Painted kitchen cabinet ideas – how to use different finishes and colors to amazing effect
These painted kitchen cabinet ideas can transform your space, from genius layout tricks to clever decorative effects
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These painted kitchen cabinet ideas are useful in two ways – if you're planning a new kitchen and aren't sure how and where to use color, or if you're looking to give an existing kitchen an easy upgrade with paint. After all, this hardworking space sees a lot of wear and tear, and very quickly, becomes a picture of disrepair.
The right color and paint combination can take a kitchen from staid to stunning. And if you haven’t considered adding a lick of paint to your cabinets, island, or walls, then you’re missing out on a big opportunity to add a lively dose of character to your kitchen.
Take a look at some modern kitchen ideas suggested by experts, and start sampling some fresh new colors and finishes on your cabinets.
9 painted kitchen cabinet ideas to cook in creativity
'I think the color is a personal choice and a decision that should be primarily based around the atmosphere you want to create,' says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL. 'Do keep in mind that in a small kitchen, if you want moody and atmospheric then go dark or bold or busy, and if you want it to look clean and minimal then go for light pale colors.'
1. Paint cabinets to blend in with the wall
When you're deciding on a kitchen color scheme, choosing to paint the cabinets the same shade as the walls can help create an alluring, uniform look.
Kitchen cabinets naturally draw the eye around the room, making you notice the height and breadth of it, and eventually the painted walls. By matching the hues, you expand the block of color, giving the whole kitchen an artfully cohesive aesthetic.
'Dark cabinets are always used to create mood and drama,' says Helen Parker of deVOL (opens in new tab).'In terms of color, I think green kitchens mirror the new passion people seem to have for greenery in their homes, conservatory full of exotic plants and cacti, or just some simple spider plants hanging in a woven plant hanger.'
'Everything has a very natural and slightly Seventies vibe at the moment and painting your kitchen green just seems to confirm that love for natural things, in particular living greenery,' say Helen. 'So this hue is going to be a top color choice for people who love this look or even if they can’t face the care required to look after plants they can still feel the positive vibes of such a fresh and vibrant color which reminds us so much of nature and the outdoors.'
2. Introduce muted colors for low contrast
Your choice of kitchen colors doesn't always have to make a bold statement. Consider pairing pastel tones with white interiors to create a bright, airy kitchen scheme that feels calm and inviting. Mint green kitchens, mixed with cool white-painted bricks, wooden elements, and more can help create a classic, crisp style.
If you like the idea of mint green in the kitchen but don't want to commit to doing the whole space in this color, simply apply it to an island or one wall. This will create a subtle pop without overwhelming the space.
3. Go for a glossier finish for a brighter kitchen
When remodeling your kitchen, post the first task of finding the right color, the second biggest one is selecting the right finish. There’s no right or wrong paint finish, but certain types do have their advantages in a room prone to sticky fingers and spillages.
For one, satin or gloss paint can instantly update a tired space. The finish gives surfaces a lasting shine and invariably, makes a space seem brighter, as the light bounces around the surfaces, illuminating the space. Just as high gloss surfaces resist water, dirt, and contaminants, these tough finishes stand up to high traffic. This paint also resists bumps, nicks, and scrapes, and can give furniture strength and durability.
'The kitchen was painted using Sherwin Williams' Tricorn Black (opens in new tab) on natural white oak,' says Britany Farinas, principal designer at House of One (opens in new tab). 'It gives the space a sleek look and provides a great contrast against the diamond-shaped Calcutta gold marble tile we used as the backsplash.'
4. Contrast the drawers with the oven
Bright and bold, this colorful kitchen pairs a blaze-red oven with warm blue cabinets. When it comes to navy, it truly is the new black. The hue adds a neat and preppy charm and looks especially good paired with a white countertop. On the other hand, red, which is purported to up the appetite, makes for a bold choice in the kitchen. The two together can make for an eye-catching color scheme that never gets old.
When choosing a red color for the kitchen, you want to consider the undertone or temperature of red. Is it going to be a warm red or a cool red? And how much? The best idea is to get plenty of paint samples before choosing a final tone – and be aware that red requires at least two coats for full coverage.
'The secret sauce to our kitchen project was not following the recipe of the typical white kitchen,' says Todd Prince, founder of Todd Prince Design (opens in new tab). ' We used a moody high blue gloss paint on the cabinetry and added a spicy pop with a red range by Hestan Home (opens in new tab).'
5. Create an earthy kitchen with wood and rust tones
Just like red, orange grabs attention right away. This color is best used on prominent features that should be exaggerated. If an earthy kitchen is on your mind, then choose an orange with a brown or yellow undertone and paint the kitchen cabinets a wonderful rust tone. This hue pairs especially well in a woody space and creates a warm, cocooning atmosphere.
'While white kitchens are timeless and classic, a simple color change can update your kitchen drastically without breaking the bank,' says Alex Main, director at The Main Company (opens in new tab). 'Having an entirely neutral scheme isn’t for everyone and using color is a powerful way to change the mood of a kitchen. Colour can help to create the illusion of space while also drawing the eye to certain key features within the room. In the past, colors such as avocado green and bright orange were all the rage – now, people are opting for a more subtle palette of blues, greys, and rust, as well as incorporating a mix of materials and colors, alongside natural finishes.'
'Wooden accents can add warm color that has character and charm,' says Alex. 'There is nothing quite like the warm rustic color and texture of reclaimed wood, mixed with encaustic tiles and some copper tones.'
6. Consider a color block with upper and lower cabinets
While an all-pink kitchen may not be everyone's cup of tea, a great, strong contrast to that hue is blue. The opposites can create a great color block, and offset each other wonderfully, giving rise to a striking interior.
If you don't want to commit to all pink cabinets, you could use the hue in the backdrop instead, used only on upper cabinets or on an island. This will give you more flexibility, allowing you to easily switch up the décor if you fancy a change. Post the peppering of pink, to give the room more grounding, choose a deep tone of blue, bringing subtle flashes of coordinating shades elsewhere.
'Patterns and color combinations were a key part of our work on this renovation,' says Hélène Pinaud, founder of Heju (opens in new tab). 'The colors are all associated with harmony from one room to another. We used existing elements of the architecture to add color and create revealing contrasts. In the kitchen, the two-tone kitchen was made to measure. Green and pink have been paired with a terrazzo worktop whose shades echo the existing fireplace.'
7. Paint an accent cabinet
If you're in the midst of planning a kitchen and an accent cabinet, like a crockery unit, may help. The cabinet, slightly removed from the kitchen triangle and the hubbub can model some of the most eye-catching shades and lift the space. Shades of green work with retro-style kitchens for a nostalgic wink – and also look great in modern kitchens.
'In this kitchen, we used Green Smoke by Farrow &Ball (opens in new tab) which is a bold yet fresh color and links the kitchen with the outdoors,' says Lara Clarke, founder of Lara Clarke Interiors.
If you're planning on doing this paint job at home, consider satin, semi-gloss, or gloss paints as they're generally easier to wipe down, and resistant to grease and cooking fumes.
8. Create whimsy with a hand-painted cupboard
Are you a fan of highly colorful and decorative interiors? Then give your home, especially the kitchen a new, fresh look with paint and patterns. Think outside the box, and give kitchen cabinets, walls, and flooring an unexpected maximalism by transforming the room with a hand-painted cupboard.
A few brands, such as deVOL, can undertake this task. 'Before the cupboard’s construction, we can give an almost undetectable hand-painted and astonishingly well-executed finish,' says Helen. 'We hand-finish and embellish each backboard with craquelure before applying a light coat of antique wax to bring the crackle to life.'
'This final procedure adds so much character to the surface of the design which completes the authentic look,' Helen adds. 'It’s a very straightforward but wonderful addition to your kitchen or curiosity cupboard and can be the finishing touch that makes your kitchen feel extra special.'
9. Consider a multicolored kitchen with painted cabinets, island and walls
If you are obsessed with color and love to be surrounded by it in every room, consider a punchy colorful kitchen. If you have a relatively large space with several elements, it can be worth creating meaningful points of interest with color. Consider painting the cupboards, islands, and even walls in varying hues. Be careful though – you don't want to choose more than three hues lest the space looks like a hotchpotch.
Ideally, a kitchen color rule of 60-30-10 can be used to create a palette where 60% of the room has one dominant color (walls, ceiling, flooring), 30% with the second color or texture (cabinets, island), and the last 10% used on accents (door knobs, handles, crockery).
Can I just paint over my kitchen cabinets?
The simple answer is yes, but first you need to know what material your existing kitchen is made from and learn how to paint kitchen cabinets for the best finish.
The first step is to clean the cabinets and remove all grime, dust, and muck. Remove the handles and knobs, and cover the edges of the cabinets with masking tape to save them from getting paint on. If you have wooden cabinets, it might be better to first sand them to make them even, and remove any previous paint.
Apply a primer and then use a paintbrush to get into any nooks or hard-to-reach areas to ensure an even and thorough coverage of paint. Use a roller to cover up the remaining surfaces.
Leave it for an hour or two to dry. Apply another coat to firm the paint and the color.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.
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