How to Choose Colors for Your Massachusetts Kitchen Remodel

Photo: Steve Larkin

Color is one of the first things we notice when we walk into a room. Color can affect your mood, your heart rate, and even your appetite!

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel in the Beverly, MA area, you’ve probably started thinking about colors.

But how can you tell which colors will look good together? Why do some colors look good on a paint swatch but not on your wall? What should you do if you already have appliances picked out?

This guide will show you how to create a kitchen color scheme you love! We’ll go over:

  • The importance of your color preferences
  • Color psychology
  • Color theory and the color wheel
  • Building on current kitchen features
  • Tools and resources for choosing colors

Let’s get started!

Finding Colors You Actually Like

The reality is, heading out to look at paint chips isn’t really the best way to pick colors you’ll enjoy seeing in your kitchen every day. Colors have a different effect in smaller doses than they do on large surfaces. You also may find that certain colors don’t look good next to appliances, artwork, or other kitchen items.

Your best bet is to choose an overall kitchen style or aesthetic you like and narrow in on colors from there. For example, if you love the French country look, you may want to stick to warm creamy colors, like yellows and even some pinks or purples.

If you prefer a more minimalist aesthetic, you might like cooler colors like gray and white with a bright accent color mixed in. This clean, high-contrast kitchen with red accents is a good example:

Many people in Beverly, MA, and the North Shore have historic (or historic-inspired) properties. If that sounds like your home, you might like this palette of historically accurate paint colors.

It’s all about working with your home’s style and knowing what you like. If you can do that, the rest comes more easily.

Color Psychology 101

Most homeowners care about how color makes them feel when they walk into the kitchen. In general, warm colors are energizing while cool colors tend to be more calming and relaxing.

Warm colors are popular choices for the kitchen because they wake you up, motivate you, and can even stimulate your appetite! Soft oranges, reds, yellows, and other citrus colors are great choices! Some people even believe the color orange helps your body digest food. If a natural palette is more your style, off-white and cream are other in-demand kitchen colors.

Kitchen Remodel in Beverly, MA with warm colors

Kitchen Remodel in Beverly, MA with warm colors

Cool colors, like soft blues, can work in the kitchen too. A gentle green is another great choice -- green is a relaxing color but it’s also known for making people feel cheerful, optimistic, and even mentally energized.

Check out this big Color Psychology Chart from Lifehacker for more information on what moods and feelings are associated with different colors. 

When it comes to color psychology, there’s not one “perfect color.” What really matters is the shade, tint, and tone of whatever color you choose. To understand that, we have to talk about color theory and how you can use it to choose color combinations. Ready?

Understanding Color Theory

Interior designers use color theory to make decisions about which colors to use together. Color theory explains:

  • Why some colors look better together than others 
  • Why mixing two colors gives you a new color

The best part is, you don’t have to have great color instincts if you understand color theory!

The easiest place to start is the color wheel.

plain-color-wheel.jpg

How to Use the Color Wheel

We can all see when two colors look good together, but it’s not always easy to explain why. Let’s look at a few different types of color combinations that color theory tells us look good:

Complementary Colors Look Good:

Have you ever noticed that scarlet and turquoise look good together? That’s because they’re complimentary colors. 

Complementary colors are colors that lie directly across from each other on the wheel. These high-contrast colors make an eye-catching combination that’s naturally pleasing to the eye. Using complementary colors is a great choice if you want something to stand out or make a statement.

Split complementary color combinations use three colors: one color plus the two colors adjacent to its true complementary color. You still get a nice contrast, but a slightly softer one.

complementary-colors.jpg

Harmonious Colors Look Good:

You can think of harmonious colors (a.k.a. analogous colors) as the opposite of complementary colors. Instead of a contrast, you’re using colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel

Think about how many harmonious colors appear together in nature: ocean and sky, fall leaves, pebbles by the river, the list goes on. Choosing harmonious colors is a great way to go for a monochromatic look without being too matchy-matchy.

Triadic Colors Look Good:

Triadic colors are an option that provides a mix of contrast and balance. Triadic colors are three colors spaced equally apart around the color wheel.

harmonious-colors-triadic-colors.jpg

Now that you know a little more about color combinations, let’s look at how colors can be adjusted to give you a different hue.

Shade, Tint, & Tone

You may have noticed that many of the colors on the color wheel look like they came straight out of a box of magic markers. Choosing too many bright colors for your kitchen (especially for large areas) can feel a little too intense. Varying the shade, tint, and tone can add softness and sophistication to your kitchen:

  • Changing the shade means adding black to the color.
  • Changing the tint means adding white to the color.
  • Changing the tone means adding gray to the color.
Mostly monochromatic kitchen with varying tones of white and gray

Mostly monochromatic kitchen with varying tones of white and gray

Can you believe that simply by combining colors on the color wheel and by adding black, white, and gray, you can create any color known to man? Pretty amazing!

Work with What’s Already There

Chances are, there’s probably something in your kitchen that’s already been decided. Maybe you’ve already picked your kitchen cabinets. Maybe you’re sticking with the original flooring. Or maybe you’ve already purchased new appliances. Whatever it is, use that as your color starting point.

Choosing a Dominant Color

Once you’ve identified what’s non-negotiable, you can choose a dominant color that looks good with what’s already there. Your kitchen’s dominant color is the color that dictates the rest of your color scheme -- the color you’re working around. Usually, it’s the color of the biggest surface in your kitchen.

Warm vs. Cool Color Palettes

Is the dominant color in your kitchen warm (more red) or cool (more blue)? You want the rest of your kitchen colors to flow with the dominant color.

For example, if warm cherry wood kitchen cabinets are your dominant feature, you’ll want to choose more warm, inviting colors like sand or buttermilk.

warm-vs-cool-colors.jpg

Tools, Apps, & Resources

If you need more concrete examples and inspiration to choose a color palette for your new kitchen, here are a few resources that might help:

  • Colorlovers.com - View the most loved palettes from this creative online community.
  • SwatchMatic App - If you have an Android device, this app will suggest good matches for any color you can snap a picture of.
  • ColorSnap® App - If you have an iPhone, this Sherwin-Williams app will match colors from your photos to a paint color you can buy.
  • Paint manufacturing companies’ websites - Sherwin Williams has some great resources for homeowners.
Photo: Steve Larkin

Ready for the Kitchen of Your Dreams?

If you have questions about choosing colors or any other aspect of the kitchen design process, Godfrey Design-Build can help! 

We’re experts in every stage of the kitchen remodeling process, and our design-build model allows us to handle every stage of your kitchen remodel project from your initial consultation to our final wrap-up meeting (and beyond!).

Do you live in or near Beverly, MA?

Contact us today to get started, or call (978) 704-8187 to schedule your free consultation.

Other images from Linda Hartley, Aurimas