“Your kitchen is such an important gathering place,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “You want to choose colors that make it feel warm and inviting.” That’s easy to say, but staring at a paint-store display can make you feel like you’ve been spun around the color wheel one too many times. Sort through the overwhelming spectrum of options with these five expert-approved tips:
Consider longevity. Choose a wall color you’ll be happy living with for a long time. “We like to keep the kitchen’s base palette neutral and then add pops of bright color through lighting fixtures and accessories,” says Cortney Novogratz, interior designer and host with her husband, Robert, of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz.
Pick the right neutral. News flash: Gray is the new beige. “Regardless of the amount of natural light, the style of décor, or elements in a room, pale, silvery gray always works,” says Sabrina Soto, designer and host of HGTV’s The High Low Project.
Take inspiration from your wardrobe. “Going with bright color in the kitchen is fun, but the look can be overwhelming. I suggest keeping this simple rule in mind: Choose colors that look good on you or that you wear often,” says Danny Seo, green designer and author of Upcycling Celebrations (Running Press, 2012).
Accent with a warm white. “White is one of the hardest colors to select,” says Vern Yip, host of HGTV’s Deserving Design. “Pure whites almost have a bluish hue to them in certain lights. But a white that has the tiniest drop of warmth in it will be easier to work with, adaptable to other colors, and timeless.”
Create a theme. If you do use a bright color in the kitchen, carry it into the surrounding living areas. You can simply do that by having a poster or throw pillow with the same color. You want your eye to travel from room to room; the repetition of color will connect the spaces and make each feel larger.
Match sheen to surface. The best low-luster satin and eggshell paints offer easy hiding and durability, making them ideal for most surfaces. Flat paints hide flaws better but are less resistant to stains and smudges, so use them in low-traffic areas. Semigloss works well for trim and other surfaces that don’t need to be wiped frequently, because repeated cleaning will dull most finishes.
Start with top-rated paints. In our tests of interior paints, Clark + Kensington sold at Ace Hardware aced our tests for both semi-gloss and satin/eggshell finishes. The top flat/matte was from Valspar and sold at Lowe’s. Behr paints sold at Home Depot also did well in our tests for all three finishes as did Benjamin Moore, which is typically more expensive.
—Adapted from Consumer Reports Kitchen & Planning Guide.