Navy cabinets... do I dare? Other suggestions?

February 4, 2013

It's getting to be decision time on my cabinets... what color to paint them? We are just "refreshing" this kitchen: the terra cotta floors, backsplash, counters and cabinets are all staying; the only thing we are doing is painting the cabinets. (And though there have been several who suggest leaving the cabinet wood plain, the color clashes with and detracts from the beautiful counters, so we have definitely decided to paint them.) See: clashing wood tones:

In one of my other posts (on refinishing my butcher block counters) several people suggested navy blue. What do you all think? Can you picture blue everywhere, or just on the island? (or lower cabinets?)

Here is the kitchen:

this is the other end of the kitchen -- eating area and laundry. Please ignore the mess. We have been renovating the rest of the house for months and the bookcase has become storage for renovation junk. I have to consider this area for painting as well...

We were thinking of something like BM Elephant Tusk for the perimeter cabinets:

and maybe something like BM Phillipsburg Blue for the island? The kitchen doesn't get a lot of light so I'm afraid that a true navy will look almost black.

Thanks for any suggestions... we are open to any ideas!

Comments (36)

  • beekeeperswife

    Totally love blue kitchens...

  • 2LittleFishies

    Navy everywhere would be a bit much for me but using it for the lower cabs and/or island would be beautiful : )

    I have elephant tusk on our kitchen & dr walls (there isn't much wall space." It doesn't read white so it depends on what you want it to look like.

  • cawaps

    I think the Philipsburg blue will be too light. You seem to have good lighting--what about Newburyport blue or Gentleman's Gray? A bit darker, but not quite a true navy.

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    The Phillipsburg Blue would be perfect with a darker glaze over it to highlight the texture of the cabinets and to tone it's primary-ness down. If you aren't thinking of glazing, then go darker to begin with.

    It's really refreshing to see someone work with the existing bones in such a sympathetic way. What's there is pretty nice all by itself. A bit of paint will take it into this century without losing what makes it so special as is.

  • LisaSE

    Yes, love it! I agree with Cawaps though - that blue you have picked out doesn't look dark enough.

  • runninginplace

    Roulie, I just have to say your photo of the bookcase end of the room, complete with a forlorn person watching tv made me laugh! I don't think I"ve ever seen an image better capture the essence of the existential angst that is remodeling :).

    Right now we're having new windows installed. Substitute a college student huddled over a laptop for the tv watcher and that's our life too.

  • CEFreeman

    I think if you don't go navy, you'll regret it! Believe it or not.
    It would be SO beautiful with your floors and counter tops. You are so right about the woods clashing. A weird word to use with wood, but absolutely correct.

    I lean towards the darker blue in the example photos, too. Matching the light blue in your tile would be insipid to me. You've taken bold color choices and "feel" choices, so don't be afraid to go with it again.

    You have some nice light in there, so I think you could get away with it. I also see some very nice grain in your cabinets that would offer texture.

    Sure it's a lot of work but, as my STBX GC DH always said, "It's just paint."

    Yeah! Love it.

  • lucy0214

    I love the idea!

  • localeater

    I think a deep luscious blue would look amazing in your space. My son's bedroom has a lot of natural wood tones in it and it is a deep blue which I love. Behr Solitude {{!gwi}}From GW Photos
    We also considered SW Cape Verde but this worked a bit better for us. He has pumpkin pine floors, and a ceiling made up of fir beams, the fir beams are also in a couple of corners as structural posts.

  • sanjuangirl

    I think Navy on the lowers and the island with the Elephant Tusk on the uppers would be a fabulous combination! I also like this SW Cape Verde that localeater just posted. Matching the blue in the tile would be too bright and visually jarring in my humble opinion.

    It's a great space with cool choices. Can't wait to see it finished!
    Here's a few more blue kitchens.

    [Traditional Kitchen design[( by Boston Interior Designer Jonathan Cutler, AIA

    [Traditional Kitchen design[( by Boston Interior Designer Jonathan Cutler, AIA

    [Eclectic Kitchen design[( by Dc Metro Architect Tektonics Architecture

    [Eclectic Kitchen design[( by Indianapolis Kitchen And Bath Shannon Poe

    [Mediterranean Spaces design[( by Los Angeles Architect Lewin Wertheimer

    The last kitchen would be a good color blue for you. I love the Navy that Beekeeperswife posted. You should look up Beaglesdoitbetter's kitchen. It's blue and it's fabulous!

    Good Luck!

  • Debbi Branka

    I have white perimeter cabs and navy island cabinets. I love the navy! I used Sherwin Williams naval. It's not as dark as you imagine. I think the blue that matches your tiles is too bright for the kitchen.

  • lannegreene

    I love your tile and cabinets. I think blue would be perfect. I would try to go with a classic navy blue. I don't think those blues that move towards green (teal) would work as well with your floor tile. But, pick a color you love. You could take your tile to the paint store and have them match the white, use that for your uppers maybe.

  • nomad4

    Hi Roulie, I think a darker blue like in Beekeepers pictures would look great along the perimeter (and with your terra cotta floors it'd be stunning.) If you do a color closer to Sanjuans last picture then doing the whole kitchen would work well. Can't wait to see what you decide on.

  • chicagoans

    I love the blue and white kitchens shown here! (And I'm more of a red gal, too.) deb52899 your kitchen is beautiful.

    I'd recommend priming and painting a few sheets of wall board or large art canvases in the colors you're considering, and propping those up and living with them awhile. Color changes so much depending on lighting, time of day, and other nearby colors. It will take a bit of extra time but might help you decide what you want in the long run. The little paint swatches (even the bigger ones you can buy) don't always provide enough of the color to know for sure.

    It's going to be lovely.

  • bellsmom

    Here's your kitchen with blue island, off white perimeter. Might help you visualize it.

    Personally, I would also consider a gel stain to darken and warm the color of the wood. Something like this would live nicely with the handsome butcher block countops.

    Maybe on either the cabs or the island--or both?

    This post was edited by Bellsmom on Mon, Feb 4, 13 at 15:25

  • beekeeperswife

    deb, I love that blue island! I was hoping you would post it here! (can i pin it?)

  • roulie

    Oh wow! You amazing, lovely people!!! Thanks for all of the great pictures, comments, and support for blue!! Those are some seriously pretty kitchens!!

    Bee: the first one you posted is *gorgeous*

    Deb: I remember yours from a while ago: I loved it then, when I wasn't even considering a blue island, and I'm so happy you shared the picture again. What a beautiful kitchen!!

    Cawaps and others: After seeing these great photos, I agree that the Philipsburg Blue is too light... and too matchy matchy with the blue in the tile. The navys in the other pictures are just so rich, and I really think would show off the butcher block. Newburyport blue looks like it will be better. Someone else suggested Hale Navy -- I'll have to make some sample boards. Fortunately, we have some of the beadboard left over (from the 70s) so I can test the paint colors on the actual material to see how the grain looks with paint.

    Running: I'm still laughing about your comment about my forlorn child... I think he was into his third hour of Spongebob that day! Also, my pathetic attempt at Christmas decorations -- as I was putting things out, I kept thinking "this is all coming down in a week when the counters are sanded" so it was a pretty lame attempt. Yes, renovations have their downsides for the kids ("no, I can't play a game with you: daddy and I have to discuss paint colors for the millionth time; yes, we are going to spend Saturday morning at the tile store *again*; ok -- you can pee in the backyard because we still don't have a powder room on the first floor and it's *too difficult* to walk up a flight of stairs to your bathroom". wait... peeing outside is an upside for the boys in my house :)

    Holly: we are trying really hard to maintain what is in this house, because it's such high quality stuff to begin with and because it's just so different from anything else we've ever had. I think someone else might have gutted this kitchen -- it's pretty 70s! -- but I think you're right that the right paint color will breathe new life into it.

    Bellsmom: you are a gem!! It's so hard to imagine the whole thing, and this helps a lot. But what I see now is how terrible my old wall oven and microwave are going to look when they are surrounded by fresh paint :)

    I'm feeling more confident about this blue thing! And as CEFreeman said, it's just paint...

  • theclose

    Such a timely post for me! I have been wanting a navy kitchen for ages and now we are buying a house in which we are updating the kitchen by painting the cabinets and I think we are going for it! I posted last week about doing white and decided on BM Simply White. I was talked out of doing navy by a couple of people but the more I thought about it, why can't I do it?! This won't be our forever kitchen so when we renovate we can go with white if the navy proves too much for us. Our kitchen faces north/east and doesn't get a ton of light, but I am not letting that stop us.

    One of the pics beekeeper posted - the bottom one - is by designer Miles Redd. I love his stuff! Very bold use of color and lots of lacquer. It is one of my inspiration pics.

    I also love debs pic of her navy island with white perimeter cabs. Another thought for me, but I am tending towards the thoughts of CEFreeman above - you'll regret not going for it!

    As for colors, I was thinking of BM Old Navy or Hale Navy.

    Good luck!

  • pricklypearcactus

    What architectural style is the house? From the tile I wondered if it might be Spanish Revival?

    I love the navy idea, especially a rich saturated navy like deb's gorgeous island or the first kitchen bee posted.

  • roulie

    mamorella: keep me posted on what you end up doing! I'll check out Old Navy.

    Prickly: I have been told (by someone on this forum) that the house is possibly but not exactly a Norman Revival. It's a stone "cottage" and the quirkiest house I've ever owned. Here is a picture from right after we moved in. We have since power washed the stone and it's a totally different color (but I don't have a picture of it -- it turned out to be a lovely beige/tan color) and we painted the trim.

  • msl511

    I recently redid my son's relatively small bedroom with navy walls(BM Bold Blue) and white woodwork and furniture. It doesn't make the room look small or cave-like, which would be the worry. I think it's rich looking and very striking. It doesn't get a lot of natural light, but we've got plenty of artificial light in there.

    So I say definitely go for it. I think it will be gorgeous.

    But definitely, definitely do some sample boards with several different paints and leave them up for a couple of days so you can see how they change in various lights. I did sample boards of 4 different BM deep,dark blues and they all looked really different. Also, make sure to move them around because they'll look different in different spots.

  • threeapples

    I hope you do navy. I'm
    About to have my entire kitchen, cabinets included, painted farrow and balls "light blue." Yikes! :)

  • nosoccermom

    I would go with something like the blue in the second photo. It looks to me like the darker blue in your tile (the blue edging the orange in the middle). And start with the island and then assess whether to continue with blue lowers, all blue, or all cream.
    Also have to say that on my monitor all the BM web site samples look way off from real life. BM Lucerne, for example, is a lot darker in my house.

  • sixtyohno

    I didn't read every message but I hope you do navy on the cabinets too. So gorgeous! And the outside is so beautiful too. Were you looking for a stone house?

  • pricklypearcactus

    Wow the exterior is gorgeous! I think the navy and white will be perfect.

  • bellsmom

    Exterior is beautiful. And I couldn't resist trying more blue. I like it much more than I thought I would. This is a real quick job, so ignore splotches and skips.

    Hope this is more or less the color you are considering.

  • firstmmo

    Your home is wonderful! I love both the exterior and the kitchen...and the fact that it's quirky is super appealing :)

    You should go for the blue and I agree with many of the others that a deeper blue will be beautiful. Bellsmom has done a good job of mocking up some colors to help you visualize. I really love it all! Maybe some natural fiber roman shades and you will be good! A total transformation!

    One other idea might be to explore how much it would cost to see if someone could remodel a few of the upper cabinet doors to have glass. That would lighten the uppers quite a bit and make them look less heavy.

  • aliris19

    I was skeptical about blue until I saw all those gorgeous blue kitchens. I've seen a lot of them already, but hadn't realized in aggregate what a wonderful option "blue" is.

    Bellsmom- those photoshops are terrific and I'm glad you did the all-blue, second version. I like it much better than the two-toned.

    Roulie - I do hope you go with blue, a rich deep-hued blue, even, like Bellsmom's second one or Beekeeper's second one, too -- that's really dark and, well, very grand-dame stately. I think it matches the tenor of the home from the outside. It seems really imposing and ultra-elegant.

    Can't wait to see what you choose.

    My house still looks forlorn like that, two years in. Talk about pathetic!

  • liriodendron

    It is just paint, but it's also paint on beadboard which will make scraping it off (should you hate it) a royal PITA.

    For that reason I think I would go to the trouble of painting the chosen color on as many sheets of thick paper as necessary and then attaching them to every cabinet door and vertical cab surface. And then live with color for a week or so. If you still love it, then go forth with confidence.

    By the way, are you the person who refinished the butcher block counter and still had some darkening near the sink? You might try using oxalic acid to remove the dark water stains. Work carefully and take pains to protect your sink You need to rinse the area copiously after it's done its work on the counter, but you may not wish to flush it into your sink if the sink is stainless steel. As always, test in an inconspicuous place on the wood (under the overhang, for instance).



  • Debbi Branka

    Love the second one by Bellesmom. There you go! Thanks girls for loving my island. Bee - I'd be honored for you to pin it!

  • nosoccermom

    It may be my monitor, but a lot of the posted kitchens look purplish blue. I'd sat more towards the slightly greenish/greyish blues.

  • bellsmom

    Doing the blue PS version made me realize that I think blue may well be the right choice. As Aliris said, I had never realized how much I liked blue cabinets as a category.

    And, as Liriodendron said, which blue is the quandary. I love the idea of painting (I would use the cheapest available posterboard) sheets of paper in several blues, taping them up on the cabinets, and living with them for a while. Brilliant idea.

    I think it is Home Depot where one can buy small samples of paint for a very reasonable price. The decision on how gray, how warm or cool, how light or dark the blue should be would be very tricky for me. I think I could do it without making a messy mistake this way.

  • CEFreeman

    I think an important note is that nothing is primary.
    If you get a primary blue (red, yellow and secondary, green) it tends to look garish and the whole point is lost.

    The available paint samples depend upon the maker. A quart of paint is still less of an investment than a huge paint job. Make certain to look at it in all the day's and night's light. That's been my trouble.

    I started to say that some of the colors shown are all perfect (on my monitor). Then I realized they're all right on the mark.

    I cannot wait to see how it turns out!

  • laughablemoments

    I was just perusing pictures on Crown-Point Cabinets site and saw a beautiful blue kitchen. There is also a lot of natural wood in the room, including a butcherblock counter on the island. It made me think so much of your kitchen that I thought you might like to see it.

    I can't get photobucket to cooperate (my Avast is telling me it's blocking a malicious site--hmmmm....) so, I'm including a link to Crown-point's page of shaker cabinets. If you click on picture #9, you can scroll through a lot of images of the blue kitchen.

    It'd be interesting to find out what they used on the cabinets, because it almost looks like the grain is peaking through a bit. I'm wondering if it could be a Transtint Dye or a milk paint. (?)

    Your counters look great, and I look forward to seeing where you take your kitchen colorwise. : ) I love Bellsmom's picture with all blue.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Blue Shaker cabinets by Crown Point

  • hosenemesis

    I don't think I would look at the two spaces in isolation.

    Will the color have to extend all the way into the open dining area? I really love the navy cabinets, but if the wood continues into your dining room area I think that a gray-blue washed cabinet color, like the one that you posted with the brick, might be the way to go. It's hard to tell from the photos.

    I love the tile, and your house is just dreamy.

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