Dakota Johnson's 'ugly' kitchen cabinet color will be the biggest trend of 2024 – and it makes her small room look larger

Energize the heart of the home by decorating with nature's most nourishing shade

Dakota Johnson
(Image credit: Getty Images / Lionel Hahn / Contributor)

Shades of pea green, beige and brown are rarely the go-to paint colors of choice for homeowners, but interior design firm Pierce & Ward, who coined the term 'ugly colors', say every home needs a dose of muddier hues to make their space sing. American actress Dakota Johnson's kitchen proves that these so-called 'ugly colors' are actually quite nice – you just have to know how to use them. In fact, many of these colors are often found in nature, which might explain why we, albeit secretly, love them so much. Most interior designers agree that, when in search of ideas for kitchen cabinet colors, it pays to look outside. Nature is always a good source of inspiration for your room color ideas.  

‘When the world is in turmoil, what better color to comfort us than the protective feeling of green?’ asks Farrow & Ball color curator Joa Studholme. Many of us spend most of our time in the kitchen, so we are now embracing the use of muddy green on kitchen cabinets to evoke a feeling of nourishing nostalgia,’ she says. 

Painted in Benjamin Moore’s Alligator Alley, Johnson's kitchen reminds us of home. It is a nostalgic color that takes us back in time. If this color was a food it would be the most delicious pea soup, true to its organic state, with layers of depth and a surprising intensity. Sere yet uplifting, this pea green color acts like a neutral in interior design, permeating spaces with the comforting tones of nature. 

'Goethe reasoned that decorating with greens was the most democratic and acceptable to people, as they were a mixture of two pigments, rather than relying on a single primary color,’ says the color expert Edward Bulmer.

One of the cleverest greens in the spectrum, this color-shifting hue shares subtle cyan and yellow tones, making it a sophisticated and soulful choice as well as bringing biophilic benefits with its organic origins. In addition to its mood-enhancing properties, pea green is loved by interior designers for its versatility. Restful and calm, it works in any room and can be paired with so many colors.

‘This is a wonderful color that works well all through the year and is ideal if you are trying to bring an element of nature or heritage feel into a more contemporary city home,' says Emma Sims-Hilditch, founder and creative director, Sims Hilditch. 'It’s a restful and calming shade which not only works well on cabinetry but also looks great on walls.’ 

‘This tone of green, which is both a subdued yet lively color, for me is a neutral. It is a great backdrop for any interior and works well for displaying art, as well as in more functional rooms, such as kitchens,’ explains Birdie Fortescue. ‘It will complement both warm and cool tones, allowing it to serve as a backdrop, or take on a more prominent role in the overall color scheme,’ adds Nicole Salvesen, co-founder and senior designer at Salvesen Graham.

To balance the bold, leafy green cabinetry, the walls were dressed with white tiles and glass-fronted doors, both of which reflect the natural light from the skylight above and bring texture to the space.

Shop the green edit

If painting your kitchen cabinets 'pea green' isn't an option for you, why not introduce green in smaller doses? 

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.