Choosing a Kitchen Colour Scheme
The kitchen colour scheme you choose including the choice of paint for the walls, the colour of kitchen cabinetry, worktops and flooring are all vitally important because colour defines whether a kitchen will ‘work’ and also impacts dramatically on a kitchen’s ‘mood’ or ambience. We appreciate that not everyone has a blank canvas to start from when designing a kitchen and there are other factors that influence kitchen colour and style choice, including the following:-
- Your home’s theme: There may a natural inclination to retain a house’s existing style, for example in a period property such as a Georgian or Victorian house you may find it is better to continue the traditional theme rather than opt for something more contemporary.
- Kitchen light source: The amount of natural light a room receives usually influences a kitchen colour scheme, for example lighter colours are advisable for a poorly lit room as they help make the room feel larger and brighter.
- Which way your room faces: Colour schemes can look stunning in one room but fail completely in another and this is not just down to the quantity but the quality of light and this differs depending on whether you have a north, south, east or west facing room! Light quality affects how we see the colour and so different light qualities change how it appears to us. This in turn affects the tone or mood of the room. North facing rooms generally have a limited but consistent light so how the colour’s visual appearance won’t change as the day progresses. South facing rooms generally receive lots of light so will be consistently bright. East facing rooms receive morning light but lose this as the day progresses and west facing rooms will receive light in the afternoon but not morning and so the perception of colour can change throughout the day.
- Colour undertones: A colour undertone is not the colour you immediately see but a subtle characteristic often only apparent when different colours are combined. If the undertones clash rather than harmonise this can cause kitchen colour schemes to fail. Colours such as purple, blue, grey and brown have cool colour tones whereas red, orange, yellow and green are warm colour tones. Should you have a south-facing kitchen which receives a lot of natural sunlight then warm or cool undertones should work but if not then warm colour tones are best as they will prevent your room from feeling dark or cold.
So choosing a kitchen colour scheme carefully is essential for ensuring it will work, as well as for setting the tone of the room.
Fortunately there are some general colour principles you can follow which help determine the effect different colours will have on a room, and these are as follows:
White is undoubtedly the most popular choice of colour for a kitchen. It is clean, fresh, and ideal for any room size as it reflects light, making a room feel bigger and brighter. White is associated with purity and an all-white kitchen in a crisp white tone, and with de-cluttered surfaces will create a minimalist and extremely contemporary kitchen with a fresh, pure and sophisticated feel.
However some may perceive a stark white tone to feel cold and impersonal; should this be the case then perhaps an all-white kitchen with warmer undertones would be more suitable. This is achievable using a softer white tone containing subtle pink or cream hues, for a warmer overall finish. As well as purity, white is associated with peace and serenity so the softer white is perfect for achieving such an atmosphere.
As well as this, white is extremely versatile so works well in combination with other kitchen colour schemes and textures. What’s more, white is a classically timeless colour so will not date or tire with age. For example , a black and white contrast will never date and is ideal for a very chic and sophisticated finish.
Similar to white, cream is a very calming colour and also very versatile. It can be used to create stylish, modern kitchens but is also ideal for more traditional kitchens, generating a sanctuary-like, safe feel that is homely and comfortable. Particularly for families where the kitchen very often becomes the heart of the home, people intend it to feel homely, welcoming and a sociable place for gathering. Cream kitchens are perfect for this kind of ambience, particularly in combination with the warm wood tones of a more traditional shaker style kitchen.
Blue has cool undertones so can appear cold or uninviting yet blue is also associated with calm and tranquillity (somewhat essential for a kitchen!) so select your blue colour tone and décor with care and the latter mood is easily achievable for your kitchen. We would advise against dark blue but pale blue kitchen tones are very popular! Best for a south facing room, a pale blue kitchen colour scheme can make a room feel larger. The pale blue kitchen tone works nicely in combination with either white high gloss finishes for a sleek and effortlessly cool kitchen design, or else with light grey tones should you desire a slightly more formal feel. Alternatively a pale blue kitchen works beautifully in combination with warm wood tones. This is ideal for a more traditional or shaker kitchen style, producing the same calm feel which is homely and inviting and this ambience can be enhanced with soft neutral furnishings such as curtains, tablecloth or seat cushions.
Dark Kitchen Colours (Grey and Black)
Dark colour tones such as grey, black and brown have become an increasingly popular colour choice for kitchens. However, being from the cold side of the colour wheel they need introducing with care and are best for south facing rooms that receive sunlight to prevent them from making a room feel small, enclosed and dark:-
Grey is a colour typically associated with dreariness and depression but this is simply not the case within kitchen design. Whether light or dark, grey is frequently used to produce very beautiful modern designs and kitchen colour schemes that are far from dreary but elegant, rich and sophisticated.
Like grey, Black kitchens are highly elegant, avoiding the common association as a colour of mourning but instead producing stunning and very sumptuous kitchen designs. Black is ideal for a room with lots of lighting and contrasted with light colours to avoid appearing too dark. Black kitchens tend to have a serious tone but can be instantly enlivened with a splash of bold colour upon the walls, splashback or even through coloured LED lighting. This effect introduces a contemporary twist, perfect for larger kitchen or open plan spaces intended not just for cooking but for entertaining and socialising.
Just like its association with danger, red is a kitchen colour to be approached with caution as there are a variety of red tones available but which can have very varied effects upon your kitchen’s overall appearance and atmosphere. With warm undertones a bold red colour should work within any room but particularly for smaller spaces it can appear somewhat overpowering so needs introducing with care. Bold red is frequently used for accent or feature pieces within a kitchen colour scheme but whichever your preference, the bold red is perfect for creating an energetic, fun, attractive modern kitchen that will stimulate the senses. Bold red kitchen colour schemes work well in association with grey and white tones, or else the introduction of black hints create a distinctive contrast and slightly exotic feel. Alternatively a dark red kitchen tends to produce a more formal, serious feel which is highly sophisticated, yet bordering on the dramatic. Like a fine wine, dark red kitchens are rich, full-bodied and designed to be shared so are perfect if you intend your kitchen as a sociable setting. Red kitchen colour tones can also alter the perception of a room to make the walls feel nearer than they are, making this colour perfect should you desire a more intimate feel.
A yellow kitchen colour scheme is perfect for creating a bright, fresh, and energetic feel. Yellow is a colour associated with summer and happiness, ensuring a kitchen is a fully enjoyable and social place where people want to spend their time. With warm undertones this colour should work within any space, no matter what direction the room faces. However there are different shades of yellow kitchen available, each of which has a varied impact upon a room. Pale yellow colours are our preferred shade of yellow for a kitchen, with a softer tone than the bold yellow but sharing the same welcoming vitality. Pale yellow kitchens work well in rooms that are smaller and/or with limited light as they create the perception of a larger and brighter room. Pale yellow kitchens are perfect in combination with white and grey kitchen colour tones, or else with a pale wood-effect if you prefer a more traditional impression. Alternatively, bold yellow kitchens are somewhat less refined but can adopt a more formal quality within the handleless kitchen style and when interspersed with grey tones and glass accents. The overall effect is a very modern, punchy kitchen finish with a positively infectious impact.
It may not be the first colour that springs to mind for a kitchen but with the right kitchen style and colour tone, your kitchen can exude the upmost of elegance and sophistication. If choosing a purple kitchen colour scheme we would avoid light shades of this colour but recommend a deep, dark and rich purple colour to emulate dark purple’s associations with regal opulence and grandeur, or else passion! Purple has cool colour tones so requires a well lit room, but a rich dark purple kitchen against a white décor, with grey flooring and complimented with glass accents is perfect for a lavish and inviting kitchen; it is highly sophisticated, contemporary and admirable!
Green is not one of the more popular kitchen colour choices, which is a shame as it can appear very elegant and also has a very calming presence, ideal for a kitchen! Should you opt for this kitchen colour scheme then typically a medium-darker shade of green such as Sage or Olive works well. Green is a cool colour tone and has similar qualities to blue in that it creates a serene ambience. However the colour Green is also associated with nature and earthiness, giving it a subtle energy. In keeping with this we like green in combination with other rich earthy colours including various grey tones. Depending on your light source and which way your room faces you may find green works better in combination with lighter colours such as white, cream, or natural wood tones for your worktop, décor and flooring.
Neutral Colour Kitchens
Neutral coloured kitchens are exactly that and very versatile. Warm tones and textures will work within almost any room regardless of size, space or the quantity or quality of light it receives. Neutral colours would include a range of off-white colours as well as, cream, light grey, cashmere, or very light wood tones. Neutral colours tend to create a very comfortable feel for a room as they are safe, calm and homely so can be ideal for kitchens if this is the mood you want to create; though ‘safe’ does not mean boring and neutral colours lend themselves extremely well to bolder colour schemes or patterns should you wish to inject some colourful flair and vibrancy to your room.
So what kitchen colour scheme to choose?
LWK London’s advice would be to think carefully before deciding upon your kitchen colour scheme and choice of kitchen cabinets. Consider all factors that will influence whether or not your colours are likely to work as colours are not a ‘one-size-fits-all.’ However, colours do have different tones and undertones so if set on a particular hue but unsure of its likely success then perhaps you just need a different shade, tone, or accessories, to those you originally had in mind. If unsure of colours then definitely ask advice from your kitchen designer who can advise on what will or won’t work, ensuring your finished kitchen is as colourful as you would like, but in every case impressive and beautiful!
Here’s some further posts you might find helpful:
- How does light affect kitchen colour schemes?
- North facing kitchen colour schemes
- 10 reasons to choose gloss kitchen doors
- Luxury Kitchens: Why are German Kitchen manufacturers so specialised?
- What do kitchen designers mean by ‘clean lines,’ and what are the benefits of this?