How to Pick Kitchen Paint Colors
Painting your kitchen can be as daunting as it is exciting—especially when there's a whole world of colors to choose from. From bold hues to subtle neutrals, selecting the right shade of paint for your walls is essential in establishing the tone and atmosphere of any room. And since this is a space where you'll come together and make delicious meals with family and friends, giving your kitchen the right look and feel is so important.
A coat of paint can transform a room from outdated to cutting-edge, from dark and intimate, to bright and welcoming. While choosing a can of paint might feel overwhelming, it doesn't have to be. Here, a number of paint experts weigh-in on the best shades for your kitchen while offering up some paint inspiration. Erika Woelfel, color expert and VP of color and creative services at Behr Paint, suggests designing the space around how you plan to use it. For example, if you're an adventurous cook you might opt for more exciting colors that spur creativity; if you're looking for a calming environment for family meals, you might prefer cool tones. But no matter what hue you choose, Andrea Magno, color and design expert at Benjamin Moore, says to consider how the shade will flow with other rooms in the home, before making your final decision.
Whether you're looking to spice up your space or keep things calm, cool, and Sunday-brunch serene, here's what you need to know about picking your kitchen paint colors—plus, one prep step to never forget.
Nod to Nature
A great color inspiration? Mother Nature. If you're puzzled over what colors go together best, take a gander at the great outdoors. For example, the blues, greens, sandy whites, and driftwood grays of the seashore naturally work together.
When in doubt, opt for white. "White is classic," says New York City-based interior designer Alyssa Kapito. "You'll never ever get tired of it and it'll always feel the cleanest, even when you have dirty dishes in the sink!" A helpful hint: Choose a shade that's just off-white, as pure white may be too harsh. "Something with a touch of beige will appear white but have so much more warmth." Try Kapito's current color obsession: Farrow and Ball's Wimborne White.
Sync Up Your Style
While some color rules may tell you to always avoid or opt for certain hues in the kitchen, Woelfel says it all boils down to your vision for the space, and how you intend to use it. "If you're a frequent entertainer and risk-taking cook, a neutral space may not feel inspiring or energizing," Woelfel says. "On the other hand, if you use your kitchen to relax and unwind, a bright and bold kitchen could be a turn-off, so stick to neutrals."
Follow a Flow
Another factor to consider when selecting your kitchen color is any adjacent rooms. "Often the kitchen is the busiest room in the house so using colors that transition well to other rooms will help in creating a well put-together look," Magno says. Another way to build cohesiveness is to consider painting or staining a room's trim to match cabinets.
Dare to Go Dark
If darker hues are your color of choice, Kapito suggests going all the way. "With dark colors, I like to really commit and go very dark—almost black. You'll want to focus on the undertones though."
Let There Be Light
If your kitchen has windows, you'll also want to consider how natural or artificial light may impact the colors. To help do this, Magno suggests testing a paint sample of your desired color(s) on pieces of foam core or poster board to help isolate the color. "Then, hang up the board for a few days and observe the color at various times of the day in various locations throughout the room," says Magno.
If you're deciding to paint your cabinets, Woelfel highly recommends cleaning them first for prime finished paint results. "Even the highest-quality paint or primer won't adhere as well to a greasy, fingerprinted cabinet."
Keep your kitchen's new coat looking fresh for years to come by picking the appropriate finish. For higher-traffic rooms like the kitchen, where spills and splatters are frequent, Woelfel suggests a higher gloss finish, like satin or semi-gloss, that's durable and resists mildew, stains, and dirt. "Avoid matte finishes which stain more easily and are more challenging to clean."
Find Color Clues
If you're not sure what shade will stand out best, Magno suggests taking a hint from palettes already in place, from countertops to backsplashes. "Look to the colors used in fixed materials such as stone (marble, granite, quartz), tiles, flooring, and even appliances," she tells us. This can help the look come together more easily.