Coveting Colorful Kitchen Cabinets

Duo-tone kitchen cabinet inspiration for a 1950s kitchen refresh.

Hey there, you’re probably a lot like me when it comes to the DIY makeover thing. Wanting instant gratification with the snap of your fingers, over the course of a single weekend, with one quick and easy update that will make your home look so pretty like a photo out of a design magazine. In reality, sometimes things take longer, and I’m living proof of that with the kitchen updates that I scoped out as my big New Years Resolution. No one is still talking about New Years Resolutions, right? Right. Just me. In July.

Painting the cabinets in my 1950s kitchen has been high on the top of the list, but for obvious reasons (snow! ice! extreme cold!), I couldn’t easily refinish them in middle of winter in New York State. Summer and Fall are much more appropriate seasons for a project like this, at a time when the temps are friendlier for ventilation and for paint curing.

I like to do a lot of researching too before I start big projects – this usually involves researching period-appropriate mid-century paint colors, paint brands, finishes, techniques, etc. Honestly, we do love the natural wood of the cabinetry (see some of the original kitchen photos here), it’s the fact that the base cabinets have already been painted that make us feel that giving them an entirely new look will help to unify the kitchen, and give it a nice refresh.

Trying on Cabinet Colors

Being married to an artist is a luxury in the sense that you can use Photoshop to manipulate colors before committing, but I’ve also been known to take a paint brush to paper to get a better sense of how a color will look in the home (just check out my technique for picking staircase paint colors).

Seeing the kitchen through the eyes of a Photoshop filter really helps to visualize how the space would look if the top and bottom cabinets were very dark. The rest of our home is maple and white, so this would be a big contrast. In this scenario, I could even see leaving the floors as-is with the lighter color to keep the space from looking too dark.

Should you change the color of the floors if you paint your cabinets a dark color?

Photoshop also lets me experiment with fun colors. In our initial discussions, neither of us were so open to being daring with color in this space, and were quick to dismiss a sunny yellow. But here? I actually can visualize it in the space, and I think I might like it. I also like to see how it might look if the top cabinets were a different color.

Painted yellow kitchen cabinets.

While countertops and floors were not part of our original scope, I have been pricing out options, you know, just in case. Dark countertops would be great, but whether or not floors are necessary seems to depend more on the base cabinet color.

Assorted 1950's colors used for kitchen cabinet painting.

There are a lot of great color options on our short list right now, so it’s going to be tough to make a final decision. And of course, he threw in a Buffalo Bills-themed kitchen just for kicks. Cute, but no thank you, honey.

A neutral kitchen vs. a Buffalo Bills themed kitchen.

For more inspiration on colorful kitchen cabinets, check out this image gallery!

5 Responses

  1. WoW! I didn't try this before. I want to try it now. Thanks!

  2. Michele says:

    This is a lovely shade of grey for kitchen cabinets and looks so good with a simple white backsplash (they have the white countertops as well): http://www.houzz.com/photos/2738110/Remodel-Whole

  3. Michele says:

    There are no PhotoShop images that show the color of your current countertop (it looks white in the older photos). For budget purposes, since you have an entire house and yard to tend to, I would work with the current flooring since it looks nice and keep the current countertop (if it's in good shape) till you do the major renovation.

    Here is a link to a Houzz photo of a kitchen that I think would look great — it has the white countertops (see the cabinetry up against the wall), and the colors would work with your current flooring. They have a medium gray on the cabinets with a very light gray on the walls (if you compare the wall color to the white baseboard, you can see it is gray).
    http://www.houzz.com/photos/1975713/Heather-and-B

    They have black appliances to accent the area, but you could use black items (like a vase, plates, or canister set) as your accents. The medium gray also looks great with white appliances.

    Personally, I love color on the walls and would have went with a sage green on the wall and backsplash area and painted the cabinetry white, but you have a modern style to your cabinets and what I described is a cottage-y color theme. I went with the Java gel stain and inexpensive faux tin backsplash (wallpaper) to work with the new countertop that was already in my house, but I'm already looking forward to the day when I paint the cabinets white and get a new countertop and backsplash. I do prefer the lighter, more airy feeling in my home since I don't have as much natural light coming into my kitchen as you do with the large window over the sink.

    Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will turn out great!

  4. [...] narrowing down between – there is definitely one that we keep gravitating towards (guess?). Have a look at all of the options in this post on Made + Remade, and weigh in with your own thoughts over [...]

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About Emily Fazio 

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I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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