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DreamMaker Blog – Peter Lemos

Of all the design issues you face when you are creating a new kitchen the least understood may be how to choose colors that harmonize with each other. Each color you like may look divine on its own, but the whole design can be thrown off if it does not work with the whole. It’s like a singer in a chorus who is slightly out of tune. While most people understand this intuitively, they don’t always have a good grasp of what to do about it and how to make a good color scheme happen. Here are a few quick tips to help you to get your kitchen colors singing in the same key.
Forget the color wheel – You’ve probably seen countless articles extolling the color wheel as the key to all understanding when it comes to color. Not true _ that is unless you want to get a degree in physics along the way to painting your kitchen. The color wheel is meant to describe the relationship of primary, secondary and tertiary colors to each other. Most interior design colors are based on infinitely subtle mixes of mostly neutrals and earth tones and their many, many shades, tints and hues. Skip the physics lessons and trust your common sense.
Study Each Surface – The general color of your kitchen will be defined by the five primary types of surfaces (showplace-web-editplus your appliances) that go into creating the space: cabinets, counters, floors, walls and backsplash. Appliances are usually either white, black, stainless steel or finished with matching cabinet panels, and not generally central to the color scheme, but you need to decide what they will be early in the process, especially if you are hoping to use one of the bright blues or reds that are available as appliance colors. There are also important other elements like lighting, cookware, window trim and window treatments, among others, that you need to consider, although these should follow the lead of the larger elements.


Of these, the cabinets will provide at least half of the visible surface in your kitchen, so start there. Although most kitchen cabinets in America are some type of white or off-white, there are also hundreds of wood tones offered. Plus more colorful paints and stains have become increasingly popular in the past several years. On top of these are light washes and glazes that can add another subtle dimension to the color.

Find a Color you Love – If in your searches there is one delicious tile or countertop color that you have come to prize above all others, use that as a starting point and build out from there. Start by choosing the cabinet color that most harmonizes with it, since that color will dominate. Next consider the floors and the counters, they will have to harmonize with each other and with the cabinets. Having these two horizontal surfaces working together color wise will also add to the sense of horizontal space in your kitchen and make it feel larger.
Deconstruct Each Color – Even white comes in many different gradations from many manufacturers, and each white will use elements of other colors to create subtle undertones. It’s important to figure out what other colors are in the mix, something your paint dealer can help you with. When it comes to stone or quartz surfaces there may be four or five different color schemes going on within a single slab. Pull out each of these and use them as a basis for coordinating your other colors.
Trust your instincts – You know what colors generally work with each other, and you know what colors work for you. To verify your instincts, use lots of samples, mix and match them and try them out in your home until you have the mix you are most comfortable with. Remember there is not one single best mix, but perhaps dozens that will work, so go with what suits you. It is your kitchen after all.