The Complete Guide to Picking the Best Color for Your Kitchen Cabinets

The color of your kitchen cabinets can have a major impact on the overall look, feel, and functionality of your kitchen. Whether you’re embarking on a full kitchen remodel or simply looking to breathe new life into existing cabinetry with a fresh coat of paint, choosing the right color is key.

With so many color options to consider, from trendy greens to timeless whites and everything in between, deciding on the best color for your kitchen cabinets can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!

How Cabinet Color Impacts Your Kitchen

While it may seem like a purely aesthetic choice, the color of your kitchen cabinets has some important practical implications as well. Here are some of the key ways cabinet color can impact your kitchen:

Influences the Overall Mood and Emotion

Color has the power to evoke certain feelings, moods, and emotions. For example, lighter white or beige cabinets tend to create a fresh, airy ambiance, while bold jewel tones like navy or emerald green make more of a dramatic statement. Choosing cabinet colors that elicit the desired emotional response for your space is key.

Affects Perception of Space and Dimensions

The color of your cabinetry can work to visually expand or contract the boundaries of your kitchen. Lighter colors like white or light gray can make a small kitchen appear larger and more open. Darker cabinet colors have the opposite effect, creating a cozier, more intimate aesthetic.

Impacts How Other Elements and Finishes Are Perceived

Kitchen cabinet colors don’t exist in a vacuum. They interact with and impact the look of other finishes like countertops, backsplashes, flooring, and paint colors on surrounding walls. Make sure to choose a cabinet color that complements these other elements. For example, warm wood cabinetry pairs nicely with neutral countertops while cool-toned gray cabinets help balance out a warm brick backsplash.

Influences Resale Value

While you should choose a color you love rather than worrying about resale value, it is a factor to keep in mind. Neutral cabinet colors like white, beige, and gray tend to appeal to the widest range of buyers. Bolder colors like navy or bright red might be polarizing. Of course, if you plan to stay in your home long-term, don’t shy away from picking a color that brings you joy!

best color for kitchen cabinets

Most Popular Kitchen Cabinet Color Options

Now that you know how impactful cabinet color can be, let’s look at some of the most popular kitchen cabinet color options along with the pros, cons, and things to keep in mind for each one.


It’s no surprise white reigns supreme when it comes to popular kitchen cabinet colors. Crisp, fresh, and light, white cabinets suit any design aesthetic from modern to farmhouse. The downside is that white shows dirt, grease, and wear more easily than other colors. However, white is a versatile blank canvas that allows other elements like hardware, countertops, and artwork to shine.

Light Gray

For those seeking a slightly warmer alternative to bright white, light gray delivers a sophisticated, neutral palette. More durable than white, light gray hides fingerprints and grease better. Just take care not to go too cool-toned with the gray, as it can read icy in some kitchens. Aim for a soft, warm gray with just a hint of beige.

Navy Blue

While dramatically dark navy cabinets may not be for everyone, this rich shade makes a gorgeous statement and pairs perfectly with many existing kitchen elements. Stainless steel appliances, marble countertops, brass fixtures, and exposed wood beams feel right at home against a backdrop of navy cabinets. Just take lighting and kitchen size into consideration before committing to such a bold, saturated shade.


Much like navy, black kitchen cabinets offer instant drama and sophistication. Black can feel modern and edgy or classic and timeless depending on the style of cabinetry and surrounding elements. Use black cabinets to create a moody, cozy aesthetic or ground an ultra-contemporary space. Just keep in mind black shows every fingerprint and requires diligent cleaning to keep up appearances.

Wood Tones

While wood cabinets aren’t technically a “color,” they remain a popular option thanks to their warm, natural aesthetic. Walnut, maple, cherry, oak, and ash are some go-to wood species for cabinetry. The amazing wood grain provides depth and visual interest. Just keep in mind that, like white, these lighter wood cabinets will show wear and require extra care.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Cabinet Color

No two kitchens are the same, so the ideal cabinet color for your space will depend on taking the following factors into consideration:

Existing Kitchen Elements

As mentioned earlier, your cabinet color doesn’t exist in isolation, but rather works in concert with other finishes and elements throughout your kitchen. Consider your countertops, backsplash, flooring, and paint colors on surrounding walls. Your cabinet color should complement these existing elements rather than clashing with them.

Natural Lighting

The amount and quality of natural light your kitchen receives should inform your cabinet color selection. North-facing kitchens with limited sunlight can get away with deeper, dramatic colors like navy or charcoal since the space won’t become overly dark. Meanwhile, south-facing kitchens awash in sun are best served by lighter cabinet colors to keep things bright and airy.

Kitchen Size

Smaller kitchens should stick with light, reflective colors to make the space feel open and expansive. Medium to large kitchens have more flexibility. But again, take natural lighting into consideration and use darker colors strategically in brightly lit areas or on lower cabinets to avoid making things feel too dark and cramped.

Personal Taste and Style

While considering the practical impact of color is important, your personal preferences and innately drawn to must also come into play. After all, you’ll be living with these cabinets, so choose something that makes you smile! Are you attracted to the clean simplicity of white, or does your heart sing for emerald cabinets? Go with your gut.

Different Cabinet Paint Finishes to Consider

In addition to choosing the actual color for your kitchen cabinets, the specific paint finish you opt for will also affect the overall look. Here are some top paint finish options along with the pros and cons of each:


As the name implies, high-gloss cabinet paint has an ultra-reflective, shiny surface. It provides good protection and durability. However, it also highlights any imperfections. High-gloss works best on cabinet doors and fronts where its striking, mirrored effect can be shown off.


Offering a silky smooth finish with just a subtle sheen, satin is a popular choice. It resists staining and cleans up easily. Satin provides a hint of luster while still hiding minor imperfections well. This versatility makes it suitable for both cabinet boxes and doors.


With a completely flat, non-reflective finish, matte cabinet paint minimizes irregularities like sanding marks. However, it requires gentle cleaning and does not offer as much protection as higher sheen paints. Matte looks stunning on modern styles where its velvety effect provides contrast to sleek lines and handles.

Prepping Your Cabinets for a Fresh Coat of Paint

Achieving a flawless, professional painted finish requires diligent prep work. Here are the key steps:

Clean Surfaces

Remove all hardware and clean cabinet boxes and doors thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner. Fill any holes from old hardware.

Sand Lightly

Use 220 grit sandpaper to scuff surfaces for better paint adhesion. Don’t strip down to bare wood.

Spot Fill Imperfections

Fill any cracks, holes, or indentations with wood filler and sand smooth when dry.


Prime all surfaces with a high-bonding primer before painting for professional results.

Applying Cabinet Paint

Careful application yields a smooth, consistent finish:

Spraying vs. Brushing

Spraying cabinet paint results in the most flawless finish but requires removing doors and drawers. Brushing works well if spray equipment is unavailable.

Types of Paint

Use cabinet paint or enamel rather than standard wall paint. Both provide a durable, scrubbable finish.

Use a Foam Roller

Apply paint in thin, even coats with a high density foam roller if not spraying.

Multiple Light Coats

Build up the finish with 2-3 thin coats. Thick coats risk sagging and drips.

Allow Proper Dry Times

Let each coat dry thoroughly before adding another. This prevents unfinished paint from being sealed in.

Should You Paint or Stain Your Cabinets?

If you have wood cabinets, deciding whether to paint or stain them is another important choice. Here are some pros and cons of each option:

Painted Cabinets


  • Wide range of colors from bold to neutral
  • Consistent, uniform finish across all cabinets
  • Easier to touch up/change color down the road


  • Obscures natural wood grain
  • Prone to chipping over time

Stained Cabinets


  • Highlights beautiful wood grain
  • Range of stain shades from light to dark
  • Less prone to visible damage vs. paint


  • Color/finish variations across different cabinets
  • Difficult to change/touch up stain color

Trending and Unique Kitchen Cabinet Color Combinations

If you’re seeking to make a bold statement with your kitchen design, consider incorporating one of the following trending two-tone or mixed cabinet finishes:

Two-Toned Cabinets

Choose one color for upper cabinets and a different color for lowers. Popular combos include white uppers with navy or green lowers or light gray uppers with black or charcoal lowers.

Contrasting Island

Make your kitchen island a focal point by selecting a completely different color from the main cabinetry. Try black island cabinets against light gray mains.

Mix of Painted and Stained

Introduce visual interest by pairing, say, stained walnut uppers with crisp white painted lowers. Uppers highlight wood grain while lowers offer storage-friendly durability.

Caring for and Maintaining Colored Kitchen Cabinets

All that time and effort choosing your perfect kitchen cabinet color will be wasted if you don’t properly care for and maintain the finish. Here are some tips:

Clean Regularly

Wash cabinet surfaces and doors weekly using a mild cleaner and soft microfiber cloth. Avoid harsh chemicals.

Reapply Protective Clear Coat

For painted cabinets, reapply a clear topcoat every year to protect the finish and refresh the color.

Touch Up Paint as Needed

Spot repair any chips or damage to keep cabinets looking their best. Always use matching original paint.

Selecting the perfect color for your kitchen cabinets is an exciting process full of possibilities. While trends come and go, the right color has the power to make your kitchen shine for years to come. Hopefully this guide has armed you with the info and inspiration you need to confidently move forward.

We recommend keeping resale value in mind but not letting it prevent you from choosing a color you genuinely love. After all, this is your space to enjoy day in and day out. Use the tips and factors provided to make an informed decision based on your specific kitchen and lifestyle.

And remember, don’t be afraid to take chances with bold colors! Green and blue kitchens are having a major moment. That unexpected pop of color can really make your kitchen stand out while showcasing your personal style.

Need more help bringing your dream kitchen color scheme to life? Reach out today to enlist the services of our team of kitchen design experts. We can’t wait to collaborate with you on a kitchen cabinet color that perfectly suits your space and personality.

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