How Do You Choose a Colour for Your Kitchen? / by mark bruce


Choosing a colour for your kitchen can be one of the most difficult decisions you will make. Your choice should not be taken lightly as it is said that design acceptance is based on 60% colour and 40% on the actual design. Colour defines space, suggests temperature and also influences one’s mood, all of these controls are hugely important within the kitchen. So how do we select a colour that’s going to evoke the desired effect, well here’s some colour psychology that may help.

John Smith's Kitchen. Designed 27 August 2011. Winner of the Kitchens of BOP Award for 2011.

RED - love, passion, aids digestion, increases blood pressure, aggressive, extreme

ORANGE - active, exuberance, decreases hostility, improves social behaviour, active, social

YELLOW - optimism, cheer, warmth, increases hostility, stimulates appetite, innovation, communication

GREEN - growth, wealth, compassion, balance, rejuvenation, moderation, balance, tradition

BLUE - serenity, loyalty, peace, lowers blood pressure, cooling and relaxing, conservative, pragmatic

VIOLET - quietness, reverence, depresses appetite, spiritual, philosophical.

PINK - emotional, guarded, stimulates sweet tooth, gentle, protective, friendly

BROWN - earthiness, natural, tranquil, dull, reliable, stable

WHITE - joy, hope, cleanliness, optimism, individualism

GREY - steady, stable, protected, disciplined, guarded

BLACK - mystery, elegant, fatigue, powerful, dignified

Colour cannot only have an effect on the individual but it can also be used to change the appearance of a room.

Designers can use colour to create optical illusions with space, here are some examples. 

  • To give a feeling of space, paint walls and ceiling to match the floor, and use pale, light colours and keep contrast to a minimum.
  • A warm, deep colour on short end walls, with a lighter shade on the adjoining longer walls, will make a long narrow room appear more evenly proportioned.
  • In nature we expect to see the darkest value at our feet, the medium value at eye level and the lightest value above us. Be careful if you decided to mix natures law up it takes a cleaver designer to get it right.
  • Colour can be used to cover up errors in scale and proportion as well because the eye can be drawn to the colour rather than the size of objects.


Texture also has an effect on colour, a heavily textured surface will absorb light, and dull the intensity of colour.

If you want a sharp pure colour a smooth shiny surface will present it best. A current trend is gloss white kitchens. The full gloss white paint on a very smooth surface provides the desired effect of purity and cleanliness the effect would be lost if the surface was textured or the paint matted.

I have recently seen an interesting way to use colour and texture within the kitchen, large panels of wallpaper on door faces. The paper was on a few selected sliding doors with recessed handles to protect the surface. The heavily textured and coloured paper provides an amazing contrast to the other smooth lacquered surfaces. Texture is also available in a selection of more recognised kitchen surface products like high-pressure laminates these can give you good colour selection as well.

Appliances represent a large visual element within the kitchen and they are often overlooked when choosing colours. Apart from a few models most appliances are a form of stainless steel and these large shiny silver boxes can have a major impact. It’s not until all the appliances are fitted into the kitchen that you realise the effect they have on your well thought out colour scheme. It’s interesting to see the Europeans still embrace integration of appliances to overcome this issue and I think given time, we will follow their lead and start housing appliances within cabinetry.

It’s comforting to see the colour trends are slowing down, we are no longer being bombarded with constant new colour palates as each season changes. The transition between trends is longer, giving our kitchens an extended life expectancy and the new colours coming through have a familiar base. Traditional colours still find favour in contemporary designs, something old with something new.