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Kitchen Color Schemes

Updated on February 13, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

The quickest way to change the look of your kitchen is to paint it. Painting gives it a fresh, updated look for very little money, and may even mean that you can put off the expensive updates for awhile.

If you are considering repainting your kitchen you may be having a hard time deciding which color scheme is going to work best for you. There are so many possibilities within the various themes (country, classic, contemporary, etc.) that choosing one scheme can be overwhelming. It may help if you understand the different effects that you can achieve with various color combinations.

Tips for Choosing Colors

While you are choosing your colors consider the following:

  • The size of the room
  • The light source
  • Your favorite colors
  • The colors that are all ready there that you can't change (backsplash etc.)
  • The mood you are looking for
  • The style, or theme, of the room

All of these things will have an impact on the combination you decide on.

color wheel  Image:SXC
color wheel Image:SXC

Color Theory 101

Color theory is not that difficult to understand. Basically all colors are thought of as being on a color wheel. Each color on the wheel can be described in three ways:

  • Hue describes where the color is located on the color wheel. Is it closer to green or red?
  • Tone is the lightness or darkness of a color. For example if you add black to red in a small amount you get maroon, a tone or shade of red. By lightening a hue with white you get a tint. For example, adding white to red will create pink, a tint of red.
  • Intensity describes the brightness of a hue. A high intensity color will be vibrant and clear while a low intensity color may look drab, dull, or dirty.

Using these terms all color can be understood and described. This interactive color wheel will allow you to better understand how color works.

Color Schemes

Once you understand what color is and how it changes around the wheel you can better understand the way that designers choose colors that go together.

There are different types of color schemes:

  • Monochromatic means that you will be using one hue only. You will choose one hue and then vary the look by using different tones and intensities.
  • Primary means that you use the three primary colors. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. Varying combinations of these colors make all the other colors. Red, blue, and yellow can be too bright and harsh unless it is used carefully.
  • Complimentary means that you will be using colors that are opposite on the chart. Red, orange, and green would be a complimentary color scheme.

Putting Together a Kitchen Color Scheme

Putting it all together is not that difficult. The easiest way to choose a kitchen color scheme is to pick print curtains or a border that you like. Choose three colors from the curtains and make one the main color and the other two accent colors. Some ideas are:

  • Red, white, blue- if you love Americana this is the scheme for you.Use the bright hues or use faded tones to give a more rustic look. If you have a very large kitchen don't be afraid to try red on the walls or cabinets.
  • Yellow, white, pale green- this is a sunny, happy combination, reminiscent of the 1940s and early 50s.
  • Chocolate brown, cream, and mocha will give your kitchen a warm, yet sophisitcated look.
  • Black, white, and red (or yellow) will give your space an energetic mid century look. Add lots of chrome and black and white tiles for a fun, diner decor.
  • Blue, yellow, cream combination screams classic country French, at least to most Americans.
  • Orange, gold, avocado green...yes it is back and you can have the mod early 1970s retro look...if you want to.
  • Seafoam green, cream, and light blue can give a cottage-y beach house look for a year round vacation.

Once you have decided on your color scheme, decide which colors will be prominent and which will be accents. Yes, it is just that easy.


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    • jules47 profile image


      8 years ago

      What you say is true Marye. I find that using lighter color finishes on your doors works better if the kitchen is dark.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My whole house is this grey green. Because we live in Seattle and it is dark and rainy most of the year it can be gloomy. I am thinking of painting my kitchen and nook and hallways a lt. soft creamy yellow with a hint of orange. I was considering BM antique lace 922,devon cream or cookie dough 916. My thought was to get a lt.warm color that blends with the cabinets. I like an old world shabby vintage look.The kitchen and nook face SE and are open to the family room. Do you think that color would look nice in my kitchen? Any ideas for specific colors? I also would love a color idea for the family room. Something a bit warmer and bit darker as it has very high ceilings and faces east. The family room has a rock faced fireplace with lt. cool browns and the carpet is a soft cool taupe-beige. The wall of windows are wrapped in heavy white trim. I currently have lots of dark furniture (lt.taupe brown leather couch, dark wood piano ect. I am hoping to change the furniture eventually to med or lighter shades.

    • Ms Chievous profile image


      9 years ago from Wv

      Very timely hub for me.. i will be working on my kitchen this fall! any suggestions for kitchen cabinets??

    • thelesleyshow profile image


      9 years ago from US

      This is terrific! I would love the retro orange and avacado green look for my kitchen. I think it would be very retro-modern. Thanks for sharing. This is a great hub! Thumbs up!

    • R Burow profile image

      R Burow 

      9 years ago from Florida, United States

      Love my yellow kitchen. You are right, it it is a sunny place. Any suggestions for painting a house on the outside ?

    • cashmere profile image


      9 years ago from India

      personally I would love a red and white kitchen


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