What Colour Should I Paint My Kitchen Cabinets?

Changing colours or adding paint to new areas can completely transform a space, but choosing a colour and sheen can be overwhelming, especially when it involves your kitchen cabinets. The kitchen is the heart of the home and, as such, you want to be sure that its design sets the right tone for your entire house.

While updating the kitchen cabinets is one of the simplest ways to make a big impact on your home’s appearance, before deciding on a colour, there are many details you should consider. From the layout and size of your kitchen to the colours and textures of existing surfaces, you’ll want to ensure the colour you pick works with every other element in the space.

Why Does Kitchen Cabinet Colour Matter?

Typically, the cabinets in a kitchen cover a major portion of the surface area in a kitchen, which makes them the focal point of the room. Therefore, everything else in the kitchen should only enhance the cabinets. You can be sure of this by choosing a complementary or good contrasting colour scheme.

Additionally, lighting is another important factor. Natural and artificial light will reflect differently on surfaces depending on not only the colours and finishes, but also on the direction of the light, the time day, and even the time of year. All of that said, the below tips will help you figure out the best colour.

#1 Test with Paint Samples

It can be very tempting to pick your preferred colour from the wall of paint swatches and simply start painting right away, but what looks great at the store or even in your neighbour’s kitchen may not be the best choice for you. By taking the time to test paint samples, you’ll reduce the risk of being disappointed with the end result.

Light reflects differently on various paint finishes. For example, a gloss finish will appear lighter and brighter in the same colour than a less-reflective eggshell finish will. So, when you grab a few paint samples, bear this in mind. The majority of paint samples will be supplied in an emulsion where the sheen level falls between 5-10%. A matt finish will be 10%, an eggshell between 15-20%, a satin between 30-40% and gloss 50% and beyond. A small investment in collecting paint samples will save you time and money in the long run.

When painting your sample area, be sure to paint two coats on a white surface to ensure the shade isn’t distorted. We recommend using lining paper and some blue tac so you can move the sample to different parts of the kitchen to see how it affects the colour. Find the darkest part of your kitchen cabinets to see how the colour looks in this position. If your kitchen cupboards spend a lot of the day in direct sunlight you will notice the colour will look much more washed out so you can maybe afford to try some darker tones. Take the sample into the room and decide if it works with the colours of your worktops, backsplash, flooring and so on. Also, look at the sample on a vertical surface because light will reflect differently than on a horizontal surface.

#2 Consider the Size of Your Kitchen

When choosing a colour, consider the size of your kitchen and the style you’re trying to achieve. Typically, dark colours are best for larger, well-lit spaces and light colours are ideal for smaller areas. Of course, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

There are many instances where darker colours have added depth to small spaces, so you’ll want to try out some different options based on your preferences and other design considerations within your space.


#3 Stick with the Same Colour Family

Colours are categorised in two families: warm or cool. In order for the varying colours and textures to flow well, you need to determine which family your backsplash and worktops are in and stick with it.

Even if you know you want a shade of white on your cabinets, if other surfaces in your kitchen are in the warm family, you should pick a creamy or warm white rather than a bright, stark, or cool white. Otherwise, the bright cool white can contrast in a harsh way, causing the warm surfaces to appear yellowish or dingy.

#4 Tips on Colour Combinations

Undoubtedly, some colour combinations are classic, like an all-white kitchen for example. While other colours such as lime green or red are more of a fading trend or personal preference that may not be appealing in a few years.

Fortunately, it is possible to create a new look that implements current colour combinations, without going out of style too quickly. For example, shades of grey continue to be a popular choice, and most recently, blues and greens, both in bold and pastel colours are on the rise.

Conversely, dual colour combinations are trending for 2020. Painting lower cabinets a darker colour, with the upper sections displaying a lighter colour offers contrast and can alter the ambiance of the room. Painting islands a darker shade to the rest of the kitchen cabinets is classic and effective option. Other ideas include painting the internal areas of glazed cabinets a darker colour which is particularly effective if the cabinets have internal lighting.

You can make your cabinets pop by painting the walls a lighter colour and making the cabinets a bolder tone. Earth tone or shades of green, such as duck green or sap green will bring a sense of natural freshness into the home.

Like green, navy blue or midnight blue cabinets against a light coloured wall is another huge trend. If you want to achieve a look sophisticated look, this colour combination is it.

If you love bold colours but worry that it will be too overbearing, offset it by using lighter colours in other parts of the kitchen. Additionally, softer colours, such as sage green, creams, or light greys will provide a calming effect.

Before picking out the paint, determine what you want to achieve and go from there.

#5 Be Mindful of Trends

Some people have no issue painting and redecorating based on what’s currently “in style,” and if that’s you, you can definitely look to the latest home design magazines for inspiration on bold color combinations and other trendy options.

On the other hand, if you do not like updating your home so often, you should do your research into what’s currently trending along with more timeless kitchen designs so that you can figure out a paint combination that won’t be out of style in a few years.

#6 Choose a High-Quality Paint Product

When it comes to just about anything to do with your home, quality always wins over quantity. The same goes for your kitchen cabinets. While everyone certainly has a budget, it is always worthwhile to consider foregoing unnecessary flourishes (like that fancy new dish tray) and put a little bit more money into choosing high-quality paint and products.

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, the paint you choose is going to see a lot of wear and tear. With daily use, cabinets will see greasy fingers, food residue, splatters, spills, bumps, and so much more. Choose a cheap paint and you’ll be seeing chips, fading, and general dullness in no time at all, essentially undoing all the hard work you are currently putting into making your kitchen look its best.

So, when choosing the paint for your kitchen cabinets, remember to pursue a high-quality line of paint and paint products. Your contractor should explain the options available to you and the products they recommend. Proper surface preparation is essential, it involves a lot of processes in order to the job right. When hiring the right crew to do it for you, it is worth researching their processes to ensure longevity. The contractor’s experience, processes and product choice will certainly make a difference in the end result.

Upgrade Your Kitchen

As you can see, while many things can impact the colour you choose for your kitchen cabinets, you can make a great choice so long as you put a bit of time into researching your options. By first thinking about the context of your space and then carefully selecting paint samples, you’ll be able to compare your best options side-by-side to see what’s actually going to work out. And, when it’s all said and done, you’ll definitely thank yourself for going through all that trouble.