The best cabinetry colours for small kitchens – as recommended by design pros

Make sure you're choosing colour wisely for your compact kitchen

Navy and oak two tone kitchen with terrazzo worktop
(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Creating your dream kitchen in a small space will be a challenge, but one that in UK homes, we're all too familiar with. Including storage, appliances, and worktop space, all while making sure it looks good is no mean feat. But one thing that will simplify the process is knowing the best cabinetry colour for a small kitchen. 

Choosing a kitchen colour scheme is a huge commitment as it's an investment that will stick around for 5-10 years (ideally longer), meaning you want to be sure you're choosing wisely. 

Whether this means following the latest kitchen trends or picking a timeless kitchen colour combination, it's made more complicated when you're dealing with a compact room. 

So of course we had to ask the experts which shades they recommend for making a small kitchen look bigger while maintaining a stylish look - and they answered. 

Best cabinetry colours for small kitchens

Classic cream, playful pastels, daring charcoal - the colour possibilities are endless. But where to start when choosing the best cabinetry colour for a small kitchen?

Thinking about the shape, size and natural light in your kitchen will help you to narrow down potential shades, then you assess what you gravitate towards. You spend so much time in a kitchen, so it's important to create an aesthetic that you find inspiring. 

1. Create an airy feel with neutrals

White shaker kitchen with brass cup handles and a white belfast sink.

(Image credit: Future)

Neutral shades are a failsafe option for a kitchen as they simply won't date, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your investment will still look chic 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years in the future. Whether you want to stick to pure white kitchen ideas or grey kitchen ideas are more up your alley, it's guaranteed to look timeless. 

'Neutral colours like whites or cool greys work well in small kitchens,' says Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet. 'In small kitchens, coordinating your kitchen cabinets to your wall colour is a great way to establish a cohesive and streamlined look as it can make the kitchen appear larger.'

Richard Davonport, managing director at Davonport, says 'These shades can also help to create the illusion of space, just pair with crisp white finishes, such as worktops and finish with warm wooden accents to create an inviting aura.'

2. Make it cosy with darker hues

Dark grey u-shaped kitchen with work worktops and a single open shelf running across the back wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

When choosing the best cabinetry colour for a small kitchen, likely, dark shades aren't even on your radar. It seems counter-intuitive to go for colours that typically draw a room inwards, but smaller spaces can handle a statement palette like a black kitchen idea

'Small kitchens like light colours as they make them appear larger and brighter however, depending on your style dark colours can also work very well as those can make the space feel more intimate and cosy,' says William Durrant, founder of Herringbone

'Both colours create an inviting atmosphere at any time of the day because the tones change as the light changes throughout the day creating interest and an element of intrigue - it's like the space is never the same.'

3. Try out a touch of blue

Blue shaker kitchen with butlers sink

(Image credit: Future)

If dopamine decor is more your thing, then don't fear - you can still embrace playful shades in a small kitchen. You'll want to be conscious of where the light hits though, as some colours won't shine the way they should. 

'If you have a south-facing kitchen with lots of natural light you could choose some beautiful bold colours like red, pinks and greens to add personality to your cabinetry,' says Melissa Klink, creative director at Harvey Jones

'If you have a small kitchen or a room with limited natural light, using a light blue can help create a sense of openness and make the room feel brighter and more inviting,' Jen recommends. 'Light blue hues have reflective properties that can help bounce whatever light is available around the room, making the space feel brighter overall.'

4. Go two-toned

Navy and oak two tone kitchen with terrazzo worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Stuck between two shades? Two-tone kitchen ideas are the answer. Balancing a light and dark palette is a great way of adding dimension to a small kitchen design, and will help to bounce light at different times of day. 

'Depending on the colour combinations a two-tone kitchen can bring balance, contrast or boldness to the space, which makes you want to spend even more time there,' adds William. 


How to choose a kitchen cabinet colour

With so much kitchen inspiration out there and so many colour palettes, how do you choose a kitchen cabinet colour? Gather some ideas from magazines and social media and see what you're drawn to, then go in stores to see how your favourite shades look in the flesh. 

'When picking the colour of your kitchen make sure that it is right for you, your space and your personality. It's important that you like the colour, tone and contrasts as it's a room you will use every single day,' says William Durrant. 

He continues, 'Make sure you pick up samples and try them in your space at different times of the day. In this way you will be able to see how colours look in different lights. A tip is to make sure to hold your sample vertically, the way the cabinetry sits, not horizontally in order to get the most realistic effect.'

Which cabinetry colour are you drawn to for your small kitchen? 

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).