Small kitchen paint colours for a big improvement in tiny spaces

10 ways to give your compact space clout with considered colour choices
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  • We may not all be blessed with large spaces in our homes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance even the tiniest of rooms – and if you’re looking for small kitchen ideas then colour is one way to do exactly that. In fact, small kitchen paint colours are key to creating the perfect environment.

    Whether you’re after a light-filled airy space or something bright and cheerful or warm and cosy, to make the kitchen a room you want to spend time in – colour plays a vital role.

    It’s not only the colour that can give your kitchen the look and feel you’re after either – think about the finish, too. Do you want something matt and chalky-looking, or would you prefer a high-shine effect to help bounce what light you do have around the room?

    Small kitchen paint colours for a big improvement

    From the walls and tiles, to cabinetry and even the ceiling, there’s a whole host of ways you can use paint to transform your kitchen. Read on to find out the best small kitchen paint colours that will have you so inspired you’ll be digging out the paintbrush and dusting off your overalls in no time.

    1. Team deep colours with metallics

    navy blue kitchen with metallic gold kitchen island and gold taps

    Image credit: Bert & May

    If you’d love to use a dark colour in your kitchen, but are worried it will make the room look like a cave, help brighten it with metallics. Whether it’s just opting for new handles or accessories, or painting a splashback or wall in a brushed gold or antique brass colour, it’s guaranteed to add some extra sparkle.

    Here, deliciously deep blue painted cabinetry has been teamed with an island that features a standout gold panel for a striking effect – and although the gold isn’t painted in this picture, there’s nothing to say you couldn’t take inspiration from its design.

    2. Keep cramped kitchens cheerful with yellow

    Image credit: Little Greene

    Using a sunshine shade in a small kitchen is a guaranteed way to give it a lift, no matter the weather outside. Here, the same, strong yellow paint has been used not only for cabinetry, but the walls, door and woodwork to completely transform the room. By taking the colour overhead, it helps to disguise what would otherwise feel like a low ceiling.

    Buy now: Giallo 337, from £48.50 for 2.5l Absolute Matt Emulsion, Little Greene

    3. Use grey as a grounding colour for small kitchens

    Kitchen with grey cabinetry white walls and white metro tile splash back

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Adding colour to a small kitchen can feel like a brave move, but by choosing something subtle, like grey, you can make sure it adds interest without overpowering the room. Painting your base cabinetry only can help ‘ground’ the space, while keeping the walls white ensures you still have that element of light.

    ‘Use colours that are easy to live with as kitchens tend to be the most used room in the home,’ says Patrick O’Donnell, ambassador at Farrow & Ball. ‘Look to schemes that have integrity and that you won’t tire from – this doesn’t mean bland, just restful.’

    4. Reflect light with white to make it feel bigger

    White kitchen black worktops and stainless steel cooker hood extractor fan

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Painting your kitchen white doesn’t have to mean it looks sterile – just make sure you have some dots of colour with the accessories, or add soft furnishings, such as blinds, tea towels and even a rug to soften the overall look.

    It’s not simply a case of painting it white either – there are so many different whites to choose from, so it’s really important to test a few to see how they work with the light in your kitchen. If you have an extra-dark room, why not choose a paint such as Dulux’s Light + Space range, which is made with light-reflecting particles to reflect up to twice as much light back into your room.

    5. Pick a jewel shade like emerald green

    green kitchen with dark cabinets white marble worktops and emerald green walls

    Image credit: Crown Paints

    Whether you have a small kitchen with high ceilings, or only a slither of a wall to paint, give your room a striking look by choosing a jewel tone. From deep amethyst to sparkling sapphire or a wine ruby red, these colours are richly saturated hues that can make your room feel just as special as the gems themselves.

    Here, a dramatic emerald wall creates a vibrant backdrop above dark inky-blue base cabinetry. Which gem colour would you choose?

    Buy now: Emerald Vision Kitchen Paint, from £25 for 2.5l, Crown

    6. Add warmth to compact kitchens with neutrals

    Taupe coloured kitchen cabinets and walls with bird print wallpaper

    Image credit: Little Greene; Great Ormond Street wallpaper in Signature, £104 per roll

    Think of neutral colours and it’s likely that white, cream and beige will spring to mind, however, there are so many more shades to choose – and some are perfect for adding warmth to a small kitchen.

    Here, a light clay-like paint colour has been used on the base cabinetry, splashback and shelf, while a pretty bird-motif wallpaper sits above. Earthy tones like this are ideal if you’re looking for a warm colour, so consider browns, terracotta and sands, too.

    Buy now: Dolphin Intelligent Satinwood, £75.50 for 2.5l, Little Greene

    7. Choose dreamy cream

    Small cream kitchen with black worktops and hanging clothes airer

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Keep a small kitchen feeling seamless by using an all-over colour that blurs the edges between cabinetry and walls. A light buttery shade of cream, for example, is warm, easy to live with and ultimately timeless. Team it with light or rustic wood in a country- or traditional-style small kitchen, or incorporate some pink or earthy tones for a more feminine feel.

    ‘To give the illusion of space, paint everything in one colour but in the appropriate finishes,’ says Farrow & Ball’s Patrick O’Donnell. ‘For example, Modern Eggshell for woodwork and Modern Emulsion for your walls.’

    8. Take it next-level dark with grey or black

    Black kitchen with stainless steel worktops and kitchen island with integrated sink

    Image credit: Future PLC

    There’s nothing to say a small kitchen can’t embrace dark colours – you just need to decide how dark you want to go. Perhaps you only want some of the cabinetry painted, or are you brave enough to paint the whole room? Whether you go for a dark industrial grey, inky black or dark blue, brown or forest green, there are various ways you can introduce a dark paint colour.

    ‘Dark colours are becoming more mainstream in kitchens and at Crown we find that this adds drama, strength and solidity to the space,’ says Judy Smith, colour consultant at Crown. ‘Don’t be afraid of using a dark colour in a small room – it can be surprisingly sophisticated without making it feel closed in.’

    ‘If you incorporate black into your kitchen scheme in a subtle way, such as painting kitchen cupboards, it will give the scheme definition and add depth to the room without having to completely change the space.

    Alternatively, be open to giving your kitchen a cocooned feel and paint the walls and cabinetry, then take the colour overhead to keep it from feeling ‘separated’ with a white ceiling. Paint with a gloss or sheen to its finish will also help bounce any light around and offer a reflective surface – something that’s often needed in a smaller space.

    9. Combine pastels like pink and blue

    Modern kitchen with pink and grey lower cabinets with blue walls and wall-mounted storage cabinets

    Image credit: Crown Paints

    Don’t stop at one paint colour – why not combine two? Pastel pink and blue are used here in a grown-up, sophisticated way on handleless cabinetry and the surrounding wall and storage shelf. Light enough that they’re not too overpowering, the two colours work in harmony with each other.

    The matt pink gives the kitchen an element of pretty, while the blue prevents it from feeling overtly girlie.

    10. Be inspired by blue

    Rustic kitchen with blue wood panel walls aged wood worktops and taupe kitchen cabinets

    Image credit: Farrow & Ball

    The colour blue is said to represent both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, imagination and inspiration – making it the perfect choice for a small kitchen where you’ll be whipping up culinary delights. Although it’s often thought to be a cooler colour, here it’s been teamed with earthy browns to help keep it feeling warm and inviting.

    ‘Keep colour schemes simple in a small kitchen,’ says Patrick O’Donnell, ambassador at Farrow & Ball. ‘Avoid more than three colours in one space (think cabinetry, walls, and woodwork) – any more than that can feel distracting in a room that usually has lots of adornment with utensils and crockery already on show.’

    Buy now: Sloe Blue No.87, £56 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball

    What colour should I paint my small kitchen?

    If you’re not sure what colour to choose and are tempted to keep it plain, consider if that’s going to give you the look you want. ‘We feel that colour adds drama, strength and solidity to a space,’ says Judy Smith, colour consultant at Crown Paints. ‘It can either be used to create a bold feature wall, or if that isn’t your style it can be incorporated in more subtle ways via accessories and furniture.’ 

    ‘When painting small areas, think about painting skirting boards, window frames and radiators in the same colour as the walls,’ Judy continues. ‘As this can really help to create the illusion of more space in a smaller area.’

    Are dark colours good for small rooms?

    Is a dark colour good for a small kitchen? The answer is yes. ‘Dark kitchens are striking yet timeless and are especially good at giving presence to a small room,’ says Farrow & Ball’s Patrick O’Donnell. ‘Even more so, in fact, if your cabinets are the lower units as this will provide “structure” to your room. Think something elegant, like our blackest blue Railings.’

    What is the best paint finish for kitchen walls?

    The best paint finish for kitchen walls is one that can stand the heat, spills and general kitchen mishaps. ‘You want a paint that is durable and easy to wipe in the kitchen,’ says Tobie Lewis, senior brand manager at Valspar. ‘As well as being resistant to mould and common household stains,’

    ‘Valspar’s Blend v500™ kitchen and bathroom ceiling paint can endure the scuffs and knocks of daily living without compromising your colour or finish. Keeping the walls and ceilings in your kitchen looking great for longer.’

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