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 - these are just a few kitchen ideas to choose from.
'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.
1. Weave in earthy tones
Earthy tones are a top trend for this year – perhaps because we are craving nature, having been stuck inside a lot recently. A kitchen is a lovely spot to incorporate rich and warming brown tones and clay colors.
This kitchen balances these deeper cabinet paint colors with lighter walls and uses different types of woods to add to the natural look.
2. Don't hold back with black
'Dark colors are becoming more mainstream in kitchens and, at Crown, we find that this adds drama, strength and solidity to the space. A versatile look, it also can portray an edginess in your interiors,' says Colour Consultant Judy Smith at Crown.
She adds, ‘Black also has the ability to put a contemporary spin on even the most traditional looking space or furniture.
'If you incorporate black into your kitchen scheme in a subtle way such as painting kitchen cupboards it will give the scheme definition and add depth to the room without having to completely change the space. It’s a classic tone that can be easily brought into an interior scheme and used alongside existing pieces already inside the home.'
3. Go bold with yellow
'Known as the "heart of the home", the kitchen is the space in our homes where many of us tend to spend most of our time. It’s a place to cook, snack, and perch as we mindlessly scroll on our phones and socialise. It’s also one of the main rooms where the design and style can affect your property’s value. Therefore we often suggest opting for colours that offer a more playful and punchy tone for the kitchen to bring about energy,' says Home Interior Expert Natasha Bradley from Lick.
She adds, ‘Let’s start with one of Pantone’s 2021 colors of the year - yellow. Not only is this uplifting colour super on-trend this year, it’s also well suited to kitchens.
'Yellow affects our emotions and is a great choice for kitchens, particularly if there is a lack of natural light. It’s bright and cheerful and brings positivity to the heart of the home.'
These vibrant kitchen cabinets guarantee to give an instant pick-me-up every time a person walks into the room.
4. Make your island pop
Natasha adds, 'Another recommendation which works extremely well if you've got an island is to change the colour.'
This could either be with a totally different color, or by going for a brighter or darker version of a shade that's been used in the rest of the room. This is just one of many kitchen island ideas you can play about with.
5. Opt for a calming grey
'When it comes to grey in the kitchen, it’s a classic colour, very timeless and safe. We often feel very secure in grey because it doesn't ask anything from us. If you are quite hectic person, and you want your kitchen to blend into the background and be very elegant and subtle, it’s a lovely option,' adds Natasha from Lick.
She explains that one brand's most popular greys is Grey 07 – the darkest one – and the green undertone works very well with white walls.
This Tom Howley kitchen shows how grey and white can create a spacious feel. For more grey kitchen ideas, be sure to check our guide.
6. Color block horizontally
Color blocking is the pairing of two or three different colors to give a totally unique look and is a great way to give a contemporary edge to more traditional rooms.
The blocking effect gives this cottage kitchen a modern twist.
7. Keep it classic with white
Natasha, from Lick, says, 'Classic for a reason, white paint is known for its light-reflecting properties, making your walls "recede" and opening up small spaces.
'Our top picks include the creamy White 03 - a soft white with yellow undertones that can open up your kitchen while keeping those warm, cosy vibes. If you want to ultimate in light reflection, White 01 is a brilliant white but with grey undertones that can boost the energy levels of any small space.
'White creates a feeling of calmness. When used in a kitchen, it can make the space feel clean, sophisticated, and elegant.'
There's so much scope when it comes to white kitchen ideas - you'll have so many options to choose from.
8. Add colorful splashes to neutrals
Judy adds, 'We often choose to keep kitchen units and appliances to tones of white and grey with materials for floors and worktops like stainless steel, polished concrete and wood because these are expensive items that we don't want to have to replace very often, yet they form a great neutral basis to which we can add personal touches. They are the perfect base for vibrant color that will add personality and style, yet which can be inexpensively changed and updated in the future.
'Really bright colors work well – shocking pink, orange, electric blue – and these can be painted on to cupboards, if you prepare them first by sanding down and using a primer, behind a clear perspex backsplash, or as whole walls of color.'
This kitchen does exactly that with a vibrant mismatched backsplash and pink pastel cabinet color, along with eye-catching accessories.
9. Black too stark? Try navy
Dark or navy blue gives a dramatic edge to your kitchen. If you want to strike a balance, team it with a lighter worktop and a light wood floor – to add a bit more brightness.
Love this style? Dive into our open-plan kitchen ideas for more inspiration.
10. Have one statement wall
If you want to start experimenting with bold colors, a good way to do it is through a statement wall. This will give a splash of excitement, but won't overwhelm the entire room.
This modern kitchen idea keeps contemporary cabinets white, letting the feature wall speak for itself.
11. 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.
12. 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.
When it comes to green kitchen ideas, there are so many aspects to play with – like cabinets, walls and accessories.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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 backsplash idea 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, be sure to read our guide on how to choose a kitchen color scheme.
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.
A well-lit room will also help the color scheme stand out – our kitchen island lighting ideas will help illuminate the space.
19. 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.
20. 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.
If you're working with limited space, our small kitchen ideas offer some helpful solutions.
What are good colors for the kitchen?
Of course everyone has their own personal style , but what is the most popular color for a kitchen?
‘A trend that is growing in popularity is warm shades of greys,’ explains Jamee Kong, head of design at DesignSpace London. ‘Unlike some of the sharper colors, grey tones work well in both matt and gloss finishes and are very versatile. For example, matt warm grey tones could create a distressed look by bringing rustic charm to a design.’
Color is a powerful design tool – not only can it completely alter the mood of a kitchen, how much or how little you add will affect which parts of the room you’re drawn towards. ‘The rule of thumb is to use color sparingly and in clearly defined areas,’ says Gordon Boyd, area sales manager UK for Nolte Küchen.
‘Colors should serve a purpose rather than be used at random. Go for a basic color and then use another to accent certain areas. Alternatively, try corresponding pairs, such as shades of green or blue, or play with natural tones and add a more vibrant color to certain elements, for example a shelf, a sideboard or a bench.’
The shades you choose are just as important as how you use them. While it can be tempting to opt for your favourites, it’s advisable to restrict strong colors to elements that are easy to update, such as backsplashes, opting for those that have greater longevity across large areas.
- Thinking of renovating? Our kitchen extension ideas will provide some inspiration
Whether your kitchen design is starting from a preferred shade, taking its lead from an heirloom piece of furniture or statement appliance or simply a color that echoes the style of your home, selecting a second or third tone can alter the look drastically.
‘Choosing two colors that work well together means either choosing complementary colors – colors next to each other on a colour wheel – or choosing contrasting colors from opposite sides of the colour wheel,’ reveals David Mottershead, MD at Little Greene. ‘Contrasting colors will be energising, while complementary colors create a calm space.’
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.'
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