Choosing the Right Finishes and Paint Colors for Your Kitchen

Written by Kelly K. Tomkies
Updated May 30, 2013
Smart planning can yield a kitchen to make you proud. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Mary V. of Roscoe, Ill.)

Paint colors and finishes can make a big difference in the look and functionality of your kitchen. Here are some tips to keep in mind when remodeling your kitchen.

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One of the first things people will notice about your newly remodeled kitchen are the paint colors and finishes you've chosen. Colors can provide an emotional response, like the calm and tranquility of cool colors (shades of blue, gray and green) or the inviting feel of warmer colors (shades of red and brown). Finishes like flooring and countertops also add to the overall look and feel. Here are six tips for choosing colors and finishes to complement your remodeling project.

Decide an overall color scheme that includes the floor and countertops

The colors should work together to create the mood you're looking for. To avoid a monotone look, first choose a paint color. Then choose fabric for window treatments or seat cushions that includes the paint color plus a complementary color. Also, remember to add some contrast in the kitchen. For example, dark hardwood floors with dark wood cabinets may overpower the room, especially when paired with a dark paint color. Stay away from trendy colors when it comes to permanent fixtures such as countertops and cabinets. Instead, use them as accents that can be replaced, such as window treatments or the paint color on an accent wall. An interior designer can give you more advice on choosing the right colors for your project.

Choose timeless cabinet looks

It's also a good idea to stay away from trendy choices when it comes to cabinets. Most trends fizzle out in five years, and you may end up wanting to replace, reface or paint them, adding more cost. Timeless looks in neutral colors that will look good for many years are a better choice. Customize the cabinets with special hardware or finishes such as glazing or an antiqued look to add an extra design feature or trend. Replacing hardware is much less expensive than replacing the cabinets.

Looks aren't everything when it comes to countertops

Think about the pounding that the countertop needs to endure, not to mention extremes in temperatures. Granite is the most requested kitchen finish material today, but quartz countertops have a similar look and are considered more durable and easier to clean. They are also less expensive than granite. Countertops are a great place to introduce a contrasting color. For example, pair dark wood cabinets with a light countertop. Some companies specialize in countertops, and they can offer expert advice about what will work best for your home and situation.

Don't forget the kitchen sink

Just like countertops, when it comes to the kitchen sink and faucet, consider the functionality of the pieces as well as how they look. Stainless steel is more durable than other finishes such as cast iron and composites. Also, think about how the sink is going to complement the countertop that's been chosen. For example, bronze works well with warm tones. Stainless steel typically complements most designs.

Window dressing

Window treatments are one place you can use those trendier colors: These are often less expensive to replace in five years. Today, many homeowners are choosing to keep window coverings simple and small to allow plenty of natural light to fill the kitchen. Roman shades and fabric-covered cornices are examples of these types of treatments.

Achieving harmony

No one piece in the kitchen will stand alone; it all has to work together. Before finalizing any finish or color, place samples of your options together on a counter to ensure they work. Make sure to use some coordinated finishes to tie the room together, but remember that not every detail has to match. Find a balance with contrasting colors, patterns and textures.

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