Gray Matter

As we’ve shared, we’ve decided to paint the lower kitchen cabinets a medium grey.  Pewter Tankard by Sherwin Williams because it is warm without being beige.

Originally, we thought we’d paint all the cabinets white, just to keep everything light and airy.  Then, we examined the oak cabinets and realized how much grime was actually on the doors.  Partially due to the lack of pulls, but probably more because of two small boys.  So, we decided to paint the lower cabinets grey to disguise the dirt.  We’re also adding sleek drawer pulls.

After installing the face framing, filling the nail holes and joints and sanding smooth I gave everything a coat of primer.

Don’t worry if your primer doesn’t have 100% opaque coverage.  The point is to cover bare material for best paint adhesion and stain blocking.

Then, I finally started painting the cabinets.  For a super durable painted finish, we decided to use Acry-Shield paint by Columbia Paints in an eggshell finish.

Ben used this on exterior doors at the apartment and it has held up wonderfully.  Something super durable also costs more than normal latex paint, and this stuff ain’t cheap at $52.39 per gallon.  We decided to off set the cost by painting a coat of the cheaper Glidden before the Acry-Shield.  That, and we still have two gallons of Glidden paint left over from the drawers.

We considered spraying the cabinets before installing, but decided against it because we wanted to add the face framing after for the smoothest finish possible.  And  we should be able to touch up the rolled finish down the road without it being obvious.

For the record, I love the way the gray cabinets and red toned wood counters look together.  Haa-taa.

Even though we opted for a rolled finish, we still wanted it to look as professional as possible.  To get the smoothest finish, I worked in small sections using a good quality paint brush (we prefer Purdy) to get along the edge of the counter tops and the box detailing.  Right after using the brush, I follow up with a foam roller barely covered in paint.  Glidden paint goes on nicely and has a reasonably long working window.

After painting a coat of cheaper paint as a ‘tinted primer’ I started with the good stuff.  Actually, I tried, but it had a layer of gunk at the bottom that I couldn’t get to mix in.

I took a trip to the paint store and they replaced my old gallon of paint with a new, clump free can.  Back at home, I painted a thin and even coat of Acry-Shield.  It was a slight learning curve.  The paint is slightly thicker and dries a littler faster.  To counter this, I worked in smaller sections and made sure to go over the brushed areas well with the roller.

The color matched the Glidden paint perfectly, too.

Here’s what our kitchen currently looks like:

Sorry for the off colored photos.  It gets dark far too early for my liking these days.

You can see our stash of tile and sconces.

I’m glad to be done with that part of painting, but there’s still tons more in my future.  Gotta paint all the drawer and door fronts once they’ve been built (20 drawers and 8 cabinet doors).  And I’ll have to paint the giant refrigerator case.

28 thoughts on “Gray Matter

    1. Hi Anne, Thanks so much! It is kind of strange with no upper cabinets. For now, our plates and glasses and other things that usually are in an upper are in a drawer. Which means we still have stuff in the guest bedroom closet. Oh, and about the side of the fridge, we have considered chalkboard paint, but I think we might have a better solution. If I can get Ben on board. 😉


  1. I’m liking how things are turning out here! I love the grey. Please come talk my husband into letting me knock down our upper cabinets so we can have a peninsula 🙂

  2. Wow those cabinets look awesome! That’s a great color. I’ve seen grey cabinets a few times in some magazines, but never seen anyone use it. Love it.

    For cabinet paint, I’ve also used Satin Impervo by Benjamin Moore, probably very similar to what you’re using. I know it comes in a water and an oil based version. Can’t wait to see how these look totally completed!

    1. Hey Nora! Thanks so much! We can’t wait to show you more but we’ll have to because we haven’t even started building the drawer fronts. Ha.

      Hi Monica W, Aww, thanks! Already on my way to talk to your hubs about it. 😉

      Hi Justine! Usually we love crisp white, but with dirty little (or big) hands, we thought gray is the best option. Can’t wait to show you more. 🙂

      Hey John, Thanks! We really love the color. It’s definitely gray, but warmer than most. Though still not into the ‘greige’ territory. I’ve heard great things about Ben Moore, too. The main reason we chose this is because Ben has used it before and loved it.

      Thanks all!

  3. You sure do know how to make a girl feel like a slacker! The pace that y’all have kept on this project is mind-boggling! It looks AMAZING!

    You’ve shamed me into trying to wrap up the board and batten in my addition tonight. Sigh. Thanks a lot. 😉

    1. Hey Stephanie! I’m so sorry! Just remember, we only have one kitchen, so we need things to progress faster than any other room. Don’t feel like a slacker. I feel like I’ve been slacking in every other area in my life since we’ve started the kitchen. You just see all of that. Or maybe you do by lack of posts about anything else. Ha.

      Hi Ashley, Thanks so much! I think the warm gray and white will look great together and the warm wood tones only help. 🙂

  4. Wow – I LOVE it! I was a little skeptical of gray cabinets because I’m such a huge fan of white…but wow! The combo of the counter top and paint is breathtaking. Are you suuuuure you don’t want to fly out to LA and re-do my kitchen for me?

  5. Your kitchen is coming along beautifully. It’s going to be gorgeous when it’s completed. Love the gray cabinets. Aren’t you afraid that the cheaper Glidden paint may compromise the great paint job you have completed with the more expense paint?

    1. Wow! Thanks, everyone!

      Emily, Warm, rich wood tones can really make a room. 🙂

      Hi Julie, Thanks!! I can understand how you may have been skeptical about the gray. I think if we chose a cooler toned gray it wouldn’t work with the warm counters, but because they’re both warm, it pairs wonderfully. If we ever get a chance to go to LA, we’ll definitely work on your kitchen. Or, we could help you design it from the comfort of our own homes. We’re happy to give our opinions if you send pictures. 🙂

      Hey Jill! I’m glad you’re finding some inspiration. That’s one of the best compliments we can ever get.

      Hi Meilssa, Thanks! But we still have so much more to do. 🙂

      Hi Gabbi! Aww, thanks! We’ll definitely keep up the work, let’s hope it’s good. 😉

      Hey Monique, Thanks so much! Ben and I talked about using the Glidden as an under coat and we didn’t really see how it could cause damage. Both paints are an eggshell/satin finish and the Glidden was applied only a day before the other paint. Because everything was so recent, we figured it would be much like sanding down something old to paint it. Does that make sense? We’ll see though. Fingers crossed nothing happens. 🙂


  6. This is why we are long lost sister bff blog friends. I just told Bryan I want to paint our lower cabinets dark gray and a lighter white tone on top and came here to show him your pretty counters and LOOK, gray cabinets! Maybe I read it on here before and it stuck, or maybe we just have great similar taste, lol! 🙂

    LOVE how it’s all looking and coming together. You have me talking kitchens with Bryan daily and we will probably have to wait a year to recover from the lower level, lol.


    1. Hi Michelle, It seems the painting is never ending! And, last night while Ben sanded the cracks we filled in the counters, he accidentally hit the cabinet, so that’s a touch up which I’ll have to sand, feather out, then paint the entire face just to make sure it all looks the same. Gah. Never ending!

      Hey Jen! Yes, definitely long lost sister/bff blog friends! Even though the cabinets are still freshly painted, we love the color so far. It’s warm, hides marks, and pairs wonderfully with the wood counters. Thanks so much for your encouragement. Let me know when kitchen planning starts. 😀 If you could keep your current appliances for a while after redoing the kitchen, it might not be too bad. Especially if you’re keeping your current cabinets… I’m getting excited for you and you’re not even starting!

      Hi Kristen! Thanks, lady! You know, it does seem like it’s going quickly, doesn’t it? Really though, we started tearing out the soffit on October 8, so it has already been 42 days for actual kitchen demo/rebuilding work.

      Hey Sally HP, I think so! 😉 Yeah, we’re definitely going with what we like best because we’re the ones living with it. So glad you love it because we do too!


  7. Love it!! I have the same before kitchen that you had. I will be painting those. I don’t like the arched upper doors, it gives a country feel. We’ll see how it turns out. I love the color gray you chose. I’ve been contemplating for weeks now on kitchen colors and decided on gray bottom instead of an all white kitchen for the same reason, 3 kids. I’m unsure of what to do about the uppers, a white or a cream. I’ve read that creams tend to yellow. I would love to see your upper cabinets, when will you be posting? I was thinking light gray walls, what do you have? Thanks for the inspirations.

    1. Hi Hannah,

      Thanks so much! Yeah, the arched doors doesn’t float my boat, but if it’s not in the budget, painting is definitely better than the ugly oak. haha. We love the gray for the lowers, especially with the kids. To us, the color is perfet and I highly recommend it. As for the uppers, we’re painting ours the same color as the trim in our house (Vermont Cream by Behr). Don’t be fooled by the Cream title, though. It is nearly completely whie, just two or three drops of yellow. I like it a little better than a stark white because it’s just a smidge warmer feeling. I would stay away from a cream color if you don’t like the country feel. I think cream cabinetry just looks dingy. Of course, that’s just my opinion. We’re not going to have a lot of wall space, but we’re going to carry the same paint color from our dining room and stair well around in the kitchen.

      Hope that helps, but if you have questions, we’re here!

  8. you got balls! i love painted gray cabinets for the kitchen but we didn’t have the guts nor confidence to do it ourselves so we hired a professional painter to spray them for a smooth finish. it’s good to know that quality rollers can create the same finish. we also have wood (upper cabinets) with the gray (lower cabinets) and it’s a fantastic look. my question for you is how is the paint holding up? I found that scratches and scoffs are fairly apparent (they are lighter than the paint) and I’m not sure if its because of the paint (BM IronClad).. or the color.. or its normal???? Our girls love to help us cook so the lower cabinets gets plenty of use. Would love to hear from you… we spent bucks for a good job and we didn’t expect this.

    1. Hi Irene,

      Yep, the foam rollers show almost no evidence of roller marks. Just take your time and make sure you don’t have drips or lines and you’re good. We chose an industrial-type paint, which has held up pretty well so far. From what I understand, the paint takes about 2 weeks to fully cure, but we do have a few little scratches and nicks. I don’t know when thy’re from or if it’s from daily use or ongoing construction, though. I think part of the problem is the darker paint, and that’s just the nature of a painted surface. That’s part of the reason we chose to roller paint ourselves, because we can easily touch up the paint if we do have issues. I know I’ll repaint at least some of the cabinets once we’re done with the construction. We’ve accidentally hit the cabinets with a sander in a few places and there are a few places I want to touch up cracks and the screw pop.

      Maybe you could get a super fine artists brush too touch up the scratches??

      Hope this helps a little. So sorry you’re having issues with your painted cabinets!


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