Buying a new home is an exciting event. But even deciding on what color to choose for your new kitchen cabinets can get complicated. To guide you through the process, we’ve answered a few questions and collected a few tips so you can make your choice with confidence.
1. Why is cabinet color important?
One of the first things you should know about picking a color is the power color has to affect people. Scientific studies have shown that colors can have both psychological and physiological effects. In other words, color can influence the way people feel, think, and respond. Colors are categorized as either warm or cool and therefore create contrasting impacts on people and spaces, especially when they are the main color in the room.
Color sets the mood
Red, yellow, and orange are considered warm colors. We associate them with the sun and fire. Warm colors work well in active spaces and in places where people gather. They are bold, energizing, and cheerful. The cool colors, green, blue, and purple, are refreshing, relaxing, and restful. They remind us of lakes, grass, and the outdoors. So consider the mood your color choice will create.
What about all the other colors?
We have only mentioned six colors so far. What about all the rest? Well, as more colors are formed by combining with these foundational hues, they will have undertones that render them primarily warm or primarily cool.
Tints shades tones
When white is added to a color it is called a tint. When black is added it is called a shade and when gray is added it is a tone. So you can have many tints of green, shades of green, and tones of green, for instance, depending on how much of the neutral is added. If one hue of a color is not quite right, another tint or shade of it might be perfect.
Black, white, and gray are not considered a part of the color wheel. They are neutrals. Neutrals are important because they can usually be used with any other color as a backdrop. They coordinate, they blend, and they put the primary color on center stage. This makes neutrals versatile and valuable.
2. Will any color be good on my cabinets?
Because cabinets occupy so much of the space in the kitchen, how their color coordinates with the walls, the floor, the countertop, and the appliances can mean the difference between design success and failure. A common refrain among designers is that there are no wrong colors, only wrong combinations.
Colors should work together to bring out the best in each feature of your kitchen. For example, A dark cabinet pairs well with a light countertop. The colors provide contrast for each other so that both stand out without competing.
The same is true for having a high contrast between the walls and the cabinets. If the cabinets are light, a darker color on the walls will set them off. In a monochromatic color scheme, the same can be done by using various shades, tints/shades of the same color, and adding in pattern or texture.
3. What cabinet color is best with my style of kitchen?
When choosing your cabinet color, the style of your kitchen can be a factor. Although there are overlaps, certain cabinet colors are more closely linked to particular design styles. Most historic styles and some traditional designs are limited to particular color pallets that reflect the period they are recreating. Very bold colors are most often seen in modern or contemporary styles.
In Transitional designs, the most popular is the all-white kitchen (though the addition of color is trending). In a recent post on kitchen trends for 2022, we noted that homeowners are beginning to highlight the kitchen island cabinets by using a different color.
4. What cabinet color is best with the light in your kitchen?
Because color is composed of light waves, light can have a significant effect on color. The type and amount of light your kitchen receives is a factor to consider when choosing a color for your cabinets, especially if you are particular about the tone and intensity of colors.
There are two types of light to consider: daylight and artificial lighting. If the orientation of your kitchen windows is south, the light is bright, even harsh. In this case, you can either use muted hues to absorb some of the light or you can “fight fire with fire” and use intense tones that will not be dimmed by the brightness.
If your windows have an eastern exposure, the light is softer and has a yellow hue, while a western window orientation will let in more red-orange light. So consider the time of day the kitchen is most in use because east/west exposures can intensify warm colors.
Northern light is more indirect and has a bluish tint which lessens the intensity of the color and can make it feel like it is in the shade. Muted tones will appear drab but lighter colors will be less affected.
Artificial light must also be considered since it’s what we use when the sun goes down. Even though there are many types of bulbs available today, they divide into two basic categories: warm yellow light and cool blue light. Incandescent bulbs are warm, halogen/fluorescent is cool, and LED can be either. Warm colored lights intensify warm colors but mute others. Cool colored lights intensify cool and muted tones.
The best way to see if you like a color and if it will work well with the other colors in the kitchen is to bring a sizable sample of it into your space and examine it at various times of the day. Be sure you view it vertically. Your cabinets will be vertical and the light will hit them in a different way than it would on a horizontal surface like a floor.
5. What cabinet color is best with the size of your kitchen?
Closely related to the way light affects color is the influence color can have on size and spaciousness. Warm colors, due to longer wavelengths, are easier to see at a distance and appear to draw things closer. Warm colors advance. Cool colors are the opposite. They recede. This is why warm colors are often used to make large spaces feel more cozy and cool colors are used to create a sense of spaciousness.
6. What cabinet color has the best resale value?
Most real estate agents will tell sellers that neutral colors will appeal to the widest audience. While white is a very popular color for kitchen cabinets, other neutrals like gray, black, and beige are also good. Stained wood cabinets have an appeal, especially if they are of high quality.
7. What cabinet color is trending now?
According to the 2022 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, white cabinets are still the number one choice at 40% with gray in second at 27%. The study also reveals that, for interest, homeowners are adding color to island cabinetry (26% blue, 10% black, 5% green).
8. What color inspires me?
Look at the kitchens on Instagram, Pinterest, Houzz, or the many design shows and magazines available. Designers will tell you that collecting all your favorites and assembling them into a vision board (also known as style, design, or inspiration boards) is a good way to begin designing a room. Not only will your preferences quickly become visible, but you will also begin to see patterns.
Many people, however, neglect the next step, which is just as important as making the collection. After looking at several cabinet colors, ask yourself: Why do you like it? Does it make you feel happy? Does it remind you of a favorite place to be, like the ocean or mountains? Is it the perfect color to go with the flooring you have chosen? Knowing the answer to “why?” can be a strong antidote to any second thoughts you might have once the decision is made.
9. What cabinet color do I like best?
If you have taken all these guidelines into account, you should have a pretty good idea by now of what colors are in the running as the best choice for your cabinets. After all, you have thought about:
the effects of color
how they work together
what colors go with your chosen style
how the size of the kitchen and the light that it gets will play a part
how your choice might affect the resale value of your house
what inspires you
But in the end, the most important priority is: what color cabinets do you like best? They are your cabinets. You are the one who will be enjoying them every day. The color you like is the best color for your kitchen cabinets.
Check out our InstaKitchen tool, where you can try out a variety of colors on cabinets as well as floors, countertops, and backsplashes to combine until you find your perfect combination and color.