DAVID A. LAND
Are you building a new house and planning your dream kitchen? Or maybe you’re craving a fresh, new look for your existing kitchen. It’s true what they say: The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where you and your family will spend lots of time, and where your guests will likely end up congregating. It should be a space that feels inviting and relaxing and also delivers the style and personality you want your home to reflect. Do you want a light and airy kitchen? A happy and whimsical space? Or a cozy, rustic kitchen? No matter the look, your starting point should be in establishing the color palette. An all-white kitchen will always be a classic, timeless look, but don’t be afraid to bring in some color, even in a small kitchen. The paint color—even the exact shade of white—you choose for the walls will instantly set the tone.
One of the ways to make the biggest impact is to paint your kitchen cabinets. Whether it’s painting a dark wood a bright white to lighten your space, or taking white cabinets to a deep, saturated hue that creates a warm, cozy kitchen, or even a new coat of a bright yellow or blue to add a punch of personality, changing the color of your kitchen cabinets will instantly transform your room. (If you’re planning to go the DIY route, read this article for tips on how to paint kitchen cabinets. Yes, even laminate cabinets!) For even more inspiration, check out some of our favorite kitchens for many more kitchen decorating ideas, including kitchen island ideas, hardware inspiration, lighting, and even some ways to use wallpaper.
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Pale Blue and White
This blue and white combination brings us all the cool, calm coastal vibes in this kitchen designed by interior and textile designer Heather Chadduck Hillegas.
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This moody hue is making us crave a rainy day indoors with a cup of tea while bread bakes in the oven. It is the perfect dull blue that still feels warm and rich.
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This timeless blue is be a part of Benjamin Moore’s historic collection. It feels traditional but fresh in this kitchen designed by Grace Mitchell, especially off of the copper and bronze lighting.
Get the look: Kitchen cabinets: Philipsburg Blue by Benjamin Moore
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Green and White
The white walls of this kitchen designed by James Farmer feel fresh and bright off of the rich green cabinets and pair perfectly with the natural wood shelves and oven hood.
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These dark cabinets work beautifully off of a bright white marble sink and earthy green tiles.
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Gray and White
We love gray in any room and especially in this kitchen designed by Sara Davis. The soft gray cabinets pop against the dark brown wood floors, creating a modern yet simple combination.
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Canary Yellow and Blue
Look no further than the classic yellowware bowl for proof that blue and yellow make for a timeless country combo, as seen here in this 98-square foot galley kitchen that features canary-yellow cabinets and quilt-like cement tiles. The petite 20-inch range maximizes cabinet space in the small kitchen.
Get the Look: Cabinetry Paint Color: Honey Bees by Sherwin-Williams. Backsplash Tile: “Tangier Primero” by Villa Lagoon; wayfair.com
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When homeowner Bailey McCarthy moved into her century-old Texas farmhouse, the wall were a boring beige and the cabinets, which vary in height, were white. “Painting everything black seemed like a good way to make the cabinets blend in with the wall,” says Bailey. She balanced the dark statement color with butcher block countertops and brass hardware and lighting.
Get the Look: Cabinetry Paint Color: Pitch Black by Farrow & Ball
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When you want to add little color but don’t want it to overwhelm, look to a soft taupe. The appealing neutral adds a warm, but airy, swathe of color. It’s a color that also pairs well with stained wood cabinets.
Get the Look: Kitchen Cabinetry Paint Color: Smoky Ash by Benjamin Moore
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One Kings Lane designer Sarah Blank opted for a calming blue for the shelves, brackets, and walls, of this kitchen, lending more cohesion to the space.
Get the Look: Cabinetry and Wall Paint Color: Lulworth Blue by Farrow & Ball
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Designer Alison Kandler and homeowner Jenn Chiarelli found the perfect sunny shade for the kitchen island in Jenn’s bright California farmhouse by pulling paint chips of colors that simply made Jenn feel happy. Then they found ways to incorporate the hues into the kitchen to create a look that is as colorful as it is cheerful. The black woven stools add a grounding element to the candy-colored space.
Get the Look: Island Paint Color: Tropical Moss by Dunn-Edwards Paints
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Designer Heidi Caillier chose a soothing green—that is a little bit gray and a little blue—for the Shaker-style cabinets. “It changes with the light,” Heidi says. “It also feels traditional to me, which is what I really wanted.” The color pairs particularly well with soapstone countertops and unlacquered brass bail pulls and knobs. Six-inch terra cotta hex tiles add distinct richness to the artfully layered kitchen.
Get the Look: Cabinetry Paint Color: Oil Cloth by Benjamin Moore.
Hardware: unlacquered brass bail pulls and knobs; classic-brass.com.
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When you have a lot of natural wood in your kitchen, pure white walls can feel too stark, especially if you’re going for a rustic kitchen look. Instead, choose a warm white that has just a touch of gray in it for a color that complements wood tones and works well with other warm neutral colors.
Get the Look: Wall Paint Color, Fleur de Sel by Sherwin-Williams
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You couldn’t pick a better blue than the color of the original paint found on these salvaged tongue-and-groove boards. The turquoise tone compliments the buttery-yellow appliances, knotty pine floors, and barn wood cabinets to create a charming rustic farmhouse-style kitchen.
Get the Look: Appliances: bigchill.com
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There is nothing more timeless, yet completely fresh, than an airy all-white kitchen. The look works especially well with kitchens that have varying textures (both literally and visually), such as the shiplap planked walls and open shelving in this dreamy kitchen, which keep an all-white space from feeling stark and sterile.
Get the Look: Wall and Cabinetry Paint Color, White Dove by Benjamin Moore
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Washed Turquoise & Buttery Yellow
To give her kitchen cabinets a slightly weathered look, Jolie Sikes of the Junk Gypsies first coated the cabinets with blue interior oil stain, then used a rag to apply and partially rub off a layer of wood stain. “Embrace color,” says Jolie. “Just because kitchens are utilitarian rooms doesn’t mean they should be quiet, sterile, or boring.” The buttery walls, combined with the natural wood stain on the windows, trim, and beams, create a warm backdrop for the room’s bold cabinetry and accents such as Jolie’s barstool mix—a pair of swiveling red tractor seats plus a vintage vinyl-covered number.
Get the Look: Cabinetry Stain: Aquarius by Sherwin-Williams plus Provincial Wood Finish stain by Minwax. Wall Paint Color: Canyon Cloud by Behr. Wood Trim Stain: Pecan by Minwax
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In her South Carolina home, homeowner Lauren Northup looked down for her color play. Taking her color cue from the grass green floors at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, she choose to paint the kitchen floors a striking green. “Blues and greens mean rest, home, and happiness to me,” says Lauren. “This color on my kitchen floor is a good balance with the bright white walls and cheerful checked curtains.”
Get the Look: Floor Paint Color, Arsenic by Farrow & Ball
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In their cozy converted schoolhouse project, designers Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke of Madcap Cottage looked outside for the kitchen’s color inspiration. They removed the small room’s drop ceiling and installed tongue-and-groove rafters, now swathed in a dreamy shade of sky blue—a design trick seen on Southern porches. “The color draws the eye up,” says Jason, “which makes the room feel like it stretches to the sky.”
Get the Look: Ceiling Paint Color, Blue Ground by Farrow & Ball
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Don’t feel badly if you’re a bit picky. Marsha Ahearn, the owner of this summer retreat in Martha’s Vineyard, painted her kitchen with a 50/50 blend of two shades to get her ideal white. It’s the perfect backdrop to let your brightly colored accessories pop.
Get the Look: Wall Paint Color, 50/50 blend of China White and Linen White, both by Benjamin Moore
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This sunny kitchen proves there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. Its Shaker-style cabinetry, as well as its walls and those of the adjoining breakfast nook, are all awash in a bright and cheery yellow. Glass cabinet fronts and white trim, fixtures, and appliances add a punch against the solid color and help keep the space feeling light.
Get the Look: Cabinetry Paint Color, Convivial Yellow by Sherwin-Williams
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Most people opt for white in the kitchen, but this rustic kitchen is bathed in moodier hues. The paneled cabinets are painted in an earthy forest green while the fir beadboard is a golden brown—giving the 75-square-foot small kitchen a jewel box feel. An ivory apron-front sink offers a burst of brightness.
Get the Look: Cabinetry Paint Color, Mohegan Sage by Benjamin Moore
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In this Massachusetts beach house kitchen, the Wood-Mode cabinetry is painted a pretty celadon green that is crisply set off by a white subway tile backsplash. It’s a pairing that brings a kitchen pretty color without overpowering. Cape Cod artist Tim Dibble custom-carved the kitchen’s slate apron-front sink to incorporate local icons: a windmill, whale, lighthouse, and the word “riptide.”
Get the Look: Cabinetry Paint Color, Coastal Plain by HGTV Home for Sherwin-Williams; lowes.com
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Bright Yellow and Blue
There’s nothing more appealing than a blue-and-white kitchen. And you can’t beat a yellow kitchen for a happy setting. We say combine the two for a true win-win. This Kentucky kitchen proves the point beautifully with its pairing of a warm blue-and-white quilt-patterned tile backsplash and a light and bright yellowy-green painted island. White wall cabinets and butcher block countertops keep things balanced.
Get the Look: Tile Backsplash: Snowflake in Azul; cubantropicaltile.com. Island Paint Color, Sweat Pear by Benjamin Moore
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If you want to bring some color to your kitchen, but aren’t quite ready to fully commit, keep the backgrounds timeless and white, and then turn to appliances and accessories to add punches of color.
Get the Look: Wall Paint Color, Ultra Pure White by Behr.
Refrigerator, SMEG; wayfair.com.