Updated on December 3, 2023
Modern kitchens, known for their sleek lines and lack of visual clutter, provide a blank slate for creative design. One of the key elements to consider when designing a modern kitchen is color. Colors in a contemporary space stand out due to the absence of other architectural features, making the choice of kitchen colors an important decision. To help you bring life to your modern kitchen, here are nine no-fail strategies for embracing color in your design.
1. Create Contrast
Contrast is a defining characteristic of modern kitchens. Cabinets, countertops, appliances, and lighting have the most visual impact in a modern kitchen, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). To add contrast, consider these areas as opportunities for color variation. For instance, pairing white cabinets with dark countertops, or Hale Navy cabinets with white counters can create a striking contrast. You can also use different colors for upper and lower cabinets to achieve a signature contrast. Remember that not every surface needs to be different; you can paint your walls and cabinets the same color and use a countertop material that stands out against it.
2. Find the Right Balance
Since color is often the most prominent feature in modern kitchens, it’s helpful to follow the 70/20/10 rule (or 70/30 rule for kitchens with two colors). This guideline suggests allocating 70% of the kitchen to a main color, 10% to a more dramatic accent color, and 20% to a color that balances the other shades. Apply this rule to various surfaces and visual elements in your kitchen, such as cabinetry, walls, backsplash, and decorative items. When planning your modern kitchen’s color palette, start by selecting the cabinet colors, as they carry a lot of visual weight and can set the tone for the entire space.
3. Tap Into Psychology
The colors you choose for your kitchen can affect more than just its looks. Color has the power to influence our mood and the atmosphere of a space. Consider how you want your kitchen to function and how you want it to make you feel. Warm colors like reds and yellows can create an energizing and appetite-stimulating environment, while cool blues and greens can promote a sense of calm and focus. Also, keep in mind that the shade of a color plays a role in its impact. Saturated hues can be energizing, while softer shades tend to be more soothing and uplifting. Decide on the desired tone and mood for your kitchen and choose colors accordingly.
4. Try a Monochromatic Look
While neutrals like white and off-white are popular choices for modern kitchens, monochromatic schemes with a single color in varying tones and values are gaining traction. For example, an all-blue, all-red, or all-yellow scheme can create a striking visual impact. The key to success with a monochromatic color scheme is contrast. Incorporate different textures and finishes throughout your kitchen to add depth and interest. Consider using a combination of glossy and matte surfaces or combining textured wall tiles with lacquered cabinets to achieve a cohesive yet visually stimulating look.
5. Turn the Color Wheel
Modern kitchen color ideas often revolve around grays, beiges, whites, blues, blacks, and sepia tones. However, modern kitchen design allows for flexibility, and any color can be incorporated into the space. Complementary color schemes, which involve using colors opposite each other on the color wheel, can create a striking and unconventional look in modern kitchens. For example, pairing blue with orange or yellow with purple can add a unique touch to your kitchen design. While you might not want to use complementary colors extensively, they work well for small accents and decorative items.
6. Embrace Saturated Colors
Clean, saturated colors are a staple in contemporary kitchens. Don’t be afraid to commit to bold and vibrant hues. Jewel tones like emerald green, as well as deep blues, violets, and even black, have been gaining popularity in modern kitchen designs. Soft pastels are less common in modern kitchens, but they can still work if paired with clean lines and contrasting elements. Consider the mood and atmosphere you want to create, and don’t shy away from using rich and saturated colors to make a statement.
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7. Feature Reflective Finishes
Reflective finishes, such as chrome and polished brass, are commonly found in modern faucets and hardware. In contemporary kitchens, you can take it a step further and incorporate bright metallics in light fixtures, seating, accents, or even on the walls. When choosing modern kitchen paint colors, consider how they will look in a high-gloss finish. Metallic elements can add a touch of glamour and sophistication to your kitchen design.
8. Utilize a Backsplash
Backsplashes offer an excellent opportunity to introduce color into your modern kitchen. Large-format tiles and slab backsplashes with minimal groutlines are popular choices for contemporary kitchens. Consider using a bold and vibrant color for your backsplash to create a focal point in the space. You can also opt for patterned or textured tiles to add visual interest. If you prefer a more subdued look, a neutral-colored backsplash with a subtle texture can still enhance the overall design while providing a clean and modern aesthetic.
9. Experiment with Lighting
Lighting plays a crucial role in modern kitchens, and it can also contribute to the color scheme. Consider incorporating colored lighting fixtures or LED strips to add a dramatic effect to your kitchen. For example, under-cabinet lighting with a soft blue or green hue can create a cool and contemporary ambiance. Pendant lights with colored glass shades can also add a pop of color to the space. Additionally, natural light from windows can enhance the colors in your kitchen, so make sure to optimize window placement and consider window treatments that allow ample light to filter through.
Remember, the key to successfully using color in a modern kitchen is to find a balance between boldness and cohesion. Consider your personal style, the desired mood of the space, and how different colors interact with each other. By following these no-fail strategies, you can create a modern kitchen that exudes style and personality while remaining timeless and visually appealing.