Unlike swapping out your scatter cushions with each new season, changing up your kitchen is one of the biggest décor decisions you can make in the home, and one we don’t make lightly. For one, it’s a change we’ll probably stick with for the guts of a decade. For another, it’s a room that, for the most part, we all gravitate towards. It’s where we cook, dine, socialise – it’s always the hub when it comes to entertaining at home – and if you’ve got the space, it might also be where you kick back and watch TV. Because of its anchoring role in our home, we tend to play it safe with our kitchen, from colours to style. We browse Pinterest and think, “Oh, isn’t that nice,” but we wouldn’t dream of anything drastic for fear we’d tire of it or, worse, that it would date. So how do you make a decision when the time comes for an update? What if you want to go a little bit braver than cream cabinets? Read on…
Look for the light
If you’re unsure about what will suit your kitchen, colour wise, give some thought to where in the house it is. Does it get a lot of natural light? Is it a galley kitchen with windows only at the end? Even in summer, a dark colour in a poorly lit room will always need artificial lighting. Those with lots of natural light throughout the day have the option of going for darker, more brave colours. Something between blue and navy seems to be the kitchen colour du jour for brightly lit spaces; be sure to pair it with lots of gold/brass accessories to warm things up.
A good place to start, before you rip out the kitchen entirely and have one professionally put back in, is to experiment with paint on the existing cabinets. Often, a lick of paint is all they need and the transformation will still be dramatic, but the cost less so. This is a great way to try out a stronger colour; you can just paint over it if you get fed up. If something quirky takes your fancy, consider painting just your bottom or top cabinets in that colour, and choose something neutral (greys work best) for the other. This will save on overkill. All reputable paint brands carry ranges that are suitable for kitchen cabinets. To take things up a notch, swap out all existing knobs for something new.
Choose Advancing or Receding hues
Decide on the kind of atmosphere you want to create in your kitchen. If it’s small, and you want to create the illusion of a brighter, bigger space, go for cooler receding colours – pale shades of blue, grey, green that have a receding effect on the eye. If, however, you really want to create a more intimate, warm and cosy vibe – and you’re not concerned with the illusion of space – advancing colours may be for you. These will be warmer tones (such pinks, reds or oranges, but these colours will wear thin a lot sooner than their cooler counterparts). Typically, cooler receding colours work best in all kitchens, and it’s within the realm of receding colours that you might narrow your focus. Mint greens are currently popular – and soft (the softest) lilacs in the kitchen are about to be.
Don’t forget tiles
If you go dark on your cabinets – e.g. Farrow & Ball Railings Grey, keep your countertops light and bright, as well as the space in between your cabinets. If you tile, keep it pared back; if you paint, white or off-white is best. If, however, you go for a very light, pale cabinet shade, you can afford to strike out with more interesting colour palettes where your tiles are concerned. It’s all about balance: light and dark, warm and cool, advancing and receding.
Add warmth in other ways
With cooler colours, there’s a fear that the room will be, well, cold. Not true. If you are concerned about a clinical feeling, opt for a warm wooden countertop. This is just enough wood to keep things balanced, creating a welcoming environment, but resist the temptation to opt for warm wood across your cabinets. The overdose on pine during the ’90s and ’00s is well behind us now. Other ways to add warmth to cooler colours would be with kitchen rugs. A vintage-style Oriental rug with red tones will instantly soften the paleness of the kitchen cabinets – and equally so if you opt for a dark grey. Another way to add warmth to a cooler kitchen palette is with wicker/rattan accessories and lighting. Choose lighting that casts a warm glow.