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Midwest Kitchen That's Gorgeous in Gray

Elegant but comfortable, this Minnesota kitchen serves an active family with grace and style.

Written by Heidi Pearson
  • Werner Straube

    Can a kitchen feel elegant and refined—yet still have a hip, fun spirit to suit an active young family? Interior designer Carrie Rodman answered the question with a resounding yes, partnering with colleagues Andrea Surtel and Kristy Conlin to create this luxurious—and lively—example in Minnesota.

    “The homeowners have two children, and the kitchen area opens to a backyard pool, a basketball court, and a veranda,” Rodman says. As a result, the kitchen has a gravitational pull for the kids and their friends, their parents’ friends, and a large extended family. “This space sees a lot of traffic,” Rodman says with a smile.

    Bright pops of orange energize this elegant gray kitchen. Painted white, the coffered ceiling maintains an airy look.

    Field editor: Heidi Pearson
    Photography: Werner Straube

    Gray paint colors: #0553 Techline and #0534 Subtle Shadow by Hirshfield’s.
    Countertops: Statuario White Carrara marble.
    Table: Gustav with figure-8 apron by Hickory Chair Furniture Co. (painted after purchase).
    Chandelier over table: Bling collection, Robert Abbey Lighting. 

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    Furniture-Style Cabinetry

    On the surface, the room is a classic beauty. The countertops are Carrara marble, and the cabinetry is exquisitely detailed. But several aesthetic choices—including a durable gray paint for the cabinets—give the decor an unexpected lift. 

    Curved muntins distinguish this new built-in sideboard. Curved feet and a walnut-stained “counter” complete the furniture-style treatment.

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    Gray Kitchen

    “A gray kitchen has the classic, enduring feel of a white kitchen with a slightly dialed-up ‘wow’ factor,” Rodman says. Here, it’s also practical. “This project is a remodel, and we were able to save some of the cabinets by adding molding and painting them,” Rodman continues. “Before, they had a dark stain, and the entire kitchen looked sad.”

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    Range Area

    To find the perfect gray for the project, Rodman’s team finished large sample boards and put them in the room to gauge how the changing light and the surrounding materials would impact the color.

    Turned legs flank the range, echoing details from the island. A stainless-steel appliance suite blends with the gray cabinets while adding shine.

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    Pretty Backsplash

    Easy to clean, this glazed porcelain backsplash is both practical and pretty. Pilasters and corbels support the range hood.

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    Curves Ahead

    Curved panels embellish the painted range hood.

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    Breakfast Station

    A built-in coffeemaker anchors a breakfast station just to the left of the refrigerator.

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    Kitchen Island

    “There are myriad shades of gray,” Rodman says. “Some are cool, some warm. Some are beige-ish, but others are greenish, and some lean toward blue or lavender.” In the end, they chose two slightly different shades for the cabinets. “We made the island one shade darker,” Rodman says. “It feels less imposing.”

    The kitchen borrows views and light from the south-facing breakfast bay. Matching “tables” at both ends of the large island help keep it from feeling too bulky.

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    Island Illumination

    A triple-light chandelier in polished nickel with pleated linen shades illuminates the island. The fixture’s X-details continue a motif of crisscrossing curves.

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    Sink Detail

    The high-arch faucet includes a pull-down sprayer. A push-button disposal adds convenience.

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    Lovely Legs

    A curved skirt and turned legs add furniture-inspired style to both ends of the island.

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    Dining Area

    Gray is a neutral backdrop, so just about anything works as an accent color, especially brights. Here, it’s an energizing poppy-orange, seen on the stools at the island and the throw pillows in the breakfast bay, where a painted table cozies up to built-in window bench. A contemporary chandelier adds lively contrast. “It’s the little touches that can make kitchens real standouts,” Conlin says.

    Gray kitchens may be au courant, but that’s not the reasoning here. “We advise clients to select colors they personally adore,” Conlin says, “instead of following trends.” Bright, fresh, and fit for a crowd, this kitchen will serve its owners for many years to come.

    An ornate, painted table cozies up to a built-in bench in the breakfast bay. A modern chandelier adds lively contrast.

  • Tria Giovan