Interiorssneak peeks

Our Kitchen Makeover

by Grace Bonney

Paint color can be a surprisingly tricky thing. And one of the trickiest colors to get right is white. I know it may seem silly, but finding the right balance between cool and warm can be harder than you think. When I said I was searching for a great warm white for our kitchen, I couldn’t get over all of the suggestions I received and how many people had gone through upwards of 10 different colors trying to find the best hue. But for us, it came down to one perfect, warm white (“Tibetan Jasmine” RL1007 by Ralph Lauren Paint) that turned our kitchen from a dark hunter-green space into the bright, white dream room we had always wished for. So today I’m thrilled to share another sneak peek into our new (old) home and how we’ve transformed it in the past two months. xo, grace

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman

This post is brought to you by The Home Depot. View the complete Ralph Lauren Paint collection here.

The kitchen before and after! While I understand the dark green paint color (it does have a cozy "country house" feel), for us, it didn't suit our personal styles and it made the kitchen feel darker than it really is. We searched high and low for the perfect white and settled on a gorgeous, warm white called "Tibetan Jasmine; RL1007" from Ralph Lauren Paint. But first...more before shots!
The full kitchen before. Even before we worked on making over this space, it was our dream room - and the room that sold the house for us. There are windows everywhere in this space and about 100x more counterspace than either of us have ever had to work on. Since the kitchen is basically Julia's office, it was important for this space to suit her needs and be a bright, light place for her to test and develop recipes.
The kitchen island is wonderful and provides more counter space than we could have ever dreamed of, but it's a very dark part of the room. The base paint is a dark hunter green and the top is an aging black granite. A new countertop and cabinets weren't in our budget (and both are perfectly fine and useable), so we decided paint would do the heavy lifting in this room refresh.
Parts of the home's original kitchen cabinets were salvaged (you can see them here to the right) and used as cabinetry throughout the kitchen, which we love. But after scraping down a few layers, we realized the first paint color they ever got was white! That little discovery made me feel much better about lightening everything up a bit. (Our fridge is the tall unit in the middle, hidden by a wooden panel.)
One of my favorite spots in the kitchen is this copper countertop. I wouldn't dream of touching it, but we did want to remove (and reuse elsewhere) the decorative corbels under the counter. They weren't original to the kitchen, so we felt they could be reused elsewhere inside to free up some more space and make the room feel a bit more opened up.
This cabinet was a majorly heavy spot on the wall. Not only is it super narrow and a pretty weighty piece, but it was slanting pretty dangerously, so we knew this would come down and be replaced by open shelving to brighten up this wall some. (The wood will be salvaged for another spot in our home.)
And voila! Goodbye, heavy green cabinet, hello bright open shelving! Most of our everyday dinnerware is white/cream colored, so we knew open shelving would work for this area. We hired Jack from Vernacular Design in Kingston, NY to make these shelves for us and couldn't be happier. He used salvaged pine from his old work bench and simple brackets from Home Depot to make the three shelves. We love knowing they've served a long life as part of his studio, and now our kitchen.
The after! The "Tibetan Jasmine" color (RL1007) from Ralph Lauren Paint was just what the room needed. It feels bright, open, fresh and CLEAN. I knew our belongings would add some warmth and much needed color to the space in other ways. The cheese board hanging on the wall is an antique, as is the funny little lamp made from a very old kerosene glass bottle.
Now that the kitchen island got a coat (actually, it took three coats) of white paint, the black top feels like it fits in the kitchen a bit more and doesn't weigh things down as much. I'd still love to replace this with lighter marble one day, but that's a way down the road. The rug is an antique I bought at Nightwood in Brooklyn before we even knew we'd buy a home. It fits perfectly between the stove and sink. (I've always used nice rugs in my kitchen and don't have a problem keeping them clean. I vacuum them once a week and they've always managed to stay in good condition.)
The wall of cabinets against the far right wall feels so much brighter and lighter now!
Last but not least, we're still on the hunt for more comfortable counter stools. It's been hard to find stools that are the right height, but these old industrial stools from Julia's first apartment have been great in the meantime. She added rubber stoppers (the kind used on the bottom of canes) to prevent the legs from scratching the wide plank pine floors.

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  • This.is. simply. fabulous.
    And you are so right about that copper countertop. And it looks like you revealed a copper backsplash too underneath all that clutter. If I was too come to a housewarming party I woudl bring you some copper mugs for moscow mules. Many happy meals in your new kitchen!

  • Bravo! It’s so bright and inviting, definitely dream kitchen status. Can’t wait to see how you lovely ladies continue to transform your new home!

  • wow, what a transformation! it looks gorgeous – so inviting and bright. you’ll definitely enjoy many a meal and holiday celebration there. congrats!

  • oh my gosh- what a transformation. LOVE the white you chose..how clean and lovely. I imagine a lot of beautiful food and many good times will be made here. Congratulations !!

  • So beautiful! We’re about to tear our kitchen apart and bring it back to its country charm. This will be used as some inspiration. A good score of a house, you’ve found. It has all the seeds to peel back the layers and reveal the beauty.

  • Pottery Barn’s seagrass counter stools are very nice and comfortable. Wonderful kitchen, such a good job, Grace and Julia.

  • Your kitchen is lovely – what a transformation! If I could dream up my ideal kitchen, it would look like yours (and I’d totally choose marble for the island too!).

  • All that beadboard is gorgeous!!! Thank you for sharing your process and being realistic about your budget and timing. It makes renovating a house seem possible!

  • The warmth of those wood tones looks so great with the bright white. Amazing job–I’m so jealous! That house looks like it has amazing bones, it’s lucky to have you ladies giving it a fresh makeover!

  • What a beautiful job you’ve both done maintaining the integrity of the ‘original’ kitchen, but also updating it for your purposes and brightening the space. I love the personal touches you’ve added – it’s beginning to look like a wonderfully cozy home!

  • Beautiful update!

    Did you paint the cabinets yourself? I’m hoping to do the same but am a bit worried about the paint upkeep (chipping, etc) if I do not have the cabinets professionally refinished.

    • hi rebecca!

      we did 3 coats ourselves (2 primer + one paint) and had the painters that did the walls and ceilings do a final coat. so it was a lot of thin coats, but worth it.


  • This post wraps up my love for Design Sponge in one neat little package: I love that this is a kitchen makeover that is attainable on a normal human’s budget. Its beautiful and accessible and I’m sure that you and any of your guests will feel right at home!

  • JAW DROPPING! I absolutely love what you’ve done with this. I am especially glad you left the copper! Those open shelves are just so perfect too. Ugh, I am having such kitchen envy now!

  • Beautiful! I agree that white can be really tricky. When we remodeled our house I picked a white that I realized too late had just a touch too much yellow in it for me (I wanted the exact warmth that your white here has, but I misjudged how the one I got would look in the corners and in certain light). Unfortunately by then every wall had been painted, along with half of the ceilings, baseboards and doors, and there was no going back. Painting is grueling so I am so happy for you that you landed on such a great color!

  • I have never written, but have been a fan for quite some time. I feel compelled to finally write. The excitement and joy about your new home just leaps from the page. Thank you for sharing what can be such a personal journey. I always believe that a home is what you make it and you and making a great one. Enjoy every minute.

  • It’s beautiful, Grace! Light, airy and so cozy. I would spend all my time in this room if I lived there!! I have a suggestion for a comfortable counter stool. Many years ago I found a white padded Cherner counter stool at a vintage store in Milwaukee. It is incredibly comfortable with the padding, nice to have some back support and it is a gorgeous shape.

  • It’s amazing how by using the perfect white, those beautiful floors are now on full display. I am obsessed with the floor. Also, love the large whisk. :)

  • I was also wondering about the paint application and I saw your answer above. Did you brush or roll it on, or were any parts sprayed? And what finish was it, eggshell, glosss,??? The kitchen is beautiful. I like the little kerosene bottle lamp, too. Thanks so much for sharing the photos and information.

    • hi marty!

      it’s all painted on with a brush by hand. i know, time consuming :( they’re super “distressed” cabinet fronts so they need a lot of detailing, which a brush doesn’t do.

      it’s semi-gloss paint.


  • Hi Grace! Your kitchen looks beautiful and amazing! It’s a dream of mine to have a kitchen that size. I love how you left the original design of the kitchen intact and made some beautiful updates. The white opens the kitchen up and makes it such a welcoming space. It looks like the perfect space to enjoy a cup of coffee and a good book!

  • great post and great house! would love to hear a bit more on your process of how exactly you go about determining what the perfect paint shade is. do you get samples of multiple colors and paint small areas to see? I usually tape up a bunch of chips and views them over several days to decide, but am wondering if there is a better way.

    • hi steph!

      we tested colors on the bottom of the cabinet facing out of the kitchen, but we knew from the start we wanted a warm white, so this was my first pick from the get go. we considered a few other colors but they were either too white-white or too yellow.


  • You really brought out the natural beauty of the materials used in your kitchen! I love bead board painted white and all the textures in the room are so nice together. Fabulous, fabulous job making it ‘yours’. Enjoy it!

  • Gorgeous! I love that gigantic whisk.
    Keep the Before and Afters coming. Yours are the best.

  • What a great and budget friendly transformation! It looks oh so warm and inviting. I hope you’re pleased as pie!

  • Such a lovely transformation! Congrats on your new-old house… so many memories will be made there :)

    I love how your fridge is hidden. Grace, is the paneling actually attached to the fridge door, or do you just open two sets of doors? I’m looking to buy a new-old house of my own, and so often the fridge is just plunked awkwardly in a room that was never meant for such a large appliance. This is such a great solution.

  • I love it! What a difference a coat of paint can make. The before was actually nice too. So what do the inside of the cabinets looks like if you open the doors? Did you paint the inside, or is it the dark color still? I’m thinking of painting my lowers a darker color (they are white now) but wondered if I could only paint the front of the cabinets, not the inside, or would that look “unfinished.” I love the open shelves. The wide plank floors are everything in that kitchen :)

    • Hi brandi

      We painted the inside white, too. they were hunter green, but like a haphazard swipe of paint. They didn’t paint the full insides, only bits and parts.


    • Emily

      They were the existing knobs and pulls, but you can find pretty much the same ones at Home Depot. All I know about these is that a few have stickers that say “Made in India” on the back. They’re super heavy aged metal.


  • So SO beautiful! Just curious, no more Brooklyn apartment for y’all? I liked that space too!

  • You and Julia nailed it! Paint, hardware, editing – anyone can do this. Thanks for always sharing attainable design. Also, LOVE that you kept the black appliances.

    Can’t wait to see more!

    • thanks kate!

      we didn’t have a choice but to leave all those appliances, changing them out isn’t in our budget. but i don’t mind them at all. i’m thankful to have them at all, no matter what color ;)


  • Kitchen loves amazing and so true about the white color. I am looking to repaint my house and going through the same dilemma…

    Q – what paint did you use for the kitchen cabinet? I want to paint mine white but everyone has been so against it…

  • What a great white change.
    RAL 9016 could give a more edgy look, but hey, going white is a challenge!

  • OMG, I love it. It’s so bright and in keeping with the house. I’m glad you guys gave it a facelift. The open shelving is nice too. I love it in small doses and that’s just right!

  • Lovely. Think that black granite will grow on you now that the base is white. I’d never seen such gee-gaws used in a kitchen before. I’m sure you don’t regret removing those.

  • So wonderful, Grace! The white paint makes such a difference- the windows didn’t shine before and now you really feel the experience of having big windows in the kitchen. That’s a dream of mine!

    I’m curious- you moved from a tiny NYC apartment to a sprawling home- do you feel like you want to buy everything you love now? Or are you making yourself take time to find things for the perfect spot? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


    • ashley

      ha! yes, i do. thankfully buying this home means we can’t buy everything we see now ;) but i’ll happily take an emptier home and have the home. we have a loooong time to fill the rest of the space :)


  • You and Julia are miracle workers! So much you have accomplished in such a short time. It looks just beautiful and inviting and inspiring – Congratulations and many thanks for bringing us along!

  • Beautiful update. I love white cabinets Quick question, are the cabinets, walls and trim all the same paint color (the one you mentioned)?

    • hi janine!

      yep, the wall, trim, ceiling and cabinets are all the same color. i’m very into monochrome right now. going to try that in the other rooms, too. it’s a big thing around here in old homes, but not usually with white. usually a sort of grey/brown color.


  • It’s absolutely gorgeous, Grace. I have lust in my heart for that rug. Yes, I do! Love how the open shelves worked out. Congratulations. I hopped over here from Instagram. :-)

  • Wow! As they say, paint is a game-changer. Can you possibly post a wide After shot that matches the widest Before (the kitchen as seen from the dining area, kitchen chair in foreground)? Feel that like would capture all the areas you tackled as seen as a whole. Meanwhile, hope someone gives you a nice hand massage after all that brushwork! Bravo. :-)

  • Beautiful! I love that you made simple changes and the space feels completely new and gorgeous. I’m so thrilled for you. Just as a suggestion you could fancy up the black counter top with large ceramic bowls, wood plank cutting boards or dried spices in a basket. This would take the eye off of the blackness a bit more ;)

  • love, love seeing you work on your own home. love the contrast of the white and wood and black. so comfortable, but crisp. and, I love love the accessories in the room…the lamp, hanging cutting board, plants, mrs. meyers. small touches…big impact. can’t wait to see more.

  • I love this!! What a great transformation! I really enjoy seeing how you worked with what you have to make the space beautiful. I’ve so enjoyed and appreciated your podcast After the Jump, and Julia on Radio Cherry Bombe! Really happy for you both to have this lovely space!

  • This white glows instead of cools. Well done! As one who has painted her kitchen cabinets… I feel your joy in getting through it, and the finished product. Beautiful space that will transition and grow with you over time. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  • Looking through the pictures I suddenly felt like I could break when I came to the one with the open shelving and the cabinets had been painted that gorgeous “Tibetan Jasmine”.

    Excellent choice in color and a lovely transformation.

  • Hi Grace!
    I’m a long time reader, and I thank you for the bit of curated beauty that you guys bring me every day. I think your new house is great and I trust you’ll make it more so. Anyway, this is to ask about a very particular thing. I noticed that you guys don’t have a range hood in this kitchen, and I have to ask if you have considered getting one, and if not why. The deal is that I’m going to renovate a very small house soon, I’ll open up the kitchen to the living room, get rid of all upper cabinets and a range hood would really screw up my design, but here in Spain everyone tells me that my couch is going to end up smelling like fish, or cauliflower, or whatever. I would appreciate to know about your, and especially Julia’s, thought process on the matter.
    Thanks so much!!

    • hi cris!

      our stovetop on the counter has a built in vent within the unit that’s super strong, so we’ve been fine using that so far. but down the line we plan on getting a new oven/stovetop there so we’ll see then if an overhead if required. i’m hoping not, because i don’t want to break that big open view, but safety will of course come first.


  • I obviously love this entire renovation, but what caught my eye the most were the mismatched bar stools! What an amazing idea! They each add a whimsical touch with so much color.

  • So gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see more! I LOVE open cabinets but sadly can’t have them in this earthquake-prone part of the world (Chile). We’d have broken dishes all over the floor within a month. I’m also so unbelievably clumsy that with or without earthquakes, I don’t think open shelving is in the cards for me in any part of the world. Oh well! Great inspiration regardless.

  • Absolutely breathtaking! The kitchen seems triple the size now! We bought a house last summer and the kitchen has copper hardware and a hammered copper sink. I would love to know the best way to maintain the copper. I haven’t figured it out yet. We use lemon occasionally but it’s not enough. Beautiful paint job! Did you DIY that or hire a painter?

  • I’m bookmarking this page — LOVE it! I think I will have to steal this look for my kitchen. It’s exactly what I have been looking for.

  • Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful- thank you for sharing it with us! It is my inspiration for starting to re-do our own kitchen soon (I long wondered if we could make our black appliances work with a white kitchen- I think your hardware ties it in beautifully). A quick question- in terms of longevity and making sure your hard work stays, did you poly or do anything additional to ‘seal’ the paint after you painted your cabinets? Is primer and paint alone enough to keep it from chipping or falling apart too soon? Thank you so much for your help. Again, congratulations!

  • I’ve always loved bright spaces and I find your kitchen stunning! You’ve truly found the “perfect white” for the room which plays with the natural light so good. I’m thinking of re-doing my kitchen as well now! Thanks for sharing.

  • On the contrary, I don’t follow trend and never get it, white kitchen is the last I would do.. white bathroom, yes, I’d like to feel clean.. White kitchen is a big no no. wrong concept…There are tons of non-white color to bring the brightness and not sacrificing the warmth feeling.. Same goes w all white bedroom, ugh.. tasteless..

    • Sue

      I understand that white cabinets aren’t everybody’s style and I would never expect anyone else to replicate this look if they didn’t want to. But I don’t think it’s universally tasteless or the “wrong” concept. It might be a “no no” to you, but it’s a major “YES YES” to us :)


  • Thanks for sharing your great kitchen remodel experience! I love your suggestion with picture number eight to use light colors to make the space feel open. My kitchen is kind of small, and it feels a bit cramped right now, but I’ve been wanting to make it feel bigger, so I’ll definitely try and give it a fresh coat of lighter paint!

  • Beautiful and exactly the color I want for my kitchen. Question: what did you use for the woodwork? Thanks!

  • Is the white on the wall/trim the same white as the cabinets? It looks like a dream kitchen!!

  • It feels like it has a good soul :-) And that’s so important in a kitchen, being the heart of the home.

    What’s it like working on (and looking after) the wooden counter tops? I love them aesthetically, and am curious if they’ve been durable for you…

  • I cannot see how you got. your copper counter top and how does it wear? In other words, how do. you use it and take care of it. Does it not stain? Then what?

    But I would love to have some of my counters done in the same way. Could you tell me how to get this done and who might do it?


  • I cannot see anything about your copper counter top but I LOVE IT! Could you tell me about how you obtained it, installation and how you maintain the great look I am seeing in your photos.

    I really think this is the best kitchen reno I have seen! Great!