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Your new kitchen: How to select colour and finishes

Your new kitchen: How to select colour and finishes

“I’m not sure where to start, can you help me?”  I get asked this all the time from people, with a frantic expression. 

It’s time to renovate the kitchen, only every time you start thinking about all the decisions you need to make, you start to panic.   There are so many things you want to incorporate into your design that it’s starting to get out of hand.   You keep changing your mind because you’re not sure how it’s going to turn out.  You’re feeling a bit muddled and you need to start making some firm decisions, for your own sanity and for everyone else’s!  You need a step by step plan.  So I’m going to outline a course of action that will get you well on your way to creating your dream kitchen.

Your New Kitchen: How to select colour and finishes

This guide assumes you already know the basic layout of your kitchen.  If you don’t, well you’re making life hard for yourself!  It’s the most important thing to do first.  Sort it out before proceeding any further.  The whole design process will involve trying to visualise how it’s going to look in your home.  Without knowing the basic shapes, how can you begin to imagine what it’s going to look like?  If you need help figuring out your kitchen layout, I’ve written an article about it here.

Oh, and have a look at some kitchen pictures on the web (I’m sure you’ve already been doing that!).  Try and narrow it down to a few that you particularly like, this is difficult I know, but have a go.

Ok, what do I need to select first?

Is it the benchtop first or the cupboards first?  I would actually start with your flooring.  It’s one of the most important choices.  This is because it usually flows through all the other living spaces in your home.  For most people, it’s an easy choice to make.  You may have to work with what you’ve got, or you have a definite view of what you like in your home.

You may wish to create warmth with timber or use light coloured tiles to create space.   You might use concrete because of your trendy industrial aesthetic.  Whatever you decide, get a sample of your chosen flooring and take it to your nearest showroom.  Most suppliers have showrooms and many cabinetmakers have them too.  If you want, make an appointment with a consultant there.  They are a wealth of knowledge and it won’t cost you anything.  Sometimes it’s good to talk to someone you don’t know about your ideas and see what they think.  It will give you a good boost of confidence if you learn you’re on the right track.

Don't forget about your wall colour

Something that’s always forgotten about, choosing the colour of the walls in your kitchen. Often people say “Don't worry about that.  You won’t see any of my walls because the kitchen goes right up to the ceiling”.  What they don’t think about is, if their kitchen is open plan, it needs to tie in with their living spaces.  Imagine looking at your new kitchen from a distance, on your couch for example.  How does it look with your current colour scheme?  Do you want to re-paint all the walls a different colour because it clashes with the kitchen?  Probably not, so find out what the paint is called and keep it in mind when selecting colours for your kitchen.

You’ll likely need to paint small areas of kitchen walls after the cabinetry install.  It’s inevitable that they’ll damage the walls when they rip out the old cupboards.  Patching up and painting the same colour again is much easier.

Another reason for taking note of your existing wall colour is you can use it as a starting point.   If you don’t know where to begin, you can further develop your current colour scheme. For example, if your wall colour is white with a grey undertone, work on a grey based colour scheme.  This is a great thing to do because you’ll want your new renovation to flow on from the rest of the house in a natural way. 

What if you don’t particularly like your current colour scheme but there’s no way you’re painting all your walls?  There’s a solution to this problem too.  Many people are trying to get rid of all the cream and beige in their home because it’s dated and dreary.  How do you pick modern colours and make it work with the old colour scheme?  Well, you may consider getting help from a colour consultant. They have lots of experience with this.

The point I’m trying to make is, if you asses the floors and wall colour first, this gives you a base to build upon. You don’t have to make your final decision and lock them in at this point.  I'm just suggesting you put some thought into it so you have a good idea about which direction your going in. If you’re not sure where to start with your kitchen selections, this is a good place. 

What next?

With your flooring and wall paint in mind, have a look at benchtops next.  Unless you have a strong idea about how you want your cupboards to look, select your benchtop first.   If your answer to this is “well, I want white cupboards” then there are hundreds of choices for white.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

It’s a good idea to put a large portion of your budget into the benchtop.  Since this is your work surface and you want it to go the distance.  Get the best that you can afford.  When you narrow down the type of material you want to use, it makes it much easier to make your colour choice. 

Engineered stone is by far the most popular choice. It's durable and it’s a luxury that is becoming more and more affordable.

Laminate is still a fantastic choice for those who don’t want to over capitalise.  At about a third of the cost of stone, how can you go past it?  Technology has improved the look dramatically.  They are often such a good replica of stone or wood.  Honestly, some people wouldn’t know the difference either way. 

I won’t go into detail about all the wonderful surfaces out there.  That is for another time.  But go and visit some displays, have a close look and ask questions.  What do the edges look like?  How do the joins appear?  Is a glossy benchtop what I really want?

What about the doors?

Cupboard doors, drawers and panels come in so many different forms it will make your head spin.  The trick is to work out what type of material you want first and then pick colour and finish.

Type of material comes down to budget, how you want it to perform and of course how it looks.  Ask your cabinetmaker to price a few different options for you.  Everyone wants value for money.  So find out exactly what the price difference is between each type.  Discuss it with people in the know.

When you decide on your material type, your choices often narrow down to only a few colours.  It makes it a lot easier to choose one.

With all your samples laid out on a table, mix and match, play around with it until it looks right.  Include samples of everything you have selected so far.  If you have an inspirational picture (or a few) this will help you to stay on track.  Take your collection of samples to the space, if possible.  Look at them at different times of the day.  Try and picture it installed (this doesn’t come easily to most people).  When I work on projects, I will always do several 3d renderings of the design.  It’s useful to me because I can see what works and what doesn’t.  It also takes the stress out of it for my client because they can really see how it’s going to look.

So, how do you choose colour and finishes for your new kitchen?    Make your selections in the following order…

  1. Flooring

  2. Walls

  3. Benchtops

  4. Doors

Following a logical order will keep you feeling on top of things.  Be confident with your decisions and trust your instincts, because they are normally right.


Not sure if you’re making the right colour choices for your kitchen?  Write your concerns or questions below and I will reply with some great tips.

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