Considering the options for kitchen cabinet colors? Whether you’re remodelling your room or refreshing it, colored cabinets are a fabulous choice with the potential to create both a look you love plus give your room a durable and easy-care finish.
Naturally, you’ll want to select kitchen cabinet paint colors that you’ll be happy to live with for a while to come. But you might also want to consider the decorative power of each hue. Different kitchen cabinet colors have particular benefits you may wish to exploit in your room design. Some can brighten and visually enlarge the room, while others make cleaning a less frequent necessity, for example.
And when it comes to the style of your cabinets, you might want to think about which colors complement their look best.
Read on to find out the advantages of all the possible kitchen cabinet colors with advice from the experts.
See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens
How do I pick the right color for my kitchen cabinets?
The starting point when you’re selecting kitchen cabinet colors is to consider how you want your room to look and feel.
‘Think about how it might relate not just to the living and dining areas, especially if it is part of an open-plan space, but also how it fits with your overall plan for the house,’ says interior designer Tiffany Duggan, founder of Studio Duggan.
Gather images of kitchens that inspire you and start to hone your ideas, thinking about how they might suit your space, the joinery elsewhere in the house and the period of your property.
- See: Kitchen cabinet ideas – cabinet materials, styles, colors and trends to know
Choose white for kitchen cabinets
White is an enduringly popular choice among the range of possible kitchen cabinet colors. It will reflect the light and because of this quality it’s frequently selected for small kitchens in order to make them feel more spacious. It can also help counter the lack of light in cottage kitchens with small windows.
‘As expected lighter colors will be very beneficial for smaller kitchen spaces particularly combined with light worktops,’ says Tom Howley, Design Director at Tom Howley bespoke kitchens.
A white painted cabinet finish can complement a whole range of kitchen styles. ‘Fresh and crisp, white is the perfect color to brighten up a traditional scheme, for example a Shaker kitchen,’ says Melissa Klink, Creative Director at Harvey Jones.
‘Timeless yet modern, it will give classic cabinetry an uplifting look that will work as the perfect base for neutral and colorful accessories and furnishings alike. Equally, white works well in modern settings, as long as it’s balanced by colorful or natural-looking features adding character and warmth.
‘If you think white will look too stark in your contemporary kitchen, try pairing it with a softer shade of beige or a more colorful green. This will create a more impactful look whilst still maintaining a neutral and fresh base.’
Pay attention to the room’s orientation if you’re considering using white. ‘Think about how the light enters the room: is it a cold northern light, can it be warmed by the color of the cabinets or the flooring?’ says Tom Howley. If white’s still what you prefer, look for one with undertones of yellow or pink to avoid a cool feel.
White painted cabinets also show dirt more readily than other colors, so they might not be the best choice for homes with young kids and pets, unless the extra maintenance involved is a price you’re willing to pay for the undoubted upsides of a white kitchen.
See: White kitchen ideas – bright and stylish decorating ideas for white kitchens
Go for gorgeous gray kitchen cabinet colors
Leaning towards gray as your favorite among kitchen cabinet paint colors? There are a whole host of different takes on gray that are possible from gray-whites through to dark grays that approach the drama of black painted cabinets (see below).
‘Gray is certainly one of the most popular colors we have seen in recent years,’ says Melissa Klink. ‘It virtually works with any style of kitchen, from country-style to ultra-contemporary, however, you need to be able to balance it with the right accessories and finishing touches. Gray can sometimes look a little dull, so choosing contrasting colors for the bar stools, accessories and even some cabinets can really brighten and balance the whole scheme.
‘For both modern and traditional styles, recent trends seem to be moving away from cool grays and leaning towards warmer and earthier shades of greige,’ she adds. And that’s certainly a strategy you might want to adopt if your kitchen receives northern light, which brings out cool tones.
The light reflectivity of paler tones of gray makes them a boon for small kitchens. ‘We have some beautiful light gray colors which are very timeless and will keep a small space fresh and feeling spacious,’ recommends Tom Howley.
As a neutral, gray is easy to team with other colors you might want to use for walls and features such as backsplashes, making it easy to put together a successful color scheme for the room.
Gray can be more forgiving than white when it comes to hiding the grime that comes about with everyday kitchen use, although the paler the version of gray you pick, the more cleaning will likely be involved.
See: Grey kitchen ideas – for timeless, classic designs you will love forever
Fall for beautiful blue cabinets
Blue kitchen cabinet colors are an established trend, and one that seems set to continue, but while deep rich navy blues may come to mind first, other shades of blue are growing in popularity. You might want to consider fashion-forward powder blue, a take that’s fresh and clean but also relaxing to live with, or slightly gray-toned ocean blue, which is eye-catching without being overpowering.
‘Ocean-inspired blues work particularly well in timeless and traditional cabinetry such as Shaker styles,’ says Melissa Klink. ‘Bold enough to liven up the scheme and introduce personality, yet easy to live with, blue cabinetry looks brilliant paired with quartz worktops and wooden features bringing light and warmth to the scheme.’
Blues at the paler end of the spectrum can help make a kitchen feel larger, so try them in a small kitchen if white is too clinical for your taste. They’re also a wonderful choice for south-facing rooms that have the benefit of warm light throughout the day where they’ll optimize the experience of light and space. Dark blues will advance visually, so are generally best reserved for larger rooms.
Another possible issue with blue is that certain takes on the color can feel cool, so get a tester to ensure your preferred shade isn’t going to make your room feel chilly. In general, blues that tend a little towards green are the ones to select for a warmer atmosphere.
A big advantage of blue kitchen cabinets – especially the darker versions? They won’t show the dirt easily delivering a low maintenance finish.
Embrace nature with green kitchen cabinet colors
Green kitchen cabinet colors can range from the freshness of mint, through the earthiness of sage, to deep foliage green. Connecting us to nature, green can be a soothing shade, whichever version you choose, and make kitchen cabinets a fabulous feature of the scheme rather than a subtle backdrop to colorful backsplashes or flooring.
They’re practical, too. Green painted cabinets can be forgiving of marks and grime to reduce cleaning time.
‘Green kitchens have overtaken blue schemes in popularity over the last year,’ says Melissa Klink. ‘Green is a versatile colour that looks at home in a sleek setting just as much as a farmhouse kitchen.’
A small kitchen can feel larger if you go for a lighter take on green. Dark greens, meanwhile, can make larger kitchens look super sophisticated. They needn’t be out of the question for smaller rooms, however.
Deep tones can make the space cocooning, and as green is positioned where the cool and warm colors meet on the color wheel help create a cozy scheme. Bear in mind, though, that the freshest of greens can feel cool, so avoid them in north-facing rooms.
See: Green kitchen ideas – inspiration for cabinets, walls and more
Make it moody with black
Another of the kitchen cabinet colors that’s become a huge trend is black. It makes for an atmospheric room scheme, but one that’s easy to live with. Black cabinets won’t show grime, so they’re champions in the practicality as well as the style stakes.
Black looks both dramatic and sophisticated, but given that it will absorb rather than reflect light, is it only an option for larger rooms? ‘If you have your heart set on this style, make sure the room gets lots of natural daylight and that the artificial lighting is perfectly planned,’ says Tom Howley.
‘Add pale natural flooring or white surfaces and mirrors to help bounce light around and open out smaller spaces. Avoid too many pale contrasts though, as the beauty of a dark kitchen lies in creating a sophisticated yet snug ambience.’
When it comes to the orientation of your room, you might think the cool light in a north-facing kitchen rules black out, but rather than fighting it, you could simply welcome the opportunity to make the kitchen feel cozy and cocooning with black cabinets.
Black can be a winning option for modern kitchens. ‘Sleek and contemporary cabinetry can often look a little clinical, especially if painted in minimal whites or grays,’ says Melissa Klink. ‘Black is a powerful color that will add so much personality, depth and definition to the scheme. Black handleless cabinetry looks very sophisticated, but if you prefer adding handles, brass or matt black brassware will provide an industrial and luxurious finishing touch.’
However, black should definitely be on your list of possible kitchen cabinet paint colors if you prefer other styles. ‘Black is also a great option if you want to bring a little bit of edge into a traditional Shaker or country-style scheme,’ Melissa continues. ‘Particularly with a more classic design, if you opt for black, make sure the room has enough natural light to take such a bold colour and add lighter touches through the worktop, soft furnishings, dining table and chairs.’
Opt for warming yellow or orange
Bolder, brighter and warmer shades are a growing trend as kitchen cabinet paint colors, whether for the entire room or for sections such as an island and set against a neutral backdrop of white or charcoal, for example. They’re energetic shades that can be the perfect backdrop for a kitchen where family and friends gather.
These colors are best used on simpler cabinet styles such as slab or Shaker rather than more traditional cabinets to keep the look contemporary. They are options for smaller rooms, but here paler takes on the colors are preferable rather than the bolder versions that might be too dominant.
As for the time you might spend on cleaning, they’re somewhere in between the two poles – easier to keep clean than white cabinets, but not as grime-concealing as darks.
Pay attention to the orientation of your room when choosing one of these warm cabinet colors. They might come to life beautifully as the sun hits them in east or west-facing spaces, but the boldest of these hues has the potential to be overpowering when the sun hits them. Use testers to check before committing.
- See: How to paint kitchen cabinets – for an instant color refresh
What is the popular color for kitchen cabinets?
White is a popular color for kitchen cabinets. In the Design Trends 2021 study from the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association) whites/off whites were cited as the most popular kitchen color scheme for the near future by 47 per cent of respondents.
Meanwhile, grays and blues, along with beiges/bones, were mentioned by at least 25 per cent of respondents to the survey.
Owner of the eponymous kitchen company Tom Howley reports similar trends. ‘Last year we saw a sharp increase in orders of dark kitchens with searches for gray shades up by 93 per cent in six months,’ he says. ‘Equally popular are dark shades of green with searches and orders reflecting that dark kitchens are here to stay.
- See: Painted kitchen cabinet ideas – finishes to make your space stylish
‘Dramatic deep shades such as our color Avocado, luxurious charcoal hues, taupe and sophisticated black designs create cozy and comforting spaces. For a room that simply oozes high-end homeliness, combine dark shades with beautifully grained wood for added texture and warmth.’
Searches echo these observations with Pinterest reporting a 50 per cent increase in those for the term ‘black kitchen cabinet’. Meanwhile green has taken the ‘kitchen’ hashtag on Instagram by storm; and of the possible shades of blue, it’s powder blue kitchen cabinets that have seen a huge increase in searches.
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart,
decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in
furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.
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