Episode 57: Kitchen Design Essentials – How to Choose Kitchen Colours

In this episode of the Kitchen Design Essentials Season, Frances chats through how to choose your colours for your kitchen – and she’s certainly encouraging you to use colour – if you love it!

She walks you through how to determine ‘what comes first’ when creating your design scheme and runs through popular combinations. Finally, she gives some great advice and tips on decorating your kitchen, and how to make it your own and give it some personality.


Your kitchen does not have to match everything else in the home. For instance, if you are using a particular tile in the bathroom, you don’t necessarily have to bring that across to the kitchen. Make your kitchen a unique space!

  • Have a consistent colour tone to create continuity and flow. For example, if you have a warm home, you need to make sure that you also use warm coloured materials.
  • Warm tones = Beige
  • Cool tones= Greys
  • When thinking about the tone for your home, think about the colors you naturally gravitate to and often it’s the colours you wear.
  • For Open plan, you need to coordinate the style of your Kitchen and colour with the rest of the home. For example, a country style kitchen in a modern home will not work.
  • If there isn’t consistency throughout the whole home, it will not feel or look right.

Choosing material and their colours

  • Start with the floor – Everything gets built up from the floor. For instance, if you’ve got a timber floor, are you going to have  timber cabinetry that matches the floor or are you going to create a contrast?
  • Choose your leading piece and select other materials around that piece
    • You can choose the colour and design of your kitchen based on your Splashback tile, cabinetry colour (eg. apple green) or natural stone feature.
    • Don’t start with your paint colour! There’s over 10,000 to choose from.
    • Choose something that you love. Everything will go out of date except the things that you love the most- material, tile, colour or shape
    • When building her Forever Home, Frances used Patricia Urquiola tiles that she had loved for years, for her splashback. It then became her leading piece and she designed her kitchen around it.
  • Dark or light cabinetry? An all white kitchen can be clinical – A safe option when you are not sure what goes with what, but it is uninteresting unless you’re going to brighten it up with something else.
    • Choose off white or warm grey. We have our go-to – not quite grey and not yellow based either. Work with warm and cool interiors.
    • Add texture, shape or colour to break it up – generally in the splashback or benchtop that has movement in it.
  • Create contrast – with benchtop and cabinetry, or with splashback.
    • Eg. Light cabinetry and dark benchtop or vice versa
  • Sleek and sophisticated – less is more. For instance, Dark or timber cabinetry with the benchtop and splashback the same.
    • Use Maximum of 3 materials.
  • Timber in a kitchen
    • Timber is a sustainable material which is quite popular at the moment.
    • Gives an organic feeling which is difficult to replace.
    • Natural timber comes with a premium price compared to veneer.
    • If you have timber cabinetry overhead, then you may want to use a contrasting material such as aa plain cabinetry underneath or vice versa. Keep in mind that the timber underneath needs to work with any timber floor.
    • All timber finish can be paired with light or dark benchtop, just make sure that the benchtop coordinates back to the  timber kitchen.
    • Can also have a timber benchtop with plain cabinetry or a timber benchtop with coloured cabinetry.
    • Use  timber handles as an accent
    • Timber floating shelves as an accent.
    • Avoid grey based timbers – They are artificial and don’t  look real. It will  date because it’s not a natural timber  colour.
  • Combine cool tones using other materials, rather than using grey in the timber.  Avoid mixing different types of timber because it will become too busy. Stick with one.
    • My preference is to contrast the timber floor with any timber cabinetry – if in doubt, have the timber cabinetry overhead.
    • Maximum 3-4 different materials.
      • Eg benchtop, cabinetry, splashback and accent material or 2nd cabinetry colour instead of accent colour.
  • How to bring in colour
    • An easy and obvious way is adding it in the Splashback– able to change relatively easily
    • Cabinetry – Avoid trends and choose the color that you really love. If you stick with the colour that you gravitate into, you will never get tired of it.
    • Benchtop – natural stone or otherwise
    • Use tonal changes. If all white, but with a slight tonal change, and texture can make such a difference.
    • Coloured appliances – Dolce and Gabbana Fridge. Smeg coloured fridges.
      • Also counter appliances eg. Coffee maker, mix master, blender, toaster, kettle etc
  • Consider appliance colours
    • Are they going to be a Stainless steel, black, white, integrated?
    • Do you want them to recede and blend in or are you okay with contrast? (eg stainless steel fridge)
  • Dealing with oven walls and fridges areas together
    • Create a block of one material and colour with these placed together.
    • Consider how they will work with overhead cupboards and under bench cupboards
      • run the same colour overhead or contrast against it
  • Some popular combination choices;
    • Timber and plain coloured cabinetry.
      • Timber goes with everything, so you are open to colour options— Cool or warm
    • Dark timber cabinetry only with a lighter coloured benchtop and splashback.
    • Dark overhead and light underneath with light benchtop
    • Light overhead and dark underneath with light benchtop
    • Dark benchtop and light cabinetry, above or below or both
    • All light cabinetry (above and below), light benchtop and coloured splashback
    • All light cabinetry with dark benchtop and coloured splashback
    • Monochromatic – different tones from same colour family
      • Eg, greys – dark and light grey and white (charcoal and light grey cabinetry)


The kitchen can be decorated beautifully. You can make something rather bland into something lived in and special.

  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t clutter your benchtop. You may use a few things that you use daily as for a decorating element.  A few things is all you need to make it feel lived in,personable and homey.
  • Best to display items that you use too;
    • Timber chopping boards and cheese boards
    • Salt & pepper shakers- You can have them in different sizes
    • Scales
    • Oil canisters- stainless steel or ceramic
    • Salt dish
    • Floating shelves – add trailing plants (eg devil’s ivy ), cook books, jug, heirloom/special cup and saucer
    • Teapot
  • Herb pots- Adds green  in the kitchen and it’s easy to access for cooking
    • Place them on a board or a tray or on the window sill
  • Coloured tea towels/hand towels- Another way to inject colour  some great designs around
  • Artwork- Can be used to fill a bare wall
  • Large decorative clock- not only useful but beautiful too. Particularly good  for a Hampton style kitchen
  • Centrepiece (or not centred) on one end of bench or dining table in same space
    • Fruit bowl/ tiered platter
    • Tray with a few items together
    • Decorative dish/platter/bowl
    • Plant
    • Proportion important for it to look right

Available Services;

Beautiful Kitchen Design Made Easy Online Course

Ready to design and create your own beautiful kitchen? Get all the interior designer insider knowledge in this online course to create your dream kitchen. Find out more and join here

Book A Chat

Ready to renovate or create your kitchen but not sure where to start?

Get the help of a property expert and save yourself from making costly mistakes with a free Forever Home chat. Click here to get access to Frances’ calendar;

Kitchen Bliss Package

Overwhelmed by the amount of decisions that need to be made when creating a stylish, functional and durable kitchen? What materials to select, what colours will co-ordinate together, what design is going to best suit the space, and your requirements.

We offer kitchen design packages that include joinery design and material selections for a complete kitchen design. Click the link here to find more:

Refrigerator of Art Smeg and Dolce&Gabbana

If you are interested in Smeg’s Dolce and Gabbana Refrigerator of Art, click the link here;


Related Resources:

Kitchen Design To Match Your Lifestyle Blog

Episode 55: Kitchen Design Essentials: Handles and Hardware 

Episode 54: Kitchen Design Essentials- Appliances Part 2

Episode 53: Kitchen Design Essentials – Appliances – Part 1

Episode 51: Kitchen Design Essentials- Kitchen Taps and Sinks

Episode 50: Kitchen Design Essentials- Kitchen Taps and Sinks

Episode 49: Kitchen Design Essentials – Butler’s Pantries and Pantries

Episode 47: Kitchen Design Essentials – Key Kitchen Measurements

Episode 45: Kitchen Design Essentials – Internal Elevations & Joinery Design

Read our latest blog on Internal Elevations and Joinery Design here; 

Episode 43: Kitchen Design Essentials – Flatpack Vs Custom Designed Kitchens

Episode 41: Kitchen Design Essentials – Cabinetry Materials-

Episode 39: Kitchen Design Essentials – Splashbacks 

Episode 38: Kitchen Design Essentials-Benchtop Criteria and Materials – Part 2-

Episode 36: Kitchen Design Essentials – Benchtops part 1 

Episode 14: Forever Home LIVE- Joinery Drawings and Why Do Them Early On-

Episode 30: Kitchen Design Essentials -Kitchen Design Layouts and Location- 

Episode 32: Kitchen Design Essentials – The Builder’s Insight 

How to Choose the Right Bench Top-

Top 5 tips for selecting benchtops-

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