Regardless of what you fill your kitchen with, it will always have one thing for sure: cabinets, and lots of them. Though rarely the stand-out feature, cabinets take up a large amount of “visual space,” and because of that, how you choose to paint your cabinets is a critical aspect of decorating. For many, that decision boils down to go light or dark with cabinet paint colors. Naturally, there are pros and cons to each decision.
Benefits of Painting Your Cabinets a Light Color:
White & Light Colored Kitchens Are Timeless
There’s a reason white kitchens are the time-honored classic. Using a light color on your cabinets helps establish a clean, efficient, and bright atmosphere that one would like to associate with food. If you’re considering selling your house soon, you probably want to go with light cabinetry, simply because more people prefer it (per Houselogic, Forbes, and Laurysen Kitchens).
Color: Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell Pale Powder 204; Source: HouseBeautiful
The kitchen above is a perfect example. Though it’s wall-to-wall white, the layout of the space combined with the lighting still keeps the room feeling cozy. The secret here is that the color isn’t actually pure white, but has hints of green or blue when exposed to different lights, giving it character and keeping it from feeling “too clean.”
Light Colors Make Rooms Feel Bigger
Depending on the lighting and physical space you’re working with, using light colors on cabinets can help the space feel larger than it actually is. Cabinets with dark colors register with observers as something distinctly colored, defining part of the space and creating the feeling of a boundary. Light colors, on the other hand, lack those perceived boundaries and create the same boundless feeling as looking up into a cloudless sky.
Light Colors Are Flexible
Because cabinets aren’t the most eye-grabbing feature, painting your cabinets a light color could be a highly strategic move when it comes to decorating your kitchen. This grounds your kitchen’s palette in something neutral, giving you the opportunity to accent it with bold colors elsewhere, or simply build a cohesive theme with backsplashes, countertops, etc.
Color: Benjamin Moore Regal Classic Premium Hazy Skies OC-48; Source: HouseBeautiful
We covered this kitchen in “4 Great Ideas For Painting Your Kitchen”, but it’s worth another look. Notice how much is going on in this space. There are plants, wicker chairs, a gold container, a whole host of bottles, and who knows what else in the far background. Yet, the lightly colored cabinetry on the far right inject enough neutrality and light that none of these elements clash. (It’s also worth noting the darkly colored cabinetry on the far left, showing that you don’t have to pick just one type of coloration).
Disadvantages to Light-Colored Cabinets
Light Colors Show Dirt and Stains Easily
Kitchens are, for obvious reasons, hotbeds of spills, stains, and other sources of grime. This is especially true for those with pets and children. Light colors will prominently display those stains, so it’ll take more work to keep your kitchen looking clean. (Then again, a clean kitchen is never a bad thing. This particular disadvantage may, indeed, be an advantage.)
Light Colors Show Signs of Age Faster
Between cooking, accessing tableware, getting cups for drinks, and serving as a social hangout, your kitchen will be put to good use over the years. This is especially true for cabinets, which are constantly being opened and closed. If your cabinets are painted a light color, they’ll show cracks and discoloration faster than darkly colored cabinets.
Benefits of Dark Cabinets
Dark Colors Have More Personality
Let’s face it: white can be pretty bland. Though there are some excellent ways to utilize neutral colors for a minimalist feel (as we covered in our last blog), it’s still just that: minimalist. Darker colors, with their bold, rich, and more expressive tones, give you a lot more latitude to make your room feel like something special. They’re also a great way to keep your kitchen from feeling sterile, like a hospital cafeteria.
Color: Benjamin Moore Midsummer Night 2134-20; Source: HouseBeautiful
Even though there are only two colors in this room, a marble-like white and an espresso-brown, the room has so much more of a definite feeling and personality, like a breakfast in Manhattan.
Dark Cabinets Draw Stylistic Intrigue
The main surfaces in your kitchen include your countertops, your backsplash, your walls, and your cabinets. Using darker colors on your cabinets, and neutral color elsewhere, can create a two-toned space that’s both simplistic yet expressive.
Color: Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion Pitch Blue 220; Source: HouseBeautiful
Notice that the only real source of color in this room is the cabinetry (and that delightful matching pot on the stove). Everything else is white, metallic-grey, or an accessory of some sort. By painting just the cabinetry, and doing it consistently, these homeowners have created a kitchen with character, while still retaining that classically tight, clean feeling. It’s also worth noticing how much color this kitchen gets just out of the cabinetry, reinforcing our earlier point about how much “visual space” cabinets take up.
Disadvantages to Dark Cabinets:
Dark Colors Can Make Rooms Feel Small
This isn’t a hard and fast rule; this is absolutely avoidable depending on your lighting, the physical space, and what you do with the rest of the kitchen besides the cabinets. However, darker colors have a much greater potential of making your space feel small than light colors do, especially at night.
Dark Colors Aren’t As Adaptable
Trends, preferences, and homeowners change frequently. In a few years, you might grow tired of a certain color and discover that repainting your cobalt blue cabinets is quite the challenge!.
Resale Values May Suffer
While you may love your color choices, a prospective buyer may not. If you’re thinking about selling, you may want to opt for a more conservative approach to painting your cabinets.
Designing and decorating your kitchen is tricky, but immensely rewarding if done well. If a suggestion in this article has caught your fancy, or if you simply have a question, give us a call.