We asked a kitchen designer 5 questions about designing a bold colored kitchen – this is what he advises

Thinking of using a strong shade for your kitchen? It's a popular color, but designing a green kitchen takes skill

Green kitchen with large white island in foreground
(Image credit: Roundhouse)

There's no doubt that, in the past four to five years, there has been a rise in popularity of green kitchens, and designs in other strong shades. 

Kitchen color trends have steadily become bolder, but there's no getting away from the fact that designing a kitchen in a strong color is more of a challenge than planning one in neutral colors or natural materials.

We spoke to a Senior Kitchen Designer, Ben Hawkswell at Roundhouse Design, who created this space, and asked him for his insider tips on designing green kitchens. This is what he said.

1. How do you fix on a shade when choosing a bold color for kitchen cabinetry?

Green kitchen units

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Choose a color you really love, not because it's fashionable

Ignoring color trends is important because a kitchen is expensive to install. You have to love the color, whether it is fashionable or not.

'Opinions about bold color are on a sliding scale so I find it important to understand the client’s perception of what constitutes a bold color. We want clients to feel excited and comfortable about the color they chose so we may often start by looking through a paint chart to determine colors of interest and inspiration, and go from there,' says Ben.

Take inspiration from the room's surroundings

Your kitchen color ideas should be very much linked to the whole house color scheme, and of course by the exterior space that the room gives on to or overlooks. A visual connection will make the kitchen sit more comfortably in its surroundings. 

'Directly outside this kitchen is a beautiful mature garden. The client was open-minded about the kitchen color, having previously chosen a variety of colors throughout the house to distinguish different zones,' says Ben. 

'Keen to find a color that would complement this outside living space, the client decided on a bold shade of green, that also works well with the natural wood finishes on the island and ceiling beams.'

2. How do you get the balance of color vs neutral right in a room where colorful cabinetry dominates?

Green and white kitchen with large island

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Create contrast

Unless you are a big fan of color drenching, which is a brave move in a room as busy as a kitchen, it's good to ensure plenty of contrast to your strong color. So, for example, look to browse green and white kitchen ideas that offer the opportunity to introduce neutrals.

'As there are many layers and a wide mix of finishes, the client for this kitchen wanted a sharp contrast between the cabinets, island and work surfaces. Using a neutral white on the countertop, backsplash tiling and island tabletop has made the botanical green cabinets stand out while the white surfaces have brought calm and a unity to the space.'

3. Where does functionality fit in to your color decision-making?

Kitchen sink and window with green cabinets

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Decide your priority: function or form?

'It is important to look at the kitchen as a whole before making any decisions. We’ve noticed that some clients are interested in the kitchen layout and function while others are more focused on color and materials, so it is important to listen and adapt accordingly.'

4. How do you match fixtures and fittings to bold colors?

White and wood kitchen island

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Introduce contrast

This kitchen has a variety of finishes. While usually you might be advised to keep materials consistent throughout, Ben says that you can introduce a variety for interest, though it is important to ensure that the tones of the materials are similar. 

'An opportunity to do something different was one of the reasons behind the choice of the stainless-steel island countertop. Made from a single piece, it has been wrapped around the island and, with a custom flush welded prep sink, is both practical and unusual,' says Ben.

'Around the Belfast sink and along the countertop is a composite stone that is also replicated on the island table being easy to maintain particularly around wet areas. The client likes the unusual combination of using different metals; antique brass handles and brass taps work well against the green cabinets and contrast with the stainless steel island.'

5. How do lighting decisions complement a bold kitchen color?

Green kitchen mural behind island

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Integrate for subtlety

Planning kitchen lighting minutely is really important; you need to include all the usual elements, from task lighting to ambient, yet you don't want a bold green kitchen to be visually cluttered by a ton of fixtures. This is where integrated lighting is important, says Ben.

'This was an unusual space to light with its vaulted ceiling and exposed timber beams. Working with these features, the architects, designed suspended metal shelving that hangs over the island with integrated lighting that provides direct as well as atmospheric lighting. 

'Downlighting has been used along the wall run as well as lighting inside the cabinets. A small but distinct detail is to paint the inside the same green glazed finish, it gives a color continuity across the back wall.'

It also offers the opportunity to light up decorative elements, such as kitchen murals.

Lucy Searle
Content Director

Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. She was Associate Editor on Ideal Home, and Launch Editor of 4Homes magazine, before moving into digital in 2007, launching Channel 4's flagship website, Channel4.com/4homes. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she also took on the editorship of the magazine. Today, Lucy works as Content Director across Homes & Gardens, Woman & Home, Ideal Home and Real Homes.