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.
A light blue kitchen island adds to the lighthearted spirit of the Michigan lake home of designer Chenault James and her family. It’s a subtle use of color that brings big results. Red diner-inspired barstools add pops of retro color.
Martha Stewart’s kitchen features an understated neutral tone that she says was inspired by shells. The warm gray pairs nicely with copper cookware.
This kitchen’s tone-on-tone color scheme started with the deep blue-green painted floor inspired by the surrounding coastal views. Designer Hadley Wiggins-Marin then chose what she calls “aviator blue” for the cabinets. It’s a perfect complement to the converted barn’s warm wood tones.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The homeowners of this classic farmhouse-style kitchen used a soft green paint color on both the paneled walls and cabinetry to create a fun statement that isn’t overpowering. Neutral accents such as the reclaimed hickory beams, honed granite countertops, and slate floors take the pastel from sweet to timeless and sophisticated.
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.”
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.”
Can’t decide between a bold color for your cabinets and an eye catching wallpaper for the walls? Why not try it all? Designer Holly Williams shows how to balance both beautifully in this Kentucky farmhouse.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Blue on Blue
Homeowner Christina Salway painted the beadboard-fronted lower cabinets in the kitchen of her 1900s farmhouse a dark blue-gray hue that both grounds the room and lets the white salvaged farmhouse sink pop. Above, the white open shelving is set off by a barely there blue paint color on the walls.