My Kitchen is Painted Grey

Well it was finally time to put my money where my mouth is and after several posts about the joys of grey paint and the acquisition of a coordinating grey kitten, it was time to paint the kitchen grey.


Despite the rather sudden arrival of the cat, the idea of painting the room grey had been bubbling away for some time.


It had been painted in Farrow & Ball Pointing, which, at the time, we thought went brilliantly with the Ikea cupboards but had somehow taken on a yellowish tinge, which we emphatically didn’t want.


So, after a few attempts with mixer pots we decided to choose Cornforth White for the walls, and to stick with an old plan to paint the shelves in Downpipe.


And here are the results. What do you think? I particularly love the shelves, which really give some presence to the room and make all the objects look almost curated.


The contrast between the soft grey walls and dramatic shelving is also pleasing.


The woodwork, for those who like to know everything, is Wimborne White, the same as all the rest of the house.


And, there is Enid, whom some will say is responsible for the change of colour.

And here are some more beautiful grey kitchens





Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I just found your site — I love your kitchen. It looks absolutely terrific in the greys you chose!

  2. Hi Kate, , I’m busy looking for a stainless steel fridge freezer and particularly like your one. Can you please confirm the make and model?

    Many Thanks

  3. Hello,

    Only came across your blog a few days ago and hooked already. I noticed you have a stainless steel counter in your kitchen. Apologies if you got asked the question already but can you tell me if it’s hard to keep clean? I am keen to install stainless steel in our kitchen but my partner thinks we’ll go bonkers on the finger prints, I am trying to persuade him it will develop a nice patina and won’t be a problem. Is this true? If so, how long does it take for finger prints not to appear as much?

    Many thanks for your reply.

    1. Hi Christine, I have never noticed finger prints being a problem. Actually scrap that – I’ve never noticed any finger prints. And my children are quite grubby! I think you can get some stainless steel that is shinier than others so perhaps that is the difference. For my money, stainless steel is the most practical of all the worktops because it doesn’t mind hot pans, lemon juice, red wine or scratches as it will, as you rightly point out, develop a patina over time. We just clean ours with Cif Stainless steel and it’s completely fine. If anything we get more watermarks on the draining board than anything else but they wipe off really easily.
      Having said that, it is also fashionable to mix worktops at the moment so, depending on the layout of your kitchen, you could have a wooden top on a breakfast bar where, perhaps, there are likely to be more finger prints and keep the rest in stainless steel?
      Alternatively you can just tell your husband: the odd wipeable finger print on stainless steel versus burn and water damage on wood, red wine and turmeric on marble and remortgaging the house for composite. I hope that helps!

  4. Beautiful kitchen, love it. Have just had an extension built (almost there…) and now really need to come to some decisions about the kitchen. I’d love to get leather handles like yours, as am trying to make the space ‘not too kitcheny’. How are they to use? When I cook I tend to fling doors and drawers open, my hands are usually covered in whatever I’m cooking with, and I wondered if these would stand up to the abuse they will get. Would you choose them again?

    1. I’ve had them for five years and I really like them. I cook too and I suppose I have got slightly in the habit of just using a little finger to open a drawer if I am very mucky! Seems to have worked so far…so yes I would buy them again. The only thing is that the metal caps tend to come off the dishwasher – perhaps because it is hard to open and shut – I have superglued them on and that’s fine – by caps I mean the little round discs that cover the screws. I bought mine from here and don’t lose this link because their site is a nightmare to navigate! I have to say that five, nearly six, years ago they were a bit cheaper! But, you should always pay attention to touch points and given that you use them every day then the cost balances out. You can also get them from Superfront which gives you more options in colours – they are made to fit Ikea cupboards, if, by any chance, that is what you are having.

  5. Hi – I would like to know what the name of the IKEA kitchen you used is. Is your house in London? Sonia

    1. Hi Sonia, I think they have changed the kitchens since we bought this but it was the non glossy plain fronted one – Abstrakt? We added our own handles and worktop to it, I can tell you where everything came more if you want to know.

  6. Hi Kate! I love your kitchen. Would you mind sharing from where you borrow these white plates. Is there are more desirable plates like that.

  7. Hi, love these pics too, although, if I were going to have an open shelved kitchen, I would certainly ensure that the organisation of the shelves were orderly. I would have columns in themes: I feel the kitchen I half shelves are half finished. They do not really cut it for me.

  8. Hi kate, I see that you stated you replied to an earlier question about your stainless steel counter tops, but im sorry I cant find it. we are thinking of getting stainless steel counter tops, but have read that its not great with heat and can dent easily, where did you get yours and was there a particular finish to it. love reading your blog

    1. Mine came from MPM Engineering who are based in Bedford I think but came to London. I have had mine for nearly four years now. I have no problem with heat and they haven’t dented at all and I just had the standard finish that they installed. I have certainly found them very practical and also resistant to lemon juice which I am increasingly being asked about by cooking clients who say that the juice stains concrete and slate worktops. Ours has acquired a certain patina from scratches but that slightly softens it and l like it. It’s what they use in restaurant kitchens and they haven’t got time to be precious about heat and slamming pans about!

      1. Hi Kate, thanks for coming back with the info about the worktops, have just shown your reply to my husband so it is now finalised, stainless steel for definite. also in relation to your problem with smeg, we bought a smeg range cooker and in the last 4 years we have had to have the oven fan replaced 4 times and now its happening again, funny how it always seems to go just as we are approaching Christmas. the last time the engineer came out, he told me we must be using the oven too much! am now searching for a new cooker to replace the smeg.

        1. That rings a bell… I ended up having a conversation with Smeg where I was sort of apologising for being someone who bought a hob to cook on rather than being for show. We will have to have a new worktop as well as it’s a slightly odd size 75cm rather than 100cm so am hanging back a bit as it won’t be a cheap fix. Lessons learnt though!

  9. Thanks for some great ideas – can you tell me the supplier for your stainless steel sink and work top please – looks amazing. Is it bespoke or off the shelf? And also the make of your hob. We are about to revamp our kitchen and are looking for inspiration – so thanks for sharing what you have created.

    1. I have answered the worktop question above. As for the hob …. hmmm – it’s a Marc Newson for Smeg. Don’t bother. It looks gorgeous but for some reason the pan stands all have rubber feet which, in the case of the central burner, are constantly melting and making the stands rock. We have had them replaced three times, we have had new burners. Smeg constantly tell me that no-one else has this problem but I can’t believe we are the only people – unless we are the only people to buy a hob for, you know, actually cooking on. Last time, Smeg told me last time that they went back to the factory to find new ways of sticking the feet on – didn’t work. I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had with them about this and we are basically going to have to replace it.

      1. Thanks for your reply Kate – OK the hob looks good but has problems – really helpful to know. I think I have missed the answer about the worktop – where can I locate it please?

    1. Hi Gisella, sorry for the late reply I have been away. The plates are from the seconds shop in the Potteries in Stoke on Trent. I think they are Port Meirion before the flower patterns are painted on. I’ve no idea why they are seconds but but they are a lovely chalky white colour and not too creamy.

  10. Thank you! That’s settled it, been dying to use Downpipe for months but its density scared me. After seeing your kitchen, I’ll use it on floor-standing cupboards recessed either side of the sitting room fireplace, including shelves above one of the recesses – I like asymmetry. There is little light in this ground floor flat and the shelves are in the furthest corner from the bay window, so LED ropes will illuminate my treasured collection of art deco vases. It’ll work. The walls are painted Strong White with All White ceilings throughout. Thanks for making up my mind!
    The narrow wall facing the door in the bedroom was painted Book Room Red to kill/support the unloved salmon pink edging on a huge Victorian mirror I’d used as a headboard to reflect light and widen the room. Trouble is, I love the wall colour so much I no longer want the mirror as a headboard! Funny how things change between flat plan and reality! Researching what new headboard to go for.
    Thanks for your blog, love it.

  11. Hi Kate, I continue to love your blog!
    I am about to start on my post-divorce make over of my house, inspired by your beautiful home. I am struggling to find decent/attractive light switches…do you have any ideas…

    1. Hi Jenny, I’m so glad you like the blog. I wrote a post about light switches which might help. These ones aren’t the cheapest but sometimes it’s better to spend a little more on the touch points as that is what people see, contact and remember. There are some other suggestions in the post and plaes like Homebase and Wickes will all have more modern ones. You can also spray the plastic ones to match your walls too. Let me know if I can help more. Good luck with your new beginnings. Kate

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  13. I think the grey shelves make a tremendous difference. I have a north facing kitchen too. Bloody cold room at the best of times so we painted it Beatnik Blue by Crown which is a lovely teal colour. Love the kitten!

  14. Hi Kate,

    Are you pleased with Cornforth in your kitchen?
    We initially had All white throughout our entire apartment and have now slowly but surely painted nearly every room some form of grey.(cornforth, purbeck ) Love it!!
    We are now looking ar our poky kitchen and hall. We have a modern white corian Boffi kitchen with All white on the walls…..boring now in comparison to the other rooms. There is not much natural light and the hall and kitchen are combined. It can not be too dark…or can it? We looked at cornforth but it looks dirty against the white kitchen. Looking at Strong white at the moment. What do you think?

    1. Well I have to confess that I have painted over the Cornforth in my north-facing kitchen. It’s a lovely colour and, I still think, a warm one, but it didn’t work in that room. I do have white units though and it didn’t fight with those at all. Strong white is lovely and I have gone with wimborne white which is what the rest of the house is painted in. I think perhaps if there isn’t much natural light I would be tempted to go with the white. Let me know what you decide.

        1. Sorry I misread and thought you were only looking at Strong white. So, All white is good but yes you might feel bored by it. Cornforth too dark. Strong is good or what about Blackened? It’s a bit greyer than Strong but not as dark as Cornforth. Might be the compromise colour? I know people who have done their whole houses in it. Worth a look?

          1. We had looked at Blackened but thought it looked quite blue.
            Will take another look. A big thanks.


          2. It will depend on the light in your room and which way it faces. Have you tried painting large pieces of paper (wallpaper lining for example) and taping them to the wall – together, in corners, at different times of day. It’s worth spending a bit of time so you don’t have to repaint. I know this. My kitchen has been painted three times in three years. When I say “has been” I mean I have … and my husband has …. Blackened might well be too blue in an area with little natural light. What about wimborne white. I have it, in a north facing room (and everywhere else). It’s white and chalky and lovely!

      1. Hi Kate,
        I am having trouble with paint colour in my kitchen. I’ve been deliberating over various greys and finally painted it yesterday in Little Greene French Grey (mid) but i’m having doubts. I think it looks too cold. I wanted something warm but grey-y. The other colour i was considering was Cornforth White which i think may be warmer. I’m just wondering why you decided you didn’t like Cornforth in the end. My kitchen is South-east facing but one end of the room is very light and bright and the other is low-ceilinged and dark so it’s a tricky space to get right. We’ve got white units and dark wood worktops.
        Just wondered if you have any thoughts that may help.

        1. Hi Cath, it’s always tricky when you haven’t seen a space and what seems warm in the tin may react completely differently on the wall, which is why grey is such a tricky colour to get right. In a room of two halves, as you appear to have, you may find that what works at one end doesn’t in the other. Cornforth didn’t work for me because my kitchen is north-facing and it just looked very cold. You might have better luck with it as it does have a pinkish tinge. I don’t know how divided your room is but you could try using a dark colour in the dark end (sometimes you can’t fight these things) and go lighter at the other end. Or perhaps go with the French grey pale rather than the mid. You could always bring a darker, more dramatic grey in by painting the skirting boards or adding dark grey cupboard handles. I hope this helps.

  15. I am a stay at home mum with two toddlers in a rented hse with an alcaholic partner and next to no spare cash but every day I read your blog and am inspired to make the most of what creative skills I do have and really encouraged to start a business of my own to change what are to be honest pretty crap circumstances so just wanted to say thank you x

  16. Hi Kate, I’m mad about your blog!

    Would you mind sharing where you got those fantastic black leather kitchen handles from? Can’t find ’em anywhere!

    Thanks so much. x

  17. Nice to see Ricard carafes on your shelves. Which I love (the shelves) – great access, so much easier than cupboards. And the grey is fab 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! I love those carafes too although sadly one has a tiny crack so it’s ornamentation only these days. I’m so pleased with the open shelves, I definitely prefer that too wall cupboards which always seem to make the worktop feel small and cramped.

    1. Hello, It’s a Braun by Dieter Rams and I bought it online a couple of years ago as a present for my husband who is a big fan. They turn up on ebay and I missed out on a couple before securing this one.

  18. Looks fab, might just inspire me to use the paint of cornforth white i have sitting in the cellar. Question for you, last year i painted my north facing double reception room strong white and whilst i love the colour it can look dreary in winter (ie most of the year) so i’m considering repainting in wimborne white but am worried it might turn out too creamy I prefer ‘cleaner’ colours). How did you find it when you had it in your reception room?

    1. Hello, I love wimborne white. We have it all over the house and I think it’s a beautiful chalky colour and not creamy at all. The reason we painted over the Pointing in the kitchen was because it was creamy and we felt it had a yellowy tinge which we didn’t like. Wimborne White doesn’t have that at all. One caveat – our sitting room is south-facing but I still think you will be fine with it in your sitting room.

  19. It looks wonderful, the shelves are so effective. And the finish on them is great – expect that was Enid helping as kittens are very good at DIY. Did you hand paint or spray them? Currently planning my new kitchen (and whole house), grey units and silestone worktop is winning at the moment and considering an accent wall but is that beyond the pale nowadays?

    1. Enid did try and help – with her whiskers and eyebrows ! She is now clean but she won’t be doing any more DIY for the time being I think! We painted the cupboards – coats. I think spraying – if you’ve got the kit – might be the answer. It would certainly be quicker. Wallpaper accent walls are apparently “over” but I don’t care. I still like them and if you want an accent wall, you should have one!

  20. Looks great and I agree that Downpipe on the shelves gives everything in them more presence. Love it! And of course, I would love to get ahold of little Enid. So cute!

  21. Lovely Kate, and Enid cat should meet the recently acquired Son2’s grey Jack cat!

    Delighted too to see you’ve used one woodwork colour throughout the house, I’ve always thought this a very elegant approach and have stuck to it but in recent years had thought (or the style police have informed me) it was out of date!
    Clearly on this one the ‘mad mother’ is right yipee!

    1. I like one woodwork throughout too. Mad Mothers unite! I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with it. In fact, in the rest of the house we have done ceilings, skirtings, floors and walls in the same Wimborne White. Apparently that’s the “gallery look”! I love it.

  22. so with you, have had grey samples on the wall in the kitchen for about a month – and about to take the painting plunge ! Could even stretch to an Enid if that is what it takes to actually get the job done – just too adorable. x

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