Complementary color schemes use colors on the opposite site of the color wheel. If you favor bold and adventurous colors, or you want to break out of strictly warm or cool colors, complementary colors give you more freedom. In bright hues, they’re daring, but you can tone them down in muted colors as well.


color schemes

But enough color theory. Let’s look at four distinct kitchen color schemes for inspiration.

Cool, Clean White

White, boring? Never. (Unless you want it to be.) You can take white in a steely, industrial direction, or soften it with fluffy furnishings and earthy touches like tree branches. In any case, white is effortlessly hip. 

Joyce Hoshall Interiors designed the white Napa Valley kitchen below with a striking, cool color palette and bursts of red. (WebMD says red can make you eat more, which is why it’s so popular in fast food restaurants.) The wooden ceiling beams echo the flooring and keep the upper half of the room from getting bland.

kitchen color trend

Source: Dave Adams Photography 

Paint ideas: Behn’s Weathered White (HDC-NT-21), Ancho Pepper (HDC-AC-03), Grenadine (S-G-180), Sage Gray (710F-4)

Warm and Cozy Cream

Brown makes people feel safe. It’s the color of security and reliability, hence brown UPS uniforms. Lighter shades of brown like flax have the same effect. Any shade of brown pairs naturally with vanilla and buttery hues. It’s the color equivalent of comfort food.

You can use light, soft colors without getting too precious. Rosy yellow and dark indigo achieve a classic French look. See it in this country kitchen I did for a client using cream and subtle touches of lavender:

kitchen color scheme

Paint ideas: Behr’s Lavender Suede (HDC-NT-19), Toasted Wheat (280E-3), Toasted Nutmeg (200F-5), and Pale Palomino (HDC-CT-05)

Sleek and Modern Citrus

Did you know that the color orange makes you hungry? According to HGTV, “Orange stimulates your appetite and adds warmth, so it’s also a good choice for a dining room or kitchen.” No coincidence then that the main tones in this family are named for foods: tangerine, cantaloupe, and peach, to name a few.

Anchor eye-popping orange and red kitchen color schemes with dove gray. The neutral is chic and elegant. If you aren’t a fan of white, black, or walnut, pair gray and light oak. The effect is refreshingly contemporary. Some say gray is depressing or dull, but not if you use it like Domiteaux + Baggett Architects did. The firm designed this Dallas, Texas kitchen in analogous colors, and the result is sunny and sleek:

 kitchen color scheme

Source: Domiteaux + Baggett Architects

Paint ideas: Behr’s Chili Pepper (1808-7), Flame (210B-7), Honey Bear (340D-4), and Atmospheric (PPU12-15)

Breezy, Tropical Blue

Fresh blues remind me of a perfect day at the beach. Lighter tints of blue are a great choice for the kitchen, because they’re calming. (Watch out for dark navy in kitchen color schemes. It can make the room feel small and even inhibit conversation.) You can’t get more timeless than blue and white.

For a happy, modern take, add splashes of citrus to aqua and white in the kitchen. If an orange kitchen sounds overwhelming, go for a softer melon shade as an accent. Tom Scheerer designed this happy, beachy kitchen in Vero Beach, Florida. White takes center stage, but aqua and apricot tones provide pep:

 kitchen color scheme

Source: House Beautiful

Paint ideas: Behr’s Aqua Spray (500A-3), Vanilla Delight (W-B-220), Marmalade (240B-4), and Light French Gray (720E-2) 

I hope this post gave you a better idea of possible kitchen color schemes you can play with. Make up your own and let me know what hues you use!

Read more about creating an interior painting color palette here. 

Further reading:

Detailed infographic on color psychology

Five No-Fail Palettes for Colorful Kitchens

Houzz: 8 Great Kitchen Color Palettes

Kitchen Color Palettes on Better Homes & Gardens


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