Compare your swatches to the cabinetry and eliminate any colors that don't look fabulous. Then evaluate the remaining color swatches against the countertop and backsplash.
A recognized authority on all things color-related, Kate Smith is a professional color strategist and the creator of sensationalcolor.com.
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Ask Kate: Finding the Perfect Kitchen Color
Professional tips for picking a paint color that works with a kitchen’s existing finishes.
- by Kate Smith
Q: I just bought a new home that has gorgeous dark cherry cabinets, slightly lighter cherry flooring, empress green granite countertops and a backsplash of natural-looking tiles in a variety of greens and grays. The problem is that the kitchen is "builder beige," and it looks almost yellow next to my cabinets. How do I go about finding a wall color that will be more attractive?
A: Even though your home is new, the kitchen is not a blank slate. Some of the decisions about color have already been made. An important first step to finding your perfect wall color is to identify the colors and undertones of the cabinets, appliances, countertops, backsplash and flooring.
Red and Green
Cherry cabinets and flooring are brown with definite red undertones, and the countertops and backsplash are primarily green. This red/green combination is a classic scheme and one that I would build upon. This means working with the green rather than introducing a new color.
Start by gathering a variety of paint swatches of both greens and neutrals with greenish undertones. It sounds like you love your cabinets, so it’s important that your wall color set off their finish. Compare your swatches to the cabinetry and eliminate any colors that don't look fabulous. Then evaluate the remaining color swatches against the countertop and backsplash.
Empress green granite generally has a cooler (bluer) undertone so if that is true with your countertops, remove any swatches with warmer undertones or those that look yellowish.
Look at the remaining swatches against the flooring. In this case, since your flooring is a lighter color of your cabinets, you may not need to eliminate any color choices.
Compare and Consider
Once you have narrowed your colors, look at the remaining swatches next to your cabinets again. See how you feel about each color, and pick two or three to sample. Then paint those swatches in different areas around the room. Since wall area is limited in most kitchens, look for a color that ties the kitchen together rather than one that stands out on its own.
Also keep in mind the values (lightness/darkness) of your existing finishes. While a mid-value shade of green might look appealing on a small swatch, it may not offer enough contrast to your cabinets. I suggest a lighter neutral with green undertones that is slightly grayed. And paint a large sample board or section of the wall to properly evaluate your color choice.