With the kitchen now a multi-purpose room designed as much for living as it is for cooking, it is important to find a kitchen color scheme that you will love for years to come.
Neutrals aren’t for everyone and the sizeable cost of a new kitchen shouldn’t dictate that you play it safe. It’s more a case of choosing how and where to introduce color, picking spots that can be easily updated, and introducing shades that mirror the color palette in the rest of your home.
'It’s amazing how a change of paint color or some new tiles can give a kitchen a completely fresh look, picking up on different accents within the home,' adds Rob Whitaker, creative director, Fired Earth.
Kitchens are rife with color opportunities, from appliances and flooring, to window treatments and cabinets. Start by deciding how much of permanent commitment you are willing to make. One of easiest and least expensive options is to paint a wall can be easily updated should you tire of it.
- See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for open-plan, galley, U-shaped and L-shaped kitchens
1. Join the dark side
Practicality and beauty go hand in hand in this kitchen from Neptune, whose colours and mood are evocative of old Dutch paintings.
Simple shelving and a freestanding dresser, rather than wall-hung cabinets, offset the rich chocolate palette, for an open, relaxed feel.
The dark walls work to absorb imperfections and even out textures, but there are still some tactile elements. Brooding, dark colors often work best when used dramatically and uncompromisingly. Putting a rich brown-black on both walls and cabinetry creates a bold statement that feels as historic as it does chic.
- See: How to choose a kitchen color scheme – even the smallest addition can make a difference
2. Go for green in your kitchen
Green is very much the color of the moment, and we predict that it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
In this kitchen by Little Greene, Aquamarine is used on the island and lower half of the wall, then the color is taken up a notch on the door frame and island trim, then down again for the upper wall, resulting in a harmonious effect.
- See: Green kitchen ideas – inspiration for cabinets, walls and more
3. Add color with tiles
Handmade and artisan tiles bring a unique mix of color, pattern and texture, adding instant character to walls and floors.
There’s something about tiles – their tactile quality, the potential for adding color, pattern and personality – that few other surfaces can match. Decorative tiles fell out of favor for a while but they are most definitely back and with a huge choice of forms and finishes.
Here, a selection of glazed tiles, in an Azure blue, sit pretty in an alcove space. They make an interesting foil to neutral colors and seamless finishes, enlivening your kitchen and making it feel totally yours.
4. Paint in a pink palette
This muted color combo has given pink a whole new identity. No longer super-girly, the murkier tones of blush pink teamed with industrial grey have a stronger, gender-neutral appeal.
A slim shelf is ideal for displaying pretty plates above a worktop. Here, shades of dusky pink and mole tone beautifully with the pale grey marble surface.
5. Decorate with a sea of blue
Making a color part of the scheme rather than the focus of it offers a more contemporary feel.
This kitchen splash back looks every bit like it’s been created using hand-made tiles but is actually a wallpaper, while subtle hints of ice blue and punchy red balance the look.
- See: White kitchen ideas – for a stylish scheme that will stand the test of time
6. Create contrast with color
Contrasting black or deep grey with white is the most effective way to create impact in a predominantly white kitchen, but the key is to vary the proportions.
A 50/50 split could feel cold; instead pair dark cabinets with marble and another vital ingredient: texture. Grain-rich timber doors and accessories will break up the space beautifully, as shown in this Henley kitchen by Neptune.
7. Be brave with a daring color scheme
A bold red hue is often considered a daring choice for interiors, but used creatively it can introduce a welcome burst of energy and excitement.
A poppy-red cupboard is ideal for lifting a dark green scheme, while accessories sporting the same shade create a sense of cohesion.
8. Be cocooned in an emerald green kitchen
Green is having something of a resurgence in the kitchen design space. 'Shades of green are an increasingly popular choice for kitchens,' says Helen Shaw Benjamin Moore's UK Director. 'At the centre point of the color wheel, green can adapt to both cool and warm schemes, working to tie varying hues together.'
‘The brief for this kitchen was to bring the greens of the garden indoors,’ says designer Hubert Zandberg. The full wall of glazed tiles sets off the industrial notes and natural wood for a richly textured look.
9. Introduce shimmer and shine
With its warm, burnished lustre, brass is once again in the ascendant, lending a polished edge to interiors.
A dark background is ideal for showing off the gleaming beauty of brass. Here, it forms a counterpoint to a statement mirror-like panel that adds a glamorous note to a kitchen island.
- See: Kitchen island ideas – that are guaranteed to make a statement
10. Use toning colors to create a cohesive scheme
This kitchen has base cabinetry in a dark blue, but the use of a toning color on the walls – here a bright turquoise – creates a much bolder finish. This is a clever technique: choosing cabinetry that is easy to redecorate around, timelessly fashionable and easy to sell to future buyers, but adding pep with a wall color that can be quickly and easily changed when the scheme needs a switch up.
What are good colors for the kitchen?
Choosing a kitchen color scheme is such a personal experience – but, generally speaking, what are good colors for the kitchen?
Mark Wilkinson, founder of Mark Wilkinson Furniture, always said that the colors we choose automatically are naturally influenced by current fashions.
'The color in a kitchen – be it on walls or fittings – should last for at least five years, minimum, so try to look beyond immediate trends and choose a color that will keep you feeling good long term,' he advised.
Warm colors, between red and yellow on the color spectrum, are ‘advancing’ so tend to be exciting and stimulating, while cool colors at the green and blue end of the spectrum ‘recede’ and are more soothing. Pick up the color cards from leading paint manufacturers for inspiration.
What is the most popular color for a kitchen?
Green is 2021's most popular color for a kitchen in terms of kitchen trends, but it's true to say that blue is just as popular for those daring enough to add color to a kitchen. However, the most popular kitchen color in terms of what we buy is white: it's enduringly popular because it's so easy to redecorate around – and future house buyers you may have in mind when remodelling your home will embrace a white kitchen enthusiastically.
If you would like to choose a neutral that isn't white, grey is a very popular color for a kitchen, too.
'It’s important to consider the level of natural or artificial light in the kitchen, as this will play an important role in determining the overall feel of the space. Darker shades, for example, are renowned for absorbing light and the application of such colors needs to be carefully planned,' says Hayley Robson, Creative Director, Day True.
'An effective way of integrating darker colors into a kitchen is to create contrast by adding darker tones on low cabinets combined with white or grey worktops. This helps to reflect illumination off the horizontal surface, resulting in a colorful, yet light interior.'