I got a really great question on Instagram, and thought it was worthy of a blog post- it’s also timely since we’re mid kitchen reno. Someone asked about choosing paint colors and finishes for kitchen cabinetry. It’s a tough decision, so I thought I’d help narrow it down, share some tips, as well as with my favorite colors depending on the look you’re going for. Click through for the post!
For the purposes of this post and the graphics below- I used the same cabinetry door style and swapped the color- this way, you can strictly judge the hue instead of focusing on style. Before we dive in, this isn’t a “kitchen in a box” solution… there are so many factors that determine what color paint is right for your kitchen. Think about these things in combination to paint swatches:
- Countertop Material
- Lighting Finishes
- Appliance Finishes
- Tile Flooring or Backsplash
- Existing Textiles (window treatments, rugs, etc)
When deciding on the cabinetry finish, there are also many factors that come into play:
- Is this a DIY project?
- How will you apply the paint?
- Is it worth it to have your cabinetry professionally painted?
- What type of paint does the professional require?
- Will the cabinetry get lots of use?
- How important is durability to you?
For example, our cabinetry is being custom made by Emmett’s work (lucky, I know). I was very specific about custom paint and stain colors, and wanted to pick those out and mix them myself. I worked with Sherwin-Williams and ordered a “pre-catelized” product that works with professional spray guns. It’s the single type of paint that the cabinetry workshop allows. Instead of normal finishes, I had to familiarize myself with the industry finishes. We went with a “medium rub” on the uppers- which translates to semi gloss, and a dull custom stain for the lowers.
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite…
N E U T R A L S
I personally think neutrals are classic and timeless- no matter the trend. I know people tire of the white or neutral kitchen, but I think it’s all about the materials used alongside the cabinetry to make it work in a way that feels different or unique. SPOILER ALERT- our uppers will be a neutral color, while the lowers are natural wood. Any guesses what color? It may or may not be in the roundup.
T U X E D O S
It’s no secret that two toned or “tuxedo” kitchens, as they’re often called, are rising in popularity. It’s a great way to have the best of best worlds and add depth and dimension to a kitchen. There are a couple ways to go about selecting cohesive colors for uppers and lowers… 1.) high contrast, or 2.) tone-on-tone. I’m predicting we’ll begin to see more tone-on-tone in the coming years, while high contrast feels classic, yet trendy.
B O L D
I’m not going to lie, if I weren’t thinking of resale value– I’d 100% paint my cabinetry that very first blue color (Byzantine Blue). It’s so good! You guys already know I’m into the cornflower color. I think going bold is ballsy in the best way! Props to those of you who have committed and painted your cabinetry something out of the norm. I took a risk and painted our fireplace Olive Grove (the middle green shown above) and have zero regrets- it’s absolutely gorgeous.
I’ll wrap up by saying, cabinetry is expensive and pretty permanent, but that doesn’t mean you always have to play it safe. Be confident in your choice! As a rule of thumb, if I’m getting crazy with color, I try to keep it muddy and less saturated than normal. I think muted colors look more sophisticated than brights, which sometimes appear juvenile or trendy.
Did that help anyone who is considering giving their cabinetry a facelift? I’m SO excited to get our cabinetry installed. The wait and anticipation is killing me, but I know it will be worth it in the end. Patience was never my strong suit.
images via: studio mcgee // magnolia home // emily henderson // park and oak // tom ferguson
AllieFebruary 1, 2018 at 7:12 am
This is such a good post and I love how you kept the cabinet style the same so the color differences truly shine! We have a tuxedo kitchen (white and black – which I love!), but I am also really digging the tone on tone tuxedo style as well. I can’t wait to see what color you have picked for your uppers!
SarahFebruary 1, 2018 at 8:33 am
Happy you liked the post, Allie! I’m SO excited to share our cabinetry and the process behind it – hopefully it will be super soon. xo
kim lesterDecember 17, 2018 at 11:51 am
sarah if i send you some pictures of my kitchen cabinets.. would you help me decide on a color to paint them.. if so, let me know where to send the pics
SarahDecember 17, 2018 at 1:34 pm
Hi Kim, I’m so sorry, but I’m no longer accepting e-design projects due to time. I’d recommend contacting a local designer! Or- if you day the DIY route… I’d highly recommend ordering swatches and living with them for at least a week prior to making a decision. Seeing how colors change at different times of the day is really important. Hope this helps! My apologies. xo
JacquiFebruary 1, 2018 at 8:02 am
I agree with the above poster—the tone on tone tuxedo is really speaking to me. Not something you see everyday, but still totally accessible for resale (now that I’m thinking about that, due to yesterday’s post). I would love to see that in a kitchen!
SarahFebruary 1, 2018 at 8:35 am
Haha!! I love that you’re thinking of resale Jacqui! I think tuxedo kitchens are classic and timeless, so I don’t see that being a resale issue at all. Did you see this post? I made over my best friend’s kitchen- tuxedo style: https://roomfortuesday.com/client-project-a-tuxedo-kitchen-a-video/
JacquiFebruary 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm
I did, and I totally love it! I see a lot of black and white/gray and white/navy and white combos, but I’ve never seen tuxedo tonal greens or blues before, and I’m in love with the idea.
BeckyFebruary 1, 2018 at 4:35 pm
We’re going with all-white cabinets to visually open up the space in our small kitchen. I’m going to go dark on the countertops, though, for contrast and style. Haven’t totally settled on backsplash. Love the colors, but decided that the white is best to make the space look as large as possible. Plus, I want to go with wood-look tile floors that will blend with our oak trim, so needed a definition between all the wood and the cabinets. I thought about an off-white or light cream cabinet because it would look nice with the trim, but I’m tending towards a more transitional style and I wondered if the off-white or cream would be too traditional. What do you think?
SarahFebruary 1, 2018 at 8:09 pm
I think that sounds perfect, Becky! Trust your instincts. Creamy warm tones are more difficult to pair because of their undertones… a true white goes with everything. Hope this helps! xox
kim-in-the-coveFebruary 2, 2018 at 2:40 pm
I have been pondering color selection for my kitchen cabinets for YEARS. It’s daunting – but you’re making it easier. This is a great roundup! Thank you!
Prerona BuragohainMarch 24, 2018 at 6:23 am
Hello , your post was of great help. I really liked it and tuxedo is a great idea. I got to know more about colors now . I’m thinking to redo my small kitchen. We live in a condo. Its dull grey now which i don’t like it. I’m a bit confused what color should i paint my kitchen cabinets. Could you please give me your suggestion?
NehaApril 10, 2018 at 3:06 pm
Hi Sarah ,
Such an amazing post. Love the visuals you have put together .
My new home kitchen needs a serious makeover as have 80’s wood cabinets .Thinking of getting them professionally painted ,add hardware ,change the sink and add new faucet. I do want to keep the back splash and granite counter tops which are new (light brown sadly and not white )
What colors do you think could look the best if I do decide in keeping them .
All the appliances are black . I have walnut hardwood floors .
Thank you soo much in advance .
LoriApril 18, 2018 at 11:22 pm
What cabinetry paint colors other than white work best with a light- colored wood floors (similar to the first pic in you blog post).
SuaveMay 6, 2018 at 4:38 am
Sarah, the color Palettes are awesome. Very nice. I am thinking of Seagull grey colour for my cabinets, or even a light color to bring more light into a dark kitchen. I have chosen a shade like the analytical grey, for the countertop
Problem is: The floor is cream and bone colour ceramic tiles. I have to work with it due to budget restriction. What are your suggestions foe working with a beige and creamy tiles and light grey palette. Thanks
NicoleMay 22, 2018 at 6:23 am
Hello! Can you please tell me what neutral is on cabinets in first pic? Thinking of paining cabs and trim work something like this with white toned walls……hummm
JoJuly 10, 2018 at 9:29 am
Hello, I would appreciate any help as i’m having my maple cabinets spray painted and i’m looking for a timeless colors in the creamy whites by Benjamin Moore. if it helps, my granite Lshaped counters are Giallo Ornamental Granite and my floors are ceramic white with very light grey running thru it.
Can you recommend a Benjamin Moor Color for my cabinets.
Lynn NorrisSeptember 9, 2018 at 11:34 am
I am building a new home. I am struggling with my kitchen more than any other room. It is very open. I do not want white cabnets. It seems that every new home I look at has white. What do you suggest for a creamy (not yellow) beige/grey color? Floors are hardwood. Also would love idea for counter top.
JennyFebruary 5, 2019 at 2:14 pm
Do you know what the dark black color is on the second kitchen with the dark hood and cabinets? Thank you. firstname.lastname@example.org
BrookeMay 9, 2019 at 9:26 pm
Love this post! Wanting to do a two tone kitchen. Is it weird to have your white cabinets on the bottom and your uppers a more bold color?
SarahMay 10, 2019 at 8:13 am
I love hearing that, Brooke! I prefer to keep the lighter color on top for balance. The heavier (or darker) color *typically* looks best on bottom for weight. Hope this helps!
Maureen GonzalesMay 14, 2019 at 12:33 pm
I am searching for advice. I just moved into a house on a lake and the cabinets are a very formal red cherry wood with black quartz counter tops and the cabinets don’t have hardware. I hate the look. I like more rustic modern. My Husband loves it. I want to paint the cabinets a dark grey add some hardware and put marble on the counter tops. He and a lot of my family is saying not to change it! Can you add any advice? Am I crazy or are they LOL?
SarahMay 15, 2019 at 8:28 am
I’m with you, Maureen! Cherry feels dated to me… I love the idea of painting the cabinets, adding some hardware (or not), add a backsplash, and maybe leave the black countertop to compromise?
BrittanyAugust 21, 2019 at 4:13 pm
Hi where is this rug from?!
ClaireJuly 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Hi! I realize this is an older post and you might not see this, but do you know of any examples of cabinets in coordinating colors like you show here? I LOVE the smoky blue/steely gray combination, but all tuxedo cabinet pics I can find have white uppers, which wouldn’t work in my kitchen. Thank you for the inspiration!
Debby BonisolliNovember 26, 2021 at 7:01 pm
Love theses pictures and your combo choices. I’m just getting ready to repaint my kitchen cabinets. We’re doing SW pure white on the uppers and SW inky blue on the lower. My counter top is white quartz with some grey accents. The backsplash will be matte finish 3×9 subway. My walls throughout the house are SW natural linen. We had the whole interior painted that color before we moved in in May 2021.
MelissaJune 21, 2022 at 1:27 pm
I’ve recently been toying with high gloss paint for my kitchen cabinets. I have an older home, and I’m choosing BM Dark Olive. Plus, I’m pairing it with Soapstone… I wonder if that might be too much? Any thoughts?
SarahJune 21, 2022 at 6:36 pm
I love the look of glossy cabinets, Melissa! I think it would be great :)