We asked a kitchen designer questions about designing a bold colored kitchen – this is what he advises

Designing a bold colored kitchen can be an exciting yet daunting task. The color palette you choose will have a huge impact on the overall look, feel and functionality of the space. To help guide readers on best practices when using vivid hues in the kitchen, we interviewed a top kitchen designer and asked him the key questions everyone has about creating a vibrant, colorful cooking space.

His insightful answers below provide expert perspective on how to tastefully incorporate bold colors into your kitchen remodel or redesign. From selecting shades that work together to avoiding common mistakes, this professional designer gives in-depth recommendations so you can confidently create a beautiful and functional kitchen with dramatic pops of color.

How to Choose the Right Bold Colors for Your Kitchen

Selecting the perfect bold colors for your kitchen remodel requires careful thought and planning. You want shades that complement each other without clashing. Our designer offers key tips on choosing colors that work:

Consider the Room’s Size and Layout

  • Smaller kitchens feel even smaller with dark, dramatic colors. Stick to lighter tones for a spacious look.
  • Large kitchens can handle bolder, darker hues without feeling closed in.
  • Color placement impacts perceived size too. Use vivid colors on walls, not cabinets, to avoid feeling boxed in.

Complementary and Contrasting Colors Work Best

  • Pairing complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) creates visual interest. Popular combos include blue/orange, red/green, yellow/purple.
  • Contrasting light and dark shades of one color (such as soft yellow walls with deep yellow cabinets) packs a punch.
  • Matching wall and cabinet colors in bold shades makes the space feel smaller.

Consider Undertones

  • Cool paint undertones (hints of blue/green) pair well with warm cabinet colors (red/yellow undertones). This contrast adds depth.
  • Warm paint colors (red/orange/yellow undertones) match better with cool toned cabinets (blue/green hints).

Choose a Focal Point

  • Use the boldest color on a focal feature, like a kitchen island. This anchors the room.
  • Soft muted tones on surrounding walls/cabinets keep the look cohesive.

Sample Color Palettes

  • Deep blue island and light blue-gray walls/cabinets
  • Vivid yellow on an accent wall, earthy brown on remaining walls
  • Bright white cabinets, deep orange island benchtop

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Bold Kitchen Colors

While vibrant kitchen colors create excitement, designers caution against going overboard. Some key errors to avoid include:

Don’t Use Too Many Bold Colors

  • Stick to 1-3 bold colors maximum. Too many looks disjointed.
  • Neutral white/beige for walls, cabinetry and flooring creates balance when combined with a bold island or accent wall.

Don’t Make the Entire Room Dark and Dramatic

  • Dark colors absorb light, making the kitchen feel small and enclosed.
  • Bright, airy windows/light fixtures counteract dark walls or cabinets. But too much darkness overwhelms.

Don’t Use Bright Flooring

  • Bold floors (especially patterns) compete with colorful walls, appliances, backsplashes.
  • Neutral light tile or wood tones keep the floor subtle.

Don’t Use Bright Colors Everywhere

  • Bold on the island benchtop, walls, cabinets AND backsplash is sensory overload.
  • Stick to one focal point for bold color (island or accent wall). Keep other elements neutral.

Don’t Make Cabinets and Walls Matching Bright Colors

  • Matching intense cabinet and wall color makes spaces feel boxed in.
  • Break it up with muted wall color and bold colored cabinets or vice versa.

Don’t Use Too Many Different Bold Colors

  • More than 3 bold colors feels disjointed, not coordinated.
  • Start with one bold color, then select 1-2 more that complement it.

Expert Tips for Incorporating Bold Color Trends

Beyond using bold colors on walls or cabinetry, there are many creative ways to work vibrant shades into your kitchen design. Our designer provided these pro tips for capitalizing on punchy color trends:

Vivid Kitchen Islands

  • Islands are prime real estate for dramatic paint colors. Bright hues here anchor the room.
  • Try deep blue or green for a trendy look. Bold black islands are striking too.
  • Contrast brightly colored islands with light countertops and muted walls.

Colorful Focal Walls

  • Use bold paint on a focal wall behind the sink or cooking range. Orange, green and purple work well.
  • Sections of accent tile in vivid patterns add flair too.
  • Flanking neutral walls keep the room balanced.

Retro Appliances

  • Incorporate retro-inspired appliances in bright colors like fire engine red, turquoise and sunshine yellow.
  • Pair with modern cabinetry and backsplash for eclectic contrast.
  • Limit to one or two appliances so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Vibrant Backsplashes

  • Use colored or patterned ceramic tile for the backsplash. Green, blue and orange are on-trend.
  • Colorful glass or handpainted tiles create artful focal points.
  • Extend vibrant backsplash tiles onto nearby walls for greater visual impact.

Dynamic Lighting

  • Incorporate pops of color with pendant lights or under-cabinet lighting in dramatic hues.
  • Vivid fixtures paired with neutral cabinetry makes the lighting the star.
  • Try red, yellow, blue or multi-colored lighting options.

Designer Recommendations: Popular Bold Color Combinations

When planning a bold colorful kitchen, it helps to consider proven color combinations that design experts recommend. Here are some of the most popular pairings:

Yellow and Gray

  • Buttery sunshine yellow draws the eye, contrasted by cool charcoal gray walls.
  • Bright yellow cabinets or an island pop against darker gray flooring.
  • For drama, use gray on lower cabinets and yellow uppers.

Blue and White

  • Cerulean blue island base or backsplash tiles pop against snowy white cabinets/walls.
  • Navy blue lower cabinets and soft blue uppers pair nicely with white marble counters.
  • Delftware tile in blue/white patterns makes a stunning focal backsplash.

Red and Black

  • Deep red island base contrasts beautifully with matte black cabinets and hardware.
  • Blood red wall at the cooking zone energizes the space.
  • Black and white checkered floors provide balance.

Orange and Brown

  • Vibrant orange walls or backsplashes breathe life into warm chestnut cabinetry.
  • For retro flair, opt for orange and chocolate brown checkerboard floor tiles.
  • An earthy brown island base calms bright orange upper cabinets.

Green and Wood Tones

  • Moss green cabinets offer organic contrast to natural wood countertops and floors.
  • For an edgier look, paint upper cabinets slick black and lowers forest green.
  • Wood paneling on one wall adds interest when paired with kiwi green tile.

Purple and Gray

  • Light gray cabinets/walls allow vibrant purple to take center stage on an island or focal wall.
  • Or make lavender the featured wall color against tons of trim gray cabinetry.
  • Metallic pewter hardware and stainless appliances keeps the look luxe.

Answering Designer Questions About Incorporating Bold Kitchen Colors

When interviewing our kitchen designer, we had the opportunity to ask specific questions homeowners commonly have when planning a colorful kitchen remodel. Below are the insightful answers and recommendations he provided.

Q: What finish on cabinets works best with bold walls?

For bold or dark wall colors, I recommend using cabinets with a gloss finish rather than flat or matte. The sheen reflects light around the room, keeping the space bright and airy. Flat cabinet finishes can absorb too much light and make a vibrant color scheme feel dark and heavy. Glossy cabinets also provide a nice contrast in texture from vividly painted walls.

Q: Do bold kitchens date quickly or stand the test of time?

It depends on the specific colors selected. Timeless, classic colors like navy blue, black, red and wood tones have longevity. Trendy bold colors that feel very specific to a particular era, like avocado green in mid-century kitchens, can feel dated after 10-15 years. To get the best of both worlds, focus bold color choices on replaceable elements like furnishings and accent walls that can easily be repainted. Keep permanent fixtures like cabinetry and countertops neutral.

Q: How can bold colors be incorporated into a small or awkward shaped kitchen?

In a smaller kitchen footprint, stick to lighter and brighter bold shades to avoid feeling closed in. Vivid light blue, soft yellow or green keep things airy. Instead of painting entire walls, use bold color strategically as an accent. Try a colorful glass tile backsplash, vibrant retro bar stools, or cheerful art prints. For awkward layouts, use symmetrical pops of color to help spaces feel balanced. An accent wall behind the stove and matching island base, for example, creates visual harmony.

Q: What type of flooring works with bold kitchen colors?

For flooring, it’s best to opt for muted and natural materials when using intense colors on walls, cabinetry or accents. Hardwood in neutral oak or walnut tones complements most color schemes. Or use large format light stone/concrete look tiles for budget-friendly durability. Stay away from patterned, heavily veined or colorful stone. This competes too much with vibrant walls and cabinets. Simple, understated flooring keeps the look cohesive.

Q: How can you avoid a bright kitchen looking childish?

Muted, complex colors on larger surfaces help a colorful kitchen feel refined and sophisticated versus playful. Deeper tones like navy, charcoal and eggplant feel elevated compared to bright primary colors. Metallic accents and hardware in gold, brass and bronze add polish. Layer in artisan tile, stone or wood surfaces. Use colorful finishes only on smaller accent points, not entire walls and cabinet sections. This creates a mature, curated look.

Q: Do all the cabinets have to match when using bold color?

Matching wall and cabinet colors in vivid shades can make a kitchen feel oppressive. But coordinating upper and lower cabinets in different bold hues feels disjointed. For the best cohesive look, I recommend bolder color on either all the uppers or lowers. Pair with muted color on the opposite cabinets. Or make an island or one wall of cabinets highly colorful, keeping the others subdued. This allows bold color to stand out as the intentional focal point.

Q: Is it best to match or avoid appliance colors?

Personally, I think matching appliances to bold cabinet colors looks overdone and distracting, especially with bolder reds, blues and yellows. All that matching color screams for attention. Appliances tend to look best when kept neutral to contrast all the drama. Simple stainless steel or classic white appliances with vivid cabinetry complements without competing. However, if your heart is set on colorful appliances, I would avoid matching them exactly to cabinetry. Choose an appliance color with the same undertones that coordinates rather than fully matches.

Designer Recommendations for Updating Dark, Drab Kitchens

Many homeowners have outdated kitchens dominated by dreary oak cabinets and beige or black appliances. Our designer weighed in with tips for transforming these dark and dated kitchens using strategic punches of bold color:

Paint Cabinets a Vibrant Main Color

  • White, gray or wood-toned cabinets tend to make small, dark kitchens feel even smaller.
  • Inject life with high-gloss color on base cabinets like emerald green, sapphire blue or bright yellow.
  • Pair with glossy white or light gray uppers for balance.

Add Pops of Contrast Color

  • Use bold contrast colors strategically on an island, bar stools or accent wall to energize the space.
  • Paint the island fire engine red or sunny orange for contrast.
  • Install a backsplash in bold teal mosaic tile with metallic grout.

Install Vintage-Inspired Tile

  • Incorporate retro-style tiles in orange, turquoise, red or chartreuse for a punch of fashionable color.
  • Use handpainted tiles to create a focal backsplash behind the cooking zone.
  • Or try black cube tiles with bold colors inside each cube for interest.

Opt for Colorful Finishes

  • Replace drab countertops with quartz or laminate in vivid solid hues like yellow, blue, red or green.
  • Paint the ceiling a dramatic dark color like navy blue to lower the eye.
  • Add a colorful glass pendant light fixture to illuminate the space.

Reconsider Flooring

  • Replace worn vinyl floors with glossy checkerboard tile in contrasting bold colors.
  • Or install hardwood stained a trendy hue like gray-blue for cozy modern appeal.
  • Bold patterned rugs over neutral floors can also introduce color.

Common Questions Homeowners Ask About Bold Kitchen Color Schemes

Deciding to use intense, dramatic colors in your kitchen design necessitates careful planning. Here our designer addresses common questions homeowners have when evaluating bold color options:

Q: How dark can you go with moody cabinet colors before a kitchen feels too small?

Darker colors like black, charcoal and deep navy make small spaces feel smaller if overdone. I’d recommend using them only on lower cabinets or an island to keep things visually open. Pair with light, airy uppers. Deep colors on entire walls overwhelm a room fast. Instead try the deep hue on just an accent wall or focal cabinet section, then use light neutrals opposite to keep the look balanced.

Q: Is it possible to use bold colors in a resale-focused kitchen remodel?

Absolutely, just be strategic with placement. Limit bold color to smaller accents like a backsplash or island that can be adapted by new owners. Neutral cabinetry has mass buyer appeal. Also stick to classic colors like blue, green and black rather than faddish bold pinks or purples. Focus dramatic color choices on less permanent elements like bar stools, light fixtures and art.

Q: What are the best eco-friendly cabinet and paint options for achieving bright colors?

For sustainably-sourced cabinets in vivid colors, opt for FSC-certified plywood construction over particle board. Many manufacturers offer stock cabinet colors like glossy turquoise, chartreuse and bright red. For bold painted cabinets, choose kitchen paint with zero VOCs and plastic-free packaging. Milk paint made from natural ingredients achieves beautiful matte vintage hues. For portion painting, use eco-friendly stains and gel stains in vibrant colors.

Q: Does a colorful kitchen make selling a home harder? Do most buyers prefer neutral?

Yes, many buyers gravitate to neutral, safer colors when viewing homes. But a tastefully executed colorful kitchen using classic versatile hues can still appeal to the masses. Here’s how to maximize appeal: Use bolder colors strategically only on replaceable points like an island. Choose enduring color combinations like navy and white. Make adjoining rooms neutral to offset the colorful kitchen. Make vibrant finishes swappable, like removable tile backsplashes. This allows potential buyers to envision adapting the space.

Q: How do you make a bold kitchen color scheme feel homey and inviting?

Warm metals, natural textures and houseplants help lively color palettes feel cozy and welcoming. Gold or bronze hardware/lighting adds a homey glow. Wood cutting boards, open shelving and slate tile counterbalances stark colors with organic elements. Hanging greenery softens spaces and is easy to incorporate. Finally, natural linen or cotton fabric on window coverings creates softness. These touches help modern colorful kitchens feel like home.

Achieving a Cohesive Yet Bold Kitchen Color Scheme

The key to successfully using vivid, intense colors in your kitchen remodel is blending them cohesively. Follow these designer tips to create a seamless, holistic look:

Transition Colors Throughout the Space

Use bolder colors in some spaces, then gradually transition to lighter more muted shades in adjoining areas. For example, paint the main kitchen space emerald green, use a sage green dining room, and finish with light beige walls in the living room. This creates flow.

Repeat Color Motifs

Incorporate pops of the same colors in different areas. If using a teal blue island, repeat it on bar stools and accent tiles on the walls. This repetition of color creates visual harmony.

Echo Colors in Nearby Rooms

Pull inspiration colors for the kitchen from surrounding living spaces. For example, reference the brown leather sofa or blue accent chair to also use those tones in the kitchen color scheme.

Layer in Natural Colors

Balance dramatic colors with natural wood and stone elements. Oak shelves, marble counters and rattan light pendants tone down bright colors while adding cozy texture.

Carry Colors Onto Adjacent Walls

Continue kitchen wall colors like red or green onto the nearest walls of hallways or open floor plan areas. This makes the vibrant colors feel intentional versus random.

Up the Lighting

Abundant lighting stops moody dark colors from feeling too heavy and enclosed. Use vivid pendants plus recessed lighting. Try dimmable fixtures to set the desired mood.


Designing a kitchen with bold, vibrant color requires thoughtful planning but delivers serious wow-factor. As our designer interview reinforced, carefully chosen colors invigorate a dull neutral space while still feeling cohesive if strategically applied. Combining his expert guidance here with your own color preferences and kitchen layout, you can confidently incorporate intense hues to create a showstopping cooking space that both impresses guests and functions beautifully. With vivid colors, you don’t have to sacrifice style for practicality. Focus intense shades on smaller accents or individual walls, then balance with lighter neutrals for a livable, energizing kitchen suited to daily life.