How to Update 90s Granite (and Make it Disappear)

Since the grey trend has been replaced with black/dark and moody kitchens (the pendulum has to swing back and forth between light and dark after all), here’s where incorporating a trend works really well:

You can make your 90s granite disappear!

So first, notice I didn’t say 80s granite even though there are lots of unpainted oak kitchens today with granite countertops that were installed in the 90s and onwards. FYI, if you did that without painting your cabinets, you would likely end up with a ‘new granite, old kitchen’ look, because we weren’t doing granite countertops in the 80s.

However, if  you do have pink beige or earthy granite and you want to create a new and current look, painting your cabinets a deep colour works well to downplay the stone and create an upscale look. This way you can extend the life of your dated granite for another 10 years as long as this look is trending.

Look at this amazing transformation that makes the best of pink beige granite by Chris Loves Julia (below).

Moody painted kitchen transformation by Chris Loves Julia

See how the arched display cabinet perfectly echos the arch of the black window AND the window design as well! Really clever. I’ve seen a lot more arches lately in doors and windows, have you been noticing that too?

While the blue green grey colour (above) feels a bit like the grey trend, (slate blues and greens are certainly trending, especially for cabinetry), these cabinets could just as easily have been a muted navy or a deep green, red or violet based colour too for a similar effect.

Notice, that the uppers were removed on either side of the window.

That’s what will make an average, builder kitchen feel a lot more current.

A dark colour for your cabinets is definitely something to consider if you want to work with dated earthy granite.

Peach Granite + Navy Cabinets

Here is good example of peachy/pink granite working with painted navy cabinets for a smart update below.

Bigger than the Three of Us

Notice that the peach granite (easier to see below) has been visually repeated by the wood shelving that relates to it! And of course, the old uppers were removed (and the range area reconfigured) to create this updated makeover which is fabulous!

Choose your dark colours carefully

Still, be cautious if you want to try this. It won’t work for every kitchen.  The darker the colour, the more it shows finger prints and dust, just like dark espresso floors and cabinets did. And be especially careful with trendy, heavy black.

It’s more likely for stark, inky black cabinets to look like ‘trendy new painted black cabinets in an old kitchen’.  In other words, black is more likely to make your earthy granite look old. Stick with softer darks in muted warm neutrals, blues, greens and slates if you want to try this look for your kitchen.

If you need help choosing colours for your kitchen makeover, be sure to check out my eDesign services here.

Become a True Colour Expert this Spring, learn how to choose the perfect white, learn when the perfect white should be greige or complex cream, and how to coordinate neutrals and colours in ALL finishes and fabrics. Join me for the best colour training in the world. Register here.

Related post:

3 Best Ways to Update your House NOW; Before you Sell

Ask Maria: Will my Cabinets Look Dated Even if I Paint Them?

Here’s how to Embrace your Cream Kitchen; Before & After

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  1. These kitchens look quite trendy but I can’t say that I like dark cabinets even though they may be the new trend. I still much prefer a light coloured kitchen, whether a light wood or light painted cabinets. I just find it more pleasing to the eye. But the trends come and go and I still believe your timeless light kitchens are the way to go, (for me, anyway). But it is nice to see the latest trends/looks and the imaginative ways people change the look of these kitchens.

    • Hi Tina, This post is about working with bad, dated granite and making it seem way more current for at least another 10 years while this trend is in. Maria

  2. I am showing this to my mother! She has earthy granite and golden oak cabinets, and is not a fan. I have polished black (uba tuba) granite, cream cabinets and cream/light beige tumbled stone backsplash (house was remodeled before I bought it). I think it fits your “timeless” description but have long wondered about honing the granite to remove the shine. I hesitate because it feels like every time workmen have come into the house for any reason, they have caused corollary damage to something else: ladder put a hole in the stairwell wall, a protective paper bootie slipped off and the worker’s shoe left an indelible stain on a rug, etc, ETC. One part of me says, do it! This entire house is eggshell paint and matte fixtures / accessories – the kitchen counters are the only inch of shine anywhere. The other part says, shine conveys cleanliness, and who doesn’t want their kitchen to look sparkling clean? What would Maria do?

  3. Great article Maria. Thank you. I have a similar problem but with dark grey polished granite which I would like to make less visible. It was originally installed with wine coloured gloss slab doors with huge stainless steel handles on base and wall cabinets. I’ve removed the wall cabinets and intend replacing them with shelves.

    I have test painted one kitchen door in a very pale shade of off white/ivory but the contrast is too strong and the granite too dominant. Please don’t say grey doors is the answer. Which colours would you suggest and in what strength?

    • I’m not saying all granite is OUT, but the granite we installed in the 90s was very specific to that era. No one is installing it anymore.
      In general, once people have lived with granite countertops (because they are busy in general) they move to quartz, and certainly what’s trending now is quartz that looks like marble which also happens to be timeless. Great question thanks! Maria

  4. Should I update a kitchen with a darker granite like the common tropic brown (browns and black granite). Cabinets are simple in a light maple wood finish. Now I worry they are dated after your post.

  5. I am always surprised by the quite ugly subway tile shown in an otherwise nice looking kitchen. Why are they putting a trendy, but ugly, item in?
    And yes, it is just another trend. At least most trends are attractive.

    If you have oak cabinets, it is pretty impossible to cover up the grain with painting.

  6. This is a fantastic post, but for those who truly hate their old granite, but can’t afford to replace it, there is another option.
    A good epoxy coating can work really well on both granite and other countertops and it costs a lot less than new countertops. I used products by Stone Coat Countertops (SCC) to go over my laminate counters and created a grey soapstone look. I absolutely love it and it cost me less than $600 in materials (and a lot of time). I honed it to a lovely matte finish and it’s holding up very well.
    Some people are doing this over their old granite and it’s working well. SCC has tons of great videos for DIYers. You can get nearly any look, but the most popular now–whites require a caution. Epoxy yellows over time due to UV light and heat. SCC’s countertop products are heat and UV resistant, but they can still yellow.
    Anyway, I thought I’d throw this out there as a great option.

    • Black granite? Your options are endless and I wouldn’t call that 90s unless it has rounded edges. Maria

  7. I get so excited when I see such innovative ideas! I love all of these examples! You come up with the most enlighting posts.
    I still love the clad cabinets because they keep your eye moving without stopping to look at the appliances. I think the first example was very cleverly done. The “boring subway tile made all the examples look fresh and current!

    Thanks for another great post!

  8. Hi Maria,
    I love stones and very concerned about their aging with the time. You are right, old days granit is too busy and look really old fashioned… And before your post I thought it was impossible to do anything about it… But voila, dark cabinets take the business away from the stone!!! I adore contrasting granite and cabinets, just like I like contrasts in general : )
    The arches are also my weekness, I am so happy you say they are in trend these days!!
    Thank you so much, Maria, for your ideas on how to make ‘lemonade out of lemons’.: ) … or peach juice haha..

  9. I absolutely HATE my 90’s granite! The house we are in now is not my forever house. I was wondering about doing a marble look laminate counter. I have ugly dark cherry look cabinets. What do you think about laminate as a cheaper idea then replacing the horrid 90’s granite. My husband said for resell people are expecting granite kitchens not laminate. I’m also worried the cabinets are not worth painting. I’m sure they are builder grade, plus they are hung to low. What should I do?

    • Will someone rip out your cherry cabinets? Then maybe a white laminate is a good idea so that you can handle it until you move! 🙂 Maria

  10. Sarah Richardson had to deal with the old pinky stone on a fireplace recently with her chalet renovation (you can see it on YouTube). The blue-gray tones she used on the walls and furnishings really transformed the space.

  11. What do you do when the counter top is a brown-grey matte quartz, but peachy-pink beige wall tiles and orange Shaker cabinets? Floor is orangy hardwood too! Yikes!
    Any updating suggestions for resale that don’t cost a fortune? I love the dark look!
    Thanks!
    Susan

    • Hi Susan, It’s really impossible for me to give accurate advice without photos. I’m happy to consider your kitchen for an Ask Maria photo if it’s something I haven’t blogged about before, you can send the photos to [email protected] with Ask Maria in the subject.
      Otherwise, I can also help through my eDesign services!
      Warmly,
      Maria

  12. So I spent thousands of dollars installing granite, a natural stone in the early 2020s. It was supposed to be an investment. Now I need to hide it because it’s not “trendy”? I understand things become dated, but granite is a natural stone. It’s meant to last a very very long time. It’s not Formica. Or the horrible wallpaper borders with ducks that was big in the 80’s. I appreciate the tips in your article, but I refuse to feel embarrassed I spent thousands of dollars on my beautiful, durable granite counter tops.

    • I agree with you! My article is absolutely not blanket advice for anyone who doesn’t need it!

      My mission in life is to help everyone create a home that they love, definitely not to make them feel bad about the choices they made!

      Comments like yours are helpful to everyone and I truly appreciate that you took the time to write it! I’m sure you’re among many who feel the same! xo Maria

  13. What about upper cabinets? They are so functional. Open shelves are huge dust collectors! I have one in my kitchen, installed by previous owners’. But they are so popular right now. Are they a trend? Any good options for keeping uppers while keeping it timeless?

    • Glasses and mugs that I use every day on the lower shelf don’t have time to get dusty, and I make the uppers that I can’t reach decorative and once in a while they get dusted!
      My point about uppers is not that everyone needs to have them, but simply the average builder kitchen lacks personality and this is one way to get some with a kitchen makeover! Hope that makes sense. Maria

  14. I have a very earthy, gold and yellow undertoned granite countertop with medium yellow wood cabinets and brass hardware (very 90s meets 2010). My plan is to paint the cabinets the right white for my house (90s New England colonial) and replace the hardware with silver. I’ve been racking my brain what color to paint the walls (currently sad dishwater light grey) that will go with the granite and still be a color, not a neutral. I think I’m going to go with a very subdued, medium coral. Wish me luck! 😉

  15. My granite looks similar to the Chris Loves Julia kitchen. There is a lot of it! And with pink beige travertine floors and backsplash. And lots of wood (it’s lovely wood, but just so much of it :)). I do live in a southwest, desert-style home (living in the greater Phoenix Arizona area), and my kitchen is pretty common around here. But I dream of painting the cabinets (hubby would never go for that). Would love to replace the counters and backsplash, but it would cost too much. Bottom line for me is to be content with what I have! I have a lovely kitchen and home, even if it’s not exactly “my style” 🙂 Thanks for the beautiful inspiration, Maria! I love your blog!

  16. This article is a great reminder that we don’t need to rip out all the hard surfaces to update a space. But I do prefer the idea of less busy countertops. I have considered quartz to replace my tan/brown/black granite, but I cannot get past the fact that I can’t put a hot pan (straight from the oven/stove) directly on the surface-maybe I’m lazy, but I’m not dealing with trivets. With granite, there is no issue (maybe ill advise, but I still do it–daily without a problem) I think my only option of replacing is quartzite–not white, but light, and without the dreaded granite “movement” and just as durable as granite.

  17. Will painting the walls a grey or greige also help to update a kitchen with custom cherry cabinets and earthy granite?

    • It’s unlikely that wall colour can do all the heavy lifting in this case. Cherry cabinets look best with white countertops and a white backsplash but my best advice is to change out your countertops/backsplash and live with the cherry, rather than leave the earthy granite and paint your cabinets! Hope that helps! Maria

  18. I adore granite. Geology was my favorite class in college and I seriously considered changing my major but I couldn’t make it through physics. That said, the spec house we bought in 2006, built in 2005, came with two long side counters and a big island in the middle, all covered in Baltic Brown. I could never see anything attractive about it except its indestructibility. I tried to appreciate its long journey to my kitchen, but the brown and mauve spots (amoeba under a microscope as a Houzz expert once called it) repulsed me every day. Last winter we were finally in a position to replace it. At every granite yard I visited, and there are many in the Dallas metroplex, they said “Oh yeah, I know Baltic Brown. It flew off the racks in the early 2000’s. Couldn’t keep it in stock.” And every one of them looked surprised when I told them that’s what we had and they said, “Wow, I haven’t seen that in 15 years.” So, granite can indeed be trendy. If you still love your granite from the ’90’s and early 2000’s, you probably have one prettier and easier to decorate around than Baltic Brown, haha!

  19. Hi Maria. I got excited when I saw the title of this post! I’d love to modernize my 90’s kitchen and extend the life of my granite (even though I would never have personally selected it!). I have travertine floors, orangey-cherry shaker cabinets, and brown/gold bossy granite (what I think is juprana persia). I would love to paint the cabinets a deeper blue color but I’m not sure it would blend in with the counters. I would also consider keeping my cabinet color and getting a new counter, but I think that my floors and cabinets clash as they are orange vs pink undertones. Do you have any more examples of how to make this work, especially with more of a brown colored granite? Thank you! Also do you have a package for existing kitchens? I was looking and only saw a package for new a new kitchen.

    • Hi Kylie, Thanks for your question! To give you accurate advice, I need photos, My team will also send you rates where you can choose the help you need! Maria

  20. Do you feel that there is an edge to countertops that is timeless? My last contractor said “You missed the ogee trend”……

    • That is a good question. . . I know a rounded edge was 90s, and possibly the ogee trend was Tuscan. I certainly have seen more squared edges in my 20 years so possibly that’s the way to go! Hope that helps, Maria

  21. Thanks so much. During the 80s, I was, and still am, dreading the tearing out of all the granite just to be thrown in the dump! It’s not an unlimited resource. (See Texas Pink Granite.) Not to mention the expense! The peach granite with navy cabinets is brilliant.

  22. I felt really guilty about the thought of perfectly good granite going to the dump just because I didn’t like the colors. That’s one reason it took us 13 years to change it. Ours was in 6 large pieces so the installers held 4 of them for people who said they wanted them. The 2 long side pieces that separated the kitchen from the living room were polished on all sides and were supposedly going to be donated to a park or church for benches. I’ll never know if they made it to their intended destinations, but I try to be as environmentally conscious as I can.

  23. I love this idea for working with 90s granite. Would this work in a powder bath too? I see a lot of designers doing navy cabinets in powder baths. Thank you!

    • As long as it’s done right, yes. Notice that in each of these kitchens there were other updates done which is what makes them good makeovers! Do the same with your bath! Maria