8 popular kitchen hues and the surprising psychology behind each one – and the color you should always use with caution

Color can have a powerful impact on mood and emotions. When it comes to kitchen design, the hues you choose for your cabinets, walls, and decor can influence how you feel in this important space. While personal preference plays a role, color psychology offers insight into how different shades affect us.

As you explore popular kitchen color options, consider the psychology behind each hue. Some are energizing and appetite-stimulating, while others create a soothing, comforting vibe. Understand the implications of your choices to pick a palette that complements your lifestyle and personality.

Below are 8 trending kitchen colors along with the surprising psychology behind each one. We’ll also uncover the color you may want to use sparingly.

1. White

White may seem like a safe, neutral choice, but it actually represents cleanliness and encourages productivity. The starkness of white kitchen cabinets and walls provides a fresh backdrop conducive to focus. However, too much white can feel sterile.

The psychology:

  • Encourages efficiency and clear-mindedness
  • Conveys cleanliness and purity
  • Crisp, bright aesthetic feels open and airy
  • Too much can seem monotonous and cold

Use white to create a crisp, orderly look that promotes concentration and diligent work. Add in wood accents and greenery to warm up an all-white space.

2. Gray

From light dove to charcoal, gray kitchen cabinets are decidedly on-trend. Gray represents balance and neutrality. It’s associated with intuition and perceptiveness. The inherent coolness of gray comes across as calming and soothing.

The psychology:

  • Promotes balance and relaxation
  • Neutrality allows flexibility in design
  • Cool undertones are soothing and meditative
  • Dark grays can seem imposing without proper lighting

Incorporate gray cabinets or walls into your kitchen to cultivate peaceful vibes. Combine gray with pops of color through accessories and accent walls.

3. Navy Blue

Deep navy instantly creates drama and intrigue in the kitchen. It represents knowledge, power, and integrity. As an appetite stimulant, navy blue may just get those creative juices flowing. However, navy’s boldness requires thoughtful execution.

The psychology:

  • Stimulates creative thinking and conversation
  • Sense of authority and intelligence
  • Dark intensity needs adequate lighting
  • Can seem cold; pair with warm metallics and wood

Ground a daring navy blue kitchen with natural textures and materials. Metallics like brass and gold provide pleasing contrast.

4. Green

Green is inherently associated with nature, growth, and renewal. It encourages balance and harmony and reduces anxiety. Green also boosts vision and focus. Dark forest greens are particularly cozy for kitchen cabinets and walls.

The psychology:

  • Represents growth, life, and renewal
  • Promotes harmony, balance, and stability
  • Reduces stress and eyestrain
  • Can seem dark and dreary if poorly lit

Paint your lower cabinets a rich green and combine with light uppers for a pleasant, nature-inspired look. For maximum coziness, opt for forest green walls.

5. Black

Nothing is quite as dramatic as a black kitchen. This sophisticated hue represents power, mystery, and allure. Black encourages introspection and contemplation. Yet its darkness can feel confining if overdone.

The psychology:

  • Sense of depth, allure, and sophistication
  • Fosters introspection and inward focus
  • Can seem ominous and confining without proper lighting
  • Pairs well with contrasting materials like marble

Ground an inky-black kitchen with plenty of lighting. White countertops pop against the dark backdrop. Use black for cabinets or an accent wall.

6. Yellow

Sunny yellow infuses the kitchen with positivity, warmth, and cheer. It stimulates mental clarity, creativity, and concentration. While vibrant, yellow can cause eye fatigue if overused. Soft pastel yellows are soothing.

The psychology:

  • Stimulates happiness, optimism, and creativity
  • Encourages mental focus and clarity
  • Brightness can cause eye strain when overdone
  • Soft yellows are soothing and cheerful

Paint a single wall or island a happy yellow. Use brighter shades sparingly on cabinets or in small doses. For overall warmth, try pastel yellow cabinets.

7. Red

From bright cherry to burnt orange, red elicits passion, excitement, and appetite. In lively tones, it conveys sociability and courage. Deeper reds like burgundy create intimacy. But red can also overstimulate without balance.

The psychology:

  • Heightens passion, emotion, and appetite
  • Immediately stimulates and energizes
  • Promotes intimacy and allure in deeper tones
  • Can overwhelm without balance from other hues

Use bold red on a statement wall or island. Balance it with creams or blues. Save deep reds for an accent wall to create a warm, inviting ambiance.

8. Blue-Green

Serene blue-green evokes feelings of tranquility, renewal, and flow. These cool aqua tones represent stability and patience. Blue-green is said to stimulate problem-solving. As an accent, it adds a pleasant pop.

The psychology:

  • Evokes tranquility, renewal, and flow
  • Promotes stability and patience
  • Boosts problem-solving and concentration
  • Can seem unappetizing if overdone

Try light blue-green walls with warm wood cabinets for a calming but not clinical look. It’s perfect for adding visual interest and personality.

The color to use cautiously: Brown

While brown schemes can feel earthy and welcoming, borrowing too heavily from this hue can make a kitchen feel heavy and monotonous. Dark browns suggest stability but may come across as oppressive. Light browns lack vibrancy. Use brown as an accent alongside airier tones.

Designing Your Colorful Kitchen

Now that you know the psychology behind popular kitchen hues, how do you choose? Start by considering your personality and lifestyle. Active cooks may favor stimulating red or energizing yellow. Natural types drawn to green’s renewing vibe.

Texture and materials add dimension, like glossy cabinets or natural stone counters. Don’t overlook the impact of flooring and lighting when designing your colorful kitchen.

Bring in samples to visualize colors in the space. And don’t be afraid to get creative with paint techniques like ombre or colorblocking on cabinets. The psychology of color gives you a helpful starting point for choosing a palette that complements your life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Color Psychology

Kitchen color psychology raises plenty of questions for homeowners and designers alike. Here are answers to some of the most common queries.

What kitchen colors are in for 2022 and beyond?

Trends point to blue-greens, deep greens, navy, black, and dark browns gaining popularity for cabinets and walls. Warm metallics like brass and gold are also on the rise alongside classic white kitchens.

How do I choose the best kitchen colors for a small space?

In a small kitchen, stick with light, airy colors like soft whites and pastels to visually open up the room. Dark hues can make a petite kitchen feel closed in. Go for medium brightness and cool undertones.

Which paint finish is best for kitchen cabinets – glossy or matte?

This depends on your styling aims and the rest of the kitchen. Glossy finishes add vibrancy and visual interest. Matte is more subtle but can show imperfections. Match the finish to the cabinet style and your goals.

What color cabinets are most popular with buyers?

White remains the most popular cabinet color by far for a clean, classic look. However, gray is a top choice among buyers who want something a bit warmer. Navy blue kitchens are also growing in popularity.

Should you match kitchen cabinet and wall color?

Not necessarily. Contrasting cabinet and wall colors can look bold and striking. However, matching cabinets and walls (or choosing the same color family) does create a soothing cohesive look.

What is the psychology behind a yellow kitchen?

Yellow represents happiness, positivity, and creativity. It stimulates mental clarity and focus. A yellow kitchen boosts mood and feels energizing, especially when paired with white or gray for balance. Too much yellow can cause eye strain.

What kitchen color sells a house?

Popular opinion is that a white or light gray kitchen has the widest appeal to buyers. However, personalized color schemes using trending hues like navy, black, or green may attract buyers seeking something bold and contemporary.


The psychology behind color can guide your kitchen design selections and help you match the mood you want to achieve. Consider how different hues make you feel and cater to your personality. Remember to strike the right balance through texture, sheen, lighting, and contrasting woods.

While white remains classic, don’t shy away from navy blues, bold blacks, or moody greens to make a statement. Take color risks through accents and paint techniques if going all-in seems daunting. The right palette can enhance how you cook, entertain, and feel in your kitchen every day.