Best Colors for Your Kitchen: Planning a Color Scheme Step by Step

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Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. You can fully transform a kitchen by swapping out one color scheme for another. Better yet, this is a rare home improvement project that almost anyone can do on their own – you only need supplies and time to paint! If you are unhappy with the way your kitchen looks now, you could refresh the space from top to bottom over the course of a weekend and for just a few hundred dollars.

So, what is stopping you? For a lot of people, the hardest part of this whole process is the first step: picking which colors to choose. There are literally thousands of options to choose from and countless important design decisions to factor in when picking what color(s) of paint to use in a kitchen space. It can be overwhelming, honestly.

Do not let it hold up your own kitchen painting project. There is no perfect color for every kitchen. However, there is a perfect process for picking the colors that work best in your kitchen. Simply follow these steps:

Step One – Get Some Inspiration

Your local paint store is your best friend throughout this whole process. Before you ever plan to buy paint, visit a store (or the paint department of a home improvement store) to browse the colors they have available and pick up color chips of anything that catches your eye. Paint stores also have recommendations for complementary paint colors, along with paint professionals who can answer questions. Your goal with this step is not to make any decisions – it is to collect as much information as possible. Feel free to take home dozens of paint chips (the paint stores encourage it!).

Step Two – Follow Your Gut

There is no shortage of design advice available online. You could spend hours exploring which colors are popular right now while looking at images of impossibly trendy kitchens. But do not be totally swayed by how other people paint their kitchen. It is your space, and you are the one who will spend every day surrounded by whatever colors you choose. It is always a good idea to be aware of today’s popular colors and styles (especially if you plan to sell your home soon) but it is always the better idea to follow your gut. Choose whatever you like and think looks good in the space.

Step Three – Consider the Overall Color Scheme

The color of your walls is just one part of the overall kitchen color scheme. The backsplash, cabinets, appliances, and floors all factor in as well. First off, decide what you plan to paint or replace. Will you paint the cabinet doors? Will you replace the backslash? Are you going to buy a new refrigerator? It is important to consider all the different elements you can paint – walls, ceiling, cabinets, door frames etc. – along with what your time and budget allows for in terms of making other changes in the kitchen. The point is, do not just think about paint – think about how new colors complement your whole kitchen.

Step Four – Upgrade the Lighting

When you change the color of a room you often need to change the lighting as well. For example, if you paint the walls darker than they were before, you might need additional lighting to keep the space from feeling gloomy. Places to consider adding lighting include above and below the upper cabinets, tucked into open shelving units, or from a new overhead lighting fixture. Keep in mind that you may need to wait until after you apply the new paint color to see where and how you need to change the lighting.

Step Five – Be Bold…Or Not

Some people prefer to paint their walls a neutral color like white or grey and then bring color into the kitchen with a bold-looking backsplash or attention-grabbing kitchen cabinet doors. Other people have neutral appliances and countertops and balance those out with bright and colorful paint on the walls. There is nothing wrong with picking bold colors or with going in the opposite direction – just be cautious about creating spaces with too much or too little contrast.

Step Six – Sweat the Details

Finally and maybe most importantly, work out the actual details of your project: how much area you plan to paint, how much paint you need, what kind of paint to use, how much you have to spend, when and how you plan to paint. You might also want to seize this moment to improve other parts of the kitchen, like hanging new cabinet doors, refreshing cabinet door hardware, or installing a new sink. Since you will probably have to temporarily shut down the kitchen to paint, it is the perfect time to tackle another DIY upgrade. Figure out the whole scope of your project before you make any final decisions about paint colors.

By now you should be set – or at least well on your way to making the right choice. And here is a final piece of time-tested advice: get a second opinion. If you are on the fence about what colors to choose, ask a friend or family member what looks good to them. Better yet, ask someone at your local paint store. It is much easier to move forward with a paint project once someone else confirms you have got great colors.

About The Author: Donovan Thornhill, Part Owner and General Manager of The Door Stop. Celebrating 40 years as Arizona’s oldest and largest manufacturer of Cabinet Doors. 
Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

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