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Colour in the kitchen


Kitchen ideas from Food magazine

Go on, be bold and splash some colour around your kitchen

Colour in the kitchen

White has been a go-to colour for kitchen cabinetry for many years now and with good reason – it’s timeless, versatile and fresh. But are we a bit bored of it? Now that colour is creeping back into our homes and onto our walls, is it time to conquer the last bastion of whiteness, the kitchen?

For some homeowners, white was never their style so using green, blue – even purple – cabinets is a natural extension of their tastes. For others, using colour in the kitchen is a little scary. Never fear. There are plenty of ways to introduce some colour without going overboard.

Using a back-painted glass splashback has often been a solution to inject some life into an all-white kitchen. The splashback brings interest and it’s a safe way to add colour – you can always remove the splashback and install a new one in the future.

A bold colour choice in the kitchen
The bold colour choice for this kitchen came from a painting the homeowner has hanging in the hallway. Using Resene Resolution Blue, the cabinets are a striking contrast to the Corian benchtop and built-in table. It was designed by Marianne Gailer of Kitchens By Design, Auckland.

Another option is to paint the base of the island bench in a bold Resene colour. Just make sure the colour links to other elements in the space. It might echo the colour of the sofa, dining chairs, accessories or tiles. Darker colours such as dusky blue or charcoal (try Resene Seachange or Resene Gravel) look good on island bases as they serve to visually anchor the island to the floor.

You can also paint stronger colour on the tall cabinets, especially if they are isolated on one wall. Because this involves a whole wall, it may be best not to use a colour that is too far removed from the white cabinets or it may jar. You could use a duck-egg blue, pale grey or soft sage green. The exception would be if you’re after a very graphic effect, in which case tall black (Resene Nero) or vivid blue (Resene Tory Blue) cabinets seen against crisp white ones (Resene Black White) work well.

Top tip: Use the Resene Kitchen & Bathroom range of paints for your walls. This combines anti-bacterial silver protection and MoulDefender to minimise unwanted nasties in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries. Or choose durable Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen.


A non-scary way of introducing bold colour is to paint the base of a kitchen island. Designed by Rochelle Jackson of Kitchen Elements, Wellington, the island is in Resene Wind Talker with the rest of the cabinets in Resene Half Sea Fog.

You could try including some peek-a-boo colour by painting the shelves or the walls in your pantry, or in certain cupboards, in a strong colour – be cheeky with bright orange (Resene Daredevil) or yellow (Resene Bright Spark). This can look spectacular and is a nice change from stockstandard white melamine cupboards.

Another idea is painting the walls behind white cabinetry in a strong colour, either dark, like stormy teal Resene Casal, or bright, like fiery red Resene Flash Point. The amount of visible wall in a kitchen is often reduced because so much wall space is taken up with the cabinetry. This is an opportunity to be bold without being too in-your-face. It’s also the easiest option to change if you tire of the colour.

Paint the furniture. If a dining table or chairs are an integral part of the kitchen use bold colour on them instead of the cabinets. Your kitchen might suit the country look of painting just the table legs in a colour and leaving the top in timber. Or vice versa.

If you have an older kitchen and want a quick facelift or can’t afford new cabinetry, refresh them with a quick and easy paint job using Resene Enamacryl (gloss) or Resene Lustacryl (semi-gloss). They’re tough enough for the job! Even if you have laminate cupboard and drawer fronts, just use Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer first. Then replace the handles and you will have a whole new look.

Top tip: Use Resene Enamacryl (gloss) or Resene Lustacryl (semi-gloss) to paint furniture, especially if it’s likely to get the sort of wear and tear you usually get in a kitchen space. These are ultra-tough waterborne enamels that are perfect for the job.

Bold coloured kitchens - purple kitchens, orange kitchens
Left: Purple is certainly not a common choice for kitchens, but Queenstown homeowners Janice and Jeffrey wanted a really punchy colour, choosing Resene Scarlet Gum for the cabinetry at one end of the kitchen and the splashback. Other cabinetry is painted in Resene Stack and the walls are Resene Double Sea Fog.  Right: Christchurch homeowners Sarah and Glen chose the fun and vibrant Resene Clockwork Orange to paint the cube-shaped area that sits at the centre of their open-plan living and kitchen space. They see the colour as a modern take on the traditional concept of the hearth as the heart of the home.

What about the floor?

Another way to easily change the look of a kitchen is by refurbishing the floor. The floor is a large visual area so any change will have quite an impact.

If you have existing timber floors that are in an outdated finish, try a Scandi or country casual look with Resene Colorwood Whitewash. Or if you are after a slightly more antique look, Resene Colorwood Greywash has a similar washed effect and has a subtle colour that suits many styles of interior.

If you’re after a classic stained look, there are many different shades (and some fun brights) in the Resene Colorwood range. Once the floor is stained, protect it with Resene Aquaclear urethane.

If your floor is in need of a cover-up rather than a refresh, try Resene Walk-on paint, which can be tinted into many different colours.


Kitchen Decorating Ideas
View more kitchen decorating ideas from Food magazine in the Resene kitchen inspiration gallery.

More ideas

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