Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Taking cues from the desert sunshine, these handmade Zellige tiles bring a bright start to every day.
Image via

Our kitchen is basically home HQ. A hectic morning hub, after-school gathering ground, pre-dinner prep zone, and a place where life happens and all the good goss goes down. So, it’s no surprise we’ve started craving a sense of personality for this well-loved, high-traffic space. First it was the warmth of timber. Now, cue colour. With a move away from all-white, we’re seeing the heart of the home enlivened with a custom palette of hues.

Imagine channelling a little colour-me-happy potential. Waking up to a splash of sunshine-yellow with your coffee. Coming home to a happy hit of green. Organising dinner with a calming backdrop of blue. Greeting guests will a playful pop of pink. “Colour plays a huge role in how a space can make you feel” says Kim Duffin, Principal Designer at Sublime Luxury Kitchens & Bathrooms. “With the kitchen now the main focus in many homes, the colour palette dictates not only the living space but often the whole home.”

TIP: “Most people find that the favourite hue in their wardrobe flows through to their surroundings” Kim Duffin, Sublime Luxury Kitchens & Bathrooms

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
This island does impressive double duty as a modern furniture piece and highly functional space. Designer Kim Duffin used back-sprayed glass doors in bold blue to create the knockout effect.
Image: Sublime Luxury Kitchens & Bathrooms

What’s my colour?

If a pea-green kitchen will make your heart sing, then what’s holding you back? See chef Rachel Khoo’s example for all the incentive you need. Or perhaps bringing home that 50s-style
Smeg fridge in Pastel Green (yes, the awesome retro one) will complete the picture. All bets are off when doing your own kitchen. “The colour only has to make sense to the owner as they are the one living in it,” says Stuart May, designer at Style Kitchens by Design. Look to your living spaces and outdoor surroundings, especially if your kitchen has a feature window, and even your wardrobe for ideas.

TIP: Colour can be subtle or showy. Amplify the energy with bold colours and high-impact features or dial it back with soft hues and a light touch.

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Rachel Khoo\’s ‘Beautiful Pea Green’ kitchen/studio is as fresh and charming as the British chef herself. deVOL cabinetry featured.

Remember to blend

Just keep in mind, even a strong personal choice works best within a well-considered scheme.
Stuart names ‘out on their own’ choices as one of the biggest pitfalls when working with colour. For example, “when you have a basic white kitchen and choose a red splashback — but have no other ties to red in the space.” One way around this is pulling even a tiny accent colour from one area and marrying it with the new hue. “So, a golden vein in your marble might blend with a pop of yellow,” he explains. This is where your ‘accessorising’ elements might also come into play, balancing a more dramatic colour statement with touches of a similar or complementary tone.

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Colour makes a memorable cameo in the form of beautiful backlit Caesarstone Concetto Brown Agate while still working in with the warm and earthy palette.
 Kitchen: Style Kitchens by Design. Photo: Luisa Bellini

“Take inspiration from colours used in adjoining spaces to create a cohesive look,” suggests Kim. This way, your kitchen won’t exist in a style vacuum. When it comes to choosing your palette, “select complementary colours (eg. blue/orange), even using a colour wheel, or use colour in sections or colour blocks,” he says.

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Referencing colours from your adjoining spaces is a recipe for success. Kitchen: Sublime Luxury Kitchens & Bathrooms

Related article: An innovative and high-impact colourful kitchen design

TIP: “Even for a bold statement, the base of the colour tones needs to work with the overall scheme.” Stuart May, Style Kitchens by Design

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Illuminated stone lends a mesmerising sculptural quality to a kitchen. Worthy of a gallery, this island by Style Kitchens by Design shows off a rainbow of hues. Image: Luisa Bellini

How to: accessorise with colour

Will a splash be enough? Then consider quick-change colour ways. Colourful upholstery is still trending (think bar stools, dining chairs or booth seating) while artwork, pendant lights, and bench appliances create personality and depth in even the most utilitarian spaces. These non-permanent elements can bring life to a white kitchen, notes Stuart.
“Feature appliances or cooking items, artwork etc are great extras that can really work… but you’ll also have the ability to swap or hide them, which will instantly change the overall look.”

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Upholstered stools bring functional personality in an endless colour palette. Credit: Kitchen by Robson Rak. Photo: Lauren Bamford

TIP: Don’t forget your textiles and fabrics — a printed kitchen blind, floor rug or even linen dish clothes can bring the colour (and flexibility) you crave. 

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Uplifting Cole & Son wallpaper in ‘Cow Pasture’ (cleverly protected behind a glass splashback) provides a sweet focal point. Credit: Image via Country Style/Pinterest

Related article: Kitchen and bathroom design with bespoke style

How to: commit to colour

Want to go a step further? Colourful cabinetry is having a major moment, with deep navy, petrol blue and green tones dominating our Pinterest boards. Illuminated stone, usually in an island bench or wall feature, will also bring a dynamic and artistic touch that really shines after dark. Bringing colour through to your splashback, island, cabinetry, wall paint or even floor tiles requires a little more commitment — but the results are spectacular.

For a natural look, Kim from Sublime Luxury Kitchens & Bathrooms has a couple of suggestions. “I like to introduce colours via natural elements like granite or marble” he says. “Mother Nature has a way of creating the perfect hue or fusion of colours to highlight a grain or texture. We can also add colour through light fittings or even lighting itself, using changeable LED strip lighting.”

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Dusty-blush cabinetry finds the perfect companion in this pitch-perfect artwork. Credit: Dives and Dollar via Pinterest

TIP: To highlight one colourful element, invest in concealed storage and tuck eye-catching details away. For a more integrated look, bring complementary colours and accents through homewares and other elements.

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
Channel modern elegance by pairing blue cabinetry with silver-streaked marble and classic herringbone floors. Credit: Image: Living Etc via Pinterest

Make it personal

While you might be okay doing a seasonal swap on kitchen textiles and even bench accessories, more permanent colour should be a very individual choice. Your kitchen represents a significant investment, so it needs to stand the test of time. If in doubt, always opt for personal favourites over passing trends to create a kitchen you’ll still love in years to come.

TIP: “Make sure the owner of the space likes the colour and it’s not the designer’s personal favourite.” Stuart May, Style Kitchens by Design 

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
You don’t have to choose a vivid hue to make an impact. When the owners fell in love with this glorious granite, it set a mood of refined luxury which eventually flowed through their whole home. 
Kitchen: Style Kitchens by Design. Photo: Luisa Bellini

See the light

While your chosen hue might look incredible on your phone, “because all lighting has a cast (warm, cool etc) it can present your own chosen hue in a different way,” says Stuart. The most foolproof approach is to work with your kitchen designer on an overall colour and lighting plan. “It\’s really important to consider any material or finish choice in all lights,” adds Kim. “So, morning, midday and afternoon natural light. Then under artificial lights: so warm, cool and neutral tones.” If you’re adding colour to an existing scheme, be realistic about how your colour will actually look. You may be able to tweak your pendant bulbs or existing lighting to suit or add strategically placed strip lighting to highlight the new hue. Light can also be harnessed as a highlighting tool. “I also like to use different shades of mirror to bounce or reflect light around a kitchen that needs a lift from within,” says Kim.

TIP: “Even natural light from a window or door needs to be considered, especially if you viewed your chosen colour in a showroom with fluoro lighting.” Stuart May, Style Kitchens by Design

Expert ways to embrace kitchen colour
When you’re considering colour, start from the floor up! These patterned tiles are a focal point which doesn’t dominate thanks to a perfectly balanced scheme of colour-matched cabinetry, warm metallic accents and rich caramel leathers.
 Credit: Image: Kitchenlab Interiors

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