Choosing the Right Paint Color For Kitchen Cabinets

Don’t you love a good redo? Now that you’ve made the decision that YES YOU CAN paint your kitchen cabinets, the obsessing can begin on which color to choose. Let’s talk about choosing the right paint color for kitchen cabinets.

Sometimes the choice is easy, like I have been consistent about white kitchens for the last 30 years. But what if you’re up for something new? Or you just aren’t confident about color? Let’s see if we can get there together.

choosing the right color for painted kitchen cabinets
Kitchen painted using the color Subway Tile


Go Trendy or Go Classic

First, let’s talk about trends. If you have eyeballs, and have looked at Pinterest lately (or any decorating magazine for that matter) you’ll see that the hot color of the moment for cabinets is navy blue and a variety of shades of gray.

blue cabinets
Via Pinterest
gray cabinets
Via Pinterest

What about two-tone?

Speaking of trends, there is currently a big one where people like to use two colors for cabinets. I don’t mean painting the cabinet bodies one color with an accenting door. Nope, we are talking about lower cabinets in one color and upper cabinets in another color. Some are even deleting uppers and adding floating shelves.

If you are considering this look, your best visual balance will be to have the lower cabinets be a darker color (more visual weight) with the uppers a lighter color (less visual weight). This look is popular with gray lowers and white uppers, or try blue lowers and white  or pale gray uppers.

two tone painted kitchen cabinets
Photo courtesy of Silly Jilly Designs/colors shown: Subway Tile + Tarnished Silver

Consider a pop of color!

Need a little color in your life? Yea, me too. How about considering just painting your island a pop of color? This is a great option if you’ve been dying to paint your cabinets but say, your spouse is dead set against you painting the wood, so a good compromise might be just painting the island! If you can’t even decide on that, then incorporating that color into another piece of furniture that can work in the room would also add a desired bit of change.

bright color for kitchen cabinets
Photo courtesy of Silly Jilly Designs – AFTER Colors shown: Subway Tile + Mint Enamelware
Photo courtesy of Silly Jilly Designs – BEFORE


Wood + Color

Color choices that look great with wood are: Flower Frog, Topiary, Summer Pond, Beach House Blue, Clawfoot Tub, Marble Island, Subway Tile, Lamp Post, Duck Egg, Tarnished Silver, and Nautical Stripe. Bolder yet fabulous choices might be: Parlor Drapes, Front Door Red, Front Lawn, or Swimming Pool. Obviously your choice will come from blending with your surrounding room decor, and don’t forget to consider your current wall color if you intend to keep it how it is. But just saying, sometimes these things can just snowball (which is part of the fun, if you want it to be.)

bungalow 47 furniture paint color chart

Tip: consider the tone of your wood. If your stain tends to read really orange in your room, then balance it out with a color opposite the color wheel, which would be a blue or green. Also consider your undertone of everything else going on in the room. Do you need a warmer color or a cooler color?

But which white?

Okay, so you’ve obsessed about being daring but you just know you want to stick with white, but which one? Here are the choices:

choosing the right paint color for kitchen cabinets

Farmhouse Sink is a bright white, and is the best choice when you want something clean and crisp. It pairs great with soft pastels for that ‘shabby chic’ fresh look or offers a stark contrast if you want that farmhouse ying/yang between white and black.

Subway Tile is a soft white with a gray undertone. This has been the most popular choice for New Hampshire retailer and cabinet painter Jill Lazarro at Silly Jilly Designs. Subway Tile is also a great choice to pair with one of the grays for a two-tone look.

Clawfoot Tub is a creamy white with a definite butter undertone. This is a warm white that looks great with darker woods.

Marble Island is an off white with more of a greige (gray + beige) undertone. This is a warmer tone that definitely stays true to the thought of off-white, and also looks great amongst other wood tones.

Our Most Popular Shades

Our best selling colors for kitchen cabinets currently are: Farmhouse Sink, Subway Tile, Tin Can Camper, Metal Roof, Tarnished Silver, and Nautical Stripe. 

Just Do It

We love when customers just jump in and get it done. Michigan retailer 141 Design Company submitted these photos from a customer who came in and bought paint. They helped her choose a color, then days later they received a text with these photos. Great job, and now it’s done!

choosing the right paint color for kitchen cabinets
Photo courtesy of 141 Design Company – AFTER Color shown: Metal Roof
Photo courtesy of 141 Design Company

Once your color choice is made, now is the time to decide if you will be updating your hardware or not. Keep in mind, the holes needed for attaching new hardware might be different than what you currently have, so plan accordingly. Next up, we’ll be discussing durability, and how painted cabinets wear. Thanks for checking in with us. 

Get your project going, Jill

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