10 small kitchen paint colours for a big improvement in tiny spaces

How to give your compact space clout with considered colour choices

We may not all be blessed with the largest of kitchens, but clever use of small kitchen paint colours is key to creating and enhancing even the tiniest of rooms.

It doesn't matter whether you’re after a light-filled airy space or something bright and cheerful or warm and cosy. To make your small kitchen ideas 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 gold kitchen island

(Image credit: Future)

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 a small kitchen island idea 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

Bright yellow kitchen with wall panelling, wooden table and black chair

(Image credit: Future)

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 make this small kitchen look bigger by disguising what would otherwise feel like a low ceiling.

Buy now: Giallo 337, from £48.50 for 2.5l Absolute Matt Emulsion, Little Greene (opens in new tab)

3. Use grey as a grounding colour for small kitchens

White kitchen with metro tiles and grey cabinetry

(Image credit: Future)

Adding colour to a small kitchen can feel like a brave move, but by choosing something subtle, like a grey kitchen idea, 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, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab). '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 with black countertops

(Image credit: Future)

Consider white kitchen ideas 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. 

5. Pick a jewel shade like emerald green

Kitchen with dark cabinetry and emerald painted walls

(Image credit: Future)

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 green kitchen idea in emerald creates a vibrant backdrop above dark inky-blue base cabinetry. 

Buy now: Emerald Vision Kitchen Paint, from £25 for 2.5l, Crown (opens in new tab)

6. Add warmth to compact kitchens with neutrals

Grey-purple kitchen with floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

Think of neutral kitchen colour schemes 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 (opens in new tab)

7. Choose dreamy cream

White small kitchen with black worktop

(Image credit: Future)

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 when considering country kitchen ideas, 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. '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 island and wooden bar stools

(Image credit: Future)

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, Crown (opens in new tab). ‘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

Kitchen with pale blue walls and pink cabinetry units

(Image credit: Future)

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 kitchen idea gives the space an element of pretty, while the blue prevents it from feeling overtly girlie.

10. Be inspired by blue

Blue kitchen with gold countertops and bar stool

(Image credit: Future)

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 the navy  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 from 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 (opens in new tab)

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 from 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.

'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 (opens in new tab). 'As well as being resistant to mould and common household stains.'

Laurie Davidson
Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at lauriedavidson.co.uk