Ideas to Update the Top 6 OLDER Granite Countertops
Is your kitchen being held hostage by fugly granite countertops from the 1990s or early 2000s? Are you wanting to update your walls or cabinets, but don’t know what paint colours will work – can you do white, can you do gray, can you do ANYTHING? And let’s not get STARTED on what to do with that ole backsplash…
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back and I’m here to help.
Most granite patterns from 20-30 years ago weren’t picked with LONGEVITY in mind, they were picked because they suited the current trends, trends that no longer apply unless you’re still sponge-painting your walls and stuffing plastic bags in your
bra like me valances. The ones we’re hitting today include…
- SANTA CECILIA
- NEW VENETIAN GOLD
- SAPPHIRE BLUE
- PEACOCK GREEN
- UBA TUBA (seriously, who named this one, a Teletubby?)
- BALTIC BROWN
But not ALL older granite countertops are a challenge, and in fact, some are friggin’ GORGEOUS and highly coveted. Others are maybe not coveted but are still easy enough to work with – the most TIMELESS and VERSATILE granite being BLACK.
However, even some of the BEST-INTENTIONED black granite countertops have flecks of pink, taupe, green and blue in them that severely limit their long-term potential. This makes UPDATING a heck of a lot more difficult, but not impossible if you have a lil Ginger in your back pocket (I pinch upon request).
And by the way, if you think your granite countertop is calling all the shots, you might be surprised to hear that your BACKSPLASH actually calls first dibs on paint colours as it’s on the same vertical sight-line as the cabinets/walls – the preferences of your countertop come in second place.
Let’s say that again in a different way…
MOST of the time, your backsplash is more important than your countertop when it comes to coordinating cabinet colours.
Because the backsplash is on the same vertical sightline as the cabinets, the visual connection is more immediate. With the countertop being horizontal, there’s a BIT more room for forgiveness.
Suuuuure, it’s all good in the hood if your countertop and backsplash coordinate, but if they DON’T (which is the case more often than not with homes from the 90s), you may want to think about refreshing it too.
In this next example, the granite countertop is still going strong, but the backsplash is limiting the room’s potential…
Remember, your outdated countertops can STILL look amazing if you surround them with the right paint colour, backsplash and decor – in fact, there are some granites I’ve grown to LOVE in my E-Design adventures! The key is to stop FIGHTING your granite and choose paint colours and products that actually SUIT it – this is how you create a space with style and intention.
As the great Britney Spears once said, let’s hit that baby one more time…
The key is to stop FIGHTING your granite and choose paint colours and products that actually SUIT it…
I believe the above countertop is actually soapstone, but it proves my point – going WITH IT works!
So, what are the BEST ideas to update a kitchen or bathroom with outdated granite countertops?
- paint the cabinets and/or walls
- replace the backsplash
- modernize the hardware and light fixtures
- refresh the accents
Today we’re going to focus on coordinating your granite countertop with paint colours and backsplash ideas, as they’re your best BANG-FOR-BUCK ideas (non-street corner style). But before we get started, I want to make a VERY IMPORTANT POINT about painted cabinets…
If you want to paint your cabinets and can’t find a paint colour that both YOU and your countertop love, it might be best to leave them stained wood! This can ESPECIALLY be the case if you have a backsplash or tile flooring that isn’t SUPER well-coordinated with the countertop – PAINT CAN’T FIX EVERYTHING (but wine can certainly help)
Are you ready to dive in? I know I am…
1. SANTA CECILIA GRANITE COUNTERTOP UPDATE IDEAS
SIMILAR GRANITE COUNTERTOPS: New Venetian Gold, Giallo Ornamental
Oh Ceciiiiiilia, you’re breakin’ my heart…anyways.
Santa Cecilia is a WARM granite with the following colours…
- creamy soft off-white
- warm golden tones and beige/orange hues
- warm greige-taupe with a purple (purple-pink) undertone
- a touch of burgundy/maroon
The key with Santa Cecilia granite is that you SHOULDN’T introduce a colour on the cabinets that doesn’t ALREADY EXIST in the countertop.
If you add a new colour, there won’t be a visual connection between your cabinets and countertops and it’ll be hot mess. Any NEW colour needs to be in the form of an accent, not a full-scale commitment.
THE EXCEPTION. If you paint your main cabinets white, you could paint your island a darker neutral with a reasonably strong green undertone as rather than competing with the countertop, it will act like an ACCENT (but if you ask me, this approach can still look a bit dated).
BTW – there are SEVERAL varieties of this granite countertop and there’s ALWAYS variation between slabs, so the examples might not show the EXACT Santa Cecilia that you have.
CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS WHITE IF I HAVE SANTA CECILIA GRANITE?
Yes, but they have to be CONSIDERABLY warm and soft – not stark or clean.
It can also look nice if you have soft warm white main cabinets and paint the island a dark colour like a soft warm black that’s bordering on black-brown.
BTW, Online Colour Consulting is how I support my family. So, while I can’t give SPECIFIC colour instructions on this blog post, you’ll find helpful links to some of my 450+ articles sprinkled throughout. My goal is to get you headed in the right direction and if you need more specific advice – please check out my packages and I can give you some personal attention!
IF I HAVE SANTA CECILIA GRANITE, CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS GRAY?
Nope. The gray you think you’re seeing in Santa Cecilia is more of a greige or taupe, so it’s warmer with a subtle violet or violet-pink undertone.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR MY WALLS IF I HAVE SANTA CECILIA GRANITE?
- while I wouldn’t put a gray on the cabinets, I would check out a CONSIDERABLY warm gray with violet undertones for the walls and absolutely NO blue or green undertones!
- warm, golden-beige paint colours
- soft muted cream paint colours
WHAT’S THE BEST TYPE OF BACKSPLASH TO UPDATE SANTA CECILIA GRANITE?
THIS is where a lot of people hop on the wrong bus – STOP, YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!
That’s right, if you’re thinking of doing a WHITE subway tile backsplash or heaven-forbid, MARBLE (yes, I’ve seen it all), you need to put on the brakes and shift into a new gear.
In the above example, my client was looking for a paint colour for her cabinets. I had to break it to her that paint wasn’t going to fix things, and could in fact, further the disconnect between her backsplash and countertop – she needed a new backsplash. And of course, I can’t FIND the after photos to show you, but maybe my client is reading this and will resend them (wink wink nudge nudge…).
So, instead of white subway tile, take a look at…
- Soft off-white tiles that PERFECTLY match the soft off-white in the countertop. For a subtle look, match it with soft white grout. If you want to add some visual interest, choose a light to medium-depth grout that matches the greige/taupe in the countertop.
- Greige-taupe tiles that have the same warm violet undertones as the flecks in your countertop. For this look, I would do a soft white grout to add a bit of contrast and visual interest
2. NEW VENETIAN GOLD GRANITE COUNTERTOP UPDATE IDEAS
SIMILAR GRANITE COUNTERTOPS: Santa Cecilia, Giallo Ornamental
New Venetian Gold granite is VERY SIMILAR to Santa Cecilia, with only a few subtle changes…
- soft warm off-white without much yellow in it
- warm golden tones and beige with a mild green undertone
- considerably warm taupe with a violet-pink undertone, bordering on pink/rose
- almost black-brown
Just like with ‘ole Cecilia, you SHOULDN’T introduce anything new on the cabinets that doesn’t ALREADY EXIST in the countertop. If you add a new colour, there won’t be a visual connection between your cabinets and countertops and it’ll look fugly – trust ye old Ginger on that one. Any NEW colour needs to be in the form of an accent, not a full-scale commitment.
While this isn’t the case with countertops that have a more SIMPLE colour palette, once you get three+ colours in a countertop, adding a NEW colour to the palette can be a big mistake.
THE EXCEPTION? NO EXCEPTION FOR YOU! Seriously, New Venetian Gold just wants you to pick up what it’s throwin’ down.
In the above, example, the walls are too drab and flat for the type of warmth in New Venetian Gold (and don’t even get me started on the backsplash #hotmessofundertones).
BTW – there can be A LOT of variation between slabs, so the examples might not show the EXACT Venetian Gold that you have.
CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS WHITE IF I HAVE NEW VENETIAN GOLD?
Yes, you can paint your cabinets white, but you need a warm soft white, not a stark clean one.
IF I HAVE NEW VENETIAN GOLD GRANITE, CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS GRAY?
HECK NO! Don’t let those wee little flecks trick you as they aren’t gray – they fall more in the taupe range (which is warmer with more of a violet-pink undertone).
One of my favourite applications with New Venetian Gold is to paint the main cabinets a soft warm white and the island a darker warm greige-taupe paint colour. You can also consider a dark brown or burgundy, but this blog post is about UPDATING your room, not back-dating it – wink wink.
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WHAT ARE THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR MY WALLS IF I HAVE NEW VENETIAN GOLD GRANITE?
If you’re looking to freshen up your walls, you can check out some versions of…
- warm greige-taupe paint colours with noticeable violet-pink undertones
- soft subtle warm off-whites that aren’t too yellow or golden-toned
- but above all else, AVOID green and blue as they will only DATE your countertop and won’t be in it for the long-term (get it…?)
WHAT’S THE BEST TYPE OF BACKSPLASH TO UPDATE NEW VENETIAN GOLD GRANITE?
Just like with Cecilia, you’ll want to make a good colour connection when it comes to your backsplash…
- Soft off-white tiles that DIRECTLY match the soft white in your countertop. For a subtle look, match it with warm white grout. If you want to add some visual interest, choose a light to medium-depth grout that matches the taupe in the countertop.
- Taupe tiles that have the same warm violet undertones as the flecks in your countertop. For this look, I would do a soft white grout to add a bit of contrast and visual interest.
- a lot of people look to travertine, but MOST travertine tiles have the wrong undertones for New Venetian Gold and Santa Cecilia.
3. PEACOCK GREEN GRANITE (BLACK) COUNTERTOP UPDATE IDEAS
SIMILAR GRANITE COUNTERTOPS: Green or Verde Uba Tuba
Peacock Green Granite has a DOMINANT black base along with the following colours…
- green-blue blend with some gray to calm it down
- gray with a blue-green undertone
- golden brown specks/veining (more so than Uba Tuba)
- a WINK of taupe
- specks of white
Peacock Green Granite is a tricky one, as a lot of people see it as black, however, it has some VERY interesting and finicky undertones! Again, the key is to not introduce any NEW colour to your palette and instead, pick up one what you already see.
THE EXCEPTION. There’s NO exception with this bad boy – you’ve got to go with it or you WILL be going against it!
BTW – there can be QUITE a bit of variation between slabs, so the examples might not show the EXACT Peacock Green that you have.
CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS WHITE IF I HAVE PEACOCK GREEN GRANITE?
Yes, as long as you’re okay with a HIGH contrast look. As far as the ‘actual white’ goes, I wouldn’t do an overly warm one, nor a super COLD one. Instead, I would look at some of the WHITER shades of white.
BUT (a great big one…), there are more things at play in a kitchen, such as backsplash tiles and flooring. In this next example, while the countertop here isn’t Peacock Green, it has similar colours in it (gray-green). And while we could easily do white cabinets, we have to take the backsplash and floor into consideration, both of which won’t be happy if we go white!
In my client’s Online Colour Consultation, I suggested several options, of which they chose a SOFT warm off-white to humour the needs of the backsplash and tile floor, while still updating and brightening the space…
When you’re working with existing finishes that aren’t being replaced, it can be a challenge to update your kitchen. Remember, if you can’t find a paint colour that your existing finishes and you agree on, you may want to stick with wood until you can budget for a larger remodel.
Before, from a different angle…
And after, MUCH lighter and brighter – without being white…
IF I HAVE PEACOCK GREEN GRANITE, CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS GRAY?
Well, you can paint your cabinets gray-ish, but that gray will need some VERY SERIOUS green (green-blue) undertones in it. If you don’t embrace these hues, your cabinets could look violet (as every gray has undertones) and will CLASH with your countertop.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR MY WALLS IF I HAVE PEACOCK GREEN GRANITE?
Refreshing your walls can be a great way to update the look of Peacock Green granite. Check out some of these…
- grays with reasonable green-blue undertones
- reasonably bright whites (if you have wood or gray-green cabinets)
- green-blue blends with some gray mixed in to calm them down
- some beige paint colours as long as they don’t lean into yellow
WHAT’S THE BEST TYPE OF BACKSPLASH TO UPDATE PEACOCK GREEN GRANITE?
If you want to update your backsplash, it will depend on what colour your cabinets are (and for the sake of brevity and sanity I can’t cover them ALL), but generally speaking…
- With WOOD CABINETS and Peacock Green granite, I would look at gray (with green-blue undertones) or green-blue tiles. White would be awfully stark, but that could shift depending on the wall colour.
- With WHITE CABINETS and Peacock Green granite, I would look at gray (with green-blue undertones) or green-blue tiles.
There are other, similar granite countertops with green in them – like this next one. In this case, we’re looking at a WARM green, not a cool green, and would adjust our colours/undertones accordingly…
BTW, I have some FANTASTIC blog post re: updating the green-inspired surfaces in your home, check them out here…
4. SAPPHIRE BLUE GRANITE UPDATE IDEAS
Oh, that Sapphire Blue is ALWAYS a bugger with its particular blend of colours…
- rose-taupe blend (pink-violet hues)
- gray with a strong blue-violet undertone
- soft dark taupe-based brown
Seriously, I actually had to take a deep
chug of wine straight from the bottle breath before I dove into this one.
Well, because what I have to WRITE, isn’t always what my readers want to READ.
CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS WHITE IF I HAVE SAPPHIRE BLUE GRANITE?
That’s a hard no.
BUT WHY NOT?
Because Sapphire Blue doesn’t have any white in it, it’s a tough sell to introduce it on such a large scale as cabinets. You CAN, but I’ve found that with the particular colours in Sapphire Blue, white cabinets can make it look more dated. If you REEEEAALLLY want white cabinets, DON’T choose a warm white and be cautious with your wall colour choice.
BTW – there can be QUITE a bit of variation between slabs, so the examples might not show the EXACT Sapphire Blue that you have.
IF I HAVE SAPPHIRE BLUE GRANITE, CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS GRAY?
This is where we can breathe a little easier and go back to our sippy cups as YES, you can paint your cabinets gray, but it can’t be ANY old gray or some of the more POPULAR gray paint colours like Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray or Gray Owl. You will want to sample the following carefully…
- Grays with decent blue-violet undertones. Blue LOVES to move around, so make sure you hit the right one and the right depth (nothing too light)!
- warm muddy grays with a soft violet undertone (check out my DOZENS of paint colour reviews!)
- colours that are even warmer, going into the subtle taupe end of things
WHAT ARE THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR MY WALLS IF I HAVE SAPPHIRE BLUE GRANITE?
If you’re looking to freshen up your walls, you can check out some versions of…
- warm grays with NO GREEN UNDERTONES
- taupe paint colours with violet-pink undertones (something like Sherwin Williams Popular Gray is a good place to start)
- I would be careful with the whole ‘gray with a blue-violet undertone’ thing. Some of these can work well on cabinets but can feel a bit too cool for walls unless they have some good depth/body to them
WHAT’S THE BEST TYPE OF BACKSPLASH TO UPDATE SAPPHIRE BLUE GRANITE?
Again, it can really depend on what colour your cabinets are, but generally speaking, check out…
- taupe tiles with the same undertones as the flecks in your countertop
- warm gray tiles with reasonably strong violet-pink undertones (the key is to MATCH one of the flecks in your countertop)
- gray tiles with a blue-violet undertone
5. UBA TUBA GRANITE COUNTERTOP UPDATE IDEAS
ALSO KNOWN AS…
- VERDE UBA TUBA
- GREEN LABRADOR OR VERDE LABRADOR
- GREEN UBA TUBA
- UBA TUBA GOLD
SIMILAR GRANITE COUNTERTOPS: Butterfly Green, Peacock Green, Amazon Green
Uba Tuba is tricky as there are SO many versions and colour blends. While some focus hard on a cool green with gold, black and silver flecks, others drop all of the green, grabbing only black, gold, taupe and white! So, I’m going with the two UBA’s I see the most…
CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS WHITE IF I HAVE UBA TUBA GRANITE?
YES! Most versions of Uba Tuba do just fine with white cabinets.
- if you have the green-based Uba Tuba shown above, or one very SIMILAR, try a cleaner, non-creamy white
- if you have the black-based Uba Tuba, try a warm, softer white
IF I HAVE UBA TUBA GRANITE, CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS GRAY?
Some of the Uba Tuba’s love gray cabinets as long as you hone in on the right undertones…
- if you have the green-based Uba Tuba, you’ll want a gray with cool green or green-blue undertones and AVOID purple
- if you have the black-based Uba Tuba, avoid gray cabinets as they could enhance the gold and make the countertop look more dated
BTW – there can be QUITE a bit of variation between slabs, so the examples might not show the EXACT Uba Tuba that you have.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR MY WALLS IF I HAVE UBA TUBA GRANITE?
If you’re looking to freshen up your walls, it depends on which Uba Tuba you have…
- if you have the green-based Uba Tuba shown, you can try gray with a decent green (green-blue) undertone, white walls that are clean/not creamy or green with a gray-blue backdrop
- with the black-based Uba Tuba, check out warm beiges/tan (with slight green undertones, not red/pink), muted creams with a decent golden tone, the odd greige
WHAT’S THE BEST TYPE OF BACKSPLASH TO UPDATE UBA TUBA GRANITE?
When it comes to the best backsplash to update Uba Tuba, it can really depend on what colour your cabinets are. Let’s start with the green-based Uba Tuba shown above…
- With WOOD OR WHITE CABINETS and Uba Tuba, check out gray-green tiles (NO VIOLET HUES!), white tiles with NO yellow undertone or green tiles (if you’re feeling brave).
- With gray/green cabinets and Uba Tuba, check out a clean white subway tile.
If you have the black-based Uba Tuba, you might look at…
- With WOOD OR WHITE CABINETS, try a soft white subway tile, but NOT a stark one (if you have white cabinets, the two whites should match). Partner it with a soft beige grout to pick up on the gold tones in the countertop. You can also look at some travertine tile backsplashes. Doing this in a more MODERN subway tile pattern can update the look of this black granite.
6. BALTIC BROWN GRANITE UPDATE IDEAS
Ahhhh, Baltic Brown, you’ve been kickin’ it for a long time my friend and I know ALL of your dirty secrets, including colours like…
- the very odd wink of cream (not overly yellow)
- MAJORLY orange-hued (leaning orange-pink rather than orange-yellow)
- green (cool green-blue, not yellow-green)
But, NO TWO GRANITE SLABS WERE CREATED ALIKE, and this is definitely the case with Baltic Brown as you can get slabs that are bit darker and richer like this…
Or lighter and brighter like this…
Which makes it REALLY HARD for me to specify which direction you should go in. So, I’m going with what I see in the AVERAGE consult with Baltic Brown.
CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS WHITE IF I HAVE BALTIC BROWN GRANITE?
For the love of everything beautiful – no. Because Baltic Brown doesn’t have legit white in it, white cabinets would look stark and out of place in a kitchen with these countertops.
However, you CAN paint your cabinets a soft warm off-white, as long as it doesn’t lean into yellow/cream. Baltic Brown favours an orange undertone and one that leans slightly into red (pink) rather than yellow. Some of the more modern off-white beige paint colours can be interesting partners to Baltic Brown.
BTW, HUGE thanks to my E-Design clients who send their after photos in, I couldn’t do this without you!
IF I HAVE BALTIC BROWN GRANITE, CAN I PAINT MY CABINETS GRAY?
You can paint your cabinets gray, but they can’t be a TRADITIONAL or standard gray paint colour – they need a MASSIVE shot of green in them and absolutely NO VIOLET OR BLUE! And along with a heavy dose of green hue, you’ll also want some depth – no off-white or light depths for THIS countertop.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PAINT COLOURS FOR MY WALLS IF I HAVE BALTIC BROWN GRANITE?
If you’re looking to freshen up your walls, you can check out some versions of…
- gray with DECENT green undertones (green-blue NOT green-yellow, so in other words, a COOL green)
- green-blue shades (leaning hard into the green with a GOOD shot of gray to calm it all down)
- beige paint colours with a focus on an orange-pink undertone
WHAT ARE THE BEST BACKSPLASH IDEAS TO UPDATE BALTIC BROWN GRANITE?
I actually like working with Baltic Brown, as it’s pretty clear on its preferences…
- Some travertine tiles. The key is to choose an updated subway tile pattern, not a diamond or square-lay pattern. The above travertine tile has a great COLOUR, but the diamond pattern does date it a bit.
- Gray tiles with a strong green undertone.
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ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2020, UPDATED IN 2021 WITH MORE GOODIES FOR YOU!