What color cabinets make a kitchen look bigger? space-enhancing colors


The color of your kitchen cabinets can have a significant impact on how spacious your kitchen feels. While dark cabinetry can look sleek and stylish, it will likely make your kitchen appear smaller and more closed in. If creating the illusion of a larger, more open kitchen is your goal, then choosing cabinet colors that will brighten up and open up the space is key.

So what are the best cabinet colors for small kitchens that want to look bigger? Stick with light, airy colors like white, light gray, cream, beige and pale blue. These hues will reflect light and make your kitchen look more expansive. Avoid darker colors like black, dark brown or navy blue. Combining your light cabinets with other space-enhancing elements like mirrors and glass-front cabinets will also maximize the feeling of openness.

Below we’ll explore the best cabinet paint colors for small kitchens in more detail, along with tips on how to use color schemes, countertops and backsplashes to make your tiny kitchen look absolutely spacious.

White Cabinets Make Small Kitchens Look Bigger

One of the most popular cabinet colors for opening up small kitchens is white or off-white. The light and bright color reflects light, making the space appear larger and airier. White cabinets create a clean, crisp backdrop for your kitchen design, allowing other elements like your backsplash or accent colors to really stand out.

There are a few options when choosing a white for your cabinetry:

  • Pure Bright White – This true, stark white will give you a contemporary, sleek look. Use it in modern or contemporary kitchens.
  • Off-Whites – Softer whites like cream, ivory, buttery yellow or antique white provide a more traditional or vintage feel. They make for an especially inviting farmhouse kitchen.
  • White With a Hint of Color – Whites with just a touch of gray, blue or green provide a light but slightly cooler tone. It’s just enough color to avoid a clinical feel.

To keep your white cabinets looking bright and fresh, opt for durable finishes like high-gloss enamel or polyurethane that wipe clean easily. Matte and satin finishes will show dirt, water spots and wear more over time.

White upper cabinets paired with lighter wood lowers or an island is a nice combination to keep your kitchen looking light and spacious. Avoid lower cabinets that are too dark as this can close off the room.

Light Gray Cabinets Open Up Small Spaces

For a lighter look than classic white, light gray is another go-to shade for opening up small kitchens. The soft gray reflects light nearly as well as white but provides a more sophisticated, neutral palette to design around.

Cool-toned grays create a sleek modern feel. Warm grays with beige or taupe undertones provide a softer, more relaxed look. Keep in mind warmer grays can start to look moody or muddy if too dark so keep them light.

Popular light gray kitchen cabinet colors include:

  • Foggy Gray
  • Soft Gray
  • Silver Gray
  • Light French Gray
  • Ash Gray
  • Gray Cloud

Combine your light gray cabinets with crisp white countertops and contemporary styled hardware for a trendy vibe. Or pair with warm wood butcher block counters for a rustic cottage style.

Gray and white used together is a winning combination. Try gray uppers with crisp white lowers or a light gray island with white perimeter cabinetry.

Creamy Off-White or Beige Cabinets Brighten Up Small Kitchens

For a slightly warmer, softer look than bright white, creamy off-whites and light beiges are excellent kitchen cabinet colors for small spaces. The pale neutrals add a cozy, welcoming vibe while still reflecting light to open up the room.

Some good off-white and beige shades for small kitchen cabinets include:

  • Cream
  • Eggshell
  • Oyster White
  • Buttercream
  • Bisque
  • French Vanilla
  • Creamy Ivory
  • Linen or Cotton

Beiges with yellow, peach or pink undertones especially bring a sweet cottage charm to small kitchen designs.

Pair your cream cabinets with natural wood countertops and backsplash tiles for a rustic farmhouse kitchen. Or go for sleek quartz counters and subway tiles to get a more contemporary edge.

Pale Blue Cabinets for a Relaxing Small Kitchen

Soft, pale blue is another color that can visually expand a small kitchen. The tranquil hue brings a calming, spa-like feel to the room. It creates a light, ethereal look but is just enough color to avoid an all-white kitchen feeling sterile.

Some of the best light blue shades for opening up small kitchens include:

  • Baby Blue
  • Cloud Blue
  • Horizon Blue
  • Sky Blue
  • Ice Blue
  • Airy Blue
  • Light Periwinkle

Try pale blue upper cabinets against crisp white lowers for a coastal cottage vibe. Or use it on the island against a backdrop of white or light gray perimeter cabinets.

Incorporate some beachy elements like beadboard paneling, antique glass knobs, and nautical decor for a shipshape style.

Space-Enhancing Color Combinations for Small Kitchens

Using two complimentary light colors on your cabinets is an excellent technique for opening up a small kitchen visually.

  • White and Light Gray
  • White and Pale Blue
  • White and Creamy Off-White
  • Light Gray and Soft Blue

Varying shades of the same color can also make a small kitchen look larger:

  • Darker Navy Blue Island with Lighter Sky Blue Uppers
  • Gray Cloud Lowers with Cool Silver Gray Uppers

Don’t be afraid to use three light colors together for even more visual interest. Just keep the overall look light and bright.

  • White Perimeter Cabinets + Light Gray Island + Pale Blue Open Shelves

Painting the interior backs of glass front cabinets a lighter color than the main cabinets frame is another smart trick that makes them essentially disappear, opening up the room.

Countertops and Backsplashes that Make Small Kitchens Look Bigger

Your cabinet color provides the backdrop but countertops and backsplashes are also important elements that can expand or contract a kitchen visually.


  • White or light-colored solid surface countertops like quartz coordinate beautifully with light cabinets, adding to the spacious look.
  • Butcher block or light wood counters warm up contemporary spaces with light cabinets.
  • Glossy surfaces like glass or polished quartz reflect more light.
  • Dark granites and solid surfaces can look overly heavy and darken the space.


  • Mirror or glass tile instantly makes small kitchens look larger by reflecting light.
  • Glossy ceramic and stone tiles in whites or light colors enhance brightness.
  • Don’t go above standard backsplash height – 4-6 inches high is plenty.
  • Dark backsplashes can close in light cabinetry.

8 Tips for Making a Small Kitchen Look Bigger

Incorporate these design strategies along with your space-enhancing cabinet color to maximize the feeling of openness in your petite kitchen.

1. Add Mirrors

Mirrors reflect light and create the illusion of more space. Try:

  • Full wall of mirrored tiles or backsplash
  • Mirror tile accents behind cooking zone
  • Hanging mirrored panels on walls
  • Mirrored glass fronts on cabinets and open shelving

2. Install Glass Cabinet Doors

Glass fronts on wall and base cabinets let light flow through, making the kitchen feel more expansive.

3. Use Glass Pendant Lights

Hanging glass pendants allow light to filter down through them, opening up the room visually.

4. Create an Open Floor Plan

Removing walls between the kitchen and other rooms creates sightlines that make the space appear larger.

5. Add Windows and Skylights

More natural light streaming in will instantly brighten and open up a small, closed in kitchen.

6. Build Up Storage Vertically

Tall upper cabinets and shelving units draw the eye up, giving the illusion of higher ceilings.

7. Use Light Flooring

Light hardwoods, luxury vinyl plank or painted floors make a small kitchen feel more spacious than dark floors.

8. Avoid Clutter

Keep countertops clean and free of small appliances and accessories that can make a petite kitchen feel more crowded.

Space-Enhancing Color FAQs

What is the best color for small kitchen cabinets?

The best colors for small kitchen cabinets are light, reflective shades like white, light gray, cream, soft blues and green-grays. These airy hues will brighten up the space and make it look more expansive.

What color cabinets make a kitchen look bigger?

White, light gray, soft blue, pale yellow, cream and ivory cabinetry will make a kitchen look brighter and more spacious. Avoid darker colors like espresso, black or navy blue in a small kitchen.

What color cabinets open up a small kitchen?

Light, reflective colors are the best for opening up a small kitchen visually. White and various shades of light gray work wonderfully to make a petite kitchen appear more spacious and airy.

What color cabinets go with a small kitchen?

White, light gray, pale blue and soft yellow are ideal cabinet colors for small kitchens. Buttery cream tones and light wood stains can also give a cozy cottage feel. Use lighter colors on lower cabinets and uppers.

What color floor makes a small kitchen look bigger?

Light colored floors such as light hardwood, white or very pale painted floors, or luxury vinyl plank in white oak or light gray tones will make a small kitchen look more expansive. Dark floors can close in the space.

What backsplash is best for a small kitchen?

Glossy mirror, glass or metallic tile backsplashes reflect light and make a small kitchen look larger. Whites, light grays and pale blues are good backdrop colors. Keep the area below upper cabinets clean and free of busy patterns.

What color countertops make kitchen look bigger?

Light countertops like white, light gray or cream quartz coordinate beautifully with light cabinets and make a small kitchen look more spacious. Butcher block and light natural wood tops also look great. Avoid dark granites and solid surfaces.


The strategic use of reflective light colors like white, pale gray, soft blue and creamy ivory on your kitchen cabinetry can work magic in opening up and expanding a small kitchen visually. Combine your light cabinets with glass fronts, glossy backsplashes and streamlined storage solutions to maximize the spacious illusion. With the right color palette and design choices, you can enjoy all the function of a tiny kitchen with the bright, expansive look and feel of a larger space.