Colorful kitchen ideas – 9 ways to add character to your cooking space through color

These colorful kitchen ideas, from appliances in bright primary colors to vibrant islands, will transform the heart of your home into a playful space

a colorful kitchen design with green cabinets and an orange range
(Image credit: Hugo May. Design: Howark Design)

Choosing colorful kitchen ideas is the ideal way to inject some excitement into your design scheme, but they're not always for the faint of heart. Despite this, there's a definite upward trend toward people being bolder with the use of color in their kitchens. 

Typically the heart of the home, the kitchen is a dynamic and energetic space. It’s a central hub and a hive of activity, a space for entertaining friends and family. ‘The colors we are using in the kitchen have expanded as we look to bring warmer tones into our homes,’ says Joa Studholme, color curator at paint brand, Farrow & Ball. ‘It’s about adding personality while remaining comfortable.' 

As well as a lick of paint, look to your hardware and furnishings to introduce color into your space. Whatever combinations you chose to settle on, take your pick from our top kitchen color ideas for a fresh take on these interior schemes.

What are the best colorful kitchen ideas?

The kitchen is a space to have fun with your color palette and pick a hue that really reflects the lively function of the room, but there are limitless possibilities. 'Color can make your head spin,' says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL Kitchens (opens in new tab). Our philosophy is not to give you endless choice, but a small curated selection of colors that work in harmony together. It's daunting picking colors, but with a little consideration and a little bit of impulse, you can really make an impact,' says Parker.]

When it comes to choosing your palette, there are various color combinations out there. For Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene, a vibrant, contemporary scheme on the walls can be created using shades like ‘Apple’ green and dusky pink ‘Light Peachblossom’. For Sue Wadden of paint company Sherwin-Williams, it’s the deeper, saturated tones like Urban Bronze SW 7048 or Dard Hunter Green SW 0041 that add depth and sophistication.

From zesty greens bringing a fresh feel, to sunshine yellows that are uplifting and comforting, to dark and moody blues, color is there to be played with. Whatever the combination, here are our favourite colorful kitchen ideas.

1. Mix and match cabinet colors 

a kitchen design by kit kemp using different colors of cabinetry

(Image credit: Simon Brown Photography. Design: Kit Kemp)

When choosing kitchen ideas, who said you need to stick to one shade of cabinetry color? Introducing different hues across your kitchen is often seen in two tone kitchen ideas, split across the upper and lower cabinets, but that doesn't have to be the limit in experimenting with color. 

In this design by international interior designer Kit Kemp (opens in new tab), three colors have been used across the space to add character to the design. 'In this residential project, we used colourful tones in the kitchen design with bespoke cabinetry painted in earthy reds, warm yellows and greyish blues to evoke a winter's morning,' explains Kit. 

This palette also plays out across the wider space. 'We also hung Kurdish lamps in colours which echo the cabinetry hues,' Kit continues. 

2. Use flooring as a canvas for color

A white kitchen with a colorful tiled floor

(Image credit: Nicole Cohen)

Color needn’t be all about a splash of paint on the walls. Add interest to a neutral or white kitchen with a bright pop of color on the floor. This renovation at a Jersey beach house by artist-turned designer, Nicole Cohen (opens in new tab), is one such example. White walls and simple pendant lights, coupled with the soft and neutral tone of the wooden ceiling beams give space for the bright green tiling of the floor to really take center stage and shine.

3.  Go bold with your cabinetry and islands

a kitchen with a coral island and green cabinets

(Image credit: Pluck Kitchens)

Whether you're specifying a new kitchen or deciding on how to paint your kitchen cabinets, it pays to be bold with your color choices. Opt for a bold lick of paint on your kitchen island and cabinets to really add character to a space, as in this kitchen design by Pluck Kitchens (opens in new tab)

However, you don't have to go quite this bold. At luxury furniture company Poggenpohl, the core colors are muted and understated, but these neutrals make for a great base for a statement colored island. ‘One customer had a specific color they wanted taken from the 1950 Natural Color System color chart,' said Scott Rotchell of Poggenpohl. ‘The island turned out in a beautiful and vivid blue - a color which the customer carried through to their living space. 

'The decision to have the island in a bright color with the tall bank of units behind in a neutral tone is a popular one that allows for color to be brought into the room without becoming too dominant,' Scott explains. 

4. Use bold contrasts

grey works in the kitchen to make the yellow walls really shine

(Image credit: deVOL)

A statement primary color will really shine when paired with a more neutral or moody tone. Consider grey kitchen ideas or neutral browns to help your color pop really burst. ‘Grey in a kitchen creates a calming air and can be a lovely backdrop for adding a splash of color,’ says Parker at deVOL Kitchens. 

‘I love it with yellow: fresh and a little retro. I also love it with terracotta, giving an industrial look a soft Mediterranean twist,’ she adds. In this example, grey cabinetry from deVOL really highlights the yellow while the craftwork of the cabinetry is shown off by way of sharp contrast. ‘Grey is the basis for so many good looking kitchens,’ says Parker. 

For an even bolder look, play around with black kitchen ideas. Tricorn Black SW 6258 is Sue Wadden's favorite Sherwin-Williams color for adding contrast. 'It’s almost always in our top five to 10 selling colors, and for good reason. It’s a striking, true black color that sets the tone and modernizes any space.'

Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab)’s neutral Dead Salmon also works as a great foundation. ‘From here, we can layer blues and greens such as Calke Green and Sloe Blue on unites and shelves to reconnect with the elements of the earth,’ says Studholme of Farrow & Ball.

5. Try the color drenching trend 

A bright yellow kitchen

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Colorful kitchen ideas doesn't have to mean lots of hues. This yellow kitchen idea has been painted head-to-toe in the same shade, giving this traditional style space a modern twist. 

When considering the colors for your kitchen, a great place to start is with the style of architecture, or the type of kitchen units and hardware you have installed. Consider whether it’s sleep or modern, traditional or rustic, then choose your color to match.

Though this color trend seems modern, the choice of shade firmly grounds this kitchen design in the period too. ‘Picking a relevant historic color will add a sense of consistency to a design scheme,’ says Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene (opens in new tab). ’

6. Add pops of color with cheerful appliances

a colorful olive green kitchen with an orange range

(Image credit: Hugo May. Design: Howark Design)

A simple way to add a splash of color to your kitchen interiors is to take typically black, white or metallic appliances and buy them in a more adventurous color. ‘What better way to incorporate these tones and break up neutral hues than by accesorizing with colorful appliances and cookware,' says appliance brand Smeg (opens in new tab)'s John Davies. 'Small appliances come in a full spectrum of finishes, whether it’s our electric jug blender, full color stand mixer or drop filter coffee machine.' 

In this kitchen by Howark Design (opens in new tab), orange has been chosen as a bold accent color that goes with green, and brought into the scheme through a colorful range and countertop appliances to complement the olive cabinetry. 

7. Use color as a way to deftly divide your space

Red paint on cabinets with a light yellow on the walls

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Using the natural lines of a room as dividers for color is a smart way of introducing exciting shades to your kitchen interiors and really zoning the space. The building blocks of the room can be used to demarcate your kitchen and lead the eye towards specific details you want to really show off. 

Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene looks to this example of a dynamic kitchen color scheme as inspiration. ‘Add one color to the lower cabinets and contrasting colors for walls and upper cabinets such as ‘Drummond’ red on base units (pictured). It goes with ‘Bone China Blue Deep’ on upper units and ‘Apple’ green on walls.  

8. Find fixtures in eye-catching colors 

A pink tap from Dowsing and Reynolds

(Image credit: Dowsing & Reynolds)

Bring color to your kitchen through unexpected ways, like introducing a colorful faucet that makes a splash and adds some excitement to your kitchen sink ideas

In this space, Dowsing & Reynolds (opens in new tab)' ‘Miami Colour Pop’ collection introduces a colorful pastel accent. ‘It makes for a delicious dopamine boost,’ says Ally Dowsing-Reynolds, CEO of Dowsing & Reynolds. ‘People sometimes think color can only be brought in through paint, wallpaper and accessories but why not have colorful fittings too?'

9. Add interest and fun with the use of pattern

colorful kitchen tiles in red and white

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

A colorful choice of tile is a simple way to add another dimension to your kitchen palette. In this instance, Annie Sloan (opens in new tab)’s chalk paint in Greek blue works beautifully against the red and white tiles which have been laid in an artful checkerboard fashion. The kitchen is a great place to get creative, and pattern can also be replicated through mosaic tiling or even a cheery terrazzo worktop.

Should I be bold with color in a small kitchen? 

When decorating a small kitchen, think firstly about what you want to achieve and the atmosphere you want to create - the aim doesn’t always need to be about making a smaller space look big and sometimes you have to embrace a more compact room. 

‘However small a room is, if you want moody and atmospheric, then go bold or busy, and if you want to look clean and minimal then go for lighter pale color. In a small kitchen filled with dramatic colors, textures and eclectic accessories can become big in personality,’ says Helen Parker of deVOL.  

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.