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How To Update a Kitchen with Brown Granite Countertops

How To Update a Kitchen with Brown Granite Countertops

While dated granite countertops can certainly be a buzzkill when it comes to designing your dream kitchen, they aren’t entirely a lost cause. In today’s post, I am sharing the best ways to update a kitchen with brown countertops when new counters are simply not an option…

With the popularity of the quintessential white kitchen – complete with white cabinets and white countertops- still accelerating in full-force among the masses, one might be tempted to shy away from a kitchen remodel if new, natural stone counters are not monetarily feasible.

In fact….I know all too well what it’s like to hate TF out of an inanimate object (specifically my Baltic Brown granite countertops) and as a result, feel paralyzed in my kitchen remodel efforts.

how to modernize a kitchen that has baltic brown granite counters

Despite my moments of loathing and despair, with all of the budget-friendly makeovers I have executed in my 8 years of interior design/ DIY blogging, I have learned some clever ways to work around countertop eyesores.

To give you hope for your own home, below, I am sharing the best ways to update a kitchen with brown granite countertops (or any other sort of dated counters that plague you). And for you skeptics out there, I was sure to include compelling, photographic evidence…

1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets-

how to modernize a kitchen with dated  brown granite countertops just with paint

When you don’t have the budget for expensive new countertops, paint will be your best freakin’ friend. Hands down!

With rapid advances in cabinet paint technology, there really is no need to invest thousands of dollars outsourcing this job to a professional. In fact, if you have one free weekend and a little bit of patience, you can totally DIY this project yourself .

how to remodel a kitchen with brown granite countertops

Now with all of that being said, want to know the most difficult aspect of painting your cabinets ( at least when you have brown granite to contend with)? It is selecting the right freakin’ paint color to compliment those dated stone counters.

If you are looking to neutralize or distract from your dark brown countertops, you will need to be meticulous about the undertones in your new cabinet color.

What color paint is a good choice for a kitchen with brown granite counters?

While you might be tempted to go out and buy a gallon of icy white paint to brighten your kitchen, depending on the color scheme of your counters, not only could this contrast end up looking way too stark, it could make your brown granite stick out like a sore thumb.

You see…the key to balancing your kitchen cabinets with your stone countertops is to first identify the primary undertones of your granite . Then , you will need to find a paint color that has a similar (or at least complimentary) undertone.

So…..if white is what you are absolutely set on , you will want to look for a warmer white, off-white or beige hue so that the warmth of the brown countertop doesn’t compete against your cabinet color. For example, if your granite has pink undertones, you need to find a white with pink undertones as well to cancel the undesired hues out.

As for my kitchen island, I went with a warm, mid-tone greige (Northern Cliffs by Benjamin Moore) that has complimentary undertones of green and beige. The surrounding walls are a warm, off-white (Shoji White by Sherwin Williams).

While dark grey, earthy green, rich taupe and even dramatic black cabinets would have all been great color choices for my ugly a$$ granite, personally, I was going for a more tonal vibe in my kitchen. While this solution keeps me somewhat satisfied for the time being, the ultimate goal is to save up for a beautiful slab of black soapstone – replacing the Baltic Brown on my island and bar.

kitchen makeover with existing brown granite countertops
Beydin Design

At the end of the day, if I were to advise clients on what colors to steer away from when trying to decorate a kitchen with brown stone counters, I would say cool tones (think pastel blue cabinets) and stark, icy whites present a considerable risk for incoherently clashing with the warm undertones of the countertop material. While the original coastal hues of my island were ok, in my humble opinion, that particular green (Coastal Plains by Sherwin Williams) simply read too blue at certain times of the day.

how to update a kitchen that has dated counters

With everything just discussed ,I know all of this undertone business can sound intimidating and downright confusing to the interior design newbie.

So in the interest of keeping things simple, given that browns and other warm, earthy tones are having a major comeback, I advise anyone feeling overwhelmed by color swatches to simply play off of warm, earth-inspired neutrals like beige, off-white, neutral green, greige and even darker tones like saturated warm grays and black (which are great for both a traditional and modern look alike).

Tip: The examples I have provided below will include different colors that all work well with a brown granite kitchen countertop if my kitchen is not your vibe.

Now that I have covered the most nuanced (and long-winded) design hack, let’s move on to some more straight-forward solutions…

2. Update Your Backsplash-

how to modernize a kitchen with dated brown granite
Wildflower Home

Other than dark brown granite countertops, nothing screams nineties more than busy travertine tile backsplashes (think tuscan-inspired motifs)in the kitchen.

Not to fear, if this is your current design situation , depending on the material you choose, replacing your outdated backsplash doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Take a cue from Wildflower Home and utilize an affordable and DIY- friendly material like simple wood planks. I love how the synergy of the moody, rich color palette combined with the minimalistic backsplash totally distract the eye from the brown stone work tops.

If wood planks aren’t your thing and you long for the look of real tile backsplash (but don’t feel comfortable installing it yourself), you may want to give peel and stick tiles a try.

Not only will these back splash alternatives save you big time on your kitchen renovation, if you ever do decide to replace your dated granite, you won’t have to worry with the fuss of working around a real tile backsplash (which could potentially get damaged during countertop demo). Ideally, countertops are installed before backsplash, but there are ways around this.

Whichever backsplash material you decide on, try to lean a bit more minimal and modern as this will offset the often busy, dated look of your old granite counters.

3. Replace Dated Hardware and Appliances-

how to remodel a kitchen with dated granite counters
Esslinger Design Company

As you can see from this beautiful kitchen by Esslinger Design Company, when paired with darker cabinets, brass hardware can be a focal point totally capable of stealing your attention away from outdated granite countertops.

While replacing your old oven or refrigerator with sleek stainless steel appliances would be like icing on the cake, at the very least, adding modernized bling to your kitchen through intentional hardware selections is the perfect opportunity to elevate a kitchen with ugly countertops.

Even better? Gold, brass and even black hardware all work well with brown kitchen counters. It may seem like such a small detail, but you would truly be amazed at what an impact new pulls and knobs can do for your space!

4. Style With Intention-

kitchen cabinet colors that go well with brown granite countertops
Yellow Brick Home

In case you haven’t seen an underlying theme to this article yet, when you are working with a major design element that is undesirable in color and tone (but can’t be replaced because of a tight budget), you have to find affordable ways to neutralize, balance and , ultimately, distract!

Intentional styling with your decor pieces can accomplish all of the above.

Whether it is a stylish fruit bowl, a modern vase full of fresh greenery or complimentary wood decor like cutting boards, wooden stools or open shelving, you are missing a major opportunity to update your kitchen if you aren’t being thoughtful and strategic about the items you are placing on and around your dated granite countertops.

Although Yellow Brick Home couldn’t afford to replace her brown counters when it came time to remodel her kitchen, between her impeccable paint color selections(matching the undertones of the granite to that of the paint), new light fixtures and beautifully styled countertop decor, her dated granite somehow looks en vogue.

Tip: Given its neutral brown tones, wood decor is great for making the brown on your counters feel more intentional and cohesive throughout the entire space.

5. Resurface or Replace Counters with Affordable Alternatives-

how to update a kitchen with brown stone countertops

If you have skillfully changed the color of your cabinets, updated your backsplash, replaced your hardware and you still hate TF out of your granite kitchen countertops, its time to think outside the box, sis.

While you may not have the budget for more high-end materials like brand-new quartz, marble, or white granite countertops, you could always try resurfacing your counters DIY-style with granite countertop paint kits conveniently sold at big-box hardware stores across the US.

Another budget-conscious option is to replace your ugly granite with a more affordable (but more modern and stylish) material like butcher block, DIY black countertops or even Formica (this synthetic material has actually come a looong way in recent years).

While I have personally used all of the aforementioned hacks (with the exception of Formica) , back in my 1980’s kitchen remodel, I eventually chose to replace my dated beige counter surface just on the island- leaving the perimeter countertops untouched in the original stone.

While ideally I would’ve installed quartz countertops everywhere, I simply did not have the budget for that much square footage of quartz at the time.

Nonetheless, replacing just the island top (which was the true focal point of my kitchen) worked wonders for brightening the once dingy space. By painting my island dark gray, this contrast of materials looked all the more intentional.

how to make brown granite countertops look modern in a kitchen

I realize that countertops are a pretty integral component to the aesthetic of a kitchen, but just because you cannot afford to replace them does not give you an excuse to give up on your space entirely.

With special attention to color combinations, hardware, fixtures and styling, you can design a kitchen that reflects your gorgeous, fabulous self (brown granite and all, baby!).

Thank you so much for stopping by and spending some time with me this week. If you found this post helpful, could you please show your support by sharing it with a friend or on social media?

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how to update a kitchen with dated granite counters on a budget

Now get out there and design some good vibes along with a fabulous life!



My journey in interior design and home improvement began with transforming my first fixer-upper home, all while managing a budget and raising two young boys. My work, a reflection of my passion for creating beautiful, uplifting spaces, has been recognized by top publications like Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, HGTV, and more. I invite you to explore my site and witness the transformation of my home and the vibes we've designed.Read more...

Donna Long

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Erica- As usual, such great ideas for living with something we may have and can’t quite afford to replace yet. We repainted our cabinets and it really helped, you are so right. I’m always thankful for your affordable solutions. Have a great rest of the week! Donna

Designing Vibes

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

So happy to hear that painting your cabinets helped, Donna. And as always, thank you so much for your kindness and support. I hope you have an awesome weekend. xoxo