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.

Suggested For You


  • 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!

  • 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…

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.