Should kitchen cabinets match your wall color?

If you like to create a clean, unified look in your kitchen, matching the shade of your cabinets to the walls can be one way to achieve your design goal. In a space with so many different surfaces and textures, minimizing the number of different shades can yield a clean, unified aesthetic.

‘If you stick to the same palette, you can avoid a lot of visual interruptions and disturbances. It helps to unite the different heights,” says Liz Caan of Massachusetts Liz Caan & Co. ‘It can create continuity in a space with many different surfaces and materials that help support the function of the kitchen.’

Color is, of course, one of the best tools in your arsenal for creating a wow-factor, bespoke look in a modern kitchen – in which case painting everything the same shade might not be the best way. We asked the design experts to find out the pros and cons of each option.

Rebecca Foster

Is it a good idea to match the color of your cabinets to the walls?

Painting kitchen cabinets and walls the same shade can provide a powerful aesthetic punch and give the units a custom built-in look. In some scenarios, it can also make the room appear larger.

“It generally goes with two types of styles: Ultra Classic and Ultra-Modern,” says Rachael Green, co-founder of the Pickleson Paint Co (opens in new tab). For example, for a classic country kitchen, using a neutral color on cabinets and walls can provide a beautiful finish. It makes the space classic and cozy,” says Rachael.

In a modern kitchen, choosing a bright, bold hue can be the best way to create a wow factor in the design — think kitchen color schemes that include acid green, bright pink or peach orange and yellow.

a kitchen with countertops decorated with vases and works of art

Credit: Kelsey Leigh Design Co

According to Annie Kersey, head of interior designer at Annapolis Purple Cherry Architects (opens in new tab), choosing the same shade for cabinets and walls can give the room a bright, fresh feel. “It can work especially well if you go for an all-white kitchen aesthetic. Going for a monochromatic look will make the space feel larger, more uniform and sleek.”

Incorporating different textures provides an alternative way to add design panache to the space. For example, the varied surfaces of exposed brick, wood and stone can work beautifully together in kitchens where cabinets are color coordinated with the walls.

What are the benefits of choosing contrasting colors?

There are strong arguments for choosing contrasting color shades in the kitchen – especially if you want to be playful with a colorful kitchen design. The wealth of different surfaces and textures can be a real advantage when it comes to crafting your color scheme. Plus, it means sharpening your decorative strategy can also be a fun exercise. ‘The great thing about kitchens is that you can often be a bit outgoing in your color choices, without being too overbearing. It’s a brilliant way to achieve something that will take your eyes across space,” says Rachael of Pickleson Paint Co.

When it comes to mixing and matching shades, Liz Caan is from Liz Caan & Co (opens in new tab) recommends changing the color of the units depending on where they are in the room. “For example, you can have a different island color than the perimeter cabinets, or different upper and lower cabinets,” she says.

a marble kitchen island in a modern kitchen

Credit: Michael Clifford. Design: Aker Interiors

However, there are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to execute your contrasting color scheme perfectly. While it’s not necessary to play it safe when choosing paint, it’s important to choose shades that work well together.

“Whatever colors you choose, they should be complementary in their tone,” said Gabrielle Aker, owner and director at LA-based Aker Interiors (opens in new tab). “Go for a cool or warm color scheme for the shades you choose.”

On a practical level, Gabrielle also recommends sampling each contending shade before choosing a specific color scheme. “Ask for samples before ordering so you can compare all colors in person to make sure everything plays well,” she advises. “I think it goes without saying, but the colors online don’t match!”

Tie everything together

An effective and well-rounded schedule should also provide appliances and accessories. “It’s important to match similarities in materials and colors between the cabinets and the rest of the room so that they work together in a sympathetic way,” says Amy Chan, design manager at London-based Kitchen Architecture (opens in new tab). “For example, if there is a dining table, it might be a good idea to bring a similar wood for the breakfast bar in the kitchen.”

a kitchen with green and yellow components

Credit: French + Tye. Design: MW Architects

With so many considerations to keep in mind, the process of creating a color scheme can seem daunting – which is why it’s important to establish a clear starting point and let your kitchen color ideas evolve. For example, if you choose one finish first, such as the floor or countertop material, you can shape your wall and cabinet color decisions around it.

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