Several years ago, my husband and I embarked on a mission to give our outdated oak kitchen cabinets a fresh new look. The raised panel oak cabinets, made with contractor-grade materials, had been installed in our 1980s Northeastern home. After years of wear, they were due for a facelift.

In hopes of modernizing our kitchen on a budget, we decided to take matters into our own hands and paint the cabinets ourselves. As we researched kitchen makeover inspiration, one perfect, warm gray color emerged as the clear favorite. In my opinion, it earned the title of The Best Grey Kitchen Cabinet Paint Color.

long view of the grey cabinets with off white counters, sink, dishwasher, window and decor.

However, I won’t reveal the winner just yet! First, let me share with you how we turned our outdated oak kitchen cabinets into a stylish and modern space with a fresh coat of grey paint. To provide a complete picture of the transformation – and to emphasize just how much it was needed – take a look at our “before” photo.

Our old outdated cabinets. they are stock oak cabinets.

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Elevating Our Kitchen Remodel with Custom Touches

We began by extending our cabinets to the ceiling through the addition of crown molding. This single step had a significant impact on enhancing the overall appearance of our kitchen cabinets. I strongly recommend considering the option of extending or installing your cabinets to the ceiling, as it instantly transforms standard cabinets into a custom, high-end look. Furthermore, this approach creates the illusion of higher ceilings. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post where I’ll provide a detailed guide on how we extended our cabinets.

a top row of cabinets showing the extension to the ceiling with crown molding.

Our makeover included a new tile floor since our old tiles had many cracks. We also installed a kitchen island and additional cabinets, which were transformed from old bathroom vanities. Additionally, we switched out some light fixtures.

New countertops were not in the budget, as we planned to replace our laminate counters in a few more years. With our current off-white counters in mind, we chose a warm grey, which seemed like the perfect fit. It didn’t clash but actually complemented them, giving our kitchen that cozy, welcoming feel we were aiming for. A year later we were able to install a butcher block counter on the “new-to-us” kitchen island. The warm wood tones beautifully connect with our choice of grey cabinets, creating a harmonious design.

kitchen island with a butcher block counter.

How We Chose the Perfect Grey Paint for Our Cabinets

When we envisioned the vibe we hoped to create in our newly refreshed kitchen, the words “cozy” and “welcoming” kept coming to mind. We wanted our kitchen, which is very much the heart of our home, to feel like a place where our family and friends could let go of the stress of the day, kick off their shoes (figuratively!), and feel comfy and at home.

Something about Willow Creek from Benjamin Moore seemed like the perfect way to help us achieve this goal. While some greys can read modern or sleek, warmer tones like Willow Creek have this inherently comforting look and feel to them. When we painted our cabinets this enveloping shade of grey, it seemed to soften the entire room. Suddenly our smallish kitchen took on a wonderfully inviting vibe that just wraps you up in coziness. The gray added a subtle depth without darkening the space, creating a soothing, welcoming backdrop for gathering around our kitchen island for a home-cooked meal or just chatting over cups of coffee.

We immediately noticed that the grey cabinets almost give the kitchen a huggable feel, if that makes any sense! It’s like the grey color warms up the bones of the space, dialing down any harshness or sterility. Our kitchen went from a place we cooked into a place we nested in. The Willow Creek grey gives us that wonderful feeling of being happily at home whenever we walk into our kitchen. That’s the “cozy factor” we were dreaming of!) As we delved into the world of kitchen transformations, one color emerged as a clear favorite, ultimately in my opinion, earning its title as The Best Grey Kitchen Cabinet Paint Color: Benjamin Moore’s “Willow Creek.”

a straight on view of the cabinets in willow creek, a warm grey tone.

About Willow Creek From Benjamin Moore

Willow Creek, also known as ‘Willow Creek 1648,’ is from the Benjamin Moore Classics® Collection. This paint shade falls within the realm of relatively warm medium greys, boasting an LRV (Light Reflectance Value) of 34.48. LRV serves as a crucial measurement in the world of design, often utilized by professionals such as architects and interior designers. It quantifies the percentage of light reflected from a surface, with values spanning from 0 to 100, where 100 represents pure white, and 0 signifies absolute black.

The choice of this beautiful warm grey, Willow Creek, was deliberate as it harmoniously complements our off-white countertops and the natural wood tones in our kitchen. I must admit that every time I showcase my kitchen on my social media channels, I receive numerous comments and DMs inquiring about the captivating color of my kitchen cabinets!”

a side view of the cabinets and counter tops.

Using Benjamin Moore Paint Strips for Coordinated Color Selection

When I’m in the process of selecting coordinating colors, my starting point often involves considering paint colors from the same paint strip. The benefit of choosing colors from a Benjamin Moore strip lies in its ability to guarantee cohesiveness within your color palette. This is because all the colors on a single strip share a common foundation of universal tints. It’s worth noting, though, that despite this shared base, the formula and tint base for each specific color on that strip will vary. This subtle variation provides you with the opportunity to achieve a harmonious and well-coordinated appearance in your space, all while maintaining the flexibility to pick shades that align with your personal preferences and requirements. This approach is precisely how I arrived at the choice of Benjamin Moore – Bear Creek (a dark gray) for our kitchen island.

Elevating Style with Brushed Nickel Hardware

We decided on brushed nickel round cabinet knobs and drawer pulls to bring some extra flair to our kitchen makeover. These little details not only coordinate beautifully with our chic grey cabinets but also seamlessly blend in with our stainless steel appliances. It’s like they were made for each other! The brushed nickel adds a touch of sophistication and a hint of rustic charm, creating a cohesive and stylish look throughout the kitchen. Plus, they’re a breeze to clean, which is a win-win in any busy kitchen!

a close up of the cabinets showing the brushed nickel pulls.

Why You Should Consider Grey for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Grey, with its various shades and tones, possesses an intriguing quality that has always captivated us. It functions as a versatile bridge between classic and modern styles, making it a popular choice for those seeking an approachable charm and a color that can create a kitchen atmosphere that’s both relaxed and visually appealing. Beyond its aesthetic qualities, it’s also worth noting that grey cabinets tend to be easier to maintain compared to white cabinets!

HGTV even highlights the significance of grey, describing charcoal gray as the “new neutral.” This versatile color is an excellent alternative to beige, cream, or taupe, as it seamlessly coordinates with virtually every shade in the spectrum.

holding the paint strip up against the cabinets.

Step-by-step Guide for Choosing the Right Grey

Choosing the right grey paint can be a daunting task due to the numerous shades and undertones available. Greys can be warm with a brown undertone, these are often considered “greige” i.e. a combination of grey and beige. Grey can also be cool with blue undertones. Being able to see this difference is important when choosing which grey to go with for your home. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you select the perfect grey paint for your cabinets or walls:

  1. Determine the Room’s Purpose: Consider the room where you’ll be using grey paint. Different shades of grey can create various moods and atmospheres. Lighter greys tend to make rooms feel open and airy, while darker greys can create a cozier, more intimate ambiance.
  2. Consider Lighting: Assess the natural and artificial lighting in the room. Grey paints can appear differently under various lighting conditions. Test paint samples in the actual room to see how they look during different times of the day.
  3. Identify Undertones: Greys often have undertones of other colors, such as blue, green, purple, or brown. Determine the undertone you prefer, and make sure it complements your decor and the room’s purpose. Warm undertones (like beige or brown) can make a room feel cozy, while cool undertones (like blue or green) can create a more serene atmosphere.
  4. Use Samplize: Samplize has revolutionized my approach to selecting paint colors. Instead of purchasing individual paint samples, I now opt for a selection of colors I’m contemplating through Samplize. With their innovative peel-and-stick samples, the process of choosing paint colors has become effortless. What’s particularly advantageous is that these samples are generously sized, arrive quickly, are crafted from actual paint, sourced from the majority of major paint companies, and can be used again for future projects. Click here to order Benjamin Moore’s Willow Creek.
  5. Evaluate Paint Samples: Whether you use Samplize of paint swatches assess how they look in different lighting conditions, both during the day and at night. This will help you choose a shade that consistently works well. I like to place the paint sample on the wall, furniture, or cabinets and observe it throughout the day, paying attention to how it interacts with natural light and artificial lighting. This helps me ensure that the chosen grey shade maintains its appeal and complements the overall aesthetics of the space, no matter the time or lighting conditions.
  6. Compare Swatches: Compare the Samplize or painted swatches against your furniture, decor, and any other elements in the room. Pay attention to how the paint interacts with these elements and how it makes you feel. We did this with our off-white countertops.
  7. Consider the Finish: Decide on the finish you want, such as matte, eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss. The finish can affect how the color appears and how durable the paint is.
  8. Seek Advice: Consult with a professional if you’re unsure about which shade to choose. Interior designers or paint store experts can provide valuable insights and recommendations.
  9. Trust Your Instincts: Ultimately, choose the grey paint that resonates with you the most and suits your vision for the room. Trust your instincts, as your personal taste and preferences play a significant role in the final decision.

Remember that selecting the right grey paint may take some time and experimentation, but the effort is worth it to achieve the desired look and atmosphere in your space.

samplize peel and stick paint samples.

Samplize Peel and Stick paint samples.

While Benjamin Moore’s Willow Creek is my top recommendation for a gray cabinet color, I understand different shades appeal to different tastes. There are many popular gray paint options on the market that may also suit your style. Below is a list of 8 alternate gray paint colors for cabinets from leading brands like Sherwin-Williams and Behr. I’ve included their undertones as well – whether they lean warm, neutral or cool.

Explore these options to see if any resonate with your vision:

  1. Agreeable Gray 7029 by Sherwin-Williams – Warm
  2. Repose Gray SW 7015 by Sherwin-Williams – Warm
  3. Platinum — PPU26-11 by Behr – Cool
  4. Revere Pewter HC-172 by Benjamin Moore – Warm
  5. Dorian Gray SW 7017 by Sherwin-Williams – Warm
  6. Gray Owl 1237-60 by Benjamin Moore – Cool
  7. Gratifying Gray — DC-008 – Behr – Warm
  8. Cool Silver Chain 1472 by Benjamin Moore- Cool

While researching gray paint options, we compiled quite an extensive list of potential color contenders. It was helpful to explore various gray shades and undertones to find the right fit for our kitchen. Ultimately, despite the many beautiful grey paint colors available, Willow Creek still emerged as our top choice. This versatile, warm gray won us over thanks to its natural yet stylish appearance. Willow Creek delivered the cozy and inviting vibe we hoped to achieve. After all our exploration, this color remains the perfect grey for our needs.

Choosing the Right Type of Paint for Durability

Recognizing the significant task of painting our cabinets, we were determined to get it right from the outset. Furthermore, our household was bustling with activity at the time, with most of the kids at home, and our kitchen serving as a hub for four hungry guys! In light of this, we sought guidance from our local Benjamin Moore paint expert at the hardware store to ensure we selected the best paint for the job. With their expert assistance, we opted for Benjamin Moore Advance paint in a satin finish. Advance Paint, part of the ADVANCE® line, is renowned for its premium quality and waterborne alkyd composition, offering a comprehensive range of durable, high-end finishes tailored for doors, trim, and cabinetry. This choice with its exceptional leveling qualities was highly recommended for our cabinet painting project.

open cans of paint of various colors.

Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Grey Kitchen Looking Fresh

  1. Regular Cleaning Routine: Establish a consistent cleaning schedule for your kitchen. Wipe down countertops, cabinets, and appliances regularly to remove dust, dirt, and grease. Pay special attention to areas around the stove and sink.
  2. Avoid Harsh Cleaners: Grey kitchen surfaces are best cleaned with mild, non-abrasive cleaners. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers that can damage the finish of cabinets.
  3. Preventing Stains and Spills: Be proactive in preventing stains by immediately wiping up spills and splatters. This includes food, beverages, and cooking oils. The quicker you address them, the less likely they are to leave permanent marks.
  4. Periodic Cabinet Inspection: Periodically inspect your cabinets for any signs of wear or damage, such as chipped paint or loose hardware. Promptly address any issues to prevent further deterioration.
  5. Updating Hardware: Consider updating cabinet hardware like knobs and pulls every few years to give your kitchen a fresh look. You can even paint your existing cabinet hardware. This is a cost-effective way to refresh the space without a full renovation.
  6. Touch-Up Paint as Needed: Keep a small supply of the grey paint used on your cabinets for touch-ups. Over time, minor scuffs and scratches may occur. Touching up these areas can keep your cabinets looking brand new. In fact, this is on my to-do list, especially since we will be finally getting around to new countertops and backsplash soon!

By following these maintenance tips, you can extend the life and beauty of your grey kitchen, keeping it fresh and inviting for years to come.

a coffee bar for spring over the willow creek cabinets.

Frequently Asked Questions about Grey Paint for Cabinets

What type of paint finish is best for kitchen cabinets?

For kitchen cabinets, it’s often recommended to use a durable finish like satin or semi-gloss. These finishes are easy to clean and resist moisture and stains, making them ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens.

Are there any specific color combinations that work well with grey cabinets?

Grey cabinets are versatile and can be paired with various colors. Consider neutral wall color shades like warm white, beige, or greige for a classic look. For a bold contrast, the perfect choice is navy blue, deep green, or even a pop of vibrant color in your kitchen’s decor.

Can I change the hardware on my grey kitchen cabinets to update the look?

Yes, changing cabinet hardware is a simple and cost-effective way to update the look of your gray cabinets. Brushed nickel, pewter, chrome, or matte black hardware is a great choice to enhance the style of your cabinets. Also brushed brass hardware is having a moment. Pair it with a warm grey for a stunning combination.

Are there any emerging trends in grey kitchen cabinet colors for 2023 and beyond?

While grey remains a popular choice, emerging trends include using warm tones with brown undertones, as well as experimenting with darker shades for a cozy, dramatic kitchen ambiance. Mixing this neutral color with wood elements is also gaining popularity for a timeless look and inviting kitchen design.

Should I use different shades of grey for the upper cabinets and lower cabinets, or can I use the same color for both?

The choice between using the same or different grey shades for upper and lower kitchen cabinets depends on your design goals. Using the same shade creates a cohesive and balanced look, giving your kitchen a harmonious appearance. However, if you’re looking to add visual interest and a pop of color to your kitchen, consider using a lighter grey for upper cabinets and a slightly darker shade for lower cabinets. This modern look can create a subtle contrast that adds dimension to your kitchen design while maintaining an overall grey color scheme. Ultimately, the decision comes down to your personal preferences and the style you want to achieve in your own home.

a full view of the sweep of cabinets and counter top with a variety of decor and a coffee maker.

In this The Best Grey Kitchen Cabinet Paint Colors post we’ve covered some fantastic options for choosing the best grey paint for cabinets as well as coordinating island colors. Benjamin Moore’s Willow Creek is an excellent choice and has certainly stood out as a top paint color, thanks to its ability to complement various design styles. This versatile color has stood the test of time as one of the best grey cabinetry colors around!

However, don’t stop here! There’s a world of grey tones waiting to be explored. From cool, tranquil blues to warm, inviting browns, the possibilities are endless. Your kitchen’s personality is unique, and there’s a perfect grey out there to match it. The best colors are the ones you love!

Remember, the transformative power of grey pairings in kitchen design is undeniable. They can bring a sense of sophistication, modernity, or cozy charm to your cooking space, depending on your preferences.

So, take your time, experiment with samples, and trust your instincts. The perfect grey is out there, ready to breathe new life into your kitchen and make it a reflection of your style and personality.

Thank you for visiting the blog today! Be sure to check out my post on an easy kitchen Island centerpiece idea, and for more ideas for decorating your kitchen island visit my complete guide to stylishly decorating your kitchen island post.

Happy painting friends!

my signature, a drawing of me holding a coffee cup that says Create.

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