15 Easy Ways to Add Color to Your Kitchen
Maybe you don’t have the funds for a full remodel, or you’re in a rental where you can’t make major updates. Either way, brighten your kitchen with these easy pops of color that won’t break your budget.
By: Karin Beuerlein
Photo By: Frank Murray
Stick the Color Right On
Wall decals aren’t just for sports fans — they’re for design lovers, too. (And renters, because they aren’t permanent and don’t damage walls.) WALLTAT Wall Decals, for example, offers hundreds of images inspired by nature, pop art and vintage design. All you need is masking tape, a friend to help hold the decal in place, and the squeegee included with the product to apply directly to your wall. Presto, instant color!
Use Open Shelving
Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a top designer, you can still take a cue from her design strategy. This high-end kitchen designed by Jennifer Gilmer includes open shelving that makes the most of a beautiful collection of colorful dinnerware. Gilmer’s advice for a cohesive look: “Don’t use objects that conflict with one another in both color and shape,” she says. “And give the items room to breathe by not cramming too much into one space.”
Add a Bold Window Treatment
A new window treatment can dramatically change the look of the whole kitchen, especially if you pair it with just a single prominent accessory in the same color. Here, the red shade is complemented by a vase and bowls, but you could also harmonize with that shiny red toaster or sunny yellow stand mixer you’ve been eyeing. Shown is the Bali® Soft Roman Shade from Blinds.com; the fabric is Bazaar Off Broadway.
Sink Your Color Budget Here
If you’ve got just a bit of money to spend on color, consider putting it into one high-impact piece: your sink. While showstopping cast-iron or fireclay sinks can run you well into four figures, this porcelain-coated stainless steel Porcela sink from Houzer is durable, lightweight and can be found for under $400 at Wayfair.com. This model comes in lemon yellow, mint green and navy blue (shown).
Brighten the Background
Paint the inside of an open cabinet for an instant brightening effect, says Erika Woelfel, VP of color for Behr Paints. The sunny yellow shown is Behr’s Hawaiian Pineapple.
Add Color Underfoot
Instead of searching endlessly for the perfect area rug, create your own colorful look with carpet tiles. You can achieve a big look on a small budget by going modular; just six FLOR® tiles can make a roughly 3’ x 5’ rug or a narrow 10-foot runner, and the individual tiles can cost as little as $8 apiece. Shown is the FLOR style House Pet, which comes in a rainbow of hues and can stand up to heavy foot traffic.
Choose Colorful Cookware
Don’t underestimate the visual impact of vibrantly colored accessories. This set of Calibowl® nesting bowls, sold at Crate & Barrel, is recyclable, made of recycled plastic and beautiful enough to live on the countertop.
Try Living Color
Growing a small kitchen herb garden doesn’t just add color to the room — it adds scent, taste and a dynamic element as well. To grow herbs stylishly and save precious countertop space, try this wall-mounted ceramic container set from Light + Ladder.
Paint a Single Wall
“Painting just one wall can completely transform a room,” says Erika Woelfel, VP of color for Behr Paints. “Pull your inspiration from existing kitchen decor, your favorite foods or BEHR Color Trends to find a color that suits your space.” The intense green accent wall in this photo is Behr’s Japanese Fern.
Revamp Your Seating
Swap out your matching kitchen chairs or barstools in favor of more interesting options — you could paint them, replace them with a set of colorful vintage chairs, or simply give them a makeover with new slipcovers or cushions. You can sew your own or browse Etsy for custom handmade versions like the red barstool cushion shown here from Britta Leigh Designs.
Transform Your Island Topper
Instead of remodeling your whole kitchen, just refurbish your countertop to add a dramatic sweep of color, says Erika Woelfel, VP of color for Behr Paints. This neutral kitchen gets a pick-me-up from Behr’s Mountain Blueberry paint on the island topper (plus Marsh Grass on the upper row of cabinets). Woelfel recommends using a high-gloss or semi-gloss enamel for kitchen surfaces — get more tips on repainting countertops here.
Display Bright Linens
A set of brightly colored hand towels can perk up the kitchen for mere pennies. And you aren’t limited to the oven door handle: hang interesting linens (aprons and oven mitts, too) from hooks or pegs on a floating wall shelf or line a wooden bowl on the countertop to add punch. Shown are waffle-weave Salsa dish cloths and towels from Crate & Barrel.
Change Out Hardware
Replace boring cabinet knobs and pulls with specialty hardware that has real pizzazz. These handmade blended glass pieces from artist Carol Gilewicz of Torch Lake Glass can be ordered in custom color combinations and four different styles.
Freshen Your Fixtures
Don’t know if you got the memo, but light fixtures don’t have to blend in. This set of taxicab yellow pendants pops right into the foreground in this kitchen — add a bowl of lemons and a flower arrangement and you have a complete look with limited effort.
Chalk One Up for Color
Chalkboard walls in the kitchen are functional and fun, adding color and personality that can change right along with your mood. Even better, they’re easy to install — learn how here.