Step out of your comfort zone and go for an attention-grabbing orange kitchen
Moving away from an all-white kitchen can be scary, but there’s one direction to head that can feel... well, right.
Yes, orange is a bold colour but it’s also a shade already found in the kitchen. Pumpkins, oranges, tangerines, melon, saffron, carrot – these food hues make orange a natural choice for your kitchen.
Orange also transcends the seasons – it can look fresh and fruity for summer, but warm and toasty for winter. It’s a colour that fits with many interior styles, from contemporary and rustic to heritage and retro. And orange is traditionally associated with friendliness – it’s a social uplifting, ‘chatty’ shade, so the kitchen is a perfect place to use it.
Painting all your cabinets in bright orange (Resene Tangerine) is a bold move, but the crisp white Resene Alabaster walls and a planked feature wall stained in Resene Colorwood Walnut keep this retro-style space from being too overpowering.
For a look that’s current, use clear oranges and try to keep the general look of the kitchen clean-lined and minimal. If you go too light and pastel, the kitchen will look insipid. If your orange is too muddied or ‘burnt’, the kitchen may end up looking dull and dated rather than daringly up-to-the-minute. An exception is for a traditional-style kitchen where an orange that veers towards terracotta would look great… but maybe just on the walls, or as an accent. Some current on-trend shades of orange for kitchens are Resene Daredevil (almost fluorine), Resene Juicy (tropical), Resene Flashback (a jaunty tone) and Resene Ecstasy (warm and rich).
Four different orange themed kitchens...
Top left: Painting all your cabinets in bright orange (Resene Tangerine) is a bold move, but the crisp white Resene Alabaster walls and a planked feature wall stained in Resene Colorwood Walnut keep this retro-style space from being too overpowering.
Top right: The orange used on the rangehood and island bench (Resene Ecstasy) of this kitchen is a perfect match with the warm tones of the woodgrain cabinets. It’s part of an award-winning house built by Turnkey Homes in Wanaka. Owner Jen Milburn wanted a sunny, happy kitchen and it now reminds her of having an orange kitchen back in the 1980s. The walls are painted in Resene Half Spanish White.
Bottom left: The owners of this modern home made some gutsy colour choices for the kitchen, helped by architect Gerald Parsonson. The main shade is Resene Trinidad (orange), with a Resene Banana Split (yellow) end wall and Resene Kumutoto (unseen, blue).
Bottom right: If you’re nervous of too much orange, use it on a back-painted splashback for an edgy twist. In a kitchen designed by Natalie Du Bois, the splashback is Resene Blaze, the cabinets are Resene Soapstone, the walls are Resene Sandspit Brown and the ceiling is Resene White.
Orange looks particularly good with clean neutrals, which act to counterbalance the colour’s high-energy vibe. Use crisp white (try Resene Alabaster) or charcoal (try Resene Half Tuna) as a secondary or accent colour. Or use a clean mid-grey such as Resene Stack to cool down your orange; you can use more of this in relation to the orange.
Orange looks spectacular with any type of timber, mainly because most timbers have a warm orangey undertone. Consider using wood as a secondary cabinet material, or as an accent.
If you are nervous about committing to a full-on orange kitchen, try using the colour as an accent – on the walls (mostly covered by cabinetry anyway), as a back-painted splashback, or on the base of an island bench. This will give you a warm citrusy hit without overwhelming the room.
Here’s how to use a strong colour but in a very sophisticated way. Designer Mal Corboy framed these oak wall cabinets in Resene Whizz Bang, and also used this dark red-orange on the lower cabinets. He was going for a smoky, sophisticated cigar lounge feel. The recessed handles and use of colour also give the kitchen a subtle retro look.
Whatever colour you’re working with, always use a Resene testpot to finalise your choices. Strong hues like orange can look very different on a small paint chip than on a larger surface like a cabinet or wall. Paint an A2-sized piece of card (available from your local Resene ColorShop), leaving an unpainted border, then place it in different parts of the room at various times of the day and under a range of lighting conditions (i.e., natural versus artificial).
If you’re using a bright shade like orange on a back-painted glass splashback (make sure your supplier uses Resene Imperite for this), the glass will further accentuate the intensity of the colour, giving it an even more luminous quality. Accentuate the out-there quality of orange by using it in a gloss paint finish for the cabinets – if you’re doing them up yourself use Resene Enamacryl gloss or Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss. For something fun, finish your orange feature space in Resene Write-on Wall Paint. You can scrawl, scribble and jot down reminders all over it using whiteboard markers without damaging your surfaces.
Kitchen Decorating Ideas
View more kitchen decorating ideas from Food magazine in the Resene kitchen inspiration gallery.