Trying to work out how to which of the many kitchen color ideas to actually use in your own space can make your head spin. In recent kitchen trends, we’re seeing people being bolder in the kitchen with color, and for those wanting to create a cozy look, it’s all about neutral and warm color schemes that belong to the warm side of the color wheel. ‘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.' In the kitchen, it’s not just about the paint on the walls either.
Color could also give your scheme a lift in the form of an island countertop and the material its made from. Think a grand island worktop with spellbinding veining. For our favorite ways to inject color into the kitchen, we have you covered with plenty of kitchen ideas to get you one step closer to the perfect palette.
1. Look to color theory for color inspiration
Decide on three complementary colors to use in your kitchen and use the 60-30-10 rule when dividing up what color gets how much weighting. This fool-proof method comes out beautifully when followed properly, and the kitchen is a great place to experiment with it.
This kitchen from Elizabeth Hay Design does just that and the impact is timeless and beautiful. 'I love the freshness of the white against the deep green. When using darker colors I like to mix it with a fresher lighter color or a fresh white like I have done here so that the interiors don’t feel too dark and heavy. Adding the wood and teak adds warmth to the room which could feel cold without the natural materials.'
Interior design is all about the balance and this room is a good example of this with the star cool dark green at around 60 percent weighting, the bright white at about 30 percent to add the freshness and then about 10 percent warmth with the wood and cane.
2. Think beyond the cabinetry
When you talk about a colorful kitchen, your first thought might be towards colored cabinetry. Is it bold and on-trend? Yes, but is it also a little bit scary? Absolutely. However there are other ways to introduce color that don't feel like such a commitment, and some that might be able to be achieved with just a little bit of paint.
In this kitchen design by Raili Clasen, founder of Raili CA Design, dark green cabinetry has been complemented by woodwork painted in a muted, sage green. The dining chairs, mismatched but united in this new shade, and the kitchen window introduce color into this kitchen in a way that doesn't cost a lot, but makes a big impression.
3. Go for statement color tiles
Adding dazzle in a simple way, go for glazed green tiling in your kitchen. In this example, from interiors studio, Sierra + de la Higuera, glazed green kitchen tiles add a sheen to an otherwise sparse and minimalist design. In this home, the dark, forest green is about representing the homeowners and their heritage.
'Our clients wanted to bring part of their origins to Madrid,' explains Inés Sierra. 'Plus, they are avid travellers—she is Mexican and he Galician—so they yearned to bring a family influence to their new home. This project is the outcome of a quest to find colour in Madrid, a characteristic marked by the owners’ journeys.'
4. Bring color through eclectic artwork
If you're looking to include color in the kitchen in a more subtle way, consider adding pops of color through eccentric kitchen wall decor. This can be both from budget friendly prints, thrift store finds, all the way through to artwork sourced at auction or galleries.
As long as the piece speaks to you, it deserves a space on your walls. Don't forget about the framing either. 'The frame can be a piece of art in itself,' says designer Kit Kemp, so go all out, with intricate gold frames, or get crafty and embellish your frames yourself with some DIY. This is the kitchen of Home Ecop founder, Natalie Papier, and gently brings color and personality to the kitchen.
5. Consider the aspect and size of your kitchen
It's easy to get carried away choosing wall colors and kitchen cabinet colors, but before making any decisions, look to your space for guidance. We don't like to stick too much to the old interior design tropes like go lighter in a north-facing space or avoid dark colors in a small room, but these are cliches for a reason and it can be a good idea to pay some attention to the size and aspect of your kitchen when choosing colors.
As Ben Burbidge managing director of Kitchen Makers says, 'It’s important to think about when you will use the kitchen and its aspect. For example, a north-facing kitchen is unlikely to get much direct sunlight, regardless of its size, so it can be advantageous to add warmth through rich deep color.'
'If you use your kitchen mainly in the evenings then also consider how you’re your lighting reacts with your color scheme. Warmer lower kelvin bulbs, typically found in decorative pendants, produce a yellow light when compared to the higher kelvin spots which are crisper and more like daylight.'
The key is to order plenty of samples and swatches so you can see what colors look like in your kitchen at different times of the day and under different lights.
6. Go bold with your color combinations
Because sometimes it pays to be bold, and we've had decades of being all about the grey kitchen ideas, and the white kitchens and the cream kitchens, it's so refreshing to see such brave shades being used in the kitchen.
'Color can make your head spin, it can keep you awake with its possibilities. Our philosophy is not to give you endless choices, but a small curated selection of colors that work together in harmony however you choose to mix them up.' says deVOL's Creative Director, Helen Parker. 'It’s quite daunting picking colors, but with a little consideration and a little bit of impulse, you can really make an impact.'
So why not listen to that little bit of impulse and be inspired by this fabulous pink and green modern kitchen. We very much agree with Zoe Holland of Sustainable Kitchens that 'Pink and Green should always be seen! I would say that's our most popular playful color combination, whether it is subtle hues or eclectically bright shades, the colors just bounce off each other so wonderfully creating a statement kitchen.'
7. Choose rich cocooning hues for a classic look
There's just something so elegant about a deep, rich red kitchen. It feels both bold and yet totally timeless, and can give a traditional kitchen like a Shaker a real lift, not necessarily making it feel more contemporary but rather more bold.
Red is also not a kitchen color we see all too often (but it's a color trend that's certainly seeping through in its moodier more burgundy forms) and feels really fresh after our obsession with cooler-toned blue and greens. And in terms of what colors go with red, we love how the putty pink walls work behind this deep red to give it a bit of a lift but not to clash with the warm tones.
8. Embrace the trend for bare plaster walls
Bare plaster walls (or painted walls that imitate bare plaster) are such a huge interior design trend right now, and they can work so well in the kitchen to bring in texture and character. They wouldn't look out of place paired with painted cabinetry, say in a neutral like a slubby grey or even with black, but personally, we think the best combination is plaster walls with bare wooden cabinetry – all the texture and all those neutral tones.
9. Experiment with uplifting turquoise hues
Blue kitchens are essentially the new grey kitchens, we see navy cabinetry more than any other color nowadays. But we are really keen on this brighter take on the trend, adding just a hit of a bolder blue amongst all that crisp white looks so fresh and uplifting.
Annie Sloan is on board with this bolder blues too, saying that 'decorating with turquoise can be very rewarding, as this is a guaranteed crowd-pleasing color with lots of positive associations which can bring a lot of joy. It works especially well in a social space like a kitchen; I’d be inclined to dress with organic, heavily textured accents to give a cozier finish but a sixties palette of turquoise and orange also works fabulously with sleek mid-century modern silhouettes, glass decor, and metallic fittings.'
10. Embrace the two-tone kitchen trend
Two-toned kitchens are a kitchen trend that's so simple and so effective and means you can have more fun with your color palette too, bringing in more than one key color. We think this yellow and green kitchen by deVOL is making a serious case for going bold with your choices too.
'It takes a little more color confidence to opt for a two-tone scheme but the results can be incredibly rewarding. Bold color contrasts take confidence but can deliver a high-end look. A great way of achieving this is using one color for cabinetry that’s situated along the floor and another for the walls and units above. This works especially well with dark greys, blues or greens paired with white or off-white tones.' explains Ben Burbidge.
'For those wanting a something a little more subtle keeping a natural wood finish in selected areas such as drawer and cupboards interiors, open shelving and trim can be a relaxed way of utilizing this scheme.'
'Another way of bringing this idea to life is opting for a tonal look combining darker and lighter shades of the same color will provide a sophisticated finish. You can use one color for cabinetry and the other for splashbacks, trim or your island.'
11. Don't be afraid to go with darker shades in small space
When it comes to black kitchens don't be put off if your space isn't huge. Dark colors arent' just reserved for large spaces, as Helen Parker explains, 'I think color is a completely personal choice and a decision that should be primarily based around the atmosphere you want to create, rather than trying to make a small room look big. However small a room is, if you want moody and atmospheric then go dark or bold or busy, if you want it to look clean and minimal then go for light pale colors.'
The key with using these more dramatic hues, and still ensuring your kitchen feels inviting is to bring in plenty of texture and warmer hues. Contrast dark cabinets with warm wooden worktops and wooden flooring, bring in gold accents with your hardware and taps, and decorate with a mix of materials like more woods, copper, and marble pieces.
12. Dabble in color with smaller accents
Going all out with bold colors isn't for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to bring in those brighter shades without having to paint your cabinets or walls. You can easily add just pops of color with your decor, accessories, or even your appliances.
'While white kitchens are timeless and classic, a simple color change can update your kitchen drastically without breaking the bank. Having an entirely neutral scheme isn’t for everyone and using color is a powerful way to change the mood of a kitchen.' says Alex Main, Director of The Main Company. 'Color can help to create the illusion of space while also drawing the eye to certain key features within the room.'
'One way to include pops of color in your kitchen is to add a colorful tiled splashback or even invest in some colored appliances, such as your oven or fridge.' suggests Alex. 'Statement appliances are a really effective way to introduce color accents without needing to splash out on a whole new scheme – this way, you can also start small and slowly increase the amount of colored appliances as you feel more comfortable.'
'Alternatively, add wood pieces for contrast – wooden accents can add warm color that has character and charm. There is nothing quite like the warm rustic color and texture of reclaimed wood, mixed with encaustic tiles and some copper tones.'
13. Create a calming space with a muted kitchen color scheme
One for your neutral lovers who aren't willing to part with your white and creams. Going for a neutral kitchen color scheme is really the best way to decorate if you are after longevity, these colors aren't going to date and can roll with your changes in style too as you can just switch up your decor over the years.
'Dark blues, blacks, and greens have been popular in recent years, but we are now seeing a bit of fatigue with these colors and there is a marked shift towards lighter tones and organic materials, textures, and colors again.' explains Oana Sandu, Lead Designer at Blakes London.
'Green is still a very popular color choice in kitchens but we are seeing the softer shades favored over the darker jewel tones. Likewise, with the white-based colors, the blue undertones are less popular, with people opting for richer earthier neutral with green undertones, such as the Paint and Paper Library's Chalk, or Fired Earths Oak Apple.'
14. Match your walls to your cabinets
A great small kitchen idea, that's really easy and really effective. Painting your cabinets to match wall color doesn't break up the room and prevents the cabinets from adding too much visual bulk. Richard Moore, Design Director of Martin Moore calls it the 'color drench’ approach – where people are painting all their kitchen cabinetry in one strong color, using worktops and brassware to lift and lighten the scheme.'
Helen Parker of deVOL, says that 'painting your walls and cupboards in the same color is true commitment and will reward you with a cohesive and always impressive look. The all-encompassing color creates an atmosphere of calm where nothing is fighting for dominance.'
'Limited color palettes make styling a room easier too, you can be much more selective, not necessarily keeping to that same color but being a little more restrained with your choices. A rich muted color on the walls and cupboards with flashes of crystal and copper is enough to create drama. Similarly, in a light-colored kitchen, the constraints of using only natural earthy colors helps to instantly create a soft and mellow feel.'
15. Opt for muted hues for a rustic country feel
Sage green kitchens are the way to do green kitchens for 2022. This soft muted grey-green works perfectly in kitchens of any size and any style. Pair with wooden accents for a lovely modern rustic look and bring in some marble either in the worktops or a splashback to add a touch of elegance.
As Alex main explains, this surge in these more muted hues being used in kitchens is linked to the ever-growing love of county aesthetics. He explains that, 'country-style has experienced a revival, perhaps in part due to the emergence of cottagecore and the stylish rural properties that continue to feature on our Instagram feeds. As we enter 2022, this desire for a country-inspired interior has evolved slightly, with a softer color palette and more modern approach to this timeless trend.'
16. Go for a grown up take on pink
We couldn't not mention pink kitchens, when talking about kitchen color ideas. They aren't for everyone but they also aren't going anywhere. 'Pink Kitchens are certainly here to stick around. says Zoe Holland. We are seeing increasing interest in incorporating pink into kitchen designs, whether it's a traditional Shaker or a more contemporary kitchen - Pink just works! Our favourites are Farrow and Ball's 'Setting Plaster' and 'Sulking Room Pink'.'
That's really the key to make this look a bit more... grown up. Stick with the more muted, plaster pinks tones that work almost as a neutral than a color, and be sure to ground them with deeper hues too. And that needn't always mean greys and blacks, see the purple used in this kitchen, it's still very soft and on the same side of the color wheel as pink. but it's dark enough to balance out any sweetness.
17. Contrast lighter cabinets with dark worktops
'Dark, just off-black looks are on the increase for both cabinetry and worktops. Usually, 90% of the time we work with lighter color worktops. We are starting to see this flip with customers looking for darker, moodier statement worktops like Arenastone's Scuro Concreto.' explains Zoe Holland.
'For cabinetry, dark blues or dark greens such as Little Greene's 'Obsidian Green' look stunning on kitchen cabinetry (particularly with grain showing) for a real wow factor. Pair dark cabinets with brass knobs and pulls, there's your statement kitchen! I am still waiting for customers to go all the way and opt for a jet black kitchen, I think it would look stunning on our Plywood range to see the exposed plywood edges pop against the black – maybe one day soon.'
How do you choose the best kitchen paint color?
'There’s so much to consider when designing your kitchen, and color is one of the most effective tools you have when it comes to creating atmosphere and adding character. Going for a white or off-white scheme will create a light, airy and clean space, and the way it works with any floor, work surface, and wall color means it’s incredibly versatile and popular.' explains Stephanie Nix, Kitchen Designer at Neptune.
'Similarly, a monochromatic scheme is sophisticated, precise and clean, but how you balance the percentages of black and white will push the look further, and you can always add a pop of color through accessories or artwork. Pinks are an incredibly popular color at the moment, such as our Pink Peppercorn or Old Rose, as they work beautifully with the undertones of Carrara marble and mix with pale or darker greys to create a calming cook space. You could also introduce black accessories through lighting or black-bronze handles to keep the look chic and sophisticated.'
'When choosing a paint color, think about what purpose each room is used for and use a little color psychology to guide your choice in the main color.' adds Annie Sloan. 'For example, dynamic spaces such as kitchens lend themselves well to bolder color choices. Use rich spice colors in kitchens to reflect flavorsome foods and get mouths salivating before the food prep even begins!'
What are the most popular colors for a kitchen?
Despite a shift in us all being braver with our kitchen color ideas, the most popular shades still remain neutrals. Greys, whites and creams re the most popular colors for kitchens, although these are followed very closely with blues and greens.
'Neutrals reign supreme in popularity colors – but a lot of that is to do with the rental market. If you own your property, make your house a home with some splashes of color that bring joy and make your heart sing! Now more than ever our homes should be places in which we can recharge as well as rest and color will help with that.' says Annie Sloan.
What color of cabinets never go out of style?
Again, if you are after a kitchen color that never goes out of style, you are best sticking with neutrals. 'A classic color tends to stand the test of time so deep blues, greens, and greys are always a good choice if you worry about your kitchen dating. Wood cabinets can always be re-painted if you want to refresh your scheme in the future.' recommends Ben Burbidge.
What colors work best in small kitchens?
'That would depend on the look you are trying to achieve, for a punchy space with a real impact, choose bold and darker tones and paint the cabinets, walls, and ceiling the same shade. Small spaces can look cozy and welcoming by playing with color, you don't always need to go pale and minimal for a small space to work.' explains Zoe Holland.
'Don’t be afraid to use color in a small kitchen, rather than just opting for white. Darker rooms no matter what the size, can add drama and luxury to your home and the kitchen is no exception to this.' says Ben Burbidge.
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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