What wall colors work best with dark kitchen cabinets? 6 designer-approved shades to try

Dark kitchen cabinets are having a moment, and these are the best wall colors to complement dark hues

kitchen cabinet color ideas
(Image credit: deVOL, Original TBC, Boz Gagovski)

Dark kitchen cabinets have seen lots of popularity over the past few years, praised by interior designers for their ability to create a sophisticated yet cozy kitchen while maintaining timeless appeal.

From dark navy to rich wine hues, there are many colors you can adopt for your kitchen cabinets to create this sought-after look. But what's the best way to decorate the rest of the kitchen with dark cabinets? Dark hues can make a statement, so it's important to carefully choose wall colors that will best complement them. 

We spoke to the interior design and color experts to round up the best kitchen color ideas for dark cabinets, to give you some ideas. 

What are the best wall colors for dark kitchen cabinets?

'It’s a matter of personal taste and the look you are trying to achieve,' says Elizabeth Sherwin, Creative Director at Naked Kitchens. So, while it ultimately comes down to your personal preferences, the paint ideas below are guaranteed to work well with dark kitchen cabinets, whether you prefer neutrals or vibrant hues for your kitchen colors

Elizabeth Sherwin
Elizabeth Sherwin

Elizabeth Sherwin is the creative director at Naked Kitchens, a bespoke kitchen company with a focus on contemporary and functional design. 

1. Soft pink

dark purple kitchen cabinets with light pink walls

(Image credit: deVOL)

If your kitchen cabinet colors are burgundy, deep purple, or black, opting to adorn the walls in a soft shade of pink can create a complementary look. Helen Parker, Creative Director at deVOL explains: 

'We like to use a very soft pink paints, such as Farrow & Ball's Setting Plaster or Dead Salmon with dark or black cupboards as it softens the walls without the appearance of too much color, almost as the color suggests just plaster.'

Helen Parker
Helen Parker

Helen is the Creative Director at deVOL, a leading kitchen design company that mixes classic and contemporary. Helen has been creative director at the company since 2011, passionate about the signature understated approach deVOL takes to designing kitchens. 

2. Lighter variations of the cupboard color

dark kitchen cabinets

(Image credit: Future, James Merrell)

'For other dark colors that are not quite black then a lighter shade of the cupboard color works well,' advises Helen Parker. She continues to recommend 'mid green cabinets with a lighter green of the same shade on the walls and woodwork. This gives a gentle flow to the room without being too dark.'

Elizabeth Sherwin also suggests opting for a lighter variation of the cabinet color on the walls, saying: 'Create contrast by using a lighter shade to hero your cabinetry. If you take this route, use shades that feature the same undertone as your cabinetry. For instance, if you have rich green uppers and lowers, opt for a warm white with green undertones which will help the two colors talk to each other. You can carry the wall color to the ceiling to make the room feel bigger.'

3. Neutrals

Dark pink kitchen with open shelving

(Image credit: Boz Gagovski)

For a more subtle look in the kitchen, dark cabinets pair just as well with decorating with neutrals, according to the experts: 'My advice would be to pull a light tone or color from your kitchen countertops to balance out the space. If you are able to pull a neutral tone, you’ll be free to introduce as much color as you like through rugs, upholstery, artwork, or appliances. Also, be sure to consider the other elements of your kitchen like your backsplashes, and find a color that interacts well with them.' suggests Ashley McCollum, color expert at Glidden.

Ashley McCollum
Ashley McCollum

Ashley McCollum is a Marketing Manager and color expert for PPG’s Architectural Coatings business in the U.S. and Canada. Prior to joining PPG in 2017, Ashley's career was heavily focused on color and visual merchandising for retail environments. Ashley earned her MBA in Marketing/Management from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.

Katharine Rhudy, designer at Reed & Acanthus suggests pairing 'dark kitchen cabinets with a contrasting light paint color, such as a very light shade of gray or beige. Mix with a white or light-colored backsplash and a countertop for a bold contemporary look.'

4. Color drench the room

Dark kitchen with grey walls and cabinets

(Image credit: deVOL)

Another option when decorating your kitchen with dark kitchen cabinets is to continue the same cabinet color trend onto the walls. Opting to fully color the room in the same hue will create a cozy feel, as Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene suggests:

'Use color across woodwork, walls, and kitchen cabinetry for a color-drenched finish that will feel cohesive and cozy, perfect for this room which is often the heart of the home.'

Ruth Mottershead
Ruth Mottershead

Ruth Mottershead is the creative director of the family-run paint and wallpaper businesses Little Greene and Paint & Paper Library, which specialize in creating luxurious paint and wallpaper that represent 300 years of decorative history.

Elizabeth Sherwin also recommends this paint idea, saying: 'Choose a matching shade if you want a sleek minimalist design – this works well if you have one long run of cabinetry down a single wall.'

5. Off-white

A puruple kitchen with white worktops and a dining space

(Image credit: The Main Company / Chris Snook)

'If you prefer to create more of a contrast, look to frame rich dark cabinetry in a more classic way with a mineral off-white such as Little Greene's Slaked Lime,' suggests Ruth Mottershead. 'This will create a refined scheme that complements existing furniture, as opposed to the harsher contrast of a bright white, which is often chosen for kitchens, but can often feel rather cold and sterile.'

Amanda Wiss, Founder of NYC-based home staging company Urban Staging agrees, saying: 'If your cabinets are dark wood tones, I would opt for a white or off-white color to let the grain of the wood pop, but not allow the cabinets to bring the entire mood of the room down. You want every room to feel spacious, so always think of balancing dark colors with light.'

Referencing off-white hues, Laura Chappetto Flynn, designer at Element Design Network adds: 'They allow the cabinets to be the statement moment in the kitchen while maintaining a bright atmosphere perfect for cooking.'

6. Contrasting color

An in-frame kitchen in navy blue

(Image credit: Original BTC)

Lastly, if you're looking to create more of a dramatic look in your kitchen, you can opt for a completely contrasting color to make a statement. While this is a more playful look, it can establish an uplifting and creative feel to the room, as Flora Hogg, interior designer and color consultant at Craig & Rose explains:

'I enjoy using wall and cabinet paint colors with contrasting undertones as a playful and creative approach to achieving color harmony.' So, if your kitchen cabinets were a deep purple shade, you could opt for an uplifting yellow to create a contrast, or for a dark blue color, opt for a color with orange undertones. 

There are endless options when it comes to choosing the best wall color for your dark kitchen cabinets, but these expert ideas are guaranteed to make an impact and create a cohesive space. If you're looking for some more inspiration, we've rounded up fool-proof kitchen color combinations to help you on your way. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.