Colonial style kitchens embody classic American architecture, featuring elements inspired by traditional farmhouses and country cottages from the Colonial era. This timeless design style blends rustic and elegant details for a charming look that feels nostalgic yet fresh. When designing a Colonial kitchen, focus on creating a cozy, welcoming atmosphere rich with warmth and character.

Key Elements of Colonial Kitchen Design

Several defining features create the traditional Colonial kitchen aesthetic. When incorporated thoughtfully, these details work together to achieve an authentic and inviting space.

Natural Materials

Earthy, organic materials like wood and stone lend a sense of nature to Colonial kitchens. Colonial Kitchen Design often showcases:

  • Wood cabinets, usually painted or stained in subdued neutrals like cream and slate gray. Distressed finishes add vintage character.
  • Granite or marble countertops for a timeworn look. Butcher block also fits the natural, farmhouse style.
  • Stone backsplashes made from slate, travertine, or cobblestone. Add interest with a herringbone or stacked stone pattern.
  • Wood flooring like pine, oak, or maple in planked, parquet, or herringbone patterns.
  • Exposed ceiling beams made from wood for structural accents.

Warm, Muted Color Palette

The Colonial color scheme relies on muted neutrals and soft pastels to cultivate a tranquil atmosphere. Classic color combinations include:

  • White or antique white paint colors for walls, trim, and cabinetry. Provides a light, airy starting point.
  • Beige and tan wall colors, like almond and sandstone. Adds subtle warmth.
  • Light blue or green for accent walls or farmhouse-inspired hues.
  • Off-black and charcoal for cabinetry or architectural elements. Creates contrast.
  • Soft reds and yellows for vintage accents; think brick red, mustard or straw.

Avoid stark whites or bright pops of color for a soothing, vintage mood. Flowing color throughout the kitchen creates harmony.

Rustic and Vintage Accents

Charming details give the Colonial kitchen character. Incorporate:

  • Beadboard paneling on walls or as backsplashes.
  • Exposed brick accents around a cooking range or pantry.
  • Galvanized metal buckets, bins and canisters for storage.
  • Wood cutting boards and utensil racks for function and decoration.
  • Cast iron or copper pots for an antique look.
  • Vintage-style lighting like pendant lamps or sconces.
  • Farmhouse sinks and antique-looking faucets with cross handles.
  • Ceramic accessories like bread boxes and fruit bowls.

Mixing modern conveniences with old-fashioned embellishments creates a casual, inviting ambiance.

Structure and Layout

The architecture itself distinguishes the quintessential Colonial kitchen. Look for:

  • Symmetry in the layout and design details.
  • Shaker-style cabinets with flat recessed panels and understated hardware.
  • Decorative wood corbels supporting countertops or shelves.
  • Arched openings between kitchen and dining room or butler’s pantry.
  • Herringbone brick flooring or tile backsplashes.
  • A large fireplace with a timber mantel as a focal point.
  • Built-in hutch for glassware display.
  • Cozy window seating with storage under the cushions.

Adhering to classic structural features helps form the comforting Colonial aesthetic.

Colonial Kitchen Ideas

Certain elements can be incorporated into Colonial kitchen designs to fully achieve the traditional style.


Cabinetry plays a major role in Colonial kitchen design. Opt for:

  • Shaker cabinets with recessed center panels and visible hinges. Simple moldings add interest and depth.
  • Unadorned cabinet fronts without excessive decorative accents. Slab-style doors complement the unfussy look.
  • Painted or lightly stained finishes like alabaster, sage, or buttermilk. Avoid darker stains.
  • Vintage-look hardware like bin pulls, knobs, or ring pulls in an aged bronze, pewter or brass finish. Crystal knobs also suit colonial décor.
  • Open shelving to break up cabinetry for texture and display space.
  • Glass-front cabinets for displaying dishware or collectibles.
  • Built-in hutches or china cabinets for a multifunctional storage solution.

Traditional cabinetry styles like Shaker offer an expected and welcome touch.


When selecting Colonial Kitchen Design countertops, consider durable, low-maintenance options in colors and patterns that feel established.

  • Butcher block offers a weathered, farmhouse look that suits rustic colonials. Opt for wood with visible grains like oak or maple.
  • Marble is a classic choice that wears well over time. For a throwback, select smaller marble tiles in a herringbone pattern.
  • Granite like Uba Tuba or Costa Esmeralda has speckled, neutral hues fitting for a colonial feel.
  • Soapstone conveys age and patina with its muted, subtly mottled look.
  • Concrete with natural grey and brown aggregates works for industrial colonials.

Incorporate texture with honed or leathered finishes to reinforce the countertop’s antiquity.


Hardwood flooring establishes warmth underfoot within colonial style kitchens. Favored options include:

  • Wide-plank oak floors with varied natural wood grains and knots. The inconsistencies add character.
  • Hand-scraped woods like hickory or maple for timeworn irregularity.
  • Distressed wood with artificially created cracks and markings for an antiqued appearance.
  • Parquet patterns or herringbone designs as geometric focal points.
  • Reclaimed woods like barn wood floors with imperfections that relay history.
  • Ceramic tile with terracotta, brick red or beige colors laid in a brickwork pattern.

Layer antique area rugs over wood floors to define spaces with traditional charm.


For authentic ambiance, colonial kitchen lighting should feature vintage-style fixtures and natural materials:

  • Pendant lights suspended above islands or sinks in metal, wood and mason jar materials.
  • Wrought iron or brass chandeliers with candle-style bulbs for traditional grandeur over dining spaces.
  • Exposed Edison bulbs mounted individually or on short pendant cords.
  • Sconces on walls flanking windows or furnishings. Choose metal, wood or glass bases.
  • Reproduction gas lamps fitted as wall fixtures for historical accuracy.
  • Copper ceiling fixtures with a hand-hammered vintage appearance.
  • Woven basket pendants in natural fibers with classic shape.

Ensure adequate task lighting at preparation and cooking stations as well.


The kitchen backsplash presents an opportunity to integrate eye-catching textures and patterns. Colonial-inspired backsplash ideas include:

  • Subway tile or classic square tile shapes in white, cream, beige and light blue. Use a classic staggered formation.
  • Tin ceiling tiles with pressed decorative shapes for a retro flair.
  • Wooden shiplap boards stained or painted in soft hues of robin’s egg blue and sage green.
  • Fieldstone, flagstone or tumbled marble for an organic vibe. Use natural gray, tan and cream pieces.
  • Herringbone brick within a brick arch above a cooking surface or range.
  • Patterned and printed tiles with delicate floral motifs, vines and landscapes in vintage colorways.

Incorporate different shapes, prints and layouts to craft depth and visual appeal.


Kitchen appliances have an impact on the overall colonial aesthetic. Avoid ultra-modern looks by selecting:

  • Stainless steel appliances with a brushed or satin finish instead of highly polished. Mitigates starkness.
  • Vintage-style ranges with rounded edges, knobs and retro detailing. Many incorporate modern conveniences.
  • Farmhouse sinks like porcelain, copper or fireclay styles with an apron front. Include vintage-look fixtures.
  • Exposed old-fashioned plumbing including pipes, drains and knobs for an industrial touch.
  • Cast iron stove tops or ovens that appear antiquated while offering modern functionality.
  • Refrigerators designed with paneled fronts and handles to disguise the appliance.
  • Double basin sinks with legs for a furniture look. Select fireclay or porcelain material.

Blending old and new technology sustains usability without sacrificing period-appropriate design.

Design Details to Avoid

When designing and decorating a Colonial kitchen, there are a few details that can detract from achieving an authentically old-fashioned environment. Steer clear of:

  • Ultra-modern finishes like high-gloss lacquers.
  • Oversized islands that dominate the room.
  • Ornate detailing on cabinetry and furniture.
  • Massive appliances that overpower the space.
  • Jarring, bright colors like neon or pure white.
  • Sleek metal or glass furniture pieces.
  • Large sectionals or armchairs instead of wood dining chairs.
  • Overly minimalist or ultra-modern light fixtures.
  • Technology-heavy smart appliances or products.
  • Open shelving across entire walls.

Maintaining a thoughtful balance of new and old allows modern functionality without sacrificing homey colonial character.

Common Colonial Kitchen Color Schemes

Choosing a cohesive color palette is key in colonial interior design. Appliances, cabinetry, furnishings and decor should coordinate in their finishes and hues. Consider these pleasing colonial color schemes:

Soft Greens

  • Pale sage cabinets
  • Mint green subway tile backsplash
  • Verdant counter stools
  • Cream walls
  • Butcher block island
  • Brass accents

Warm Tans

  • Beige cabinetry
  • Terracotta tile backsplash
  • Straw pendant lighting
  • Sandstone walls
  • Wood flooring
  • Dark granite counters

Crisp Blues

  • Navy cabinetry
  • Robin’s egg blue backsplash
  • White marble counters
  • Light oak flooring
  • Sky blue ceramic knobs
  • Pale blue accent wall

Rich Browns

  • Milk chocolate cabinets
  • Woodgrain granite counters
  • Chestnut dining set
  • Brick floor tiles
  • Accent wallpaper
  • Antique bronze fixtures

Sticking to two or three main colors cultivated from the same palette results in a peaceful, collected look.

Designing an Open Concept Colonial Kitchen

Open concept kitchens merge cooking, dining and living spaces into one larger area. To maintain the colonial kitchen aesthetic in this layout:

  • Use consistent materials and colors to visually connect different zones. Match cabinetry finishes in the kitchen, built-in buffet in the dining area, and shelving or media center in the living room.
  • Incorporate room dividers like half walls, pillars or arches with molding. These architectural elements define spaces while encouraging flow.
  • Limit high walls and visual barriers. An open floor plan works best.
  • Define work triangles clearly so kitchen workflow is efficient. Avoid cramped appliance layouts.
  • Select furniture like bench seating and pub tables to blend rooms. Multifunctional pieces keep the space flexible.
  • Add transparent elements like café curtains, glass cabinet doors and open shelving. These maintain visibility and light.

The goal is cohesion through thoughtful visual continuity and smart furniture choices.

Incorporating a Fireplace and Mantel

Fireplaces craft an automatic focal point while radiating comfort. For colonial flair:

  • Choose brick, stacked stone or wood paneled surrounds over sleek modern materials.
  • Size it appropriately; oversized hearths overwhelm, while undersized units get lost. Measure based on room scale and layout.
  • Pick a classic mantel silhouette like a curved arch or straight beam. Wood, marble, granite and brick make attractive mantels.
  • Adorn with candle sconces, dried botanicals, antique cookware or pinecones for ambiance.
  • Add built-in cabinetry or shelving alongside the hearth for a unified look.
  • Set furniture facing the fireplace to create an inviting seating area.

The fireplace naturally defines a space to relax and reflect. Keep it in proportion to the room.

Mixing Woods

One trick to add depth in a Colonial kitchen is combining different wood tones and textures. However, restraint maintains balance:

  • Use one wood color for cabinetry and limit additional hues to two for accents. For example, navy cabinets, buttermilk island and oak shelves.
  • Vary natural wood grains for visual interest. Try open grain woods like oak next to tighter grains like maple.
  • Mix painted or stained finishes like cherry stained flooring with grey washed oak shelves.
  • Contrast matte cabinets with a polished butcher block countertop for sleek variation.
  • Incorporate different types like engineered quartz on the perimeter with genuine wood on the island.
  • Use reclaimed barn wood solely for focal points like a salvaged door pantry front.

Prevent it from appearing too busy by sticking to a general color scheme overall.

Creating a Colonial Butler’s Pantry

Butler’s pantries provide supplemental storage and prep space in grand Colonial kitchens. When planning this multi-purpose accent:

  • Situate between the kitchen and dining room to facilitate serving.
  • Include cabinetry for storage, glass-front cabinets for display and open shelving for accessibility.
  • Incorporate a prep sink, microwave, mini fridge or wine chiller for added convenience.
  • Add a charging station or tech nook for modern functions out of sight.
  • Extend any design details from the main kitchen, like matching cabinets, backsplashes and flooring.
  • Consider marble or granite for the counter and backsplash to convey affluence.
  • Install a pocket door, arched entry or spinning shelving unit for unique access.

Butler’s pantries bridge kitchen necessities and formal dining etiquette through smart layouts. They expand form and function.

Acceptable Colonial Kitchen Updates

While sticking to tradition is preferred, modest updates keep Colonial kitchens relevant:

  • Satin nickel or brushed gold hardware appears sleeker than worn brass.
  • Quartz countertops offer patterned elegance resembling marble and granite.
  • Stainless appliances discretely blend rather than bold stainless with high-gloss.
  • Narrow subway tile laid in a herringbone pattern provides a contemporary edge.
  • Touch-latch doors and drawers allow easy access minus visible hardware.
  • Open shelving with integrated lighting modernizes display capabilities.
  • Eco-friendly bamboo or lyptus wood choices add diversity.
  • Marble-look porcelain is a budget-friendly tile alternative.
  • LED recessed lighting casts even, ambient glows for tasks and mood.

Thoughtfully infusing small touches of today enhances function while respecting the past.

Common Colonial Kitchen Floor Plans

Colonial kitchen layouts benefit from time-tested arrangements that ensure spacious functionality. Common designs include:

Galley Kitchen

  • Cabinets and counters lining two parallel walls.
  • Range and refrigerator anchor one end.
  • Sink and prep space occupy the other.
  • A walkway connects the two.
  • Ideal for narrow spaces.

One-Wall Kitchen

  • Cabinets and most appliances on one wall.
  • Kitchen table parallels the same wall.
  • Easy access and traffic flow.
  • Creates L-shaped space.

U-Shaped Kitchen

  • Cabinets on three walls in a U formation.
  • Sink, range, and refrigerator integrated into different legs.
  • Island can fill the center space.
  • Allows for an efficient work triangle.

L-Shaped Kitchen

  • Cabinetry and appliances on two continuous walls.
  • Island or dining area typically incorporated into design.
  • Creates efficient routes and useful surface space.

Mixing and matching aspects of different layouts is common to form custom hybrid designs.

Achieving Colonial Kitchen Storage

Colonial style kitchens must balance aesthetic design and practical storage. Solutions include:

  • Opting for full-depth cabinetry over shallow units.
  • Extending cabinets to the ceiling for max vertical storage.
  • Incorporating drawers, pull-outs and blind corner organizers.
  • Using racks and hooks for frequently used items.
  • Hanging copper pots or utensil hooks over an island.
  • Mounting spice racks inside cabinet doors.
  • Displaying china and glassware in open hutches.
  • Using furniture pieces like bakers racks and armoires.
  • Optimizing dead corner space with lazy susans.
  • Building in bench seating with storage underneath.

Proper organization tools assist in neatly stowing items when space is limited.

Incorporating French Country Style

French country and Colonial style kitchens share many charming similarities:

  • Brick, stone or wood floors.
  • Vaulted wood beam ceilings.
  • White cabinetry with distressing.
  • Marble, granite or butcher block counters.
  • Vintage pendant lighting.
  • Plate racks and hutches.

However, French country design takes elements one step further for added European flair:

  • More ornate wood carving on legs and corbels.
  • Light blue, pink, yellow and green accent colors.
  • Dark wrought iron medallions, rails and frames.
  • More delicate curves and arches architecturally.
  • Accordion-style shutters on windows.
  • Wire storage racks instead of open shelves.

While dovet