Kitchen color rules – Busola Evans on the best color combinations to use in the kitchen

When it comes to kitchen color rules no one knows what works (and what doesn't) like our Associate Editor Busola Evans...

Holte kitchen extension costs
(Image credit: Holte)

We don't like to use the word 'rules' too often and when kitchen color rules, we more mean expert tips that will help you pick the perfect color for your space and some lovely color combinations that are guaranteed to work that will inspire you. So we spoke with our Associate Editor Busola Evans, who knows a thing or two about kitchens and the best colors to paint them.

As she explains, 'Bringing color into your kitchen design can be transformative and can completely change the mood of your cooking space. Splashes of red can add drama…  a dash of yellow can feel uplifting, and green can symbolize freshness and harmony.'

'The great thing about incorporating color into your kitchen is that you can add as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. If you have a neutral kitchen and don’t know what colors to include, look around your home or even your wardrobe for inspiration. The chances are you are surrounded by colors that you feel comfortable with so it is a good idea to follow it through in the kitchen.'

So here are some kitchen color ideas plus Busola's top tips for adding more color into your kitchen to get you inspired...

1. Bring in color with accessories

Blue and white kitchen with open shelving filled with colorful crockery

(Image credit: James Merrell)

'The easiest way to inject color into your kitchen is to add bright accessories. This is a low-cost way to change the feel but can create a huge impact. Bringing in high-contrast dining chairs or bar stools can add a fun element to your decor and completely energize the space. Adding a colorful blind or a bold freestanding cabinet is another easy win.  You can also play with other accessories like kitchen lighting. Having bright orange pendant lights brings warmth and cheer into an otherwise white kitchen.'

2. Don't always play it safe with cabinets

Yellow kitchen with marble splashback

(Image credit: James Merrell)

'If you are feeling brave choose a bright color like sunshine yellow for your cabinetry. It’s a bold look but works if you use simple, handleless cabinets which ensures the color of the units take center stage. If this sounds too much, a two-tone effect may work better for you. Take a bold color to your lower units and balance it on top with a neutral shade or some open shelving so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.'

3. Experiment with color on the inside of your cabinets

Home bar in a kitchen with yellow tiles walls

(Image credit: Armelle Habib)

'If you are certain you want to keep neutral cabinetry, how about painting inside your units a bold bright? The pop of surprise will spark some joy every time you open a cabinet. It also adds a discreet but impactful element to your scheme.'

4. Contrast walls and cabinets

deVOL pink and green kitchen

(Image credit: deVOL)

'Another way to add color is to play with contrasting colors for your walls and cabinetry. By deliberately picking two shades that sit opposite each other on the color wheel you can easily create an eye-catching scheme which also feels harmonious.'

'This deVOL kitchen uses a pink wall cabinet against a tiled emerald green wall which gives a striking effect but also feels energizing and fun. Likewise, the soft green cabinetry against a more muted pink wall, in this kitchen by interior designer Michelle Kelly, manages to remain warm and inviting. You can play with this contrast in other areas of the kitchen too, so try marrying soft turquoise cabinetry with an equally soft orange on the woodwork of the door and window frame, for instance.'

5. Or in a smaller space blend them in

Small white kitchen by devol

Kitchen by deVOL

(Image credit: deVOL)

'Instead of contrasting colours, painting the walls the same colour as your cabinetry can trick the eye into making the kitchen look bigger. Then you can add interest with a dramatic splashback or worktop alongside beautiful artwork.'

6. Pick a bold shade for a kitchen island

Beach House grey kitchen with blue island

(Image credit: Genevieve Garruppo (@garruppo))

'For a statement look, try a kitchen island in a bold shade. Having the island in a stand-out color like orange instantly elevates a neutral decor and the color can be a springboard for artwork and other accessories.'

7. Try out a bright hue in a pantry

Pink pantry with black door

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)
Busola Evans

As the Deputy Editor of Livingetc, Busola Evans works across both print and digital and specialises in kitchens, bathrooms and projects. She is an expert at explaining how to improve, extend and convert your home. Prior to her current role, she was Associate Editor on both Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine and Grazia,  and was an interiors columnist for the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine.