Kitchen Painting

All White Now

It had been a while since I’d made a major mistake in my decorating (although I’m fully aware that you may feel differently!). I’m feeling very ‘meh’ about the white walls in the kitchen. I love all-white rooms, but I’m afraid the look may not be for me. And Brandon likes it even less than I do.

All-White Kitchen

I took the kids with me to a local paint store (big ups to Paulson’s Paint in Forest Park — my favorite) to pick up a few testers. There are so many subtle variations between shades of white, and I wanted to get it right.


I went with ‘Moonlight White’ (on the bottom) over ‘White Dove,’ both Benjamin Moore, because the latter seemed to be too perfect a match for the trim (Behr’s ‘Swiss Coffee’). Now that the whole room has been painted with two coats, the cool undertone up against the creamy cabinets and trim call to mind the pallor of primer.

Testing White Paint

I could be judging it prematurely. The next step will be to sew the curtains (which I have been putting off because I’m not sure how I want to make them yet), and then I’ll reassess. The kitchen is very white right now, but the full plan was to hang the new curtains and paint the lower cabinets. I’ll do it virtually in Photoshop first, so I can see if I like the look or not. I’m a little worried that it might start to feel a bit kindergarten-esque with the bright color I had in mind.

Paint Color Shopping List

The above paint color shopping list was for testers. ‘November Rain’ was another option to look into if I didn’t like white on the walls, so that shows you the confidence I had going into this.

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  • Amie
    January 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    It will look lovely once the curtains are there to bring colour. Have faith in your first choice.

  • Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms
    January 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I think it is smart to hold off on repainting until you bring in a few more elements. Although I totally understand about the too white thing. I’m sort of feeling it on this end, but I know you will turn out a knock out!

  • mandy @ this girl's life
    January 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I think white walls can look really fresh and lovely with bold colors in the accessories/curtains. Give it a little more time and maybe it will grow on you! :)

  • Kelly @ A Swell Place to Dwell
    January 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Hang in there, I think it will look good with the curtains, and painted cabinets.

  • Amanda W.
    January 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I love some of the white rooms I’ve seen on pinterest, but I couldn’t do it in my own home. I think I’d get bored with it quickly. Your post on Friday was surprising to me bc I thought you’d be the same way lol.

    However, I agree with everyone else. I wouldn’t give up on it yet! Bring in the curtain and paint to see if it all comes together. If it doesn’t, well, just repaint :)

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

      I think I am the same way, but I wanted to try. It’s so easy to just repaint the walls if it turns out I don’t like the white after giving it a try for a while.

  • Cora Potter
    January 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Maybe look for something warmer for the lower cabinets? The (medical scrubs) green against the black counters is going to make it look like a laboratory- which is a look I really like, but isn’t for everyone.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I’m excited to see all the other elements brought in. At least it’s only walls and you can repaint. I’d be more worried about painting cabinets and not liking it.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

      Exactly. Walls? Big deal. Messing up the cabinets? Yikes.

  • jenn
    January 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Just echoing everyone else I’m afraid, but I think you will make it all work out fine! Your taste is FLAWLESS, and we (your fans and blog-friends)have faith in it and you. Sew and Hang your curtains and some art and then give yourself time to absorb it…if you don’t like it, repaint! Good luck…I like it so far!

  • Catherine
    January 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I think it will look awesome, especially if you paint the lower cabinets. Last year, we transformed our country kitchen (red walls and oak cabinets), by having the cabinets painted white and the walls a light gray-blue. It really opened things up, and I love it. The thing about paint (on the walls, at least), is that you can always paint over it. Best of luck! :)

  • Jane
    January 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I am a Photoshop try-it-before-I-completely-change-course kind of girl! If you haven’t already I say take it to a virtual reality!! At least then you can either feel reaffirmed about your original choice or feel confident it was the wrong choice! Good luck. I would be thoroughly surprised if any design choice you made didn’t not turn out to be perfection!!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Photoshop is the plan for figuring out the cabinet color, once I get the curtains up.

  • The Lazy Fair
    January 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I’m always in love with white walls in pictures, but the reality is a bit sterile for my tastes. I think it’s because white photographs so well.

    • Krista
      January 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      I agree with The Lazy Fair. I love it when I see it but when I try it I can’t live with it.

  • Giulia
    January 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    you remember the post on YHL about not quitting in the middle and giving it a bit more time? I think because you don’t have everything put together yet that you are feeling this way – plus it is a big step for you to go white. I think it will look great once you’re done.

    • Amie
      January 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

      What she said! Sherry and John prove that you just have to push past the second guessing to really see what you were going after, and it working!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

      I know. I’ve been through it enough times to trust the process, but I’ve also been through it enough times to know when it’s in the process of derailing!

  • AnnW
    January 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Patience. Get everything else finished first, then re-evaluate. You can always change the walls. Not too much of the walls will show anyway. Ann

  • Jillian
    January 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    If you decide you don’t like it but still want the pale look, maybe just a very pale gray? I think just enough pigment to make the moldings and cabinets pop out would be a good alternative. I can’t wait to see the new curtains and painted lower cabinets.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:07 am

      ‘November Rain’ is a very pale gray, so that was the idea if I didn’t like all the white.

  • Dianne
    January 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Hold off on any decisions until you are further along in your re-decorating. Once you get all your pieces in place, you may feel differently. If not, it’s only paint.

    Keep going!!!!!

  • Abigail
    January 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I have Moonlight White in most of my rooms and am quite happy with it, but of course it is a very personal thing. One thing I found out after an incident in my kitchen is that it is the same color as spackle. Very handy. :)

  • Amber @ Wills Casa
    January 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I love white rooms in pictures too, but I’m not sure I could live with them. It bet once the cabinets are painted and things stop looking SO white, you will absolutely love the space. If not it’s only paint and time right? Yeah that argument doesn’t work with me either!

  • Jaimie
    January 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I’ve been considering painting my master bedroom white (currently green). I love a lot of white on white rooms, but I have no idea how to do it myself, so I haven’t committed to it. We have ultra white trim, and it’s hard to tell how a different shade of white will read next to it. I hate off-whites, especially the yellow toned ones.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Yeah, they can either look nice and creamy, or just dingy.

  • Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife
    January 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I can relate to not loving a paint color once it’s up.

    I think with all white/white on white, it’s really the accessories that make it. So maybe the curtains and some other colorful touches might change your mind! And worse come to worse, you can repaint it! = )

  • Margot
    January 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I like November rain a lot in my house but I also agree with everyone else. You should finish the room before deciding to repaint. And moonlight white is a great white!

  • karen
    January 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    i think it might be the wrong white – you need something that complements the creamy yellow in the swiss coffee – and the cool moonlight looks stark and makes the cabinets look less than crisp. if you want a change i agree with bm classic gray – which will complement a range of color and be classic neutral yet modern and chic. november rain will go more green.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:09 am

      You may be right. I’m OK with November Rain looking a little more green though — I like that.

  • Allison
    January 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Sherwin Williams Windowpane for your lower cabinets? Just did all of our bathrooms in it….

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Ooh, that’s a pretty color. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • jessibee
    January 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I think that part of the reason you might be second guessing this route is that your kitchen is heavy on top cabinets. The example photos that you showed in your previous post and most of the examples I have seen of the white walls/painted lower cabinets are very light on top cabinets. The white on white may not be giving you the airiness you expected because of that. I think if your base cabinet color is high enough contrast it could change the game quite a bit.
    White is a tricky business and sometimes takes a bit of trial and error to get right. I know because I love white. I have white as my base and I add color through accessories so it can totally work and look great but I swear it takes so much more effort.
    I’ll echo everyone before me and say that you have excellent taste so if anyone can do this you can!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Thanks. You have a good point about the uppers, but I’ve also seen all-white kitchens that have them, and I still like the look. I’m trying to let it grow on me, but I’m still not so sure it’s for me.

  • Andrea Peterson
    January 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Ooooooooh, I love, love, LOVE the curtain fabric and the idea of coloured base cabinets… I definitely think you should wait till you get the curtains up to decide. I think it has the potential to be awesome.

  • Amelia @ House Pretty
    January 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I think you’re smart to wait – sometimes a big change takes time to grow on you!

  • Audrey
    January 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I see what you’re saying about the kindergarten possibility. That said, I think going red on the base cabinets would be safer that the greens in the fabric you chose. And, I must say, it’s a great fabric! Whatever you choose, it will be awesome or it will be fixable!

  • Judy
    January 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I love white but have a problem with white walls often feeling too sterile in real life (as opposed to great pictures) for me. But I think color on the lower cabinets will change the way the whole room feels, so as many have already said, I would wait it out until other things are in place. I do remember reading that white is difficult in rooms that don’t get a lot of natural light, or rooms that get only northern light. Supposedly those lighting situations need a warmer color, like cream with a yellow undertone, versus pure white.
    I know it’s a pain for you if you have to change it, but this happens to me so often that I’m interested to see how you work it out in the end. :)

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Yes, lighting is a big factor, but the room does get a lot of light from the North, East, and South.

  • Kari
    January 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I too had a hankering for white when we repainted. Most of my house is now bM simply white which I love in all lights. Moonlight white was A consideration but didn’t look right on my wall. Little bit blue cast. Anyway for the kitchen I decided to go with edgecomb gray and it’s great. Warm yet light and goes well with the simply white trim and all the other white rooms that open up to it. If in the end you still can’t tolerate the white , look into that color. It’s neutral enough you could still do the darker lowers and have it all tie together. Email me if you want pics!

  • Elisabeth@YCCII
    January 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    How much natural light does the room get? If it’s not a bright room, the white will always look grey no matter what the curtains and cabinets are doing. The darker the room, the darker the color on the walls should be. Our house was painted entirely creamy white when we moved in, and I love it in all but two rooms that get the least amount of natural light. No doubt you’ll figure this out and the kitchen will be darling!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

      That’s the thing: the kitchen and the library are the two rooms that get the most light. (And of course I went super dark in the library… but I love it.)

  • Kim @ Yellow Brick Home
    January 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I love all white rooms in theory… but fear I’d have the same reaction as you if I ever did it. However, once you get those curtains up and those lower cabinets painted, it could look stunning!

    Here’s a great link about shades of white from K&O, with room photos to help visualize (that is, if you want to try a different white!):

  • jennifer@coffeeandcouch
    January 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Oh I feel your pain. The all-white rooms look so fabulous in magazines, but that’s because of perfect lighting and PhotoShop! I don’t think I could ever live with all white…I’d be itching to add colours.

  • MK
    January 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Seeing the colors on your tester list I’ll put in my two cents for White Mint by Sherwin Williams (SW 6441) IF you decide to paint. We just used it in our bathroom and it’s a very light, soft color. It can take on a green hue or blue hue depending on the time of day and amount of light. I can imagine it would be really pretty with the black counters and your curtain fabric!

  • monica
    January 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Nicole…after seeing your pictures and the paint chips I wanted to tell you I just completed a similar color scheme in my living room. After living in this house for 20 years I finally got the wall, trim and accent colors right. I mean so right that I love every time I walk in there! I loved it so much I plan on carrying this scheme through the whole house.
    The walls are “Sandpiper”, the baseboards, door and window trim is “picket fence” and the front door is “Bon Voyage”. All the colors are Martha Stewart’s line at Home Depot that I had mixed in Behr paint.
    I think “Sandpiper” is the perfect neutral. It doesn’t ever look pinkish or greenish or peachy to me. And it’s just beautiful with the white trim.
    PS. I’m all for quitting a project in the middle, when you know it’s wrong why torture yourself, just start over.

  • Jayne
    January 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Did anyone else think of the Guns N Roses song when they read the paint color was November Rain? Just me? Okay.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      The song was in my head for days. DAYS.

  • Kerry
    January 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Oh no, now I am scared. Moonlight White is the color I have just decided on for basically our entire living/dining/kitchen space. We have a small house, and these rooms are all open to each other. Hopefully we will see more contrast with our trim, which is Super White by BM (quite stark). I think your kitchen will look very different once you paint your lower cabinets. I am doing the same (Chelsea Gray by BM) and am hoping that will anchor all of the white.

  • Lisa
    January 7, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    I like your green knobs, and I think that fabric for the curtains will look fabulous. A very very soft color (more misty than pastel) is what I would choose for the bottom cabinets. A darker brighter color (maybe indigo/navy) would be a great way to ground those lowers. Even coral would work if that’s your thing. Play with it. With your great taste, its going to turn out beautiful.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      I do love coral, and was considering it.

  • Lisa
    January 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Yes, I thought of GnR too!

  • Erin
    January 8, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Ditto all those who said they love the look but not the reality of white rooms…I tend to gravitate towards rooms that have white walls but also white furniture, fixtures, accessories, etc. Otherwise it just feels like the walls were forgotten or maybe not allowed to be painted on. I am, however, really looking forward to seeing what color you choose for your cabinets, and how the whole room will turn out.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      I love white walls with white floors.

  • Brandon
    January 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Remember, 2142-60 won’t last forever. (Snake dances away.)

  • Kris
    January 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

    My bedroom in my last apartment was painted ‘November Rain’! I loved it. It’s the moodiest color – it can look like everything from khaki to beige to greenish to gray, depending on the light and what it’s next to…yet it’s still totally classic and subtle. So if you go that way, I think you’ll like it. :)

  • Robin Grey
    January 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I refuse to believe in design mistakes. They’re simply learning opportunities to get you to where you eventually need/want to be. Maybe you’ll change your mind about the white when your full vision is realized, maybe not. (I do side on the finish the ride before deciding team, btw.)
    After reading the aside in your first sentence, I sent you a silent, tsk tsk. I have to say, to ask you, not to give shout outs to the haters in your blog posts! This is your space to express yourself and chronicle your journey. Don’t give them real estate or even acknowledge them. Of course, a lot of us do that as a tool to sound humble, I know. There is no need for humility in your own personal design decisions, however. Too often people subscribe the idea that there are right or wrong decisions to be made in creative endeavors. There are not. People who say otherwise or negitively comment on someone else’s design style are trolls. I say all that to say, keep up the great work blogging. I love being along for the ride. You’re great! Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise.

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres
    January 8, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Isn’t it funny how we see things in magazines and on pinterest that we love, but then IRL they’re not for us? I’ve never gone full on white walls, but in the kitchen at our last house we had creamy walls and dark teal cabinets in our last house, and I loved it. I’m with everybody else: you need a complete picture to make a final decision. And if you ultimately decide white walls aren’t for you, lesson learned, right?

  • Wiggs
    January 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Speaking as the owner of a number of all-white spaces, I think the key is to mix in texture. If you’re going all-white, you can’t also be minimalist, or it looks clinical. In a kitchen, this means grabbing some white vases with interesting textures, choosing dish towels with cool weaves, finding white silk flowers (if you’re like me and you would kill real ones) to add some visual interest.

    The trouble with all-white is that it’s tough to do in small spaces, because you often don’t have room to make a little vignette of vessels/flowers on your counter. If that’s the case, then, yeah, maybe consider a different paint color. I know you have lots of good white stuff from the hutch in your dining room, though, so I bet you can make it work! Maybe trade out a cabinet door or two for one with a glass-front so you can have a pretty (and functional) storage display?

  • Lynn
    January 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I must say: your first post made me doubt my own plans, but only momentarily….I love white-on-white (and black-and-white) in blog posts and on Pinterest, but I love colour too much to take the plunge in my own home. My initial instinct (Little Greene’s Bone China Blue on the walls) for my white kitchen is the one I’ll go with. I also want a tonal flow from room to room, and that makes my decision even easier.
    If I had kitchen-curtain fabric as irresistible as yours, though, I might have been more adventurous!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      I’m sure it will be great. Part of the reason I’m doubting this choice is because I’m not really a tonal, subtle decorator. I like color! Pattern! Texture! Bring it on.

  • erica
    January 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I love white walls in pictures, but in a lot of homes I think it just makes it look too much like a rental, in that it looks like you can’t personalize it quite as much as you may want.
    Your picture looks nice though.
    I painted Winterfresh by Behr and loved how it is soft, bright, and sometimes blue, sometimes more green, depending on the lighting.
    Can’t wait to see how it turn out, though. The white may look great when you’ve added your other touches.

  • Zsuzsi
    January 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I am curious how it will look, but I am sure you will make something pretty again. I totally agree jessibee about the heavy upper cupboard.
    I am a big fan of white. I used it in my studio ( it with a little bit of pink. Since this is an attic room with plenty of light. It feels airy and fresh. Only one piece of really heavy furniture.

  • Shelley
    January 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it does look like it makes the cabinets look very creamy. For me I love the look of all white (in pictures only I guess, I haven’t had the guts to do it at home yet), when it’s really crisp. So maybe it’s the contrast of the walls and the cabinets with the cabinets ending up being too creamy that you’re not liking? I’d love to see some other angles of the kitchen, and am wondering if once it’s all done if it just might look amazing :) I do love when the upper and lower cabinets are two different colors. Good luck! I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Yes, the walls did make the cabinets look more creamy. Dingy, even? It’s not the best effect.

  • Bonnie
    January 9, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Choosing a paint colour can be hard and everyone makes mistakes! I’m not sure that I love the all white in the photo either, BUT I really appreciate you showing your possible mistake, or which is more likely the case, the initial reaction aftermath of painting :)

  • Holly
    January 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

    What color did you decide for your lower cabinets? I really love the fabric that you’ve chosen for your new curtains and you’ve got a lot of colors to work with in the fabric. I don’t want this to come across the wrong way (I mean it in the best way possible), but I think this is a prime example of maybe choosing your paint color last. But I also think you won’t know if you don’t try, which is what you’ve done. Once you’ve gotten your curtains sewn and your lowers painted, then re-evaluate your paint decision.

    • Making it Lovely
      January 9, 2013 at 9:57 am

      But I am choosing my paint color last! The paint color for the cabinets, that is. I’d much rather paint the wall and have to repaint, maybe deciding that I like my white cabinets as-is, then to make a mistake by painting the cabinets first.

      Once I have the new curtains up, I’ll “paint” the cabinets with Photoshop to see how I like the look. Then I’ll reevaluate the wall color.

      • Holly
        January 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        I gotcha. I read it as you were already sold on painting the lower cabinets, but it sounds like PS will help make up your mind whether you paint those – and then you’ll be able to decide on your walls. I love these types of projects when there are different elements to consider.

  • sandy
    January 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

    The pallor of primer will not be found in Behr Creamy White at Home Depot. It is a beautiful white. If you’re looking for a clean, crisp white, that would be Behr Ultra White; no blue. Another beautiful white is Princess Ivory, Behr. I have painted everything for about 40 years. I went to the whites and have experimented with them for the last 5 years. I even went back to a different color during that period. Finally, at 63 years of age, I’ve found the best; everything in different shades of white; summer, spring, winter and fall.

  • Carrie
    January 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I have come to the realization after two shades of white that as much as I love all white rooms in some houses they just don’t do it for me. Maybe it’s because I rented and lived with white walls so long and spent my teenage years in an off white room, I don’t know but it just feels sterile. My grandmother’s entire interior is white (although with stained trim) and it’s precious. I just can’t live without a little color!

  • Shoshana
    January 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    One of the (many) reasons you’re awesome, Nicole? You’re not afraid to be human in your blog. That’s it. I know your kitchen will turn out great.

  • Becki
    January 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I have to have color too! I painted my lowers a lovely shade of green about 6 months ago and get nothing but positive comments on it. Go bold! Ps. Love your blog-

  • Christina W.
    January 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    It’s probably just the photograph, but everything under that little glare looks phenomenal and everything above it is kinda meh, which doesn’t make sense so it IS probably just the photograph.

    (still rooting for chalkboard wall!)

  • Bernadette
    January 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    The majority of the walls in the main living spaces of my loft condo are painted November Rain. I really like the color – it was the previous owners who originally painted it that color, and when I repainted I used November Rain again. I love how it’s a subtle warm gray (in my home’s lighting at least), but it still pops with the white doors. Good luck!

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    January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    I used November Rain in our daughters nursery and absolutely love it! It’s a great airy neutral. I love the idea of painting just the lower cabinets, can’t wait to see the results!

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