How to Choose Kitchen Colors

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Regardless of whether you are a seasoned chef, late night snacker, or pantry pack rat, you probably spend a moderate amount of time in your kitchen. Not all of us have domestic personalities, and even fewer of us are seasoned chefs. No matter who we are, we probably share the following in common: we can appreciate a great meal, and we love spending time with our friends and family. With the right atmosphere, your kitchen can be a great place for you to do both.

Next time you're in your kitchen, take a few minutes to assess what you what you like and dislike about your space. When you're in your kitchen, do you feel happy, neutral, relaxed, frustrated or stressed? Do you perceive your kitchen as a place where you can enjoy spending time, or is it a space that you want to enter and exist as quickly as possible? When you look at the walls, do you feel like you have time traveled to an era long-gone, or do you feel like you're living in the right-now?

Even if you have the most functional kitchen with top of the line appliances, you may still feel that your kitchen lacks a little bit of energy, personality, or flair. You devote your time and budget to planning what's practical and functional that you neglect an important question-what's beautiful?

Treat yourself and your kitchen to a new color scheme to overhaul your ambiance for a comfortable and appealing space. Transform your kitchen from a purely functional area into an ideal space for brunch parties, potlucks, family time, and delicious meals. You deserve a kitchen that's as beautiful as it is practical, so use color as an inexpensive tool to overhaul your room's style. In a beautiful space, cooking and cleaning might even feel like fun instead of a chore.

Adding Color

A number of elements can provide your kitchen with color including your cabinets, appliances, walls, floors, countertops and décor. Every kitchen has these things already, so you can keep color in mind next time you're out shopping for house ware supplies or when you're sorting through boxes of items to donate. You need things for your kitchen anyway, so why not add a bit of color.

Kitchen Colors Kitchen Colors

Lighting can also produce an effect on color. Understanding how different types of natural and electrical lighting work can help you experiment with and alter your overall ambiance. Enjoy your curtains, large windows, skylights, hanging lights, candles, and recessed lights by using them to their fullest potential.


Try to develop an understanding of how the individual components in your kitchen relate to the bigger picture. Before you choose colors, try to develop an understanding of the ambiance that you would like to create. Do you want a space that empowers you with a sense of energy, or do you want your kitchen to relax and soothe you after a tough day at work? Pick a color because you love it, but also have an understanding of the effects that it produces. By planning objectives ahead of time, you'll be able to control exactly what you want your kitchen to be. Here are some general guidelines for thinking about your kitchen's color:

  • Dark tones are cozy and intimate.
  • Neutral earthy tones are soothing and calming and will make your appliances and décor pop.
  • Orange color is often associated with food and can give people an appetite.
  • Bright colors can give you energy.
  • The color yellow has been linked with focus and concentration.

Create an illusion of space by using a light colored shade like white, or captivate your imagination by using other design elements like a glass tile mosaic kitchen backsplash. Use color to your artistic and stylistic advantages to create a space that radiates who you are.

Color Scheme

As a basic design principle, stick to three or four colors at most. Use at least two - it might look a little strange, overbearing, and dull if absolutely everything in your kitchen is exactly the same color. Make sure that you incorporate at least one neutral shade to balance your bright or bold colors. Choose lighter colors to create a bright and energetic space, or use a combination of light and dark colors. Lighter tones can make a small or medium sized room appear spacious, but that may not even be the effect that you want - you might want your colors to create a comfortable and cozy space.

Kitchen Colors Kitchen Colors

Use colors to unify elements might otherwise appear incongruous or chaotic such as your cabinets, floors, walls, utensils, appliances, and everything in between. Plan your color on a bigger-picture level, or focus on everything to the last detail. Be completely creative and detail oriented, and think about how every element in your kitchen works together.

There's no right or wrong way for your kitchen to look. Ultimately, you spend the most time in this space, so you are the final judge when it comes to decide what is aesthetically pleasing and what isn't. Be as creative as you would like, or keep it simple. All kinds of styles, themes, and colors look great - the design concepts that truly fail are the ones that lack charm and personality.


Your kitchen's lighting can dramatically affect how color looks in your kitchen. Part of this idea is common sense - if you want a bright kitchen, you're not going to be able do it with bright paint alone. At the very least, you will need some source of natural light to illuminate your space. Some aesthetically pleasing options for natural light in your kitchen include large windows and skylights. You can also control and add color to natural light using drapes and translucent curtains.

Kitchen Colors Kitchen Colors Kitchen Colors

If you would like light to appear diffuse and to produce varying effects throughout your room, consider installing recessed lights, and if you can, try to install a mechanism to adjust the brightness and dimness. While compact fluorescent bulbs appear white, LED lights have a bluish tint. Halogen lights are slightly yellow. Think about your lights as you would think about layers, and use different types of light to add some variance throughout your kitchen. Your color will not only be beautiful - it will be intriguing too.


Wood, wallpaper, tiles, and paint are the materials that contribute most to your kitchen's color scheme. With wood, you can choose from a variety of brown shades, and you can even paint over natural colors if you want brighter cabinets or floors. Wallpaper is another material that many people use to add patterns and colors to walls. Keep in mind that wallpaper can be difficult to wipe clean, especially in a space that is prone to stain-causing spills. Porcelain, ceramic, and glass tiles can add patterns to your kitchen's walls, floors, and countertops with easier to clean material. You can even create a kitchen backsplash with predesigned artwork, and if you are feeling especially artistic, you can create mosaics using glass tile on almost any surface of your kitchen.

Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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