Adding paint to a kitchen is a practical, durable and fun way to finish off the space. It's exciting to look outside the box of typical painted kitchen ideas and instead find new and interesting ways to add extra colour. One of the most appealing and varied finishes for kitchen cabinetry, paint lends itself to both the classic looks of the traditional kitchen and to crisply modern linear designs.
Whatever your preference in terms of kitchen colour schemes, there's a painted kitchen cabinet or furniture idea sure to zhuzh up your space. Even if you're prone to stick to a neutral palette, a burst of colour with add warmth and personality. And since you spend a lot of time in a kitchen, it's important to keep it both liveable and lovable.
Paint is such a versatile addition to a kitchen. Available in matte, satin and gloss, there's a finish for every style. Its soft finish makes it ideally suited to traditional cabinetry but painted units will also sit happily in a modern design. One of the most appealing and varied finishes for kitchen cabinetry, paint lends itself to both the classic looks of the traditional kitchen and to crisply modern linear designs.
Painted kitchen ideas
One of the advantages of painted kitchen cabinets and furniture is in its almost limitless choice of colours. This allows your personality to shine through, but also relatively easy to update if you fall for some new kitchen ideas you want to try.
1. Match your cabinetry to your upholstery
Stand alone cabinets are the perfect place to embrace painted kitchen ideas. There are a number of ways you can go with this, and a current trend is choosing a contrasting colour to the rest of your painted kitchen cabinets.
Once you've selected the best paint for kitchen cabinets, create cohesion by using the same colour on any upholstery or seating by the rest of the cabinetry. This natural link will make the two areas feel at ease rather than as disparate sections.
2. Opt for a two tone effect
A lovely and on-trend way to add some new paint to your kitchen is to use two complementary colours from the same section of the colour wheel. Breakfast nooks and pantries are perfect for this. Paint them in the darker of the two shades so they become a feature in and of themselves.
Another way to work two tone kitchen cabinets is by using two shades on upper and lower cabinetry.
3. Highlight unusual shapes
If your cabinetry or stand alone kitchen furniture boasts unusual shapes, then use paint to make a feature out of them. If you're working with open shelving, paint the whole lot in a striking shade. If there's a back to the piece, leave this in the same shade as the walls so the eye is fully drawn to the silhouette.
4. Paint your table legs
A fun and quirky way to add colour to your painted kitchen ideas is by upgrading your table legs. Choose a joyful colour you like to use in accessories and painted the legs and supports of your table.
An easy update, this is great to do when you want to add a pop of colour without committing to a full refresh. Equally, it's a good way to see what it's like to live with a certain colour before you take the plunge and paint your cabinets, like when you're playing around with pink kitchen ideas.
5. Keep colour low
Painted kitchen cabinets are a common way to paint this room - and for good reason. Once you know how to paint kitchen cabinets, they're easy to do yourself, and update when the kitchen needs a refresh. For a slightly less all-over look, only paint your lower cabinetry. Any upper cabinetry or shelving should be leave neutral, or in a paler shade. If you have an island, paint the legs and baseboard, but leave the top as is.
This means the colour isn't overwhelming, and can make your kitchen seem taller as your gaze isn't being cut off by coloured upper cabinets. Instead white walls seem to go on much further.
6. Paint the interior of cabinets
While we love painted kitchen cabinets, there's more you can do than you might think. If you have glass-fronted or open shelving, you're missing a trick by not looking inwards. Paint the internal nooks of shelves in a bright, contrasting colour to the rest of the cabinet.
It's also an ideal way of adding colour to a white kitchen, as will provide the perfect amount of added colour, as well as acting an an unexpected burst of fun.
7. Match your splashback
Take your painted kitchen cabinets up a notch by including your splashback in the scheme. This takes the colour further and higher to make more of on impact, without encroaching fully on the walls.
Even more in this area than any other, make sure you chose a wipeable or washable paint. Otherwise your hard work will quickly be stained or mottled.
8. Add interest to open shelving
Open shelving in a kitchen is a great way to add a splash of serious colour. Paint the entirety of the piece all in one colour. The shelves, the backboard, the sides, and so on. This technique will create the perfect spot to curate a collection of your favourite pieces. They will pop against the coloured background and the pieces themselves will seem elevated.
9. Colour drench your space
Colour drenching is a paint trend which is going nowhere. The kitchen is certainly not exempt. To achieve this, all you need to do is paint everything - walls, cabinetry, doors - in the same colour. As a kitchen is a working space, keep your surfaces in a neutral so your eyesight isn't impacted and you can keep prepping food safely.
10. Use paint to create a welcoming vibe
Colour up kitchen shelves and cabinetry. Vibrant hues will add warmth and personality to a room, especially if your kitchen is part of a larger living space, and you intend to spend a lot of time there. Don't be afraid to include daring accessories in a variety of soft colours and pattern for added wow factor.
11. Take a look at the new nautical
Heritage blue offers a regal tone here, and is also a warmer (yet still timeless) alternative to a grey, black or white kitchen. Navy blue commands attention, which is why it is best to let this shade shine without too much distraction elsewhere.
12. Paint your chairs in candy colours
Play with paint to create a totally unique scheme. Give your kitchen a shot of colour by painting your chairs in your favourite hues. You could even mix and match different tones for a fun and lively look. Keep colours fairly low key elsewhere in the room, with pale stone flooring and wooden cabinetry.
13. Add colour without completely changing your scheme
Painting the pantry doors in a striking yellow will provide instant gratification on a gloomy day. Using white allows an interior to reveal itself and you can always add colour later on. Highlight the vibrancy of the yellow with accessories in a similar colourway.
14. Be inspired by trends
Grey is still very much the neutral of the moment for painted kitchen ideas. It looks smart and crisp paired with white, but can still benefit from a little extra colour with accessories. In this grey kitchen, coloured cabinetry doors provide a point of interest.
15. Create impact by painting an island unit
This huge, light filled kitchen has been anchored by an impressive charcoal grey central island. The extra-large structure gives the classic Shaker-style kitchen cabinetry a defining contemporary edge with the use of defining colour.
16. Stand out with vibrant chairs
Add warmth to your kitchen decorating scheme with splashes of gem colour. Solid blocks of striking colour can emphasise the freestanding design of furniture and accessories.
The bar stools here have been painted in a rich blue shade to add a vibrant punch of colour to the muted tones elsewhere. This break in the colour scheme helps to highlight the eating area as a distinct space.
17. Create a statement feature wall
A large, light-filled cream kitchen often benefits from strong colour because it adds definition and interest and helps prevent the space looking bland.
A wall of floor-to-ceiling cupboards creates a good source of storage and the teal doors introduce a solid pop of colour to the space. The cool whites of the ceiling, walls, floor and worktops are warmed by the inclusion of a natural-finish wood table and stools.
18. Paint in your perfect shade
If you have a favourite colour, don't be afraid to use it all over your kitchen. Here, a pale grey shade works well across all the storage and housing units because it's paired with neutral flooring and white walls to really open up the space. The warm wood table and coloured chairs add interest in the centre of the room.
Whether you choose a bold all-over shades or just a few bright highlights for your painted kitchen, bringing colour into the kitchen will raise everyone's spirits and create a welcoming space where you'll want to spend time and gather with family and friends.
Should your kitchen cabinets match your walls?
If you want a colour drench look, then of course, but otherwise they absolutely don't have to. In fact, you can even mix and match colours on the cabinets themselves.
'To add depth to any interior scheme, it’s always a good idea to team shades from the same palette,' says Ruth Lavender, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens. 'For those looking to be more daring with their design choices, introducing two-tone cabinets allows you to play with colour and make a standout feature. Two-tone cupboards have been growing in popularity over the past few years and offer the perfect solution for homeowners who desire a dark grey kitchen but don’t want to commit to one colour.'
'Opting for a lighter shade or an alternative colour on wall-hung cupboards will keep your kitchen feeling bright, while a darker hue on base units will ground the design. Balance and consideration are very much key to bringing this look together, so talking to your kitchen designer will ensure you find the right colour options for your scheme, as well as suggesting options you may not have previously considered.'
Should cabinets be lighter or darker than walls?
There's no rule as to whether your painted kitchen cabinets should be lighter or darker than the walls. it's all a matter of preference and what works best in your space. If you opt for darker cabinets, you'll achieve a more dramatic, statement look. Lighter than the walls and you'll get a more subtle, delicate finish. P
lay around with test pots and painted pieces of A4 paper and see which option works best in your space. As always, make sure to test colours in the morning, afternoon, evening and under both natural and artificial light sources. Only then will you get a true indication of how your painted kitchen ideas work in reality.
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Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home.
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