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If we said “red,” you’d think lipstick, a fire truck, or Target long before your mind ever went to kitchen cabinets. That’s because the cool side of the color spectrum—navy, hunter green, matte black—has dominated our renovations for far too long. Now it’s time that shades like rust, ruby, and berry get their fair share of the limelight. Once just thought of as a favorite for farmhouses, the hue is slowly making its way into cool, contemporary spaces, none of which scream “stop sign.” Here are a few ways to incorporate red kitchen cabinets into your space. 

Go Blue on the Bottom

Designer Sophie Rowell, founder of Cote de Folk, combined two controversial ideas in this charming Airbnb: tiled countertops and cabinets swathed in Farrow & Ball’s Blazer Red. The scheme for the kitchen stemmed from an innocent place (she was inspired by an image of a lighthouse against a blue sky that she saw on the Instagram account @wesandersonplanet). A cooling dose of Pale Wedgwood Paint by Little Greene on the base cupboards delivers the seaside charm. 

Extend It to Tile and Sink Skirts

After testing out 20-something samples, Cat Earp, the creative behind the retreat Aller Dorset, landed on Lake Red (a shade from Farrow & Ball’s archive collection that skews pink to some) for this kitchenette. Once that was settled, she played around with patterned fabrics for the sink skirt and a checkered backsplash.

Use It in Transition Areas

Interior designer Anne Brewer worked with architect Joshua Keay of Eponymous AD to create a true jewel-box moment in this Brooklyn brownstone. While the nearby cooking area is light and bright, the wet bar, which is connected to the space, is covered in a Merlot-tinged paint (ceiling included). Thanks to pocket doors, the homeowners have the option to either embrace the drama or shut it out, depending on their mood. 

Add Some Flair to the Farmhouse Aesthetic

This kitchen designed by Netherlands firm De Zeug pairs traditional Shaker doors with a pigeon hunter profile and a paneled vent hood with molding with an unexpected countertop material: terrazzo. The end result is rustic but with a twist. 

Stick to One Section of the Lowers

If you aren’t sure about committing to full-on red kitchen cabinets, paint only the lower cabinets. An autumnal red like crimson is as close to neutral as you can get. Poland-based architecture firm KW Studio shows us a little goes a long way in this tiny apartment. 

Take an Inside-Out Approach

A bright idea worth stealing from these kitchen-adjacent built-ins designed by Jessica Helgerson? Let the inside of your cupboards be the statement. What gives this bookcase (or dishware display, depending on what you put in it) playful Pop Art vibes is the combination of four shades of red and orange.  

Resist Hardware

Simple circular cutouts that are finger-size are the way to go if you want your red kitchen cabinets to look super-seamless. Take it from British interior stylist Heather Milner, who gave her IKEA frames an extra dose of Scandi with fresh fronts from Naked Doors, now painted in Little Greene’s Adventurer

Wood Is Your Friend

While butcher block is technically a classic farmhouse kitchen element, the wood plays nicely with sleek red cabinets because the tones are in the same general color family. The surface gives it an earthy touch, while something cooler like stainless steel would bring the whole room back to the 90s. 

Dunk Everything in the Brightest Shade

So you want to take the color beyond just the lower cabinets—go all the way with it and cover everything in a happy red like strawberry or candy apple. We’re talking the walls, light switches, toaster, pepper grinder (anything you can think of). This level of commitment gives new meaning to a tiny footprint. 

Channel the ’80s

Before you think about ripping out melamine cabinets from the 1980s, consider bright cherry. Apartment 528 owner India Shannon revived hers with just a paintbrush. Psst: You can skip sanding and priming altogether because the plasticky surface absorbs pigment well. 

Ward Off Shiny Metal

If you are after that quintessential cottage farmhouse look, then don’t let your appliances show. Everything but the oven is concealed in this space, designed by Plain English, which features red kitchen cabinets painted in the brand’s dark Rusty Nail color. 

Find Red’s Friends

No fancy ornamentation means you can have fun with the color combos on the flat panels. This Reform-designed space features green, blue, peach, and brown—and to top it all off, Viola marble countertops. 

Skip the Marble Aisle

For a sexy, smoky vibe, designer Michelle Nussbaumer paired these red kitchen cabinets, swathed in Benjamin Moore’s El Cajon Clay, with coordinating tempest quartzite. The stone will run you $100 per square foot, but the end result is, dare we say, fire