rid of that lone wall cabinet near the peninsula in favor of a few open shelves, or something that comes down to the counter. I'd lose that paper towel hanger, too. Not digging the white paint, but have no suggestion for a color.

Is replacing that granite an option for you? Do you like the cabs and layout enough for that kind of $$$ commitment? I would wait and live with the kitchen before doing that - it would be a shame to buy the house and change the granite, and then decide months later that there were layout problems or other must-change items, such as wanting cabs with drawers.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:39AM
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yeah, that BS would go fast. that's enough to make your eyeballs fall out! something very plain - a cream color. no tone on tone or anything. larger tiles, no tiny ones. They make for 'busy' all on their own. the granite doesn't need to fight anything.

I don't care so much for the wood floor w/ the wood cabs but I think it'll be a lot more liveable w/the BS GONE!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 4:10AM
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I at first thought this was a mockup (BS from one kitchen; counter from another). My eyeballs fell out, but if you get rid of the BS, the paper towel holder will disappear... I love the granite.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 6:22AM
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I like the granite...I definitely would say goodbye to the backsplash first thing and take the single cabinet by the peninsula with it.
Does look amazing with white cabinets!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:08AM
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I agree with taking down the backsplash. It's hard to tell from the photo if it would work but I feel like you could totally change the feel by painting the cabinets black and distressing the paint a little.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:05AM
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I'll just mimic what everybody else here has said. The granite is gorgeous....on it's own. It is in combination with the other elements that makes it look so fussy and busy. I would start with a simple backsplash change. Shouldn't be a pricey fix either. Then pick a nice neutral tone to complement the granite and paint the walls.

If that doesn't do it, I would look into either gel staining the cabinets or painting them white. Either would look lovely. I agree that contrast with the floors would be nice. If that amount of work seems a bit daunting, you could always try adding a rug and see how you like that.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:17AM
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I would take out the backsplash. See how that feels.

Personally I would take out the bs, go darker on the cabs, then put in a new bs that brings it all together.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:20AM
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its definitely the backsplash!! Its a beautiful granite! Buying a house is an expensive proposition---that's a beautiful kitchen--when you are settled, change the backsplash! It's too busy and has too much going on for me!

Javachic--yes, a paper towel holder is a good reference!!
I also like peony bushs idea to get rid of that single cab to the right of the window--looks lonely and out of place!--again easy fix--I might replace with open shelving if you need storage space. I would also do some kind of window treatment to soften the entire look. Even a simple fabric cornice would soften the wood and with a "pop" color will make a big difference!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Way too much going on in that kitchen--grain of the wood in the cabinets, busy backsplash made up of busy patterned tiles, all combined with a busy (but very beautiful) granite. I would do as others have suggested above--rip out the backsplash and replace with a more casual sedate single color and size of tile look. I would definitely paint those cabinets white (or off white for a softer look) to tone the cabinets down. Those are 2 simple & economical things you can do to calm this kitchen to a more casual and less eye boggling space. While the granite is busy, I think you really may end up liking it as a center piece of the kitchen once everything else is calmed down around it.

Here's a look at how it could look after the backsplash is redone...

And after the cabs are painted too...

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:35AM
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Beautiful granite -- yes, as others have suggested, you can tone it down.
Overall the kitchen does not feel "dressy" and I think with a few of the suggestions made by others above you can give this kitchen the "casual" vibe you love.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:52AM
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Here's another shot of mascarello with a distressed cabinet. Not sure that your granite is mascarello but it sure does look like it in the picture of your kitchen. I love everyone's suggestions. The gel stain going darker would be a good idea, too. The finish on the cabinets in the photo you posted looks like it is lighter in some places and maybe is fading a bit so it would make it easier to decide to do something with them. I love this granite I have also seen it on a black island, it it looked amazing. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:00AM
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i will echo what everyone else is saying: get rid of the backsplash!! that is the main culprit. the granite is beautiful. pick out a more sedate BS.

if you want to do more, remove cabinet to right of window. you can put in open shelves or a tv (if needed). paint the walls. and for a really big project, gel stain the cabs or paint a nice cream color to go with granite.

but the biggest problem is the BS!!! it must go!!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:04AM
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obviously not a bs chosen by the TKO crowd here.

I think if you get rid of it, you will be happier.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:08AM
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I agree.... the back splash design is waaay too busy for the granite, and they are clashing with each other. Decide which you like better, and remove the other.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Well, here's another for that very juvenile backsplash in what can be a very sophisticated kitchen.

Your floors look gorgeous.
The cabinets, IMHO, are a bit too much wood for the floors. I agree with that.
Believe it or not, the granite could be a very subtle star of the show with a better backdrop.
I also agree with painting or refacing the cabinets. If they're in good shape, I'm sure you've read here how to save yourself $$ by doing either of those.

And finally, if I may, some more contemporary hardware to go with your appliances?

What a beautiful kitchen!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:38AM
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I personally think the granite is gorgeous! I think it's the BS that clashing and not making your eyes rest on the granite.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:41AM
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I echo what everyone else says - ditch that B/S. I would rip it out before you move in as it will make a "dusty" mess (just did that in the house I bought). It is much easier to clean up after if you haven't already filled the cabinets. Putting in a simple off white subway or larger tile in a repeating pattern (no fancy mosaics in the middle, like it has now) would totally put the focus on that gorgous rock.

I love the idea of gel staining the cabs darker and would go one more step and gel stain the window trim, then add a simple fabric window treatment. That paper towel holder isn't even close enough to the sink to be that helpful; I'd get rid of it and get a stand up stainless PT holder to sit by the sink. I would also change the hardware to something in satin nickel and on the "simple" side. You want it to be functional, not the star of the kitchen.

Be sure to post pix - this kitchen has terrific potential.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Unanimous feedback it seems. The granite is STUNNING!! I'm casual also and lean contemporary. That BS would be gone almost instantly and replaced with something very simple. The cab color could be changed also as is being suggested, but the BS is the big problem to my eyes. Get rid of it and see what you think. And, yes, I'd also lose the single cab to the right of the window. That will open things up a lot too. Beautiful kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:39AM
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I absolutely agree that the granite is really stunning but the backsplash is too much. I also wonder if the granite finish is polished and perhaps the glossy look bothers you? Does anyone know if a granite fabricator could come in and hone the granite in place to reduce the gloss?

Additionally, I wonder if you put down a cozy casual rug on the floor if that would help break up the wood on wood look and make the space more casual to your taste.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Add me to the ditto list! Lose the splash, and paint/re-stain (or not) the cabs. The granite really is stunning.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:27PM
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LOVE your granite ... but it is certainly *fighting* that BS. Take out the BS and put in something very simple. Maybe an off-white tile with no or very little accent tiles.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:34PM
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    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Something also seems off with the proportions of the top cabinets are they shorter and higher than usual? Or is this appearance due to the wide angle lens used to photograph the kitchen?

Here is a quick and sloppy PS of the OP's pic with darker cabs, lighter backsplash and all, and lighter floor. I didn't intend it to be as yellow as it is, but it might be useful.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Wow! What a change! I don't even dislike the wood tones with the floors as much as I used to before. This change looks great.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Bellsmom, that is SO helpful! Wow, I had no idea that everyone would feel the same way about the backsplash - I've always lived in really simple kitchens so I thought maybe that was the style now or something. And as you can imagine, my DH is over the moon about the plan to not replace the granite!

Hopefully we get under contract today, and if all goes well I think we are going to demo the backsplash first, live with it awhile, and then decide about painting the cabinets. I have the same reaction as most - I don't like how the cabinets and the wood are exactly the same shade.

Thanks so much to everyone! I'll be sure to post some pictures once we close and I get to tear out that tile! :-)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 4:47PM
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Here is a link to pics of gel stain on finished oak. I have not done this, but a search will find several GWers who have.

If you get the house, I think that taking out the backsplash and living with the kitchen for a while is a great idea. Then you can think about paint to make the cabs lighter or gel stain to make them darker.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gel stain to darken golden oak.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:01PM
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One Kitchen Forum member, girlwithasprin, who I haven't seen around in recent years did a remarkable remake of her builder's grade oak cabinets using Bittersweet Chocolate colored gel.

After a short search I found a site she has created with instructions and photos of the before and after. So see for yourself what a little gel and a good deal of time and patience can do for you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Girlwithasprin's Gel Kitchen

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Although I completely agree with everyone that the BS if fighting the granite, there are some of us that don't care for a lot of movement in our countertops. I am one of those and you may be too. I really don't care for a lot of busyness in both pattern and color and that granite has both.

I think the kitchen will improve considerably with a new backsplash and possibly painting the cabinets but you may never like the granite. I would have difficulty with it in my kitchen even though I appreciate the natural beauty of that stone.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Dittos to all that has been said above--love your granite and, overall, you have a very nice kitchen. I agree with a prior poster, replace that cabinet to the right of the sink with open shelves. If you have room, I would also put small rounded shelves to the left of the window and then run the tile, on both sides of the window, behind all of those added shelves up to the ceiling. Refer to some of the kitchens designed by Candice Olson as she does this quite a bit to give an integrated look. This should also help with the size of the kitchen window, which looks small to me in proportion to the space. Looking forward to seeing the end product.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 4:43PM
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The backsplash needs to go ASAP. Busy granite and busy backsplash almost always clashes. This is a perfect example.

You'd be a fool in my opinion to remove the granite. It's the best thing the kitchen has going for it. I'm someone who loves granite, especially exotic granites with movement.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Agree with everone else. Just a glance at that photo and it's the backsplash that's screaming for attention. Original owners missed the memo on less is more. BS is what needs to go, not the granite, which looks quite beautiful from here. Even a painted wall would look better than that BS and you might want to do that and live with it awhile before you make any further changes. BS should be simple if the countertop is not. I always love a clean subway tile.
Other than that this looks like a great space with a lot of potential.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Here is kind of what it would look like with white cabinets.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 6:55PM
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I'd darken the cabinets and take out the backsplash. That backsplash really looks like it was done by someone who was blindfolded. It hurts my head to look at it.

LOVE that granite. Really, it's beautiful.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Bumping up for OP.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:48AM
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I think the plan of removing the BS and living with the rest and your things in place is good. A window treatment could help span the gap and connect those upper cabinets; a rug could give some contrast to the floor and then your things in place to make it look lived in will help even if you don't do more for a while -- or ever. I do like the idea of adding some contrast between the floors and cabinets, but seeing what it looks like lived in first is a good idea. That will help you decide what to change and which direction -- or see that your "stuff" does enough to break it up.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 12:09PM
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BS = bad
Stone = good.

Living for a while in the space = very, very good. Familiarity will tame the wildness, and then you can figure out how you want to dress it up, what wants emphasizing, what de-emphasizing.

Can you take another picture with a different camera/lens so that peninsula is not so in-your-face? Some of the horror may just be an artifact of the photo. I assume both counters don't curve as their juncture with the floor implies....

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:06PM
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@Jodi, thanks for the mockup. Love the white cabs and the blue paint! Definitely plan to demo that backsplash first and then see what to do next. I'm not actually that big a fan of huge tile backsplashes - I've always just had the little 4-inch backsplash, but we'll see.

Thanks everyone for your help! I'll be sure to post again once we move in and I can get that tile out of there!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:33PM
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