Decorating your kitchen with a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to give the space an instant facelift. With so many paint colors and finishes to choose from, it can be tricky to settle on a shade that perfectly suits your style, cabinetry andcountertops. This article will explore some of the most popular paint ideas to inspire your next kitchen refresh.
Choosing Paint Colors for Your Kitchen
When selecting a paint color for your kitchen, there are a few key factors to consider:
Complement Your Cabinets and Counters
Choose a paint color that complements rather than competes with your existing cabinetry and countertops. For example, warm wood cabinetry looks beautiful paired with earthy paint shades like beige, taupe or light brown. Cool-toned cabinets pop against gray, blue or green hues.
If your cabinets are white or black, you have the most flexibility in paint color options. However, stick to lighter shades if your countertops are dark to prevent a heavy, unbalanced look.
Consider the Amount of Natural Light
The amount of natural light your kitchen receives should guide your paint selection. North-facing rooms with limited sunlight can handle deeper, bolder paint colors. South-facing rooms awash in natural light look best with lighter, airier colors that keep the space feeling open and bright.
Kitchens with east or west-facing windows fall somewhere in between. Try a mid-tone paint in these rooms.
Complement Your Flooring
Coordinate your wall color with your kitchen flooring to create a cohesive look. For example, brown paint complements wood or tile floors while gray paint enhances stone or concrete.
If you plan to replace your floors soon, select a versatile neutral paint color like white, beige or gray that will work with a range of flooring options down the road.
Determine the Room’s Purpose
Consider how you use your kitchen most when selecting a paint color. Do you mainly cook and clean? Opt for a practical darker hue that hides stains and splatters well, like navy, charcoal or chocolate.
Is your kitchen meant for conversation and dining? Choose an inviting, lighter color like sage, buttercream or sky blue.
Do you spend equal time cooking and entertaining? A flexible mid-tone like green, taupe or cream is ideal.
Popular Paint Colors for Kitchens
Below are some of today’s most popular paint colors for kitchens in a range of styles.
Nothing brightens up a kitchen like a fresh coat of crisp, clean white paint. It makes the space feel open, airy and spacious. White paint complements any style of cabinetry and pairs well with most countertop materials. Slightly warmer options like Swiss Coffee or Alabaster are gentler than stark whites.
Be aware that white shows every smudge and needs frequent touch-ups. Consider washing your walls regularly and spot painting to combat this. White paint works best for lightly used kitchens or minimalist spaces.
From soft and airy grays like Foggy Day and Rainwash to dramatic, moody hues like Tricorn Black and Iron Gate, gray makes a sophisticated paint choice for modern kitchens. It pairs nicely with most cabinet colors from white to espresso.
Medium grays with hints of blue like Gray Matters, Coventry Gray and Edgecomb Gray are especially versatile and work with a wide range of tile, granite and quartz countertops.
The right gray creates an elegant, timeless look. Just keep lighting in mind, as some deep charcoal grays can overwhelm a dark room.
For a bold, dramatic impact, navy blue kitchen walls can’t be beat. From light and bright sailors blue to dark and regal navy, it makes a striking backdrop for white cabinetry and warm wood butcher block.
Deeper shades of navy like Hale Navy and Midnight Blue work best for small spaces, as they seem to recede. Lighter shades like Rainfall, even Namesake Blue feel energetic but airy.
Just take care not to overdo navy in a dark, windowless kitchen or the space may feel too dreary. Navy paint requires thoughtful lighting and accents.
From muted, earthy tones like Jojoba and Polished Sage to vibrant grass greens likeGCTree Frog Green, green infuses kitchens with natural energy. It complements oak cabinets beautifully while contrasting starkly against bright white.
Sage greens with gray undertones like Tradewind, Nebulous Green and Kennebunkport Green work well in traditional and cottage kitchens. Yellow-based vivid greens like Celery Stick and Chartreuse are modern.
Sunny yellow paint brings joy and light into kitchen spaces. Soft buttery yellows like Buttercream, Light French Vanilla and Mother Nature work well in country cottage kitchens, pairing nicely with white cabinetry.
Bold lemony yellows like Greenwood Green, Cascade Green or Mary Rose lend a contemporary, on-trend look that complements mid-tone woods. Deeper golden hues like Amber Waves and Bell Pepper support more traditional spaces.
Beige and Taupe
For a subtle, earthy look, beiges and taupes make versatile neutral backdrop in kitchens. They work with any style of cabinetry and transition well between rooms.
Warm paint colors like Sand Beige, Color Palette, Khaki Tan, and Doeskin create a welcoming, cozy look. Cooler beiges and taupes like Gray Matters, Popular Gray, Accessible Beige and Edgecomb Gray have a more modern feel.
While bold red walls may seem intimidating, the right hue can infuse kitchens with energy and warmth. Deep, dramatic reds like Fireweed and Cararra Red make small spaces feel intimate. Brighter reds and oranges like Sunset Orange, Hot Habanero or Giddy Up add a contemporary, on-trend look.
Red works best on accent walls or smaller kitchens. Pair with white cabinetry and light countertops to keep the look feeling balanced and inviting. Soft reds like Rustic Red and Green Gables are easier to integrate than vivid shades.
Paint Finishes For Kitchen Walls
Beyond just color, the type of paint finish you choose impacts the look, durability and washability of your kitchen walls. Here are some top options:
With a non-reflective, matte look, flat paint is popular for kitchens walls. It allows texture like brushstrokes to show through for an artistic, old world look. Stains blend easily into flat’s porous surface.
While prone to scuffs and marks, flat paint is budget-friendly and easy to touch up. Just take care to avoid direct lighting, as it accentuates imperfections. Washable flat paints like Behr’s Scuff Defense and Benjamin Moore’s Aura provide added durability.
Offering subtle shine, eggshell finishes have a classic look. More durable and washable than flat, eggshell resists stains better but still hides imperfections. Its velvety appearance works well in traditional and cottage kitchens.
Like flat, eggshell allows some surface texture to show through and may require occasional touch-ups, especially in high-traffic areas. Overall it provides a nice compromise between durability and an attractive matte look.
With a smooth, pearl-like sheen, satin paint is ideal for kitchens that get a lot of use. It stands up to scrubbing, splatters and daily wear-and-tear better than flat or eggshell.
Satin’s slight gloss reflects more light, so take care in dark, enclosed kitchens, as it can emphasize shadows and imperfections. In well-lit rooms, satin makes colors pop while still appearing matte and smooth.
Semi-gloss offers a bright, shiny appearance that stands up even better to messes and frequent cleaning than satin. Its high durability makes it a top choice for kids’ rooms and busy kitchens.
While ultra-tough, semi-gloss has a noticeably glossy look. It emphasizes uneven walls and textures. Only utilize it on perfectly smooth surfaces or be prepared for some minor irregularities to show through.
Painting Kitchen Walls Like A Pro
Once you’ve selected the perfect paint color and finish for your kitchen, proper technique is key for a professional-looking result:
Prep The Walls
Clean thoroughly to remove existing grease and grime. Fill any holes or cracks with spackle and sand smooth. Remove any loose existing paint. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth before priming.
Prime painted walls, especially if changing colors. Use dedicated drywall primer for bare sheetrock or plaster walls. This creates a uniform surface for paint to adhere evenly.
Cut In The Edges
Use a high-quality angled paint brush to neatly “cut in” along ceilings, corners, trim and edges. Allow this to fully dry before rolling the larger wall expanses so you don’t accidentally smear semi-dry paint.
Work in 2-3 foot wide sections cutting in before rolling that section to avoid overlaps and touch-ups.
Roll On Paint
Pour paint into a high-quality roller tray with a built-in reservoir. Fully saturate the roller before applying paint in 3×3 foot sections. Use a pole and roller with extension for ceilings.
Maintain a wet edge and work quickly to avoid lap marks and inconsistencies in sheen. Thin the paint slightly for a smoother finish if needed.
Remove Paint From Floors And Counters
Carefully remove any stray paint from floors, countertops and cabinets using soapy water, rubbing alcohol or paint remover promptly before it dries. Touch up trim work with a small artist’s brush.
Second Coat And Cleanup
Allow the first coat to fully dry overnight before applying a second coat to maximize coverage and durability. Water-based latex paint dries quickly, so second coats are often possible within 2-4 hours. Thoroughly clean brushes and rollers after using.
Ideal Paint Sheens For Kitchens
Here are the best paint sheens to consider for key kitchen surfaces:
- Flat paint – works well for ceilings, as it hides imperfections well
- Eggshell paint – ideal for low-traffic walls as it cleans up nicely but hides minor scuffs
- Satin paint – best for heavily used walls as it stands up to scrubbing but has some sheen
- Semi-gloss paint – recommended for trim, doors and cabinets as it resists moisture, stains and grime
- High-gloss paint – often used for decorative accents; very durable and reflective
Pairing paint sheens properly allows each surface to look its best while withstanding daily use.
Coordinating Cabinets, Counters and Paint
When selecting a wall color, also consider how it works with your existing cabinetry and countertops. Here are recommended pairings:
White Cabinets: Look great with nearly any wall color from bright navy blues to muted grays to sunny yellows. Avoid matching whites, which can read flat and monotonous.
Light Wood Cabinets: Coordinate well with sunny yellows, sage greens, sky blues, light taupes and soft grays. Avoid bold oranges or reds, which may clash.
Dark Wood Cabinets: Pair nicely with deeper colors like charcoal, navy, olive green, deep red or rich cream. Lighter yellows and sky blues can appear too fleeting.
Neutral Countertops: Easy to complement with nearly any wall color. Just avoid matching neutrals.
Bold Countertops: Select a harmonizing wall color. For example, pair vibrant granite with gray walls or creamy quartz with blue walls. Let the counters be the focal point.
Recommended Paint Brands
While color selection is most important, high quality paint ensures better coverage and longevity. Here are some top brands to consider:
Known for durability and vibrancy, Behr offers over 1,000 color choices. Their premium plus line works well for kitchen walls, while ultra-durable Marquee paint makes a great cabinetry finish.
This top brand offers over 3,500 rich paint colors like the popular Gray Owl. Ben Moore’s premium Aura line is built to withstand scrubbing and splatters. Their Scuff-X line works wonders on cabinetry.
Trusted brand Sherwin-Williams provides kitchen-friendly paint lines like ProClassic, Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel, and Cashmere Interior Acrylic Latex to suit every application.
Affordably priced Valspar 2000 and Reserve lines offer kitchen-worthy washability and protection. Opt for the ultra-premium Cabinet Enamel for brilliantly smooth finishes on cabinets and trimwork.
No matter your preferred brand, choose 100% acrylic latex paint for kitchen surfaces. Oil-based paint yellows over time and requires solvents for cleanup.
Unique Paint Ideas For Small Kitchens
While light neutral shades typically make small kitchens feel open and airy, don’t be afraid to infuse color! Here are unique ways to use paint in a small kitchen:
Accent wall – Paint one wall a bold hue to add interest without overwhelming. Try fire engine red, cobalt blue or even glossy black.
Vivid backsplash – Use vibrant glass tile, painted ceramic or mini-mosaic to incorporate color with less commitment than a full wall.
Painted cabinets – Revive dull wood cabinets with a refreshing coated of sage green, navy blue, brick red or sunny yellow semi-gloss.
Black accents – Paint ceiling beams, an island or open shelves black for contrast against light walls.
Mirrored backsplash – Bounce light around and give the illusion of space with a reflective and glamorous mirrored backsplash.
Patterned paint – Make a small kitchen feel playful and whimsical with painted polka dot, striped, floral or checkerboard walls.
Paint Ideas for Rental Kitchens
Renting can make kitchen decor tricky, but paint adds style safely even in temporary spaces. Here are top tips:
Seek landlord approval – Get written permission to paint walls and cabinetry if needed. Offer to repaint when moving out.
Stick to neutrals – Play it safe with versatile grays, taupes, creams and whites that appeal to future renters.
Use accent walls – Only paint one wall an intense color to avoid complications.
Try peel-and-stick wallpaper – Self-adhesive wallpaper is removable and brings color without painting.
Paint inside cabinets – Line cabinet interiors with bright hues for a punch of color visible when open. No approval needed.
Add removable tile – Self-adhesive decorative tile skins islands, backsplashes and countertops temporarily.
Use removable wall stickers – Vinyl wall decals easily add eye-catching style without permanent changes.
Eco-Friendly and Natural Paint Options
For those concerned about indoor air quality and the environment, eco-friendly natural paint fits the bill. Options include:
- Milk paint – Made from milk proteins and clay, completely non-toxic and low-odor. Available in natural earth tones.
- Limewash – Made from lime, salt, clay and other natural ingredients. Subtly mottled matte finish.
- Clay paint – Natural clay-based paint suitable for those with chemical sensitivities. Low sheen finish.
- Plant-based paint – Options like ECOS Paints are made from soybeans, corn and other plants. Zero VOCs.
- Baking soda paint – Baking soda formulations like Romabio’s Classico Lime Paint absorb odors. Antimicrobial.
- Mineral silicate paint – Made from mineral solids not organic compounds. Very durable and clean burning.
While pricier than standard latex paint, natural paint improves indoor air quality.
Painting Kitchen Countertops
Painting countertops can transform dated laminate or worn solid surfacing affordably. Use these painting tips:
- Thoroughly clean and lightly sand the existing countertop first.
- Apply 2-3 coats of a dedicated countertop paint like Giani Granite or Rust-Oleum Transformations for durability.
- Add multiple coats of food-safe sealant for water resistance and stain protection.
- Avoid painting natural stone like granite or marble which requires specialty treatment.
- Expect to reapply yearly as paint wears down from use faster than actual countertop materials.
Hiring A Painter vs DIY Painting
While a fresh coat of paint can transform a kitchen, painting is messy and time consuming. Here’s how to decide between a pro painter or DIY:
Consider hiring a professional painter for:
- Large kitchens requiring tall ladders or scaffolding for safety
- Projects requiring advanced skills like cabinets, faux finishes or intricate trimwork
- Perfectly smooth finishes as professionals have specialized tools and expertise
- Severely outdated kitchens needing multiple coats, primers, repairs etc.
- Medical issues, physical limitations or lack of time preventing DIY work
DIY painting is a good option for:
- Small kitchens or short walls that are easy to reach
- Simple flat wall finishes or basic cabinets
- Quick cosmetic updates using just 1-2 coats of paint
- Homeowners on a strict budget but with free time
- Those who enjoy painting and are willing to learn techniques
- Less than perfect results are acceptable
The options may seem endless when choosing the perfect paint for your kitchen. Keep these key tips in mind:
- Consider how color complements your existing cabinets, counters and flooring
- Let the room’s natural light level and purpose guide shade selection
- Flat, eggshell or satin finishes work best for most kitchen walls
- Semi-gloss provides durability on trim, doors and cabinets
- Focus on quality 100% acrylic latex paint for easy cleanup and longevity
- Prep properly and apply two coats for professional looking results
- Hire a pro