/ Color

A Bright White Kitchen

brighten up a white kitchen
Photo: Carol Bates

"This kitchen mixes a variety of styles. The client wanted to complement the English Tudor style of her house, yet she has an eclectic taste. She wanted a bright kitchen so she chose white cabinetry instead of the dark cabinetry that would have been more colonial. To add some contrast, she chose 12-inch-by-12-inch terra-cotta tiles for the floor and butcher block for the island countertop.


"Because real terra cotta is very soft and can chip easily, it needs to be finished with a glaze once it has been installed and then periodically refinished. But it offers a special antique look and its earth tones add warmth, especially when used with the white cabinets.


Designer: Emmanuel
Aladdin Remodelers
Massapequa Park, New York

French Country Colors

french country kitchen
Photo: Gene Johnson of Hawks Photography

"This new construction, a marvelous French County home design, has a striking butter-yellow stucco exterior with burnished copper accents. It was pre-ordained that the kitchen cabinetry would reflect the exterior color. The creamy yellow cabinetry enlarges the interior space while recreating a sense of the Old World's sunny countryside atmosphere. The color is very muted, a warm umber glaze softens the yellow, and a gray residue in crevices leaves the appearance of ancient dust. Worn edges and worm holes add depth and character.


"The countertop color is uba tuba, whose deep bottle green color is a beautiful contrast to the butter cream of the cabinetry. The shade "pops" the various elements, rather than competes with them. The granite countertop has a reflective quality, so that while it appears dark, it reflects the area around it, which is light. The counter surface actually highlights the cabinets, causing them to become the focal point of light in the room. The primary importance of the color is that it repeats the exterior color palette, a decision made in tandem with the client, architect Jack Arnold and interior designer Charles Fudree."


Designer: Sally Ann Sullivan, CKD
Showcase Kitchens and Baths, Inc.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Vibrant Saturated Colors

vibrant colors

"These clients' previous space was color-oriented as well, but smaller and very busy. They wanted to continue living with color, but he was less certain about using the vibrant shades that she loved. We reached a consensus by doing the kitchen and hall areas in tangelo and bright red, with the sink area and the rest of the walls throughout the space done in soft, mossy green. This made most of the space live quietly, with the vibrancy happening where the action was.


"We brought in dark wood cabinets to bring a sense of peacefulness to the space. When you combine bright, saturated colors and light wood, you get a lot more energy. It's bright/happy/cheerful, but what we wanted was living with color for the beauty of color, at a more comfortable energy level. Light woods would have allowed the color to be overpowering, whereas the deeper tones soothe the space.


"We balanced the dark cabinets with natural bamboo, which kept the space from going somber. The countertops were the segue; as a mid-tone, they created a bridge between the cabinets and flooring so that we didn't have too much contrast."


Designer: Kathie Maughan
Maughan Design, Inc.
Portland, Oregon

Light and Dark Neutrals

neutral colors
Photo: Steven Tex

"The focal point of this space is the architectural vault. We didn't want your focus to go to it and die there-we wanted to pull the eye to other things. We used color in burgundy stained cherry wood, stainless, granite and glass over Formica to cause your eye to continually travel throughout the space. The only sections that were entirely dark wood were the bar, because we wanted that to be elegant, and the refrigerator and pantry area, so that it would read as a volume.


"The Formica that's behind the glass is a gray that we chose to make it the same tonality as the stainless steel. The rear of the open cabinet is the same dark burgundy as the rest of the cabinetry. It brings balance to the space, taking the dark volume on the left and bringing it back in again on the right. I wanted the backsplash to be a non-element in the kitchen, so we chose a quiet, indestructible matte porcelain and matched a paint color to flow into it. The result is a casual yet elegant space with lots of movement."


Designer: Melissa Seibold
Canterbury Design
Flemington, New Jersey

Tuscan Yellow Cabinets

tuscan yellow
Photo: Jason Jung

"The yellow cabinetry serves as a backdrop to create sunshine. The clients have actually bicycled in Italy, where they acquired the colorful Italian pottery, and they wanted the kitchen's design to showcase it. They also wanted the background to recall the Tuscan sun. The large g-shaped kitchen's very light yellow cabinetry brings out the reds and blues of the pottery. The client is a lady who is married with four boys; she's the only female in the house, and yellow was something cheery she could really identify with.

Photo: Jason Jung

"The beadboard backs of the cabinets, crown molding and door styles are complemented by the soft yellow hue. The horizontal plan (countertops and floors) of the kitchen is darker than the vertical yellow of the cabinets, grounding the room."


Designer: Bev Adams, CMKBD
Interior Intuitions Inc.
Denver, Colorado

Cool Stainless Steel

stainless steel kitchen

"Stainless steel is almost a neutral, in that it's more in the silver/gray family, but because of its reflective properties it absorbs light and color from the rest of the room. The beautiful blue bahia countertops (which run five to six times the price of granite or marble) meet with blue accents; the soffit over the window has a blue lacquered finish, as does the interior of the glass door cabinets.


"Stainless is a perfect combination of the cools and works in conjunction with the stainless steel sink, cooktop and dishwasher. The Brazilian cherry floor was carried throughout the intertwining rooms. Its warmth takes away some of that very austere edge that stainless can give, particularly when you use so much of it."


Designer: Bob Schwartz
St. Charles of New York
New York City, New York

Choose Colors From a Collection

green and gold
Photo: William Lane

"This kitchen was designed for a professional couple who purchased a 20-year-old home and renovated it to suit their tastes and lifestyle. For the kitchen, as for the rest of the house, they wanted bold colors. The couple has an incredible art and glass collection in bright colors and had a number of pieces of furniture and accessories that were the basis of a green and gold color scheme. As the new home is very open they wanted to carry this through, so a strong golden color stain on maple was selected for the central working section of the kitchen.

Photo: William Lane

"A softer green stain on maple was used in the perimeter cabinets in the butler's pantry, the bar and the dining room. We didn't want a super strong yellow and a super strong green, so we used a sage green that lets the yellow provide the "pow!" The cabinets were complemented by very dark emerald green granite that has some gold flecks in it. The floor's warm tone picks up on the gold of the wood. The space is surprisingly inviting, not the least bit intimidating, and reflects the couple's love of color and their exuberant approach to life."


Designer: Patricia Swalander, CKD, CBD
Heartwood Kitchen & Bath Design
Calgary, Alberta

Contrasting Cabinets

contrasting cabinets
Photo: Mike Kaskel

"The dark cabinets are a knotty pine stained to match the aged, existing knotty pine used throughout the rest of the home. The lighter cabinets are painted in a custom off-white lacquer and aged slightly with a bit of glaze. The interior of the off-white cabinets is painted a light sage green-the same as some of the glass-fronted darker cabinets. The sage green interiors tie the two areas together, as do the similar door styles and the same simple pewter-like knobs and twisted handles.


"At the same time, we wanted the off-white space to serve as a transition from the kitchen to the adjacent dining area. The contrast in the cabinet colors serves this purpose and also helps separate the off-white area's function as a butler pantry and sitting room."


Designer: Kimball Derrick, CKD
The Kitchen Design Studio
Cincinnati, Ohio

A Holistic Approach to Color Selection

A selection of brightly colored kitchen elements and appliances

It's important to consider the feelings we associate with certain colors when making your color selections.

The Chakra System — your own personal energy system — interacts with the environments we inhabit and the spaces we design. As designers and architects, we incorporate the age-old wisdom and the transforming power of knowledge about the Chakra System to provide a more complete and holistic approach to design solutions.

There are seven major chakra energy centers that are located down the center line, which is the line of the body from the crown of the head to the base of the spine. Each of these seven centers resonates to a different color; corresponds to a certain internal organ, group of organs, and glands; and addresses a particular set of life issues. Each chakra works separately, in pairs, and together as a unified system to help achieve a balanced and harmonious state. The crown of the head is affected by purple; intuition by blue; the throat by sky blue; the heart by green; the solar plexus by yellow; creativity by orange; and the base of the spine by red.

In a kitchen or dining room, the color yellow would aid in digestion, the color green would inspire cooking with passion and heart, and blue would encourage expression. The colors can be used in carpeting, furniture, flower arrangements, plants, and accessories like placements.


-Linda Miller, interior designer for Mancini Duffy

More in this category:« Color Influences

Bring Natural Hues Indoors

natural colors
Photo: Steve Frkovich Casci

"The existing kitchen had no warmth or color and very limited workspace. To add space, I removed a wall that separated the kitchen from a hall/walkway. I then created a multilevel island, which housed the ovens at one end, a work counter with a prep sink in the middle and a raised table on the opposite end for seating. The warm colors I chose to work with were inspired by the natural tones reflecting into the house from the outdoors.


"I used a warm honey stain with a caramel glaze on maple for the cabinetry. Desert Amarillo honed granite balanced the neutral landscape while the Oyster Silestone for the tabletop worked to bring inside the green of the gardens. The accent pieces (including the deco tile inlay on the backsplash and hood and the knobs and pulls) were of a patina finish. The oak plank flooring completes the look for a kitchen that brings the colors and feeling of the outdoors indoors."


Designer: Steve Frkovich
Casci Design Works
Sacramento, California