Legend Interiors

8 Great Kitchen Cabinet Color Palettes

If you like the layout of your existing kitchen and your cabinets are in good shape, painting them can be a smart way to go. Another budget-friendly route is to purchase and install new cabinet boxes (or “carcasses,” as I’ve heard them called fondly) from a retailer such as Ikea, and then hire a finish carpenter to make door and drawer fronts you can paint yourself or have painted professionally. With custom-painted fronts, nobody will know your cabinets came from a big box retailer.

It is a rather time-consuming process, but the money you save by painting cabinets yourself can be put toward that pricey quartz countertop you’ve been eyeing. We’ve broken down the steps below and included images of Houzz kitchens with gorgeous painted cabinets to inspire you — plus 8 examples of color and material palettes.

eclectic kitchen by Studio Sarah Willmer

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

1. Prep. Remove cabinet doors and drawers and give everything a good cleaning with TSP (TriSodium Phosphate), or a TSP alternative, to remove any grease or dirt.

2. Patch. Fill in holes, dents or dings with a sandable, paintable wood filler.

3. Sand. Sand all surfaces to be painted with medium-grit sandpaper. Follow up with a good wipedown with a dry cloth to remove all dust.

contemporary kitchen by Livingston Interiors

4. Prime. You are now ready to apply primer. If you are going to be painting your cabinets a deep, intense shade, ask your paint retailer to add pigment to the primer to get better color coverage with the final coat.

5. Sand, prime and sand again. If you want a super-smooth finish on your cabinets, or to ensure a long-lasting, durable finish, you may want to sand and prime and then sand one last time, using fine-grit sandpaper.

6. Clean. Make sure all surfaces to be painted are completely free of dust and grit.

7. Spray or brush on the paint. If you don’t own a paint sprayer, you can rent one from a home improvement or hardware store.

Be aware that spraying can be a messy business, and you’ll need to mask and cover anything in the room and adjacent areas that you don’t want covered with paint. Install plastic sheeting to close off other rooms in the house. Or simply paint using the highest-quality paintbrush you can afford. Use an angled brush for areas of detail, such as any raised or recessed panels on your fronts.

Note: You will want to apply at least two coats of paint. Semigloss is the best finish to use for cabinets because of its durability and ease of cleaning.

8. Install. Make sure the paint has dried and cured fully before attaching the fronts; otherwise they might stick to the boxes and cause the paint to chip off. (Installing plastic bumpers to the inside of your fronts can help prevent this). Check with your retailer or consult the paint can for estimates on drying and curing times.

Now for the fun part. Install the finished cabinet fronts and door hardware and admire your work.

Now for some inspirational kitchens, along with examples of paint and material palettes:

contemporary kitchen by Loop Design

Inspiration Image 1

by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Modern doesn’t have to be cold and sterile. Get the look of this cheery kitchen with (clockwise from top) Moonraker SW6701 and Snowbound SW7004 (both from Sherwin-Williams), and a carbonized strand woven bamboo floor.
modern kitchen by LOTOS Construction
Inspiration Image 2
by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: I look forward to the day I get a client daring enough to go for black-painted cabinets! For a similar sophisticated look, try (clockwise from top) Beluga 770F-7 from Behr, with Daltile Veranda porcelain tile in Steel and a Brazilian walnut floor.
traditional kitchen by Todosomething LLC
Inspiration Image 3
by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Turquoise remains a popular color for interiors. Try (clockwise from top) Reflecting Pool SW6486 and Slow Green SW6456 (both from Sherwin-Williams) with a warm, honey-stained oak floor.
traditional kitchen by Johnson Berman
Inspiration Image 4
by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Red stimulates our appetites, so it’s a fantastic choice for the kitchen. Paired with a muted dark green, it has a modern rustic feel. Get a similar look with (clockwise from top): Poppy 1315 and Turtle Green 2142-20 (both from Benjamin Moore) with reclaimed wood.
modern kitchen by NVS Remodeling & Design
Inspiration Image 5For those seeking a subtler approach to injecting color in the kitchen, consider painting a bold color onto the base, island or peninsula cabinets only, and/or painting the side and back walls of a niche.
by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Get the look with (clockwise from top): Crisp Ginger Ale GLY24 from Glidden pairs well with stainless steel finishes and a cherry-stained oak floor.

contemporary kitchen by De Mattei Construction
Inspiration Image 6

I’m taking some liberties with my example palette below, as there is only a tiny bit of hot pink in this inspiration image, but I think this is such a fun palette. Obviously the key is to use one of the colors very sparingly as a decorative accent or via accessories.

by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Try (clockwise from top): Autumn Blaze 2002-1A and Pink Burst 1003-1A (both from Valspar), with a carbonized vertical grain bamboo floor.

modern kitchen by Frank Valdes

Inspiration Image 7

Many folks are apprehensive about painting their cabinets a color that is popular and trendy now, fearing that they’ll grow tired of it and want the next hip look, or maybe something less intense, in the not-too-distant future. That’s the beauty of painted cabinets — you can change the color down the road without breaking the bank.

by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Pear Green 2028-40 and Celadon Green 2028-60 (both from Benjamin-Moore) would look fantastic with Silestone countertops in Kensho.
contemporary kitchen by Cucinabella Bella Ltd.
Inspiration Image 8This inspiration kitchen demonstrates a great color tip: if you want to use a neutral hue, such as gray or tan, consider using different shades of it. It will give the space more depth and interest without injecting over-the-top color, if that’s just not your thing.
by Jennifer Ott
Example palette: Try Silver Setting DE6359 and Looking Glass DE6376 (both from Dunn Edwards) with a hickory floor in honey spice.Tell us: Have you painted your own kitchen cabinets? Share your experiences and photos below!