Keeping it cool in the kitchen: Modern grey kitchen updates in our midcentury home

See the before and after of our kitchen updates! Open shelves, cool greys and warm wood tones, and of course, all the plants!

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since we finished our kitchen updates. I’m thankful that renovation amnesia doesn’t take too long to kick in. During our time here, we updated the home in phases and we’ve lived through a few rounds of projects.

Let’s just say I’m glad that we won’t have to live through any major renovations or updates at the next house. Except, for that clawfoot tub situation I’m trying to manifest. *Hint hint, honey.*

Carte Blanche in Old Town Scottsdale

When we first bought our Old Town Scottsdale home, we were excited about the location. To be honest, that was about it. Of course, we were excited about a new chapter, and we have grown to love this little house over the years. Although in really good shape for a house built in 1955, the inside left a lot to be desired.


It was just so….. plain.

I was happy to have a blank slate, but we weren’t able to make the fun upgrades right away. We decided to go with more dire projects like replacing the floors, and moving the water heater closet and washer and dryer out of the dining room.

To save space, we installed a tankless water heater. Then we had an opening cut through the wall of the garage so that we could access the stacked washer and dryer from there.

Keeping the washer and dryer hookup in the same spot, we walled the washer and dryer “cubby” off in the dining room. Eventually, this created the little nook in our dining room. Never got around to doing anything with that little space.

Laying the foundation for our kitchen updates

After we were moved in, we didn’t even know where to begin in terms of renovating. We decided to take the beginnings of our kitchen transformation into our own hands. First, we ripped the top row of cabinets off.

I had a vengeance against all the cabinets. It made us feel claustrophobic. There were SO. MANY.


Apparently, our home was a rental prior to our purchase. I can see how all the cabinets were a benefit for storage purposes, but it was total overkill in my opinion. So we got to work, ripping the cabinets right off the wall. They were torn up from our not-so-handy work and we lived with them like that for a while.

Funny enough, this was the start of us living without a microwave. We had one mounted under the top row of cabinets, got rid of it, and just never got another one. I’m happy to report that after four years of not having one, our new house has a microwave. Ha!

Eventually, we tired of seeing our busted torn up walls, so what did we do? We took part of the wall down to create an opening. That should do it!

That wall totally bothered me. I didn’t want an open floorplan, but this wall shut the kitchen and living room off from one another. Again, this wall housed cabinets, which no one had time for anymore. Remember?

Opening up the wall allowed us to create a little bar top. That change held us over for the time being.

Details on our kitchen updates

We had been in our home for about 3 years by the time we started our big kitchen remodel. We were long overdue! In a nutshell, here’s what we did to our kitchen:

  • Added new window
  • Refinished existing kitchen cabinets
  • Cabinet hardware
  • Countertops
  • Vent hood
  • Tile
  • Shelves installed
  • Farm sink and faucet

New window and vent hood

The corner in our kitchen was so dull. We decided we needed to add a new window.

Another funny thing we discovered, is that there used to be a window in that general area at some point. In one of the previous expansions, it must have been closed up.

From the back porch, you could the outline of the old window and it was patched up with blocks. I think it was covered to accommodate ALL. THE. CABINETS.

The decision to add a new window was a good one. The kitchen corner went from being one of my least favorite spots to a place I spend a lot of time in these days.

Plus, it’s so nice to be able to see the kids playing out back if we’re cooking or doing the never-ending pile of dishes.

Side note, remember playing outside guys? This summer has been brutal.

Back to the kitchen updates though, we decided to go with a modern vent hood for looks and functionality. There’s not much to say about it other than it does what it’s supposed to, haha.

It does have a digital display and a strong fan for a lower price point. Here’s the one we got.

Cabinets and countertops

After attempting to paint a cabinet on my own, and miserably failing, we decided to have them professionally done.

Our contractor took them off-site to his carpenter who painted them with a laquer. When it came time to install, he brought sticky paint strips to install on the trim.

We wound up painting the cabinets with a color mixed to be as close to Sherwin Williams’ Repose Grey as possible. This color is on our interior walls, on the external trim and block wall of our home. You could say we’re fans of this color. ?

Eventually, we installed some plain black cabinet hardware that I got off Amazon.

The countertops, however, turned out lovely. We decided to go with a butcher block countertop for our island (for lack of a better word) and a sparkly “White Galaxy” quartz for the main counters.

Originally, we wanted to do butcher block all around, but our contractor pointed out that we didn’t want to do wood around a sink. At least, it’s not ideal. I thought he had a point.

We had our butcher block countertop finished with a clear sealant before we installed them. I feel like that’s helped to keep them looking great for the past few years. We used the same butcher block on our little bartop too.

Tiles and shelves

Going for a monochromatic vibe in the kitchen, we chose a grey tile to go atop of the grey cabinets.

We went with a shiny ceramic tile all the way up to the ceiling, which I love because the tile reflects light and it feels brighter in the kitchen. I think it really adds a “wow factor.”

As for the open shelving that I completely adore, I think they are what give our kitchen character.

The same carpenter who finished our cabinets made and installed the shelves. I can’t recall exactly what wood he used, but he chose it to match the butcher block countertop. He did a really great job.

Kitchen sink and faucet

Second to the open shelves, our kitchen sink is the co-star of the show. It’s the perfect size for washing little baby butts and small dogs too, haha.

When we first started planning our kitchen out, I had no clue about the difference between a farm or apron or undermount or whatever sink. I just knew I wanted a big one.

We chose this Nel Lusso 33 inch single-bowl stainless steel farmhouse sink. I absolutely love it so much, it’s huge!

To accommodate this sink, the cabinets beneath had to be retrofitted. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of, if you’re looking into switching up your sink in an older home.

For the faucet, I went down a rabbit-hole for weeks trying to find the perfect one. Once you narrow down a style and color, they all start to sort of look the same.

After mulling it over for far too long, I chose a Kraus “Bolden” matte black with stainless steel faucet. By far, one of my favorite purchases ever… it’s a stunner of a faucet! The retractable hose feature is the best part.

Before and during photos of kitchen updates

Of course, a remodel doesn’t happen overnight. In our case, it took almost four years for us to finish the work.

I’m glad we got to enjoy it for about a year before a new family takes ownership. Here are some before and during photos of the process!

Crazy how far this little house has come, huh? In less than two weeks we’ll hand the keys over to the new owners, and I’m having all the feels.

I can feel good about leaving this house though because our new house….is sooooo good. Not to mention, it’s safe to say we’ve had a lot of time in this house the last 6 months.

Can’t wait to share more about our new house though! In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram for more day-to-day updates and peeks of our new house as we get settled!

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