How to Choose Kitchen Cabinet Colors You’ll Love

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated August 4, 2021
Friends talk in kitchen with painted cabinets
Photo: Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images

Your kitchen cabinet color should be determined by the size and layout of the space as well as your own personal design preferences

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Kitchen cabinets add to both the utility and aesthetic of your kitchen. Whether you’ve embraced a modern kitchen design trend or your remodeling choices reflect a more traditional look, the color of your cabinets can set the tone for the entire space. Here’s how to choose a cabinet color that will make the kitchen your favorite room in your home.

Choose Cabinet Colors Based on Your Kitchen Design

If you’ve chosen a more traditional design for your kitchen, shaker cabinets in classic colors like creams and whites will always be a good idea, as will rich stains that bring out the natural grain of wood cabinets

But if you’ve gone more modern with your kitchen remodel and have installed sleek melamine cabinets, consider going bold with dark blues, rich reds, or sunny yellows.

Consider the Kitchen Size and Lighting

No matter the room, dark colors will make the space look and feel smaller, while light colors make it feel more open and expansive. 

Unless you’ve got ample lighting in your kitchen or a large window that allows for plenty of natural light to stream in, you’ll want to choose lighter cabinet colors to make a small kitchen appear bigger. Creams and whites are typically good choices, but any muted color will do—think butter yellow and sage green.

On the other hand, if you have a large kitchen with a sprawling island with a smooth granite countertop, you can go with either dark or light colors for those cabinet doors. This is because a more expansive space can handle many different colors and design choices.

Choose a Cabinet Color That Works With Your Countertops and Backsplash

High contrast black, light blue and white kitchen
Photo: YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

Whether you go with the popular choice of an all-white kitchen or take the opportunity to choose contrasting colors and textures (think a black marble countertop against white cabinets or a concrete countertop against a slate blue island), consider the whole picture when choosing your cabinets. 

If you’ve already got a cabinet color in mind, see how it stacks up against various styles and textures of backsplashes and countertops. Interior designers look to the color wheel for inspiration, and you should as well—you might be pleasantly surprised to see which colors coordinate with each other.

Coordinate Kitchen Cabinets With Your Wall Color

If you are keeping your current wall color in your kitchen, make sure your cabinet color and finish choices pair well with it. Neutrals like a cream or pale gray wall will work with any type and color of cabinet, so your options are wide open. 

If you are repainting the walls, then your color choice should depend on how much of the wall is peeking out from around the cabinets and appliances. This is an opportunity to go with a bright hue like lemon yellow or a lime green for a fun pop of color, particularly if you are going with a light or neutral cabinet color.

Reflect the Right Mood in Your Kitchen

Do you want a kitchen that invites family and friends to linger and chat as food is prepared? Or do you want one that reflects the mastery of a professional chef? 

Whatever mood you wish your kitchen to evoke, your kitchen cabinets will be the driving force because they take up so much visual space. Choose a color that speaks to your personality and culinary aspirations, and meal times will be the best time of day.

For example, do you like to experiment with different flavors in your cooking? Add some spice to your kitchen’s color palette with cabinets in a bold red. Are you more traditional in your cuisine? Go for the classic all-white look or perhaps a rich brown wood grain cabinet.

Consider Resale Value When Choosing a Kitchen Cabinet Color

Modern grey kitchen
Photo: Rhonda / Adobe Stock

If you have recently remodeled the kitchen in your forever home, then you likely aren’t looking to sell in the near future. In that case, you can go as bold as you want with your kitchen cabinet colors. But if you are likely to be putting your home on the market in the next few years, then you’ll have to anticipate what buyers want most in a kitchen. 

Your best bet would be to choose all neutral colors like whites, creams, and grays—this will evoke a blank canvas so buyers can envision themselves living in the space. If you’re a confident DIYer, you can refinish your kitchen cabinets yourself. You can still add the color you want in other ways, be it a bright red tea kettle on the stove or a bowl of lemons on the counter, but the rest of the space should maintain a muted color palette to be a hit with potential buyers.

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house, so it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed when making kitchen cabinet color choices. By considering factors like the kitchen’s size, lighting sources, and the overall aesthetic you wish to create, you’ll be able to narrow down color choices to what suits your preference.

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