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 and fit in with the rest of your kitchen ideas.
Ideas for kitchen cabinet colors
We've selected the most stylish kitchen cabinet ideas and color palettes, so that you can find out the advantages of all the possible kitchen cabinet colors with advice from the experts.
1. Choose white for kitchen cabinets
White painted kitchen cabinets 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 when remodelling a kitchen. ‘Think about how the light enters the room: is it a cold northern light, and can it be warmed by the color of the cabinets or the flooring?’ says Tom Howley. If white is 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.
2. Go for gorgeous gray kitchen cabinet colors
Leaning towards gray as your favorite among kitchen cabinet 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 works with virtually 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 kitchens 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 when it comes to 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 your kitchen wall decor and design features such as kitchen backsplash ideas, 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.
3. Fall for beautiful blue cabinets
Blue kitchen cabinet colors are an established trend, and one that seems set to continue. However, 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 with timeless and traditional kitchen styles, such as Shaker-style cabinetry,’ 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 consider them if you're looking for small kitchen ideas and 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.
4. 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 kitchen 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, it will help create a cozy kitchen color scheme. Bear in mind that the freshest of greens can feel cool, so avoid them in north-facing rooms.
5. 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 your kitchen lighting ideas are 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 when considering modern kitchen ideas. ‘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.’
6. Opt for warming yellow or orange
Bolder, brighter and warmer shades are a growing trend as kitchen cabinet paint colors. These bright shades can be used for the entire room or for sections – such as incorporated into kitchen island ideas and set against a neutral backdrop of white or charcoal. 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 too, 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.
7. Warm up with red kitchen cabinets
If you are looking for kitchen color ideas that will never date, here is one to consider. Red kitchen ideas are having something of a moment, and it is easy to see why. A beautiful shade adds instant warmth to this rustic kitchen by Plain English. This muted orange-red is a shade that works so well with the authentic features and bare floorboards.
Rich, sophisticated and eye-catching, this kitchen cabinet color may just tempt you to ditch conventional colored cabinetry.
8. Embrace the dark side
‘A dark or black kitchen can work very well in monochromatic schemes,’ says Gary Singer, Director of Eggersmann Design. ‘By bringing in dark cabinetry and layering the space with dark textures you can create a feeling of warmth and luxury.’
‘Like the enduring ‘little black dress’, a black kitchen is a classic which will stand the test of time,’ says Richard Atkins, Managing Director at DesignSpace London.
9. Take a two-tone approach to color
‘A two-tone scheme allows extra definition and interest without overcomplicating,' says Nicola Harding, director, Nicola Harding & Co.
'Most paint charts are arranged in families of colours, making it easy to find two shades that work together or contrast. Remember that dark colors take up more space visually. Use the darker shade below eyeline, and a lighter shade that’s closer to the wall color above; it will help break up expanses of cabinetry and feel calmer and less blocky than a high-contrast scheme.'
Try not to be too clever when choosing kitchen paint colors. Instead, take inspiration from decorative items you intend to include, such as art or upholstery, and see the paint as a backdrop, rather than the main event.’
10. Be brave and decorate with a favorite color
‘Playing it safe with kitchen cabinet color on a long-term investment like a kitchen is entirely understandable. But first, ask yourself: will it ever really make an impact, and will you end up wishing you’d been braver? Committing to a bright color requires time, effort, and a whole lot of tester pots. Bear in mind that you’re looking for a shade that will make your heart sing every time you’re in the kitchen. Once you’ve narrowed it down, put your chosen color on a trial door or very large sample and live with it for a few days to make sure it’s the one.’
Here, a salmon-pink color sets the scene for the rest of the scheme. This controversial hue can actually form a reliable background color that channels anything from a contemporary to a classical country-house spirit, as long as you find the right tone for the kitchens space and the light.
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.
Once you've selected your kitchen cabinet colors, our guide to how to paint kitchen cabinets has all the expert advice you will need for the next steps.
What is the most 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 and 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 and 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 the dark kitchen trend is here to stay.
‘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.
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Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.
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