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How can you not love navy blue when the deep shade beckons visions of calm ocean waters, freshly picked berries, and the night sky? Though it often gets a nautical rap, when paired with eye-catching metals and modern appliances rather than anchors and oars, navy can awaken a mundane space. (According to a color psychologist, it can even help you focus.) Plus there’s plenty of opportunity to personalize the color, as it plays well with everything from classic subway tile to butcher block. Check out these 12 ideas for making the cool hue all your own.

Punch It Up

Designer Charlie Ferrer doesn’t care for working with wall color. Instead he prefers to leave his backdrops white and go bold in other ways, like pairing the Marea Baja cabinets in this Hamptons project with a marigold island.  

Take It to the Banquette

Not only does the inky hue make a statement from the cupboards to the floor-to-ceiling pantry in Janea Brown’s Hollywood home, it wraps into a cozy breakfast nook to extend your sightline even further. Brown topped off the booth with striped seats and checkered cushions to visually carve out a separate space. 


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Start Small

This mid-century home in Chicago proves that you don’t have to be fully committed to navy to take advantage of its impact. In the middle of a teak kitchen, an island backed in blue adds a subtle punch.

Find Your Center

Photography Courtesy of Studio McGee

To infuse this bright coastal kitchen with charm, Studio McGee swathed just the island cabinets in Blue Note by Benjamin Moore. The gathering spot feels all the more important now thanks to its distinguished color.

Get Edgy With Your Appliance Choices

Australian designer Sibella Court’s daring decision to pair moody teal cabinets with a jet-black Smeg fridge and range paid off. Court describes the palette as “subtle but stormy,” and she accentuated the drama with an eclectic array of materials like zinc, rope, and cane. 

Hunting for the perfect navy paint to transform your kitchen? Look no further:
The 15 Best Blue Paint Colors for Kitchen Cabinets


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Top It Off With Graphic Stone

Gentleman’s Gray by Benjamin Moore, the shade Black Lacquer Design founder Caitlin Murray used for these cabinets, is the paint-swatch equivalent of a distinguished Englishman sporting a dapper top hat. To modernize the traditional hue, Murray paired it with a dramatic slab of white-veined black marble.

Create the Illusion of Height

A smart paint choice is all it takes to make high ceilings feel even higher. In this case, Emily Henderson used navy lowers to ground the small space and coated the uppers and ceiling beams in white for that coveted airy feel. 

Have Fun With Floor Tile

Continuing the hardwood floors from the adjacent room into the kitchen would have been the easy choice for Susan and Ben Work. Instead the designers switched over to funky cement tile. The little slivers of color pick up on both the Hague blue cabinets and the greenish veins in the marble backsplash.

Play Up Wood Tones

If you’re not into the drama that black counters introduce to navy cupboards, add warmth with butcher block. Jessica and Tyler Mares of Renovate 108 bought the slab for their bar nook for less than $200 at IKEA.


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Lean In to Graphite Undertones

Athena Calderone of EyeSwoon chose a bluish black hue from Farrow & Ball for her New York City townhouse kitchen and paired it with honed marble for an ultra-matte finish.

Go Big on Hardware

Photography by Jessica Antola

The only things louder than Gillian Schwartz’s peacock-hued cabinets are the oversize knobs (which are actually coat hooks) on the doors. The move was inspired by furniture designer Faye Toogood’s home.

Add Artful Details

Pro tip: You don’t have to do anything special with the cabinets themselves to make navy feel interesting. Sarah Wittenbraker layered square panels on the side of her island, and now the structure doubles as a sculpture.