Kitchen Update- The Quartz is In, We Have Paint, & What We Did to that Awkward Space Beneath the Bar

Hey, guys! Kelley Nan here (in case you forgot about me haha). I’ve learned a lot over the past few weeks but probably the most evident and surprising is that I couldn’t have anticipated that cracks in our granite countertops would ultimately lead to 4045920 subsequent decisions. While I am taking on more than I initially thought, the purpose and point of the makeover has remained in tact – brightening and updating our traditional kitchen while keeping the same cream colored cabinets and backsplash. So, I’ve been here but just not here. The perk of getting to make these decisions while “on the clock” is not lost on me –  I know most people don’t have the luxury of scrolling through website after website for hours on end, hunting for barstools. But between juggling projects, I haven’t made time for a new blog post in about a week. I hope that in the end, the time I’ve put into each decision pays off, comes together, and can serve as a collection of ideas for all of you facing similar challenges. Today, I’m giving some updates (all the major stuff is done!), and sharing what’s next for our transitional cream kitchen makeover.

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Because I’m not gutting our kitchen or doing a totally insane renovation, I’ve decided to save the bulk of the kitchen views for the end of the project when I’m ready for the full reveal. If you are an email subscriber, you’ve already caught a peek of the countertops and hardware against the cream cabinets and butler’s pantry. If you aren’t an email subscriber, be sure to sign up at the bottom of this email to get the perks, sneak peeks, and regular updates moving forward. I don’t have an exact date for the reveal just yet but it will likely be the end of September.

The Countertops

So… what’s been happening over here? Almost two weeks ago, Atlanta Stone Creations came out, ripped out my old granite, and installed the most gorgeous quartz. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that day unfold in my stories 😉

getting rid of granite countertops

I was shocked by how quickly they removed the old, and how beautifully they installed the new. They even fixed mess-ups (unknowingly made by my builder) as they went along. For those who have asked and didn’t tune into stories, Jason (Operations Manager of Atlanta Stone Creations) immediately identified why the granite around my stovetop cracked. The cabinetry wasn’t level and one side was slightly lower, leaving a gap underneath the cooktop. The builder never added any shims to level it out and the weight made it crack over time. I know this isn’t that uncommon but I was also surprised to see the boxes that were found in the deadspace once the countertops were removed, left by the builder. And, the crumbly caulk at the edge where the builder had mixed the grout and caulk. Ok, I’ll stop now but the longer the day went on, the more annoyed I was with our builder and the more thankful I was to have the quality team I had to fabricate and prepare the countertops, install them, and fix the mistakes from the builder along the way.

Brightening up a cream kitchen with a more modern look

One question I was asked by a reader was if Atlanta Stone Creations would have to remove my first row of backsplash tile to install the quartz. They didn’t! They actually cut it in some areas to level it and when they finished, it looked like nothing had changed. My carpenter (for another kitchen project) was beyond impressed at how seamless everything was. I’ll be sharing the countertops in more detail in later posts, along with the process, what to look for, etc., but for now, just know that we are 100% in love with what we went with (Soprano by LG Viatera) and they compliment our cream cabinets perfectly.

Switching granite countertops for quartz to brighten the kitchen

I spent one full day last week changing out all the pulls on our cabinets and drawers. Again, if you are an email subscriber, you’ve already caught a better glimpse than the grainy, shadowy iPhone photo below. You can find the Amerock Glacio pulls HERE, in several finishes (mine are gunmetal).

The Paint

When I wasn’t screwing in new hardware, I was driving back and forth to the paint stores and throwing samples up on my wall. Believe it or not, as days went by, by the time I finished, my entire kitchen looked like this. This little area is child’s play compared to the craziness that happened on every speck of wall between the kitchen and breakfast nook. By Thursday of last week, I had reached a whole new level of analysis paralysis and the 25 samples (literally) were all impeding my ability to see each individual sample. Nothing seemed right. I wanted something that would brighten the space, was light but not too light, was warm but not brown, and didn’t have crazy undertones. Y’all, my kitchen is window-less and dark. And I knew that whichever color I chose would look different in every part of the kitchen but I didn’t want anything to end up looking bleh. Finding something that wasn’t too stark against my cabinets (or making them appear more yellow) and didn’t make my backsplash even more pronounced was such a chore. I made the mistake of having Sherwin Williams color match a Benjamin Moore color, and then after I was considering it, I had Benjamin Moore mix it. Totally different shades. I mixed paints and played chemist one afternoon. And I spent more money on samples than I did on the actual paint. But y’all- I DID IT! I finally picked a color.

Warm gray paint swatch samples

Ultimately, I decided to go for Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore. It’s a pale, warm gray and after painting it in swatches all over our kitchen (and crossing my fingers and toes), it ended up being such a great shade against our cream cabinets. I actually took the ceiling to 50% Edgecomb Gray in contractor-grade flat ceiling paint, and went with Regal Select in Matte on the walls. It does vary shades throughout the day  (our only windows are north-facing, on the far side, in the breakfast nook) but it maintains a nice light greige creaminess. Sometimes more gray, sometimes more beige, and sometimes, it even almost looks like the color of our cabinets.

Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore- a warm, light gray, perfect for a kitchen with shadows and low light

Best light warm gray- Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- TEST TEST TEST. And then TEST SOME MORE. I do not advise ending up like I did with 25 shades on your wall, but once you narrow it down, make sure you test your finalists in different light throughout the space. I had every intention of doing an entire post on the paint I was considering but… I won’t be. Seriously, this decision wrecked me and I’m not even sure of the colors and tones I was looking at. That being said, you can see how the Edgecomb gray almost mimicks the tone of the cabinets- a little brighter up top and a little cooler and more gray in the shadows below.

Mixing edgecomb gray by bm with cream kitchen cabinets

I have a space between the door and the stationery desk where I wanted to add a piece of art – nothing with too much contrast but more contrast than my former medallions that were filling the space. I found (what I hope to be) the perfect piece to blend in some of the warm and cool colors throughout the room; Dave likes it because it looks like a foggy river parting autumn trees. (Ok- full disclosure- that was actually my description to him, trying to get him on board haha) At 36″x36″, it’s fairly large; it also won’t be here likely until mid-September. It is on sale right now (HERE) which is why I decided to go ahead and grab it.

Pottery Barn warm art for kitchen

Beneath the Bar

One of my “might-as-well-go-ahead-and-do-it” projects was coming up with a solution for underneath the bar area. It was flat, boring drywall that was scuffed to heck (and not scrubbable). It looked terrible. I originally thought of adding picture frame molding below the bar only and finishing with a glossy paint, but then thought the corner joining the great room wall may look awkward without something finishing it off. The countertop ledge facing the great room was too shallow to add a short balluster-style column so I decided to go ahead and wrap the picture frame molding around to the side of the great room. That entire wall is so basic, bare, and spansive and it’s always bothered me. I had a column added for the molding to run into, which stretches up the entire side of the kitchen cut out. Darryl Ponquinette of Ponquinette Fine Woodworks (our carpenter who also crafted my office built-ins and did the molding in our master bedroom) was able to match our other columns perfectly, just by a quick Facetime meeting and a photo.

How to make drywall look like a built-in piece of furniture under the kitchen bar

Here’s a peek of the after, painted in Creamy by Sherwin Williams (our house’s trim color)…

Adding picture frame molding to make a kitchen bar look built in

I’m obsessed. It frames the kitchen beautifully and makes it all look custom and built in. I’ll be sharing wide-angle views in the reveal but was shocked at how many of you were messaging me about having the same challenge. So, I wanted to give a little preview as to what I decided to do.

Wall molding and trim ideas to frame in the kitchen with picture frame molding and a column- Creamy by Sherwin Williams

The Kitchen Things

And yep, our bar stools (that I wrote about HERE) arrived a few days ago! The seat is slightly taller than our previous (which Dave loves) and I’ve continued my poor habit of working all day from the bar without any problem, so I guess they’re pretty comfortable, too 😉 A lot of sites have sold out of them but I found them, still available HERE.

Loom barstool in sand for the kitchen bar

We had some ugly faux wood blinds on the door leading to the deck so I decided to replace those with the Select Blinds shades I used in my bedroom  – same color (Bali White), same style- cordless with no liner. These things are addicting and I know it’s going to improve the current situation 110%. Here is a look back at what they look like in our bedroom, on the door leading to our screened in porch.

Woven shades for deck door

But. There is one thing I’ve been nervous to share. One of those things that makes me cringe a little bit (I don’t know why- I’m sure it’s happened to most of us). I never want to seem frivolous or out of touch but sometimes, situations change and we just have to adapt. Remember how I installed new lantern pendants above the bar earlier this year? In my defense, I had no clue then that our countertops would crack, leading to a kitchen makeover. I still love the lights but the champagne finish was intended to lighten the dark granite. Once we switched our countertops and painted, they just seemed heavy – like they were weighing down the space. Setting up the barstools confirmed it. So, I had a decision to make – do I live with them because I got them not that long ago? Or, do I suck it up, and replace them to be happier with my overall end result? What do you think I did? I’ve come full circle. Before we even replaced our pendants the first time, I wanted the Visual Comfort Goodman pendants. The price stung and the lighting I went with was a fraction of the cost of the metal Goodman pendants I was eyeing. After going cross-eyed, looking for lighting options over the past week, I re-visited the Goodman pendants. While I think the metal (there are a few finish options) would have been too heavy for the look I was going for, they also had a paper shade version (still expensive but considerably less than the metal shades). I looked at every retailer who carried them (the pricing was the same) before I lucked out and found one in the size, shade material, and chain finish I was looking for on eBay, listed as an “Open Box” special for almost half price. I ordered that one and then placed my second order HERE. I went for the paper shade, medium-sized, in the antique nickel finish. They’re on their way and I’m stoked.

Traditional Modern Cone Kitchen Pendants for Over the Bar

Finding lanterns that tied in the kitchen and breakfast nook and coordinated with my beaded chandelier may have been a tougher task than picking barstools but I think I’m gonna love ’em.

Edgecomb gray is the perfect pale, warm gray for a cream kitchen

I’m adding a row to my travel gallery wall, am excited for some new kitchen accessorizing, and am also 90% sure this mirror is going to be ordered within the next week. I need something a little more streamlined and modern in my nook and this infinity mirror (at 48″) would make a huge statement and brighten everything up even more. It comes in three colors but I’m going for the black frame.

Large round black frame infinity mirror in 48 inches by CB2

Other Updates

So, bear with me, guys! We’re getting there but playing the waiting game for a little bit. As far as other projects? Our new sofas should be here next week! (See which I chose HERE). And remember my four potential powder room designs (HERE)? Well, that space has been put on hold indefinitely after unexpectedly jumping into living room and kitchen projects, but I did have my contractor go ahead and add molding to the walls while he was here for the kitchen. No kidding, this room will remain unpainted, just like this for a while to come. But, he travels from south Atlanta so when he does come, he likes to put in a full day’s worth of projects (good for me and him) so we went ahead and got started in here. Here’s a little peek at where we’re starting.

Powder Room wall ideas with picture frame molding

And if you’re annoyed that it will be a little time before my kitchen is ready to share (haha), I have a fix for you! My friend Kris at Driven by Decor has been working on her kitchen for literally, the past year. She has an older home in Connecticut and has been working on a full kitchen renovation (we’re talkin’ jack-hammering floors and taking out windows!) in which she’s faced so many challenges along the way – and as of this past week, she finally finished and shared her full reveal! I was lucky enough to go along with her and watch her carefully weigh and consider each and every decision and the result is insane. She was confined to 7 1/2′ ceilings and still made her new space look like a million bucks. You guys, this is what her kitchen looked like when she purchased her home…

You have GOT to see what the after looks like – it’s seriously before/after Hall of Fame worthy. Check out her full reveal HERE.

To catch my upcoming kitchen updates, reveal, and all the projects along the way, subscribe to receive my emails below.

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  1. 8.14.18
    Gretchen Thomas said:

    I must first say, it is amazing what I don’t know about paint color. You are certainly a marvel! Can’t believe how busy you have been. One thing has certainly led to another. I loved your before kitchen, but can’t believe the changes you have made. I love all I see thus far. Can’t wait to see the full reveal!

    • 8.16.18

      Nan, I”m just excited for us to pull Thanksgiving dinner together in here! The sink will be a game changer!

  2. 8.14.18

    LOVING all the changes Kelley!!! Everything is looking amazing!! The detail trim work is beautiful. So happy for you guys…❤️ xx

    • 8.16.18

      Kristy, thank you so much and thank you for taking the time to visit with me! You know better than most how a project ends up adding onto itself haha

  3. 8.14.18
    Jan said:

    What is the paint color used on your cabinets? The wall color blends so nicely!

    • 8.16.18

      Jan, I wish I knew the cabinet color (it would have made choosing a wall color much simpler haha) but unfortunately, I don’t :/

  4. 8.14.18

    LOVE seeing the new pics of the paint color – you nailed it! Definitely with hours of slapping samples on the wall! And you know how I feel about those barstools – perfect! Can’t wait to see all of the final details come together. And thank you so much for the sweet words about my own renovation and for all of your helpful input along the way! XOXO

    • 8.16.18

      Kris, yours is a showpiece! Just wait- I’m sure I’ll have some other decision I need you to help me make in the next few days haha

  5. 8.15.18
    Trudy Chambers said:

    Kelley, you never disappoint! Progress looks amazing so far . Can’t wait to see it all complete.!

    • 8.16.18

      Trudy, THANK YOU! I’m excited to get to the end, too!

  6. 8.15.18
    Wendy said:

    As I am currently in the process of painting every room in our house I can totally relate to the 25 plus paint sample wall?. It’s looking great already and I can’t wait to see the final reveal.

    • 8.16.18

      Wendy, oh my goodness, isn’t it crazy?! Best of luck on your project- sounds like a big one!

  7. 8.15.18
    Susan Carr said:

    Hey Kell! I love everything you have done and can’t wait to see the finished product. I really love love the new counter tops!

    • 8.16.18

      Susan, thank you! We are loving it so far but are ready to be done!

  8. 8.15.18

    I knew that bar was going to look awesome!!!! I really like the built in look it adds to your kitchen and your going to love the elimination of scuff marks , I promise ? Looking great my friend ?

    • 8.16.18

      Jen, thank you!! And it ended up evolving into a project we couldn’t take on ourselves but so far, so good and no scuff marks! haha

  9. 8.15.18
    Jenny McGuire said:

    What brand of wall oven did you install?
    Are you happy with it?

    • 8.16.18

      Hi, Jenny! We have a Whirlpool double oven. We have been 100% satisfied! Our fridge (not a whirlpool) – well, that’s a different story haha

  10. 8.17.18
    rm said:

    Hey Kelley,
    What size did you order for the new pendants? I love those and I know they’ll look great!

    • 8.21.18

      Hi, Robin! I did the medium- they are 18″ wide 😉

  11. 8.18.18
    Katie said:

    Looks wonderful! May I ask if you bought your Bali white shades through the select blinds website? Have you liked any similar styles on Amazon? I’m looking for the exact shade for our kitchen door. Thanks much!

    • 8.29.18

      Katie, I did – and, I LOVE THEM! I haven’t researched any through Amazon. Honestly, after getting them in our guest room a couple years ago, they are my go-to now. The quality is amazing and they are beautiful.

  12. 8.30.18
    Lindsay said:

    I’m nursing a summer cold, 94 ° outside, and scrolling Pinterest. What pops up but your blog and I suddenly am looking at Christmas House Tour 2015. (Just beautiful!) I am gathering ideas for a soon-to-be powder room reno and so here I am. I’ve signed on to your blog and know I’ll enjoy all that pops out of your creative head!

    • 9.11.18

      Oh my goodness, Lindsay. Thank you so much for making your way over. I absolutely can not wait for this years festivities. Hoping you have a wonderful week, and cheers to a fun upcoming holiday season!

  13. 9.12.18
    Amanda said:

    Great article! I like this article so much and got some great ideas to update my kitchen. Thanks and keep sharing.

  14. 9.13.18
    Louise said:

    You have inspired me so much! Your article and kitchen update came at such a great time. Im picking colors for my walls and painting my cabinets. I’m stuck between edgecomb gray and revere pewter for the walls. The cabinets I thought I’d do Swiss coffee white, but a friend said SW Greek Villa? So now I’m not sure!
    Also I was so inspired by your island project, I decided to have my molding guy picture frame out my stucco and though it’s not painted, it’s going to look beautiful when it’s done! Thank you for all your ideas! You’re my favorite!

    • 9.14.18

      Louise, how exciting for you!! Test test test, (but don’t go into analysis paralysis like I did haha). For walls, they will likely show darker when they’re all painted so if you are going between a lighter and darker, I would go for the lighter. Best of luck and I hope it turns out like everything you’ve dreamed! xoxo

  15. 11.15.18
    Alison said:

    I am anxious to see the reveal! I have cream cabinets like yours. I also have a beige backsplash like yours except different shape. I have a dark expresso or rather ebony island. The countertops are gray, white, and black. Together it looks good. I have been obsessed with choosing a Greige paint color to tie everything in. I tried Revere Pewter but it was too dark than what I wanted but then again I got the sample st Home Depot so it could have been how they made it. Tomorrow I am getting Edgecomb at Benjamin Moore and not messing around with other paint stores. Thank you for putting my mind at ease with Edgecomb. I am getting a sample and hoping it works! I have an open layout room so I wanted a light greige color. I loved the after pics of under the bar when you painted it creamy- wow wow wow

  16. 1.2.19
    Pamela said:

    Going to start a kitchen remodel this year and love everything you have done with your update in the kitchen. You said in an email you didn’t know the color of your cabinets but can you tell me the color you painted the bar once the moulding was done. It looks pretty close to your kitchen cabinets.

    Thank You!

  17. 6.17.21
    Kelly harrington said:

    Your kitchen reno is beautiful. I’m having a tract home built and was given several choices for countertops. I was given very little time to make my choices. After waffling all over the place, I landed on LG Clarino, which looks similar to the Soprano you chose. I’m concerned, because it appears to me that there is a greenish hue in some of the Clarino slabs. Your thoughts on the Clarino quartz? I’m also going between Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray and Benjamin Moore Pale Oak for the wall colors. My cabinet color looks very similar to Benjamin Moore River Reflection. I actually feel kind of sick because I don’t know if this is actually going to go together. ugh. Your thoughts?

    • 6.18.21

      Hi Kelly, Thank you for taking the time to stop by! My best advice is for you to consult with your supplier to see if they can provide you with a sample so that you can make an informed decision on your wall colors. Paint looks so different on walls depending on the amount of light and the time of day. Only you can determine the look that you love for your kitchen. Congratulations on your new home and have fun while it comes together for you!

  18. 2.13.22
    Alison said:

    Hi. I too have the cream cabinets in the kitchen & am very happy with it. It’s a Ryan Home so our walls are contractor color which is nice bc it doesn’t make cabinets look yellow. I wanted to re-paint as the walls need it & was thinking the Edgecomb gray. I too was not wanting to find a color too dark or something that will make the cabinets yellow, I have an open floor plan. If I go this color I think I will paint the whole main house that color. How do you still like it?

    • 2.14.22

      Alison, Thank you for taking the time to stop by! We are actually in the midst of making some changes to our kitchen cabinets and paint colors. After we installed new black splash tile, the cream cabinets definitely look yellow. Hopefully, I will have more to share soon, but in the meantime, here’s a link to our plan.