Colors You Should Never Paint a Pantry – Designers Share the Shades They Swerve


When it comes to painting a pantry, choosing the right color palette is crucial. The wrong colors can make your pantry feel smaller, darker and generally unappealing. That’s why we asked interior designers about the shades they avoid when painting a pantry. Keep reading to find out colors you should never paint a pantry and why top designers steer clear of these hues.

Why Color Choice Matters in a Pantry

The pantry is one of the most functional spaces in your home. You likely go in and out of it multiple times a day while cooking, baking and prepping meals. Since you use it so frequently, you want your pantry to promote a feeling of warmth, calm and organization.

The right color scheme can help achieve this, while the wrong colors can have the opposite effect. Dark, bold colors tend to make pantries feel cramped and cave-like. Meanwhile, too-bright shades can give off a sterile, uninviting vibe.

So when painting a pantry, it pays to be strategic with your color selection. The hues you choose will affect both the aesthetic and utility of this space. Keep reading as designers reveal the specific shades to avoid.

Colors to Avoid in a Pantry and Why

Here are the pantry paint colors interior designers recommend you steer clear of and the reasons why:

Bright Whites

A bright, sterile white may seem like an obvious pantry color choice, but designers say to avoid it! Suzy Holleran of Suzy Holleran Design says super white hues like glossy white or antique white can make a pantry feel “cold and unfriendly.”

Instead, she recommends warmer off-whites like Swiss coffee, accessible beige or oyster white. Benjamin Moore’s Decorators White is another designer favorite. These shades add a soft, welcoming feel.

Jet Black

Some mistakenly think a rich black hue gives a pantry a sophisticated, upscale look. However, designer Melanie Coddington warns that black can make a pantry feel dark and dreary.

“Black absorbs light and can make a pantry feel smaller and more cave-like,” she explains. Instead of a harsh black, Coddington likes soft charcoal or even a deep green for a lush feel.

Fire Engine Red

Red is an energetic hue that works well in dining rooms. But interior designer Debra May suggests avoiding bold reds in pantries. “Fire engine red and other strong reds can feel aggressive and overpowering in a small pantry,” she says.

“If you want to use red, go for muted brick reds instead for a subtle pop of color,” May recommends. Sherwin Williams’ Redend Point is one brick hue she likes for pantries.

Neon Yellow

Some paint bright yellow in a pantry hoping it will feel cheerful. However, designer Kelly Deck says neon yellows almost always backfire.

“Bright lemon or banana yellows overwhelm the eye in a small pantry space,” Deck explains. She says soft creamy yellows work better for an uplifting feel. Try Benjamin Moore’s Sundance or Sherwin Williams’ Creamy for a mellow yellow.

Best Paint Colors for Pantries

Now that you know which shades designers avoid for pantries, here are some of their top recommended colors:

Neutral Grays

Designer Amy Lau loves neutral grays like Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl or Sherwin Williams’ Mindful Gray for pantries. “These muted grays don’t feel sterile like bright whites and provide a soothing, spacious look,” says Lau.

Mauves and Lilacs

Mauve and lilac hues bring a pretty pop of color to pantries without being overpowering. Nicole White of Nicole White Designs recommends hues like Wisteria Petal or Vintage Lilac for a soft, feminine feel.

Sage Greens

Since green is associated with abundance and nature, it’s a fitting hue for a pantry. Designer Monique Valeris prefers muted green shades like Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal or Sherwin Williams’ Meander Blue. “Sage greens give off an earthy, relaxing vibe,” she says.

navy blue

Another classic pantry hue is navy blue – but be sure to avoid royal navy, which can appear too bold. Sue Firestone of Staging Studio recommends navy blues with gray undertones like Sherwin Williams’ Raindance or Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. “These sophisticated blues look crisp and timeless,” she says.

Tips for Painting a Pantry

Once you settle on a color scheme, keep these tips in mind when painting:

  • Use semi-gloss or satin paint for easy wipe-downs. High-gloss can be too reflective.
  • Paint the ceiling bright white to enhance the feeling of airiness.
  • Add cord covers andfloating shelves in a matching or contrasting tone.
  • Incorporate decorative touches like stencils for additional flair.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pantry Paint Colors

Here are answers to some common questions about choosing paint colors for pantries:

Should I just paint my pantry white?

White is a common pantry color, but some shades can come across as sterile and harsh. Warmer off-whites like Swiss Coffee or Decorators White are better options.

How dark a color can I go for a small pantry?

Avoid bold blacks and navys in pint-sized pantries. Deep charcoals and greens will feel richer without being overwhelming.

Should I paint inside the cabinets too?

Yes, painting inside the cabinets the same color as walls makes spaces feel more streamlined. Use cabinet enamel for a shiny finish that wipes clean easily.

Should pantry doors be the same color?

For a cohesive look, paint doors and trim the same color. If you want the door to stand out, choose a contrasting or bold hue.


Choosing the wrong pantry paint colors can make this space feel dark, tense and gloomy. Avoid harsh whites, heavy blacks, bold reds and neon brights. Instead, opt for muted grays, greens, blues and mauves. Consider the feeling you want – soft and feminine, airy, earthy, sophisticated. Then select subtle hues that will promote that vibe. With the right colors, your pantry will feel fresh, calm and inviting each time you walk in.