Finding the right kitchen wall color has never been more critical, with the kitchen now a multi-purpose room designed as much for living as it is for cooking, choosing the perfect color is crucial.
Kitchens are rife with color opportunities. Neutrals and pale color schemes aren’t for everyone, and the sizeable cost of a new kitchen shouldn’t dictate that you play it safe on your walls. It’s more a case of choosing a wall color that goes well with your existing kitchen cabinet ideas, and kitchen decor.
Start by considering what your favorite kitchen color ideas might be and take it from there. After all, one of the most straightforward and least expensive options is to paint a wall that can be easily updated should you tire of it.
The 7 most popular kitchen wall colors
For a classic, timeless kitchen, we sometimes err on caution and choose an utterly neutral scheme, forgetting that a little lift of color on the walls can cheer up a room immensely.
We've asked some of the best kitchen designers, decorators, and color psychologists about the most popular kitchen wall colors, including the meaning behind them, to help you decide, once and for all, which color to paint or tile your kitchen walls to enhance your kitchen wall decor.
A white kitchen is effortlessly timeless and its beauty is that it can be modern or classic, whichever you desire, so it comes as no surprise to learn that the white kitchen wall color is one of the most popular choices for homeowners.
White kitchens continue to be hugely favored, despite notions that they can be too clinical for a home environment. But, if you are going for all-white walls, consider choosing oak cabinet kitchen ideas.
‘White alone can look a touch stark. Pairing white walls with wood cabinetry will bring warmth to a predominantly white scheme, alongside texture and depth,’ explains Pluck’s (opens in new tab) co-founder Leila Touwen. A plain white backdrop will bring interesting materials, like timber, into sharp relief.
Don't let anyone put you off from using pure white on your kitchen walls. 'Many people think that if you like a certain color, you have to go all out for it, which is one reason why they pull back from it,' says Karen Haller, color psychology and best-selling author of The Little Book of Color (opens in new tab). 'But it doesn't need to be a full-on kaleidoscopic. We don't need color around us all the time. We can choose what we need,' she says. So, if for you, that 'color' is white, then so be it. It is vital to decorate with hues that will make you happier at home.
Psychologically, pure grey doesn't have any positive or 'happy' qualities, but that hasn't stopped homeowners from using it for their kitchen wall color.
The beauty of a grey kitchen scheme is that it provides a wonderful scaffold upon which to hang accents of color, adds Deborah Bass, founder of Base Interior (opens in new tab). To avoid the room feeling somber, it’s important to pair grey with either subtle or bold additions of color and texture in accessories and furniture such as artwork or kitchen storage.
Helen Shaw, director at Benjamin Moore agrees: 'A grey kitchen wall color will harmonize well with almost every other hue, making it a most adaptable neutral and giving good reason for its popularity.'
Often people use grey to quieten a space. Perhaps you lead a busy life, and the kitchen – the heart of the home – is your respite from a hectic, modern life. If you are using grey to make yourself feel 'safe' and secure, the last thing we want you to do is stop.
Bringing the outdoors in by having green kitchen walls in your home is always a good idea; the nod to nature will create a calm atmosphere however busy the space, so integrating the color into a well-used kitchen works just as well as in a spa-style bathroom. Green kitchens are also said to inspire creativity, making them ideal for a chef's kitchen.
'We are reassured by green on a very primitive level,' says color psychologist Karen Haller. 'This is a very restful color for us, and indicative of harmony, balance, and stability.'
However, be aware that there is a lot to consider when using green. We see more variations of green than any other color. Among the many different tones of green, there are pea green, emerald, aqua, olive, forest green, mint, moss, jade, chartreuse, khaki, and seafoam green.
'The psychological effect you will experience will vary according to the tone and intensity,' says Karen. 'Aqua is uplifting and refreshing, whereas there is nothing relaxing about lime green. It's what I call greens alter ego.'
A deep red can be a miracle worker for kitchen walls, both lifting the cool light of north-facing spaces and adding a cheerful glow to sunnier south-facing spots. Red hues are said to provoke conversation, so they work well in kitchens and family areas; a rouge dining space might extend those lazy supper parties while adding visual drama. There are so many shades available within the red range, so it is easier than ever to choose one that works for you.
‘When using red in a kitchen color scheme, it’s best to choose shades that are rich and warm rather than loud and insistent,’ says Simon Temprell, head of interior design at Neptune (opens in new tab).
‘As the most stimulating and powerful color, red can add excitement and drama to a space, but it can also be overwhelming. Use it in decorating like you would use seasoning in food: if you like your food hot and spicy, use lots of bold red, otherwise err on the side of safety with warmer reds, like maroon, rosehip, and burgundy.'
With bold colors, it is time well spent to consider how you react to the color and how it makes you feel. There is often a clue in our wardrobes as to which colors we lean towards.
Avoid expensive kitchen design mistakes by getting two or three sample pots of different shades to compare. Paint swatches onto large pieces of paper and hang them around the room to see how they work in different lights and alongside your furniture and other colors that you are considering using.
Pure black, like red, has many different traits, which is why it is such a popular kitchen wall color. However, unlike red, black can be a beautiful canvas to show off other colors to perfection.
As with art or photography, black can be used to highlight – and emphasize – other colors and finishes in this space. Black is a neutral shade, so it can be used as the perfect backdrop to any color but deeper, darker hues work particularly well if you want to up the drama.
‘The deep, striking tones of black can change the mood of a space and give a sense of quiet and calm that cossets and cocoons,’ adds Jonathan Stanley, vice president of marketing at Caesarstone (opens in new tab). ‘Not only that, but a black kitchen wall color will also create an atmosphere that encourages us to gather and eat and drink.’
However, for all its positive connotations, black should be used with caution advises color psychologist Karen Haller: 'Black can feel suffocating and give rise to increased feelings of oppression and heaviness.'
'Research has shown that blue is the world's most favorite color – perhaps because we are surrounded by it,' says color psychologist Karen Haller. 'However, too much blue or surrounding yourself in the wrong tone, and you may find yourself feeling cold, or coming across as uncaring and distant.' But if you love a blue kitchen, don't let this put you off.
Interior designers love working with blue, and it isn't hard to see why. The color of the sea and sky, often associated with mental clarity and serenity, blue is a timeless color and works well in both classical and contemporary schemes.
'Working with shades of blue in the kitchen is endlessly interesting – and playing with tones can change it from subtle and serene to a vibrant jewel box in a matter of moments,' says Samantha Todhunter, founder of Samantha Todhunter Interiors (opens in new tab).
How do you feel when the sun shines brightly? If you answered happy and uplifted, then you might want to consider decorating with yellow on your kitchen wall.
Mood-lifting and warm, yellow brings energy, confidence and optimism to a kitchen. While yellow can be used anywhere, it is particularly effective as a kitchen wall color, especially in a space that is lacking in natural light.
'Yellow has a long wavelength and is emotionally stimulating, making us feel more confident, positive, and happier at home,' says color psychologist Karen Haller. 'It can also boost our self-esteem.'
Ruth Mottershead, creative director, Little Greene loves using yellow at home too: ‘The kitchen, often seen as the heart of the home, is the perfect space to use bolder colors, such as Little Greene’s Giallo, reminiscent of golden sun, which will bring joy and create an energetic scheme.'
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.
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