This page offers practical tips on kitchen decoration and is one of a series of advice sheets for those looking to renovate their kitchen. It is based on our experience from over 14 years of designing and installing kitchens in Bath and Bristol.
Kitchen decoration involves all elements that impact visually; it’s not just about the wall colour. You might have fallen in love with a range of kitchen cabinets, but you should also bear in mind the adjacent finishes – flooring, worktop, splashback, appliances and accessories.
For that reason, as with any other design, you should assemble your total decorative scheme before making your final decision. Combine the wall colour (paint a large board or wallpaper offcut) with samples of the other key surfaces, with splashes of accessory colours (like your tea towels or cookware). The finishes need to work together in the space and with the lighting. If you have an open plan room, include colours from that space too. Below, our clients chose Orla Kiely cake tins as inspiration for the accent colours in this kitchen diner.
We find that neutral walls and ceilings work best, with colour introduced though the splashback and other accessories including storage jars, display crockery and window dressing. Lampshades and bar stools also add interest as will the table and chairs in the diner.
We use standard emulsion paints in kitchens; with a well ventilated kitchen that is kept clean and with splash protection in the relevant areas, silk and matt emulsions are fine. We prefer neutral walls to allow colours from the splashback or accessories to punch through.
wooden kitchen surfaces
For clients who love wood, there are various options: as cabinets, as a floor, as a worktop; but not all three! Avoid fitting a wooden worktop near a sink as it will discolour and split very quickly if not maintained. If you must fit wood, at least fit a different worktop around the wet area.
Wooden cabinets work well with a porcelain tiled floor.
Vinyl tiled floors come in an extraordinary range of finishes and colours. Below we fitted wide, wood-effect planks which are actually vinyl. A local flooring shop will be able to provide you with samples to check against the other finishes on your sample board. We’ve written a separate advice column on kitchen floors.
Blue cabinets work well against warm surfaces (blue and orange being complementary colours). Suppliers should be able to lend you a spare door or drawer front to check out your scheme at home. We’ve witten a separate page on choosing kitchen cabinets.
kitchen accent colours
Introduce drama with a colourful splashback in an otherwise neutral decorative scheme. Try out different colours by painting a board with a matchpot. If you like these, you can read more about coloured glass splashbacks.
Kitchen worktops come in a wide range of styles and finishes (and prices!). Below is a close up of a quartz worktop. Suppliers will be able to send samples for you to combine with your other surfaces.
Here is an oak kitchen worktop, but as we said earlier, you should avoid fitting timber next to a sink or other wet area. Here we installed it on the peninsula which is dry. We have a further advice sheet on kitchen worktops.
Below we colour-matched the cabinets to pick out the utility room wall colour. The remaining walls and ceilings were painted white.
Also, just to note that you don’t have to paint a ceiling white. In the side return renovation below, because of the different wall and ceiling faces created by the removal of the side wall and insertion of roof lights, we decided to paint all surfaces one colour. This harmonised the scheme and avoided any decisions on where one surface began and another finished.
Whilst off the shelf cabinets come in a good range of colours, you can have your timber kitchen hand-painted or sprayed in any colour you like. Most clients would choose a neutral base as in the image below, but you’ll find people with green, mauve, blue and other coloured kitchens.
In a kitchen, you might consider having no window dressing at all to start with to see how you get on. It is just another surface to get grimy and need cleaning. If you can’t live without a covering of some form, easy wipe roller blinds are fine. Venetians and vertical blinds also work provided they are not too near airborne grease as they will be a devil to clean over time.
A blind gives another opportunity to introduce colour to the scheme so check that it works with the other finishes before choosing. You can read more about window dressing in general by clicking here.
We’ve shown how kitchen decoration is more than just painting the walls. The whole scheme needs to work in combination. We’ve been designing and installing kitchens for over 12 years and every decorative scheme has been different. if you are interested in your own kitc ehn project please read our guide to kitchen renovations.
Style Within designs and installs complete kitchens from early concepts through to delivery of the completed, furnished kitchen. This includes any extensions or other building work; we manage everything for you. If you think we may be able to help with your kitchen refurbishment in Bath or Bristol, we’d like to invite you to read more about our kitchen design service.
Back to blog