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How to update this kitchen without painting cabinets?

Heather
2 years ago

I'm struggling SO hard with how to update this kitchen into something I will love and that will help when selling our small NYC co-op in a couple of years. I would love the remodel to brighten up the kitchen, my first plan was to paint cabinets white, get a white/grey quartz counter, and dark grey vinyl planking floor. but our contractor was VERY AGAINST painting the cabinets - he said it would look bad and keep show continuous wear and tear. Our cabinets are a nice color and in good shape, so I guess ideally we will leave them alone and just update the handles. We'll be updating all appliances to smudge-free stainless steel. But the (ugly IMO) brown granite counters and outdated tile floor, omg, help!! It's so hard finding photos of maple cabinets with floor, counter, and backsplash that really appeal to me. I've seen some grey counters (marble or even concrete look) I liked. I love the look of the grey "wood" (tile or vinyl planks) floor. But not sure how this would all look together, and with the stainless appliances, too matchy matchy? Or just the right amount of matchy? I would love love love any and all of your advice!!


Some key things to keep in mind:

1. total job under $10K

2. counters must be low maintenance and durable (heat/stain/scratch resistant)

3. we can take it down before we sell, but for now must leave the wall w/ small pocket door (it's our 3 young childrens' bedroom i.e. the previous dining room)


Thank you!!



Comments (34)

  • hollybar
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Within that budget in NYC, I would change the floor,the hardware, remove the 4' backsplash and add a new tile backsplash that is very reflective. Then paint. If you don't already have under cabinet lighting, add it. And since I can't tell from pics, I might be adding more overhead lighting,too. But only if budget allows. Since you know you are selling in a few years, that is all I would do. No painting of cabs.

  • auntthelma
    2 years ago

    Consider a marble look counter with brown veins rather than grey. It would look fabulous. Painting the walls will make a huge difference. My maple kitchen is painted a deep sage green and I love it.

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  • chloebud
    2 years ago

    Hi Heather, I think it's wise to leave the cabinets alone. Stainless appliances will help a lot, and look nice with the cabinet hardware. Right now the black appliances are kind of black "holes" in your small kitchen. Will leave a counter suggestion to the pros here.

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Holy crap Janie the thought of the stove/wall proximity had never occured to me - the company who installed (1daywall) and our super/contractor never mentioned it, now I'm freaked out!! Thankfully we very very rarely cook while kids are sleeping (hubby will occasionally boil water for instant udon or something haha). I wonder if there is some non-toxic flameretardant paint or something we can put on that wall. Will do some googling!


    The pocket door is tiny, 23"!

  • ci_lantro
    2 years ago

    it doesn't look like there's any protection, access to a window, venting to the outdoors, nothing.


    Janie, you're looking at the wrong picture. There IS a window in the kids' room.

  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Hi Ci,

    Yes, I see that there is a window in "the kids room" but my concern still remains the same. I'm concerned for Heather that her pressurized wall is too close to the stove and that the pocket door isn't to code.

    If Heather can sell her coop producing the former dining room as a legal bedroom, that is huge $$ in NYC.

    In the same breath, Heather needs proper ventilation for her kitchen. At least a fire extinguisher.

    For NYC standards, Heather's kitchen is spacious and workable.

    With 3 little kids using the kitchen as an entrance/exit to their bedroom, maybe just putting in some white grout, and throwing down a big, cheerful rug may do the trick for the floor.

    Heather, have you thought of more of a grey/green/sage countertop? With maple being a warm color, Aunt Thelma is correct to go with a sage green.

    Would you consider moving the stove a few feet, putting in a brand new Ikea kitchen and marketing the dining room truly as bedroom?

    Or changing out any of the upper cabinet doors for a glass one with modern, fresh, in cabinet lighting?

  • Sammy
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I think you should be looking for a new apartment with at least three real bedrooms—heck, even two would be better!—instead of updating this kitchen. Somehow replacing granite countertops because you think they’re ugly and an, OMG, outdated tile floor doesn’t seem like it should be a priority when you have three children living on top of one another in a makeshift bedroom.

  • aprilneverends
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I'd change the counters for plain white-ish quartz..real marble is always real marble, gorgeous because it's real..marble look stone won't neccessarily be a very attractive point for buyers after it's been used everywhere for a decade. If yes-then indeed smaller veins..warmer colors. Both will work..but in a smaller kitchen, I'd try to simplify things.

    Quartz won't be totally heat resistant-unless it's tile or stainless steel or another surface-forgot-its-name which is expensive as hell. Quartz countertops take some heat..but don't be totaly carefree around them. No manufacturer will ever guarantee you that..

    You can go with light warm grayish counters too. Maybe off white? Very light gray? (very dark off white))

    The goal is to keep it all cohesive. To have a master plan so to say.

    Nothing wrong with that floor tile..yes, it would personally drive me a bit nuts because it's white.. I'd be cleaning non-stop..:) Otherwise it's normal porcelain tile. If you do want to introduce gray-don't put faux wood next to real deal wood..also, say, you wouldn't have real wood in the adjacent room..even then I wouldn't recommend gray wood.. real gray wood is not very common in nature, thus becomes less versatile choice. Harder to get right.

    You can go with sheet Vinyl, or Marmoleum..or you can install different tiles)) You can love it more than your current flooring, so if you think you'll enjoy it for two-three more year, and it's worth it-go for it. Otherwise I don't think it'll be a huge selling point with future buyers.

    You can decide to make a floor a bit more of a star, to go for a pattern..something's that's appropriate to the house of course. But again, only if you yourself will have time to enjoy it. I don't think the floors will defer buyers as they are now.

    Stainless steel is a great idea-reflective surfaces, kitchen will look slightly bigger too.

    Figure out backsplash after you decide on other elements.

    The cabinets are perfectly normal, and I agree with your contractor. Pity to paint them. You already plan on changing hardware-small change that might bring a big impact.

    And yes, I'd paint walls a deeper color..will depend on what stone you choose, etc, but I agree smth like greens or warm blues might look fab. Some wood tones really like colors next to them.

    I wouldn't take down any walls..say I wish our sellers wouldn't take down kitchen walls for us .I had to put them back:) Let every family decide on the layout that works for them, when the co-op is theirs. If they'll want to change it-they'll change it.

    To summarize..

    -cabinets are good, maybe new hardware as per your plan

    -floors are okay unless you despise them yourself, and want to redo for your own enjoyment..

    -light countertops

    -backsplash to be determined

    -new appliances

    -new paint

    that's it. perfectly normal kitchen.

    Don't stress out..it really is.

    Your granite and floors seem worse to you than they are-because currently they don't relate to each other enough..

    ETA: sorry for the typos..I'm sure there are some I missed yet:)

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Sammy we were on the market for 8 months (til december) and gave up. Market was atrocious and having to keep this place "show-ready" was a true hell. We're sticking around a couple more years for several reasons, and to be honest, LOVE our life here. We renovated the bathroom when we first purchased 5 years ago, and just replaced all the windows, next step improve the kitchen a bit.


    Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK we cannot list it as a true 2 bedroom because it's 7x9 and you need minimum 8' for that. So, pointless. But the family before us had walls up and took them down to sell. Then I had to pay to put them back up. Hoping to avoid this cycle and list it as is, maybe with virtual photos to show how it looks without the walls.


    Not sure if moving the stove is an option. And do these "temp" walls differ from real walls? isnt it all just sheet rock? Front burners are in line with the new wall, I really only use the left burner though. But I do appreciate the feedback from everyone about the wall, it had honestly never occurred to me (and not to a handful of contractors and other professionals who have done work here).


    Also, there is a double pocket door huge main entrance to the kids room, on the left of their room into the living room.



  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I'm going back and forth between white or white/grey quartz marble counters and a more concrete type of grey counter. White would probably help brighten it up better, but trying to match the white counter and white backsplash worries me. In our bathroom, the tub is not the same white hue as our subway tiles and it annoys me terribly (I was out of town with my kid while they were doing all the shopping and gut reno).

  • aprilneverends
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I think concrete gray is a bit too cold a color for your cabinets..Might be a bit too dark too.

    you'll do a fine job with white plus white..if you decide on largely white counters, after all..("white" is a huge umbrella of course for many shades..)just takes time. Taking samples, looking at them in your place in your light..Then everything does take time, so..

  • jhmarie
    2 years ago

    Here is a warm wood kitchen idea book - maybe you will be inspired. It has new as well as older, refreshed wood kitchens:


    https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/75202366/list/wood-kitchens

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    jhmarie that link is SO helpful, thank you!!!!!

  • eld6161
    2 years ago

    We had the same situation in my DD's co-op. We ordered a special fire proof piece of metal made especially for kitchens. Her kitchen is all on one wall and this metal had to be installed on a cabinet.

  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK
    2 years ago

    Heather,

    In your new stove/oven operational manual detail instruction...how far away from a wall does it say it should be?

  • 3pinktrees
    2 years ago

    The kitchen jhmarie linked to is so pretty. Would you consider going with white appliances like the photo? A unique white fridge would help lighten the space more than a stainless would.

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    after a closer look, the building's wall next to the oven is concrete, so that's "fireproof" and probably why it is ok and up to code to put the oven there. taking down that small section of the pressurized wall might be the best move, could put in a large sliding barn door kinda thing to be able to close it off at night maybe. Could also help with bringing in more light and circulation to the kitchen by opening it up more again. will talk to super today and see which would be safer, that or adding some sort of fireproof paneling. i'm horrified this never occurred to us or anyone before, thank you all!

  • artistsharonva
    2 years ago

    Since mentioning may sell a couple of years, gather info in your area to determine what renovations if any will improve the value of your home.

    About the stove. Get the model # & check it's installation guidelines.

    When selling a home there will probably be a home inspection. Get ahead of the game & get a home inspection now to get a list of things that may need fixing to help sell. They may bring up stove location or not.

    It won't be $ wasted because when you sell & they redo a home inspection, you will know what's reasonable or not when buyer makes offers & requests.

    You can also get a home appraiser or Realtor who can give you an appraisal as is & what renovations will add value to home for resale.

    Information is power.

  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK
    2 years ago

    Good Morning, Heather!

    Great idea!

    If you create (at least) a 32 inch wide opening and add a sliding/barn door or something, maybe even some type of glass, that would bring in more light, add a substantial backdrop to your kitchen with a burst of color, make the room far more safer for 3 little kids, etc.

    The kids could even put stickers on "their side" of the door.

    Is the pocket door typically left open? Or closed at bedtime?

  • PRO
    BeverlyFLADeziner
    2 years ago


    Paint the walls a greige that complements the counters

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Hey guys I wanted to post a quick update, we had new appliances installed yesterday and while I love them, I feel the counters look even more mismatched now, do you agree? I think we're going to proceed with replacing with either a white/grey marblish quartz or a polished concrete type look. I have the new handles. Backsplash TBD after new counters are up.


    Also, thanks for the all of the heads up about the stove location. I followed up with Whirlpool about our new stove, it only requires 2" clearance on the sides of the burners, so at 6" we're good there with the walls. I also followed up with the contractor who put the pressurized walls up and they use metal frames and drywall that is not classified as combustible (but of course not fireproof either), so, overall it seems to be to code and not the horrific deathtrap some were worried about. I do have an ABC classified fire extinguisher, as well.


  • scottie mom
    2 years ago

    Glad things are working out. Your photos didn’t post though. I’d be interested to see how it looks!

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago



  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago


    hate these counters even more with the stainless steel appliances haha!! i think next step is new counters, and see if that is alright with the cabinets, may have to paint them in the end but hopefully not. thinking a grey (place i went to today had remnants of pentaquartz avalon that would work for our size) with white backsplash and grey grout to match the counter? worried it'll be to blendy of the grey counters and appliances though. god my eye for this sucks!!

  • Molly D.
    2 years ago

    Nice- just need paint now and rug. I think the white walls highlight your counter- too much contrast. Just need the paint experts to chime in.

  • Val B
    2 years ago
    Hi! I’m in NYC here. I don’t think replacing the door with a glass door is a good idea. Though it would bring light into the kitchen, I’m sure the poster won’t want the light from the kitchen going into the bedroom when the kids are sleeping. I think the new appliances look good. I would replace the countertops with a warm white counter and install a tile backsplash and call it a day. Be careful to choose a color that works well with the cabinets and existing floor.
  • J D
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    In addition to backsplash and flooring, I’d fill the space above the upper cabinets and the ceiling with molding that matches your cabinet stain and wood type etc. I'd also DEFINITELY fill the space above the fridge and the bottom of the upper cabinets. There should only be a 2" gap here, but right now it's a huge gap. It cheapens the kitchen IMO. I'm sure you could find a contractor that could match the wood and make a panel to cover the open space. This panel will easily be removable if future owners get larger fridge. This panel will make the cabinets look more custom-made for the space. Does your new fridge jut out as much as your old fridge (is it much deeper than the cabinets)? Also do you have under cabinet lighting (EDIT: I see you do...does it work well/is it functional?)? What's your ceiling lighting situation? Lighting can change the way something looks...rooms can look like different spaces based on what lighting is being used! Another important thing...is there only one available above counter duplex (am I correct that it's a duplex outlet and not a fourplex?)? If it were me, I'd have an electrician convert this duplex outlet into a fourplex (this cannot be done once backsplash is installed). This is a pretty simple conversion, so I do not think it would cost too much.

  • violetsnapdragon
    2 years ago

    The only thing that jumps out at me is the floor--those 99 cent ubiquitous Home Depot floor tiles. Otherwise, I have no criticism of any other aspects of the kitchen.

  • violetsnapdragon
    2 years ago

    The only thing that jumps out at me is the floor--those 99 cent ubiquitous Home Depot floor tiles. Otherwise, I have no criticism of any other aspects of the kitchen.

  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    It's finally done!!!!!! HOORAH!!! Counters, appliances, backsplash for under $5k! Full blog post with embedded video here!



  • Heather
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I will add that i love our new (MSI quartz arctic white) counters but man do they mark up, especially with metal stuff, SO annoying!! any tricks for cleaning products that won't hurt it? my dad suggested (really gross but works well for small stuff) nose grease LOL!! i've tried olive oil but doesn't seem to have the same effect.

  • Molly D.
    2 years ago

    Nice! Really freshened up the space!

    Heather thanked Molly D.
  • jhmarie
    2 years ago

    I have not had problems with metal marks on my quartz. My first go to cleaner (after a wet dish rag and Dawn) is a spritz of rubbing alcohol. I keep a little spray bottle with rubbing alcohol in it by my sink. That will disinfect without the worry of bleach.


    I once thought I had a stain and was surprised because for so long I had no problems with stains and my usual cleaning methods did not work. I tried a small amount of Comet - rubbed gently and rinsed it off thoroughly - stain was gone and countertop looked fine. Bleach is not recommended and Comet has bleach, but I used sparingly and made sure to rinse well.

    Heather thanked jhmarie