Best Classic Paint Colors for Kitchens

Select a classic kitchen color combination from among these top five perennial favorites, as chosen by interior designers and color experts.

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Kitchens are the heart of the home — and whether you like it or not, the place where everyone gathers. Color sets the tone. Whether you’re going for airy or dramatic, a kitchen should feel warm, welcoming and thought-out. Here are some perennial picks for kitchen paint colors that work, chosen by interior designers.

White Kitchen Johner Images/Getty Images

Versatile Whites

Nothing beats the versatility of white. And although many homes are veering away from all-white interiors, it will continue to be a classic choice as a blank canvas.

“Many clients are not quite ready to return to creams and beiges or to a darker kitchen color,” says Karen B. Wolf of Karen B. Wolf Interiors. To that end, she says she recently fell in love with Ghosted by Sherwin Williams. Part of their new Minimal and Modern collection, it acknowledges the trend away from white, with its barely-there white underlain with a warm gray.

“For fans of a painted kitchen, Ghosted …is a clean color that pairs beautifully with natural and engineered stone,” Wolf says.

Sharleen Pyarali, an interior designer at Clickable Curations, says another consideration is choosing between cool or warm whites. Her pick for a cool white? Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. “It’s a crisp and clean white that doesn’t appear so stark since it doesn’t lean heavily towards a cooler undertone,” she says.

Pyarali specifically recommends Chantilly Lace for cabinets and trim.

“The brightness of the white helps to emphasize and draw attention to the millwork,” she says. “It can be used for the whole kitchen as well or as an accent with another color.”

As for warm whites, Pyarali suggests Benjamin Moore Cloud White. She loves that it doesn’t read as too yellow — it’s a neutral warm.

“These colors usually still appear clean and white but provide a touch of warmth to the space and don’t appear as bright as the cooler whites,” she says. “It can be used for the whole kitchen as well or an accent with another color.”

Gray Kitchen John Keeble/Getty Images

Sleek Grays

Sleek with silver or like warm cashmere with urbane black, gray is still tops for classic kitchens. The trick is finding the right one.

Charbonneau Interiors co-owner Nancy Charbonneau is one of many in a designer chorus who love the versatile, classic Agreeable Gray from Sherwin-Williams. In a recent project, she liked how it played against rustic elements such as reclaimed beams, and how it anchored the kitchen against soft white cabinetry.

“Agreeable Gray brought that depth that we were looking for,” she says.

For something a little less expected, consider Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe, which boasts a charcoal color that feels cozy and dramatic.

Blue Kitchen LightFieldStudios/Getty Images

Multifaceted Blues

Living Spaces interior designer Emilie Baltorinic-Navarro recently refinished her cabinets with Behr’s Tsunami.

“I pulled inspiration from the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year, Classic Blue,” Baltorinic-Navarro says. “Tsunami by Behr is a unique kitchen cabinet color that accents beautifully with cream and pastel tones. It’s a bold statement color, full of personality.”

But perhaps a bold teal isn’t exactly where you’re headed. There are plenty of other choices. If you’re looking for a serene, pale blue, Ashley Banbury, senior color designer and interior designer at Dutch Boy Paints, recommends Dutch Boy Lake Getaway.

“It’s open and airy feeling, making the space feel larger,” she says. “Its soft and subtle tones create a traditional wall backdrop for cabinets in classic navy, timeless white or daring black.”

Wolf and other designers also frequently mentioned Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy.

“Hale Navy is the perfect navy tone for an island accent, as it’s a perfect shade of navy without being too dark,” she says.

Green Kitchen AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Trendy Greens

It might be having a white-hot moment. But nevertheless, green is a classic kitchen color.

Consider the range. For a vintage or mid-century modern kitchen, mint green walls would sing. Imagine Mint Gala from Valspar, especially when paired with black-and-white floors or black trim.

For an earthy, herb garden feel, consider Back to Nature by Behr, says Baltorinic-Navarro. Dutch Boy’s Refuge Green would also fit the bill. These greens work especially well when accented by oil-rubbed bronze finishes on fixtures and walnut trim or woodwork. Then go full-on artsy with a plummy purple accent color.

For those seeking the forest green colors saturating kitchens of all styles right now — on cabinets or walls — consider traditional favorites such as Sherwin-Williams Dard Hunter Green, Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke or Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green. Paired with brass plumbing fixtures or drawer pulls and marble countertops or backsplashes, you have a traditional English kitchen that will wow — and endure.

Yellow Kitchen Mint Images/Getty Images

Optimistic Yellows

Warm and buttery or crisp and citrusy, yellow connotes sunshine and warmth, and a generally welcoming atmosphere. Although yellow can be a controversial color and some find it hard to use, yellow certainly feels most at home in the kitchen.

Interior designer Lisa Cini remembers finding a spot of sunshine on a cold snowy day and feeling safe and warm. The color that most captured that feeling for her is Sherwin-Williams Naples Yellow.

Cini likes to pair it with Sherwin-Williams Serious Gray, a classic color combo that is again having a moment, named by Pantone as one of its Colors of the Year for 2021. And, she says, depending on the room’s décor, it can look happy, regal or country casual.

For something with a little more Dijon tang, consider PPG’s Turning Oakleaf. This color leans more tropical, so don’t be afraid to pull out some rattan breakfast nook chairs or pair it with a jungle-y green.

Prefer something less bright? Consider a buttercream. Check the cream section for something with a yellow undertone, such as Navajo White by Benjamin Moore.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.