The Best Kitchen Paint Colors All Have This One Thing In Common
Five designers share their current favorites.
Updated Oct 12, 2018 2:06 PM
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Inspiration for the perfect shade of paint can come from anywhere—the bright brushstroke in an artwork that draws your eye, the tint of stacked statement glassware, the patterned towels hanging from your oven. But this year (and, as far as we can tell, going into 2022), our favorite kitchen paint colors have one thing in common: They’re all grounded in the outdoors.
It’s probably no surprise, then, that shades of green are having a moment. Vert is versatile; it can be both a bold statement maker and a therapeutic embrace with the right light. It’s also timeless—even historic—and a fail-proof way to breathe organic life into a space. But it isn’t the only hue that can be traced back to nature that designers are loving. We asked five experts to share their current favorite kitchen colors, from soothing neutrals to bolder accents, and wouldn’t be surprised if these six interiors, below, will inspire you to pick up a paintbrush.
- Benjamin Moore Ocean Floor
- Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
- Farrow & Ball Parma Gray
- Benjamin Moore Hunter Green
- Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray
- Farrow & Ball Cornforth White
Best for Serene Spaces: Benjamin Moore Ocean Floor
Studio Dearborn‘s signature color is blue; for this kitchen, designer Sarah Robertson combined Benjamin Moore’s Ocean Floor and Calm. “I love how Ocean Floor moves between blue and gray, depending on the lighting, and Calm is another one of those colors that defies description. They work in so many environments because they are chameleon colors,” she says. Whether it’s the cabinets, trim, or kitchen walls, go with blue to usher in vibes as tranquil as a babbling brook and crashing sea waves.
Best for a Clean Look: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
We love how a saturated hue can jazz up a space, but white is the most classic neutral for a reason: It immediately lightens a room—just look at all the white kitchens that are still trending on Instagram and Pinterest. “My favorite color to use in kitchen projects right now is white. Our go-to is Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore, because it’s a pure, clean white with no influence of yellow or blue undertones,” explains Leia Ward, founder of luxury staging firm LTW Design. It’s a color long loved by all, including designer Amber Lewis.
Best for Elevating Rentals: Farrow & Ball Parma Gray
“Never underestimate the power of paint, even with a rental,” says creative consultant and interior stylist and designer Alexandra Morris Flint, who brought some excitement to the walls of her open floor plan Philadelphia rental. “Before, the walls were a flat gray-white that felt cold and drab. We painted the kitchen in Farrow & Ball’s Parma Gray, which really elevated the entire apartment and made it feel more custom.” Despite the name, and being inspired by John Follower’s color creations from the 1800s, it reminds us of a crisp, cool morning sky.
Best for Trying a Trend: Benjamin Moore Hunter Green
Olive, sage, emerald—California-based designer Raili Clasen can’t get enough of green shades. “All of these hues are great intermixed in cabinetry and can even roll into the window and door trims,” she says, which is exactly what she’s done in the past few kitchen projects she has tackled. Most recently she used Sherwin-Williams’s Avocado for trim and Ripe Olive for cabinetry in her small bungalow for a modern farmhouse feel, but Benjamin Moore’s deeper green is a timeless take on a trend that plays well with brass, wood tones, and organic details.
Best for an Earthy Beige: Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray
A part of the Historic Color collection, Rockport Gray was first unveiled in 1976 and has been used in traditional and contemporary homes as a refined, timeless neutral ever since. “This one project I’m working on is a gorgeous earthy beige combined with character white oak,” says Robertson, who is using the paint on the cabinets. “I love how the color lets the outdoor views steal the show. It creates a warm, inviting kitchen with an organic and low-key vibe.”
Best for Keeping Things Simple: Farrow & Ball Cornforth White
“I love Farrow & Ball’s Cornforth White as a cabinet color for those who are color shy,” says interior designer Liz Caan. The warm, creamy neutral falls perfectly between the British company’s Ammonite and Purbeck Stone, recalling sandy beaches or the underside of a mushroom. “It’s clean and fresh, but not exactly white, and looks great with pretty much any stone and wood tone,” she adds.
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Palette: When it comes to creating a kitchen color scheme, there are a lot of pieces, patterns, and finishes to consider, from your faucet and appliances to the trim and countertops. It can overwhelm even the most visually oriented person, but Robertson—a 25-year veteran—has a tried-and-true method for creating the perfect palette. “I like to begin with the selection of the strongest color, and then identify a more neutral cabinetry color before finishing with the walls,” she says. “We often carry the cabinetry color through all the kitchen trim. A successful kitchen palette should play nicely with—but also build upon—the color story for the rest of the home.”
Amount: It often takes a professional to deduce just how many buckets of paint you’ll need. Nailing the correct calculation largely depends on the type of surface (walls versus cabinets, for example) and size of the area (a tiny kitchen with only a few cabinets won’t require as many cans as a massive one with uppers and lowers). “If you’re a DIYer, I recommend measuring everything you’d like to paint and consulting with your local paint store for the correct amount,” says Ward.
Primer: It may not be the answer you were hoping for, but nine times out of 10, you’re going to need the assistance of a priming first layer. Ward’s advice: Do not skip this step. “We always prime, even when painting white over white, because it provides the perfect base and clean slate needed to allow the full color of the new paint to be displayed without any undertones of previous paint or drywall,” she adds. And don’t skimp. A high-quality, stain-blocking primer is the key to a smooth top coat—and worth every penny.
Q: Should kitchen paint be lighter or darker?
This all comes down to the aesthetic you’re trying to achieve or your personal preference. Paint is subjective, but here’s a good rule of thumb: Pay attention to your lighting. Natural light can change the color depending on the time of day, while an incandescent bulb brings out warmer undertones. Whichever you choose, always go with a color that’s slightly lighter than your original selection. After soaking into your designated surface, paint tends to read darker than its fan deck’s first impression. And remember that a lighter shade can make a small space feel bigger, as well as neat and tidy, whereas a darker hue can bring a bit of boldness while also hiding high-traffic wear and tear—and food-tinted fingerprints.
Q: How long do kitchen paint colors last on average?
“Depending on traffic, a good paint job should last five years before you need to touch it up in some areas,” notes Ward. “The kitchen is the most used room in a home, and whether you have kids or pets will influence how soon you may need a refresh.”
The Last Word
Taking on any kitchen-related project can be intimidating, but choosing the best paint color doesn’t have to be. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed by the options, make like a designer and pick natural hues like creamy grays, succulent greens, or oceanlike blues, then live with the color for at least 24 hours (place a large swatch on the wall) before buying a bucket. But most important, trust your gut.