Matching Busy Orange Granite and Wall Tiles

Danielle Gottwig
5 days ago
last modified: 5 days ago

We recently moved into a new home with older oak cabinets and somewhat dramatic, orange granite counters. I'm usually a gal who likes painted cabinets and quartz counters, but the existing kitchen is growing on me. It's really warm. In fact, the whole house is pretty warm - cherry hardwood floors, and so on. So I am trying to decide how to play with what I have.

One idea is to upgrade the range and paint the wall a fun color, perhaps a blue-green or a green-blue or a gray to add some richness and balance all the orange.

Another idea is to remove the 4" backsplash and add wall tile. But I am not sure how to match tile to the busy, complicated granite. Do any of the tiles below work? Or am I headed the wrong direction with this one?

Possible Complication: there's red brick fireplace in the same room. There's a 10 x 10 kitchen with counter seating in one half, and a 10 x 13 living area with a fireplace in the other half. I am still looking for inspiration pics to reveal if the tile and brick is too much in the same view. The granite and brick are already big visual features so maybe I just need one wall color tying that together.

Tile in Pictures (left to right):

-Gypsum from Fireclay Tile

-Blue Spruce from Fireclay Tile

-Pyrite from Fireclay Tile

Comments (37)

  • THOR, Son of ODIN

    Beware that cool colors (grays) may clash with the warm.

  • Danielle Gottwig

    That's the rub. There are some non-orange colors in the granite. And I don't want more orange. I want something to balance it out. However, I don't know if tile grout lines and contrasting colors will look "off."

    If tile/granite won't sing in this case, it may be that 4" backsplash and paint will be more pleasing. Not to mention less expensive.

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    I looked up your tile, and it's much prettier than your photo. (No offense, my photos never seem to show colors properly, either.) I don't think your cabinets totally clash with the tile but the busy countertop would make me unhappy. Take a spare tile, a cabinet door from that vanity you removed, and a few photos taken in daylight with all the blinds open, and visit a kitchen design studio. See what you get for suggestions. I think a simple quartz or solid surface in a pale shade will work, but can't tell from your photos. Do you have a lot of countertop to replace? Some of our local tile suppliers have a designer on staff to help you with color selections. Many independent designers will help with selecting just a few items like this (countertop and paint color for the room) for a very small fee. Look around for sales on countertops, pick a few things you can afford, and get some advice this time around.
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  • THOR, Son of ODIN

    The existing backsplash color looks pretty good. You might consider updating the receptacle and cover plate with one that is not so bright white.

    Danielle Gottwig thanked THOR, Son of ODIN
  • Danielle Gottwig

    A few more up close shots. In case that's helpful:

    Am still trying to see, but can't quite seem to compute, if these are picking up color in the granite or just contradicting it.

    We've been playing with paint colors, as an alternative, which we think we like. Something like these pictures (not our kitchen, just inspiration pictures):

    The existing paint color works very well, as Thor noted. Harmonizes well. It's just a little boring. But if we break the universe, we could always go back to it!

  • eam44

    Yeah, no to the tile. Way too cool. And generally your choices are cool - that's hard when you love the cool shades but have a warm background to work with. Your counters are orange and so are your cabinets. They belong together.

    You know what looks great with orange? Cream/beige. That's the direction to lean in. If you must have grey, choose greige. In Fireclay Tile you should be considering glazes like Tusk, Ultra Cream, Milky Way, and Cashmere.

    For paint colors you might want to consider something like SW 7008 Alabaster.

    Danielle Gottwig thanked eam44
  • Danielle Gottwig

    OK, maybe that's why I can't figure out if the tiles work. It's because they don't. :) Thanks for the feedback.

    I'll muse over your color suggestions for tile or paint. I could always leave the room alone. There's some version of beige now, which is basically in line with what you are suggesting:

    It's true that I just really like another color pallet and it's getting me into trouble. My last kitchen was gray/white.

    Can we get away with a green-blue to balance out the oranges?

  • eam44

    What you need - and are beginning to collect - are inspiration images. If you are keeping the cabinets, there's not a huge benefit in changing the stone except that there's less orange in the space. There are web pages devoted to downplaying the orange in these types of cabinets. What I would do is look for images with honey oak (or whatever) cabinets that you like. The ones I like pair it with white, or cream. LOTS of people pair it with green (I'm not a huge fan - but if you are, try it). It'll give you a starting point.

    Danielle Gottwig thanked eam44
  • mark_rachel

    100% avoid those cool blues!! It will only make everything look even more orange. I would go with a very light warm cream. EAM44 has the right idea!! This is SW Natural Tan. You can go with a cream that has a grayish undertone, but avoid grays.

    Danielle Gottwig thanked mark_rachel
  • eam44

    Nothing balances out oranges - for me the best strategy is to work with them, harmonize, turn into the skid. If you don't want to do that you absolutely don't have to. Lots of people try the green thing.

    But honestly, you could just paint the cabinets, change the granite, and have the kitchen you really want. Can I just point out, there are five colors on that magazine cover, two of them are warm, and still the colors you are interested in are cool tones. We are who we are!

    You have very little wall space around your cabinets - try those colors out. Let us know how it goes. You might absolutely love it.

    Danielle Gottwig thanked eam44
  • THOR, Son of ODIN

    Here are some interesting colors suggestions for stained wood.
    Best wishes on your refresh!


    Danielle Gottwig thanked THOR, Son of ODIN
  • Danielle Gottwig

    Thanks for all the great input! I'm a little lost, partly because I am bad with color, and partly because this was our last project:

    We warmed that up by adding a big collection of wood cutting boards to tile wall on pegs - but needless to say, the last kitchen was cool-toned.

    When not secretly wanting to make everything white and dark gray, DH and I tend both to like highly-saturated nature colors (dark green, teal, terra cotta ...). Come to think of it, the old midwestern craftsmen from our old neighborhood 15+ years ago are probably why we keep trying to get to color-color-color when we see the oak. It's an old itch.

    Anyway, the point is - thank you for the suggestions. We need ideas!

    I'm going to try out some greens just to see how it goes, and I'll also try to lean into the creams. Maybe I need a tan sample, too.

  • Danielle Gottwig

    In honor of our conversation, here's the closest props I could find last night. I think I can see what you mean about the creams pulling things together, and the green/orange combo really making each other pop.

    On the left -

    cream colored porcelain statue

    Gardinia by Fireclay Tile

    Tusk by Fireclay Tile

    On the right-

    In the Moment by Behr

    View into the current living room, with and without the samples in view:

  • eam44

    So how do you like the blue? And where do you live that you can get Fireclay Tile in an afternoon!!

  • Danielle Gottwig

    I already had the tile samples. I had ordered a range of colors, knowing that I am really bad at matching up colors and always get undertones wrong.

    I like the bold color a lot, and I like the blue-green / wood inspiration pictures I find online. But I am trying to decide if my love for the blue-gray-green color spectrum is blinding me to seeing how it really works in the room.

  • Danielle Gottwig

    On a different note, this inspiration picture you posted is wonderful:

    It's also making me miss my old counters (nougat quartz, ceasarstone) and subway tile:

    I'm not sure we can get quite the same vibe out of the yellow oak - and maybe once we get into new counter territory we should consider replacing or painting the cabinets anyway - but this might be something for me to play with that I haven't explored.

  • eam44

    I love that image too - it's a darker stain on oak, more brown, less orange, and it's really stunning. I even like the brick floors, although standing on them is not something I would relish.

    Your old counter material would work beautifully here too!

  • Danielle Gottwig

    I like the brick too - a friend had brick floors in her old kitchen in Savannah, and they looked great. However, she did report many wine glass fatalities.

  • eam44

    You know, just for giggles, you can always buy a paint sample of alabaster, paint the other side, and see if that and Tusk give you another direction to explore. If it's not where you want to go, I get that.

    Danielle Gottwig thanked eam44
  • Nancy R z5 Chicagoland

    It looks pretty good as is....maybe give it more time before you do anything drastic. If you're itching to change something, and believe me I know the feeling, how about that ceiling light fixture?

    Danielle Gottwig thanked Nancy R z5 Chicagoland
  • Danielle Gottwig

    Eam, I think you're right that the Alabaster is worth a try. I'm not sure what I am searching for, and it may be that a subtle change that brightens things up would do the trick.

    I wonder, actually, if what I am craving is a little more interest or "pop." A contrasting color would do that, but maybe a different off-white would introduce subtle drama.

    Likewise, oh yes - that overhead light needs to go! We also need counter stools, which may add a nice touch.

  • eam44

    A pop of contrasting color can be great too. And the wonderful thing about paint is that you can try it out and change your mind! Accessories that are either neutral (navy) or warm can help as well.

  • mark_rachel

    I personally do not like the teal colors at all. Yes it's a pop of color, but then it makes the kitchen pop as well... which is not a good thing.

  • Danielle Gottwig

    Wait, you don't mean a pop of color like this?

    Cotswold Chapel Kitchen · More Info

    :) :) :) :) :)

    In all seriousness, we do need a toaster. See also: lights, counter stools.

    Oh - and I just collected my giant cutting board collection from the old house in all shades of less-orange-browns.

    Or... Someone still makes ranges in crazy colors, right? Forget starting at the honey cabinets, hobbits, just LOOK INTO THE EYE OF SAURON.

  • mark_rachel

    Yes.... look directly at the red stove.... I love it!!

  • jhmarie

    It is not as fun, but address the lighting first as new lighting will change the tone of everything - even your cabinets. I suggest moving towards the daylight LED bulbs to reduce the orange tones. When I first changed to "daylight" in my kitchen, I wasn't sure what I thought, but now I like the effect, and my cabinets look much browner. I think daylight is about 5000K.

    Then move on to the kitchen surfaces. I have a warm oak kitchen balanced with lots of white / cream and like it very much, but then I am not a fan of grays - too cloudy in the winter where I live to appreciate gray. I do love color, but prefer to bring it in with art and accessories.

    Before doing the backsplash consider if you like the over the range microwave. I am short and find them too high for comfort, too crowding of the cooking area and poor on venting. You may wish to consider replacing it with a hood. If you think you might replace, even down the road, then remove the micro, tile behind and replace the micro, or be sure to reserve enough tile to fill in the space later.

    Warmer kitchens are returning in style, so you may start finding it easier to find newer paint colors and other surfaces you like that will work with your cabinets.

    Here is a wood kitchens idea book with both new and older kitchens:


    Danielle Gottwig thanked jhmarie
  • Danielle Gottwig

    Good point, I'm sure you are right about the light.

    Thanks for the link! The idea book, along with Eam's pictures, do provide some food for thought on how very pale counters + pale backsplash / wall colors can go with oak. Given how in love I was with the super bright counter I used to have, I'd probably enjoy going that direction.

    Some of the inspiration pictures have cabinet colors or grains that are quite different, but this one is pretty close to the color I have got:

    Artisan Kitchen Remodel · More Info

    That said, the current counters do seem worthy of a chance to survive. They're solid, they match the cabinets, and they are really rich and earthy and have personality. They're not my usual style but they work. It's just that they're bossy, and I don't immediately know how to work with them.

    There's some great ideas here so I'll keep playing and see what happens.

  • eam44

    If this were easy, you’d only see one dominant honey oak kitchen. Folks have paired these cabinets with every color in the rainbow. There’s a reason many choose to go with white or cream. ROYGBIV below - my favorite is the orange with the olive tile.

  • eam44

    Pulling together the magazine cover you like, and steering into the skid a bit more... you could also try something like this... if you’re going to the paint store anyway.

  • Jamie Travis

    If this is your forever home, then by all means spend money to dress up what you have already. If you think you may move at some point, do not spend money to match those countertops. Don’t try to match what you already don’t love. (Or in this case what future buyers won’t love.) I would start by replacing the countertops. The whole kitchen can be done in stages, but replacing the counter will make the most impact.

  • rebeccaann999

    I went through the same a few years ago. I poured over internet sites and finally just took a leap. We changed the tops to a white granite and added a white backsplash. Initially we painted a duck egg blue but it lit up the orange in the cabinets. We then decided to extend the SW Universal Khaki at 65% that we have through a lot of the house. The Khaki really looks nice with the wood. You can see in one photo with the clock that we left the blue in the dinette as a bit of this color (and dark gray too) really looks nice with the wood. Stay away from yellows. If you are going to pay for new solid countertops,

    just wait until you can afford new cabinets too. We refaced and painted the island white (it already had a brown granite top) as a place to rest the eye. Oak is busy, granite can be busy and we learned the hard way that tile grout can be too. Try a quart of the khaki on the wall and see what you think. We also have espresso colored wood table and bar stools. It contrasts nicely with the orange.

  • eam44

    Salton Sea glaze with Honey Blush paint.

  • eam44

    This is your BM green with Salton Sea.

  • eam44

    This is Flagstone glaze with Alabaster paint - because I think the pop of color you want might be best in the backsplash.

  • eam44

    Saffron and Alabaster

  • eam44

    Peacock and Alabaster

  • eam44

    From this exercise I've come to the conclusion that Alabaster is the right paint (at least from here - although I sort of love Honey Blush) and that color really belongs in the backsplash. I'm surprised by how much I like Saffron, and I really like Flagstone and Peacock too.

    But this is about YOU. It's easy to play around with paint, but harder to visualize tile from a single sample, so I hope this is helpful.

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