Finding the right kitchen color that you’ll love for years to come has never been more important, with the kitchen now a versatile room designed as much for living as it is for cooking.
Neutral kitchens are full of kitchen color opportunities, from appliances and flooring to window treatments and cabinetry. Start by deciding how much of an ongoing commitment you’re willing to make to your neutral kitchen. One of the simplest and least expensive options is to paint a wall or cabinet that can be easily updated if you get tired of it.
Our curated collection of the best ways to add color to a neutral kitchen will inspire you to give your kitchen a bold new look.
How to Add Color to a Neutral Kitchen
“It’s amazing how a change in paint color, brightly colored appliances, dazzling tiles or fresh upholstery can give a neutral or white kitchen a whole new look,” says Rob Whitaker, creative director at Terracotta (opens in a new tab).
For anyone who has dismissed the idea of adding bright colors to a neutral kitchen, let us change your mind.
1. Paint the inside of a piece of furniture
“Painting the inside of glass wall cabinets is a very effective way to add a touch of personality to your kitchen,” says Jayne Everett, Creative Director, Bare kitchens (opens in a new tab).
If you really want to celebrate your favorite color, opt for clear glass and let the color sing. The airy blue used here makes up just 10% of the overall kitchen color palette, but its eye-level placement and vibrancy ensure the color goes much further.
“Reed glass doors will provide a more diffused color, when closed, especially if the shelves are filled with glassware. No color is too bright or off limits,” adds Jayne.
2. Introduce a booster chair
“One of the easiest ways to refresh a neutral kitchen is to work a vibrant accent color on the upholstery. much easier to change than repainting the cabinets if you want to try a new shade,” says Sam Hart, designer, Rotunda (opens in a new tab).
Accent color can also work as a zoning tool by drawing attention to a specific area in large rooms. In this open-plan kitchen space, a strong accent color on the upholstery helps define the dining area, allowing the kitchen to blend in with the decor.
3. Be subtle with color additions
Accent colors are additional shades that often contrast with the primary colors used in the kitchen in an attempt to add drama – just a little. However, accent color can also play a more subdued and complementary role, as an American interior designer. Tamsin Johnson (opens in a new tab) demonstrates in this kitchen.
In a stronger hue, Gio Ponti’s striking mid-century pendant lamp would have drawn too much attention to the sculptural Arabescato marble island below, which is absolutely the star of the show. But in delicate pale green, the vintage glass fitting plays a balancing role that softens the harsh angles of the island and brings a feminine and harmonious touch.
4. Add unexpected interest
For a flexible approach that lets you control the color of your kitchen depending on your mood, consider painting the inside of cabinets with solid doors. “Applying bold accent colors in unexpected places, like this dresser interior, changes the initial impression of the room and instantly adds depth to the aesthetic,” says Melissa Klink, Creative Director, Harvey Jones (opens in a new tab).
“Strong colors are very emotional, but designing with them in a controlled way ensures that they brighten up the overall mood of the room instead of dominating it. Choose an invigorating shade that will make you smile every time you open the doors.’
5. United Front
Wearing an accent color on the floor can help a large open kitchen feel cohesively connected from every angle. “As this large, spacious room has very high ceilings, it was important to create meaningful points of interest within,” says Blakes London (opens in a new tab) chief designer Annie Ebenston.
“The use of a warm red on the pantries that frame the fireplace makes the whole elevation more than just a period fireplace.” On their own, the pantries might have been too powerful, but the custom-colored floor tiles play an anchoring role that unites them with the rest of the kitchen. “The matching tile color ties the room together beautifully,” says Annie.
6. In frame
White has long been the go-to for window and door frames, but plumping for an accent color that stands out may prove more compelling.
Here, Turner Architects (opens in a new tab) used Farrow & Ball’s Folly Green to frame exterior views and draw the eye across the space. The contrast also emphasizes the stunning curves of the arched doors, showcasing the form alongside the color. In the otherwise neutral kitchen, this vibrant hue steals the show.
“The color was chosen from the fresco from the School of Raphael in Athens, which was part of the design narrative throughout the design, so there is a nice continuity as well,” adds architect Paul Turner.
7. Paint above eye level
“An accent color above eye level is a simple way to add strong contrast to a room, without overwhelming. Since it’s not immediately noticeable, the accent color will draw the eye in for a visual surprise,” says interior designer George Miller, Neptune (opens in a new tab).
“This can work particularly well in rooms with higher ceilings or large cornices, accentuating either feature to great effect.” Continuing the accent color across different surfaces and planes – for example, the extractor hood here – has a blocking effect that looks modern and can help smooth out delicate architectural junctions.
8. Take an alternative approach
On large investments like cookers, it’s often easier to play it safe with a neutral black or white finish. However, stepping out of your comfort zone with a vibrant color will secure its place in the spotlight, as HÁM Interiors demonstrates.
“We love adding a splash of color to liven up our projects. Here, a tangerine orange cooker punctuates an otherwise neutral space, adding lots of personality,” says co-founder Tom Cox, HAM interiors (opens in a new tab).
The bright cooker draws the eye across the kitchen, past the bulky fridge-freezer, and offers a playful touch that gives a youthful and modern feel.
9. Paint an island
Island paint color ideas are a wonderful way to bring personality to a kitchen, allowing you to imprint your individual style on the space. As center pieces, islands are prime targets for a color change – and alone can be effective painted kitchen ideas.
One of the most popular routes is to choose an uplifting color for the kitchen island and place it in cooler neutral tones on the perimeter cabinetry. The idea is to really make the island color sing, so choose a darker background for extra definition. Using a different trading post on the island will also help keep him proud.
10. Add a splash of color with light fixtures
Light fixtures may not be your first port of call when considering adding color to neutrals, but it certainly shouldn’t be an afterthought. Making a color part of the scheme rather than the center of it provides a more contemporary feel.
If you want to start experimenting with bright colors, a great way to do that is with statement lighting. It will give a touch of excitement, but won’t overwhelm the whole room – or go over budget.
How to brighten up a neutral kitchen?
Neutral kitchens are ripe for color. Think about what colors work best with neutrals first, and go from there. Luckily, most neutral kitchens can take on the boldest colors, so don’t hold back.
Choosing the color for a predominantly neutral space is such a personal experience – in fact, no one knows for sure if we all see the myriad of shades in the same way. Marc Wilkinson, founder of Mark Wilkinson Furniture (opens in a new tab)felt that the colors we choose automatically are naturally influenced by current kitchen trends.
“The color of a kitchen – whether on the walls or the fixtures – should last at least five years, at a minimum, so try to look beyond the immediate trends and choose an additional color that will make you feel good about yourself. long term,” advised Mark.