Kitchen Colors That Stand the Test of Time
Designers share their tips for choosing kitchen colors that will outlast the trends and look fresh for years to come.
- By Gretchen Roberts
Filed under: Kitchen Appliance, Kitchen Backsplash, Kitchen Cabinets, Kitchen Color, Kitchen Countertops
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From ruby-red refrigerators to handpainted tile murals, colors in the kitchen can range from kitschy to classic. How do you know which colors will outlast trends? "A classic color is timeless, associated with elements of nature that we think of as ever-present: rock, stone, pebbles, marble and granite," says Leatrice Eiseman, author of Color Messages and Meanings and director of the Pantone Color Institute. "There is an implied quality to anything so long-lasting, which would certainly translate into appliances, cabinets and other kitchen areas you hope would have longevity."
But choosing colors that will stand the test of time doesn't mean sacrificing style. "Neutrals aren't the only classic colors. Color can be rich and intense, like terra cotta or bright red, and still be classic," says Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, principal of Mary Jo Peterson Inc. and a columnist for Kitchen & Bath Design News. "You can create interest in a timeless design by taking color inspiration from an Oriental rug or a bright fabric, and using intense colors in small, replaceable amounts."
Here are classic color ideas for five areas of your kitchen.
You can't go wrong with wood — or can you? Even wood shades and types go in and out of style, says Paul Dybdahl, CKD, president of Dybdahl's Classic Kitchen in Middleton, Wis. "Light maples have run their course. People are asking for darker stained woods right now," he says.
Your best bet is to choose a finish somewhere between blonde and brunette, Mary Jo says. "Well-built cabinetry will last much longer than the finish will stay in style," she says. "Pick a simple door style and a medium finish, and if you want a new look just change the hardware every five years."
Considering painted cabinets? A shade of white is always classic, Paul says.
If you're pining for a specific shade: Just go for it, Mary Jo says. You can always paint the cabinets white if you have to sell. "At some point you have to give up on a color staying in style and choose it because you love it. I did my kitchen in a dark mahogany stained cherry. I still love it, because it matches my personality."
Bright custom countertop colors — such as red, yellow, turquoise and plum — are hot today, Paul says, but the bold look may not wow you tomorrow. Instead, look to the classic color trio of white, green or black for lasting color if you're choosing laminate, solid surface, tile or marble. "Laminates and solid surface aren't considered classic materials, but they can be very durable and, if you choose your color well, will last quite some time," he says.
Materials such as granite, quartz, ceramic tile and butcher-block-style wood come in naturally enduring colors, even though some choices are dramatic (think Zebrawood's exotic stripes or blue-and–green patterned granite). "Colors found in natural materials never go out of style, because we see them in nature and are comfortable with them," Mary Jo says.
Once only functional, kitchen backsplashes are now decorative focal points and key design elements.