A Case for Colour in the Kitchen

Clare Tattersall

Every autumn, paint brands unveil their colour predictions for the following year. For 2022, one hue made all the major manufacturers’ lists – green. Then there were some unexpected picks like Pantone’s Fuchsia Pink, Para Paint’s burnt orange Goldenrod, and Benjamin Moore’s Wild Flower, a unique shade of red with hints of pink and orange. Selecting the ‘it’ colours is a lengthy process that involves analyzing lifestyle trends, social behaviour, search engine data, political and economic climates, and general collective mood. The goal is to help homeowners overwhelmed by the plethora of paint colours pick the right shade for their next renovation or fixer-upper project. Unsurprisingly, some of the ‘chosen ones’ show up on more than just walls.

Cabico Unique Custom Cabinets Cedar Hill Kitchen

White cabinets remain popular after dominating the kitchen design scene for the past decades. They’re considered failproof, offer a clean and timeless look, and fit in with various styles, from farmhouse to minimalist to traditional. This isn’t going to change this year; high-end custom cabinetry maker Cabico&co’s luxury product brand, Elmwood, recently released data that found 59% of all painted cabinets are in various shades of white. However, coloured cabinetry is making inroads. This is particularly true among higher-end consumers who, according to that same data, appear to be willing to take greater design risks and want their kitchens to capture their mood for 2022 – joyous, uplifting, and optimistic.

Cabico Essence Series Maberly (lowers) and Unique Series Pure White (uppers)

In line with the paint companies’ colour forecast, green in its many guises is among those colours that reign supreme in the kitchen, as it’s comforting and echoes consumers’ desire to be close to nature. There is a shade to suit every style, with emerald and deep forest greens best suited for shaker-style cabinetry as it imparts a sense of heritage and tradition. Mid-greens like sage and olive and those with minty tones provide a fresh update to modern flat front or slab cabinet doors.

Blue remains strong as a colour choice, supported by Elmwood’s latest research that found 18% of custom cabinetry selections between January 2021 and March 2022 were blue tones, nudging out green. While dark blue hues like grey-based navy are still on-trend, especially in kitchens with plenty of natural light, they give way to their pastel counterparts, which help create a soothing atmosphere in what is often the busiest room in the home.

Cabico Unique Custom Cabinets Willow Beach

Despite this shift to paler shades, inky black cabinetry is still having a show-stopping moment. Inherently striking, the non-colour can be used on both upper and lower cabinets to dial up the drama or just on the bottom to create a luxe tuxedo effect when paired with white cabinets on the top.

This two-toned effect is not limited to black and white. Using different colour combinations for upper and lower cabinets, generally lighter on top and darker for the base, or a bold alternative colour for the island to really show it off and make a statement is increasingly favoured by consumers who want a unique, one-of-a-kind custom kitchen design.

Elmwood Sabrina Smelko Photography by Darby Magill

While most homeowners continue to opt for painted cabinetry – 70%, according to Cabico&co’s 2021 purchasing data – a natural wood finish is still prized for its beauty and authenticity. It is often most coveted by those focused on creating a healthier home. The warm look of solid walnut and oak are among customer favourites, desired for their grain characteristics. These two woods also offer design flexibility, as they go well with many styles, from rustic to modern, and are neutral enough to work with a variety of wall colours.

A tinted wood stain has become an ideal solution for those who want to add color to their cabinetry but prefer to steer clear of paint. This allows the texture of the wood to emerge while pushing it beyond its raw, natural state to add depth and interest to the kitchen. Blue and green stains are currently in demand, as are medium and dark grey, though as with paint, the possibilities are endless.

Clare Tattersall is an interior designer and decorator in Toronto, and the editor of Canada’s floor covering magazine, Coverings.

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