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Colour is a powerful design tool that completely alters the mood of a kitchen. It can change your perception of the space, making it feel wider and brighter, and it can draw the eye towards features worth highlighting. And, of course, it’s a great way to express personality.
In the past, there may have been more of an all-or-nothing approach to colour in the kitchen ? remember lime green and orange in the 1970s? The new palette is more restrained, with pale blues, greys and darker, inky shades proving a big hit. Tone is important too, even within the grey family ? warmer greys create a different feel from blue-based shades of slate.
The accent colour is as popular as ever and here yellow comes into its own, particularly against darker greys. ‘The rule of thumb is to go for a base colour with an accent shade to highlight areas or to add a vibrant splash to pieces such as a bench or sideboard,’ says Gordon Boyd of Nolte. ‘Alternatively, try complementary pairs, such as green and blue.’
When choosing an accent colour or a mixed palette, you can't go wrong by following colour theory. 'Either select complementary colours, which are next to each other on a colour wheel, or contrasting shades from opposite sides of the wheel,' says David Mottershead, MD at Little Greene. 'Contrasting colours are energising, while complementary colours are calming.'
Bold blue kitchen
Colour can be highly effective in defining zones within an open-plan space. Here soft blue matt-satin glass base units, and an island to match, contain the kitchen area. Grey walls and white wall cabinets anchor it and make it more of a sophisticated choice.
Even a colour scheme as straightforward as black and white doesn't have to be, well, black and white. In this kitchen, the disregard for conventional boundaries softens the look, adding quirky appeal. Base cabinets in darker shades than the wall cabinets help the design and prevent it looking top heavy.
One way to make an eclectic look sing is to add your favourite colour into the mix. Here, a white-and-wood scheme is given personality with cupboard doors and drawers dyed red. Blue rugs keep the look individual.
Solid blocks of striking colour can emphasise the freestanding design of furniture. This kitchen features an island painted in a deep blue and a cupboard in a burnt orange tone. These muted shades pack a punch without overwhelming. For stronger contrast think light and dark, or two bold colours of the same 'weight'. Too much mad colour can make a room feel smaller, so you may want to balance the strong colour with a neutral floor and walls.
When we talk about colour, we don't always mean reds, yellows or blues. As in nature, earthy browns, greys and sand colours blend harmoniously. This modern kitchen teams dark-grey and soft-black satin lacquers with grey-blond timber finishes in a design that unites the room. Give neutrals an update with a shade of grey. Cool greys look good with stainless steel, while warmer tones work with wood.
Don't overlook the vibrant tones of natural wood. In this Edwardian kitchen, the walnut island oozes warmth and is balanced beautifully by shades of warm grey then lifted with a punch of citrus bright in the bar chairs. Elements of natural timber will add warmth to the coolest of schemes, white a grey-white natural stone floor can cool down a fiery palette.
Richard Baker Furniture
If you like grey, but are keen to steer away from battleship shades, move towards the plum spectrum to pick out an island. Here, a cooler shade is used with white to draw in the walls. An island painted in a contrasting colour to that of the wall cabinets will make it a focal point.
Bold colour has been used to create a welcome surprise in this bespoke design. Black lacquer and etched-glass sliding panels open to reveal a scullery zone in red lacquer, providing rich colour contrast to the gloss lacquered and stained burr-maple veneer island.
Holloways of Ludlow
A large, light-filled room often benefits from strong colour to add definition and interest, and to prevent the space looking bland. Here, a blue island with strong black granite worktop forms the heart of the design, while tall appliance housing painted in a darker blue provides a solid backdrop.
Yellow brings energy to a scheme and this unusual kitchen with its sleek blocks of colour is inspired by the artist Mondrian.
Burnt orange ? the brighter side of terracotta ? is a shade to look out for. Here, it adds warmth to white, but it also pairs beautifully with dark green and shades of blue. It looks good alongside leather too.
Linda Barker for Wren
An island is the perfect place to showcase block colour in a strong primary shade. Opt for a combination of textures to soften the look.
Pale, powdery blues are a timeless choice in both classic and modern schemes. Echoing nature, this palette is ideal for a kitchen that looks out on to a garden, pond or lake. Balance a delicate, icy blue with a calming, stronger tone for the wow factor.
Grey is still very much the neutral of the moment. It looks smart and crisp paired with white, but can still benefit from a little extra colour. In this kitchen, a sideboard with coloured doors provides a point of interest.