Help w/ Kitchen Cabinet Color

October 8, 2019

Recently bought my first home and have been having trouble deciding what color to go with for the kitchen cabinets. I want something that will break up all of the wood but finding a color that doesn’t clash with the counters has been a challenge. If anybody has any suggestions or alternate ideas it would be greatly appreciated!

Comments (33)

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs

    I am going to suggest that you not paint the cabinets…I know everybody is for whites and lights, but it isn’t always the answer.

    Consider painting the walls instead. Go for a deep strong color. This B.M. Calypso Blue.

    Change the pillows on the black sofa in the background.

    PS…not loving the little curlicue shelf over the stove…just saying’. : > )

  • Robbin Capers

    I'd put a nice rug down to break the wood tones up and think about getting lighter/quieter countertops if anything.

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  • Kirsten E.

    I get the desire to break up the wood. Before investing in painting cabinets, maybe try a colorful (and even ergonomic!) rug/runner with a lot of color and/or cool pattern? If you do want to paint, I think white or black (if you have enough light in the space) could look good with the counter. Probably the safest options, but hopefully someone will come in with photoshop!

  • ake101886

    Thanks for the feedback! I’m planning on doing a runner; the pillows and the “curlicue” shelf are temporary. Unfortunately, changing the countertops is not in the budget. I’m considering doing an accent wall but I still feel the cabinets need some contrast from the floor. I’ve thought about painting them a shade of green or maybe going with an espresso stain. Thoughts?

  • luckyblueeye

    I was also going to suggest a green to break up all the brown tones.

  • Cocotini Hartman

    Are those oak cabinets? I see a lot of grain. If so they may not look too good painted. I'd talk with someone who paints cabinets professionally.

  • eam44

    If changing the counters is not in the budget, may I suggest waiting until it is? Live in the space, change nothing, save your money until you can make a more meaningful change. Yellow counters are no one’s friend, and you’re designing around them because of budget. And those cabinets don’t look like they’re in great shape. Just wait. Recover from the house purchase, start getting inspiration images together, post your layout here for tweaking.

  • acm

    I think I wouldn't go darker. you could do a cream, or some shade of taupe or greige (carefully coordinated with counter and backsplash). there are also probably some lovely shades of sage that would be nice.

  • acm

    ugh, hard photo to modify in my usual way, but here are a couple rough mock-ups to help you visualize a bit...

  • PRO
    Aqua Kitchen and Bath Design Center

    I would go with different countertops and backsplash with a marble looking quartz, something like White Attica Quartz or Statuario Maximus, for example. These would break up all the wood and and give cutting edge appeal to the kitchen.

  • HU-930843954

    Off white cabinets will help offset all that wood.

  • docck

    I have new wood floors and old honey oak cabinets that I hate. I am painting the cabinets white. I love them. And I like your counters. Since you don't say you don't like them, but want to break up the wood on wood, paint. Just prep well.

  • Donna Meyer

    Cream is the ideal color. Choose a color from a fan deck and knock it back twenty percent.

  • maavernon

    I would also suggest a cream/off white cabinet. I don’t think your counters are yellow at all it’s just the way the light is reflecting on them in that photo.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    ditto for a soft white. you have the perfect cabs for painting-slab doors (super easy and will still look updated) and the shaker doors. Similar to this before/after

    What I would do w/yours if you paint, is get an MDF panel for the side/front bar side of your peninsula. (you have a very heavy grain on your panel. you could use a grain filler and paint that if you want, or replace it the mdf).

    then you could add some simple trim around the edging for a finished look.

    I also top your uppers w/a type of crown molding.

    I tried to photoshop a soft white onto yours so you could see how it looks. Here's what I used:

    This is General Finishes Milk Paint in Linen. My friend also used this color on customers oak cabinets:

    they replaced a few of the doors w/glass. Linen is the perfect off-white shade.

    ignore the color here. just look at the trim on the end panels .

    also look at how they finished the bottom of the cabinets w/base molding.

    These little additions really take it up a notch. and since you will be painting, it will be the perfect time to add it.

    or the AquaCoat grain filler:

    Is this a DIY project? if so, I have the perfect link on how to paint oak cabinets. Has a complete step by step w/everything you'll need.

  • HU-800129245

    chrislovesjulia.com $1000 kitchen renovation. They did a similar thing. Check it out.

  • Janice jones

    Just my 2 cents. If you have children or aren't VERY careful, you may regret painting those cabinets. Painted cabinets chip very easily, especially on the edges. Touch ups are always noticeable. I would prefer to see a light colored counter top or even use a gel stain to darken the cabinets if you want to change the hue. Unless you have them professionally painted, and then use at least 3 polyurethane water based top coatings, you may regret it down the line. If you use an oil base urethane, eventually, it will turn you white paint yellow. Oil based products just yellow over time. Just my opinion, but I've been through hundreds of homes with painted cabinets. They look great in the beginning though.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    ,,,,Painted cabinets chip very easily, especially on the edges.

    Janice, this is false IF the cabinets are prepped, primed AND painted correctly.

    This is why a DIY usually isn't a good idea (or a cheap pro) unless the person is willing to dedicate a good amount of time prepping the cabinets. I've done it and they've lasted a very long time w/o chipping. (I did a friend of mine and she still has them)

    I just had my own painted professionally and they don't chip or peel at all.

    Oil based products just yellow over time.

    No one uses oil based paints anymore (at least not out here). they have good hybrids now that last like oil but are actually water based. And if you use one of those paints, there's no need to go over it w/poly. It also takes a long time for an oil based top-coat to yellow.

    I suspect the homes that you've been to that have been painted, was just a quick 'slap on paint to make them look good' type of paint job, and nothing that anyone spent time doing the prep work.

    The link I have to DIY painting makes it very clear that you must do the prep. And if hiring a pro, you MUST ask them how the prep, all of the steps, and what products they use.

    And btw, if she wants to stain the cabinets, she will still have to take them all down, strip and sand them, and apply the stain color. It's actually more work redo those w/wood stain and get them to look good, then to paint them. (just wiping on a darker gel stain over what's currently there, without doing any type of stripping or sanding, will look horrendous. I don't care what you see on the internet. I refinish wood and can guarantee wiping on a darker gel stain over those, as is, will look worse than they do now)

  • April Hensel

    I AGREE agree with waiting on painting the cabinets. I love the wood ceiling and cabinets and think the long term solution is changing the countertops. Short term fixes would be painting walls, glass back- painted backsplash (cheap), rugs and lovely pillows on the couch! Might be enough to change the feel of so much brown!

  • Amber Webb

    If you are hiring someone to paint then I would get some bids and then get an estimate for counters too. if you really want painted cabinets then do it. Everyone has a different idea about what is ideal or beautiful. If you are painting the cabinets to compensate for the counters that you don't love then comparing price and waiting could be the better choice.

  • Peter Cartella

    The soft white idea is a good one

    Consider refacing

    A much better solution than painting

  • PRO
    Studio KT, LLC

    I think staining the cabinets a very dark ebony would be very elegant and dramatic. It would also tone down the wood grain. I don't think there is a problem with the counters, I understand that this is a big expense to replace. There are many things you can do to minimize all the woods, the cabinets would be the easiest to refinish if you don't have the budget to replace what you don't like at this time.

  • Janice jones

    Beth, my husband was a furniture finisher and master painter. He had 40 years of experience and was revered because of his exquisite finishes by movie stars, celebrities, moguls and people who expected perfection and got it. He was called over and over again to fix painted cabinets that were chipped and scratched because of careless children, maids, chefs, poor cleaning choices or general negligence. So I do speak from experience. And he never "slapped" on anything. I was also stating the importance of staying away from oil based urethane coatings because of the yellowing problem in case someone wanted to use that.

    I have spent my career as a designer, decorator and realtor. My business was solely focused on million dollar plus properties and have been through hundreds of homes with chipped and scratched cabinets inside and on the frames. Not all kitchens, but more than not had problems. I never said to just wipe on a gel stain. I was offering an alternative. If you were to paint them, you would also remove them and sand them. Stripping them is much easier these days and the re-staining is much easier and faster. I also recommended that a homeowner not do the job but to have them professionally painted. But I also said that I would recommend a light colored counter top as an alternative. And yes, a protective top coat may just save your finish.

    I was just offering some info in general in case whomever is reading these posts didn't know about that.

  • Janice jones

    ake101886 , I would also recommend that if you decide on new counter tops, to get rid of the bi-level and make your counters flush. I think your kitchen is lovely, as well as your ceiling. And personally, I think white kitchens are becoming a bit overdone and it's just a matter of time when everyone will clamor for stained wood ones again. Those are good cabinets as well as your floors.

  • vinmarks

    No white. I’m sorry but the mock up of white cabinets in your space look horrible. The problem is not the cabinets it’s the counters.

  • eam44

    The problem is not only the cabinets but primarily the counters. I think we’ve lost the original poster. Perhaps she needs time to think.

  • moylaure

    You have a lot of wood tones competing for attention! I'm thinking something like sw alabaster. I would also consider painting the dark brown trim white. It will help make your ceiling more of a focal point.

  • PRO

    Dark Charcoal, but all that dark accent trim around the ceiling has to go and the pendants should be SS.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    thank you Janice for the input. I too have refinished furniture and wood for many, many years.

    Your experience (or your husbands) might be different, but that doesn't make your statement absolutely true. this though, "because of careless..." is a major reason why.

    .Careless people. (poorly prepped is the other reason)

    Just because his finishes didn't hold up around those people, doesn't mean that painted cabinets are always going to chip. I merely debated your statement that "painted cabinets chip on the edges very easily". I completely disagree with you on that.

    You mentioned walking through 'million dollar homes that you sell' and seeing chipped cabinets. You have no idea how they were painted and what kind of prep work was done. What you're seeing is the end results of poorly prepped cabinets. I still say proper priming and prepping is the key. I redid my friends 1980 oak cabinets over 10 years ago. I stripped and sanded all of them. then primed. then fine sanded. then painted. she still has those cabinets and they have never chipped. she has a bunch of kids and animals and isn't at all careful in her kitchen. That's the only part of your comment I disagreed with. Many people come on here and tell people, 'don't paint your cabinets. they'll never last'. That's just untrue.

    And I know you didn't say just to 'wipe on gel stain'. (And for the record, when I say, 'slapped on stain", that is meant to mean 'without much prepping or being overly careful. You're the second person on here that seems to have an issue w/that phrase) However, if you look at any how-to's on some of these blogs, that's exactly what they do.The 'slap on' stain. Why? because they have no clue on how to properly refinish wood. I have stained a ton of wood furniture. To do it correctly takes just as much work as painted. (why you think stripping and staining is easier and faster now, I don't know)

    A lot of people advise the OP's on here to 'just stain them a darker color', (Maybe thinking it's easier than painting) without having any clue that it's just as much work. Stripping cabinets is not easy. not for a novice. When I advise people of things on here, I try to keep in mind their budget and what they can or cannot afford. Painting or staining kitchen cabinets is not a cheap date. Not if it's done correctly. That's why I offer a DIY option whenever I mention painting. unless the OP is familiar w/wood finishing, I just leave that DIY option off the table because it's too difficult for a novice to get right.

    I understand you just wanting to offer info to others that may read this post, as do I. That's why I sometimes contradict some comments, like I did yours. Someone who knows nothing about cabinet painting would see your comment and immediately think all painted cabinets won't last. Simply put, it's just a false statement the way you have it written. Perhaps next time you might try adding, "without proper prep work and materials used, painted cabinets may not hold up well enough compared to stained wood cabinets". Mkay? thanks.

    this is prob moot anyway since the op hasn't been back.

  • Janice jones

    First of all, NONE of my husband's work was faulty and his finishes were always perfect. Paint is a coating and stain penetrated the wood. Which one is more prone to chipping and scratching and which one is easiest to correct? Stained wood is the easiest to correct when damaged. I never said ALL of those painted cabinets chip. I said NOT ALL. And those clients don't do DIY. They pay people to do those things for them. So all were professionally painted. And, yes they were chipped and scratched at a result of careless handling. These clients hire people to work in their kitchens who don't care how they treat their employer's cabinets. These are people who have all their mature landscaping removed when they wrap a movie and have new landscaping put in, remove all the dirt in their horse arenas to be replaced with softer special dirt shipped in from Spain. They don't do projects like painting and some of them have entitled children who won't close a refrigerator door, let alone flush their toilets. So painting isn't on their list of things to do and they will only hire the best.

    As for my clients and potential clients, a lot of them have chipped cabinets that were done professionally. I always ask who did them and the process used. These are not people who do their own painting. Again, carelessness dragging pots and pans out of a cabinet, nail polish marks their cleaning crew tried to clean with nail polish remover, kids banging their scooters, bikes and toys into them, dogs scratching them to get at their food, etc. I can tell you that my husband and I have been in way more kitchens than you have.

    As for staining versus painting, stripping cabinets isn't that difficult. You can even take them and have the doors dipped in a stripping vat. EZ strippers are much easier to use than they used to be. The actual staining is fast and idiot proof.

    So next time you might read someone else's remarks fully first before you call them a liar by saying a statement isn't true. So my statements weren't FALSE at all. I'm certain people here understood what I was saying about my "personal" experiences. These are kitchens that I personally observed almost daily for many, many years. I wasn't talking about your experiences, just mine and my husband's experiences. Mkay? thanks

  • Janice jones

    And once again, I didn't say ALL. I have no idea why you took this personally. This is a complete waste of time.

  • justerrilynn

    Another idea is order good factory finished painted doors/drawer fronts and then follow the good instructions above on finishing the boxes yourself. For example: let’s say you ordered the fronts from Conestoga in Accessible Beige. Accessible Beige goes well with warm granites ( if you want to blend) but is also a Sherwin Williams paint color you can buy in the store, you paint the rest. If you are on a budget you could do a MDF with paint grade maple frame. Conestoga painted doors/drawers are very hardy and you can get any size.

Need help with an existing Houzz order? Call 1-800-368-4268