Colorful Kitchens

Vibrant Saturated Colors

Introduction: We've got designers' newest takes on the simplicity of a white kitchen, the shimmer of stainless steel, the warmth of earth tones and the energy of primary colors.

"These clients' previous space was color-oriented as well, but smaller and very busy. They wanted to continue living with color, but he was less certain about using the vibrant shades that she loved. We reached a consensus by doing the kitchen and hall areas in tangelo and bright red, with the sink area and the rest of the walls throughout the space done in soft, mossy green. This made most of the space live quietly, with the vibrancy happening where the action was.

"We brought in dark wood cabinets to bring a sense of peacefulness to the space. When you combine bright, saturated colors and light wood, you get a lot more energy. It's bright/happy/cheerful, but what we wanted was living with color for the beauty of color, at a more comfortable energy level. Light woods would have allowed the color to be overpowering, whereas the deeper tones soothe the space.

"We balanced the dark cabinets with natural bamboo, which kept the space from going somber. The countertops were the segue; as a mid-tone, they created a bridge between the cabinets and flooring so that we didn't have too much contrast."

Light and Dark Neutrals

"The focal point of this space is the architectural vault. We didn't want your focus to go to it and die there-we wanted to pull the eye to other things. We used color in burgundy stained cherry wood, stainless, granite and glass over Formica to cause your eye to continually travel throughout the space. The only sections that were entirely dark wood were the bar, because we wanted that to be elegant, and the refrigerator and pantry area, so that it would read as a volume.

"The Formica that's behind the glass is a gray that we chose to make it the same tonality as the stainless steel. The rear of the open cabinet is the same dark burgundy as the rest of the cabinetry. It brings balance to the space, taking the dark volume on the left and bringing it back in again on the right. I wanted the backsplash to be a non-element in the kitchen, so we chose a quiet, indestructible matte porcelain and matched a paint color to flow into it. The result is a casual yet elegant space with lots of movement."

Tuscan Yellow Cabinets

"The yellow cabinetry serves as a backdrop to create sunshine. The clients have actually bicycled in Italy, where they acquired the colorful Italian pottery, and they wanted the kitchen's design to showcase it. They also wanted the background to recall the Tuscan sun. The large g-shaped kitchen's very light yellow cabinetry brings out the reds and blues of the pottery. The client is a lady who is married with four boys; she's the only female in the house, and yellow was something cheery she could really identify with.

"The beadboard backs of the cabinets, crown molding and door styles are complemented by the soft yellow hue. The horizontal plan (countertops and floors) of the kitchen is darker than the vertical yellow of the cabinets, grounding the room."

French Country Colors

"This new construction, a marvelous French County home design, has a striking butter-yellow stucco exterior with burnished copper accents. It was pre-ordained that the kitchen cabinetry would reflect the exterior color. The creamy yellow cabinetry enlarges the interior space while recreating a sense of the Old World's sunny countryside atmosphere. The color is very muted, a warm umber glaze softens the yellow, and a gray residue in crevices leaves the appearance of ancient dust. Worn edges and worm holes add depth and character.

"The countertop color is uba tuba, whose deep bottle green color is a beautiful contrast to the butter cream of the cabinetry. The shade "pops" the various elements, rather than competes with them. The granite countertop has a reflective quality, so that while it appears dark, it reflects the area around it, which is light. The counter surface actually highlights the cabinets, causing them to become the focal point of light in the room. The primary importance of the color is that it repeats the exterior color palette, a decision made in tandem with the client, architect Jack Arnold and interior designer Charles Fudree."

Bold Red and Yellow

"Although this is a saffron yellow kitchen from Plain & Fancy, that was not the greatest color achievement in this design. Inside the glass doors and on the wine rack is a custom red color that matches the red leather of the barstools. We sent a swatch of fabric to Plain & Fancy, and they color-matched it to the paint they used.

"The red pendant lights add further visual interest, as does the brick wall behind the stove. The kitchen features honed black granite, while the lighter granite on the island really pulled out the colors. The clients are very dynamic and wanted to add one more element to contribute to the "wow factor" through the red. This design used a color that turned the space into a visually stunning kitchen."

Choose Colors From a Collection

"This kitchen was designed for a professional couple who purchased a 20-year-old home and renovated it to suit their tastes and lifestyle. For the kitchen, as for the rest of the house, they wanted bold colors. The couple has an incredible art and glass collection in bright colors and had a number of pieces of furniture and accessories that were the basis of a green and gold color scheme. As the new home is very open they wanted to carry this through, so a strong golden color stain on maple was selected for the central working section of the kitchen.

"A softer green stain on maple was used in the perimeter cabinets in the butler's pantry, the bar and the dining room. We didn't want a super strong yellow and a super strong green, so we used a sage green that lets the yellow provide the "pow!" The cabinets were complemented by very dark emerald green granite that has some gold flecks in it. The floor's warm tone picks up on the gold of the wood. The space is surprisingly inviting, not the least bit intimidating, and reflects the couple's love of color and their exuberant approach to life."

Soothing, Warm Shades

"In this kitchen with the similarly toned elements-the maple cabinetry and antique French terra cotta floors-definition comes from the walls. The soothing white counters are made of Eurostone, which has embedded seashells in it; the gold nuggets coordinate with the cabinets, emphasizing warmth. Green gives the kitchen punch. Though it was built monochromatically, the backsplash is composed of recycled iridescent glass tile that has some green tonalities. We actually tried another color, more of a sage, on the walls first, and it just didn't do it-it looked too wimpy. Color is very particular; changing it just a shade totally changes the look."

"The selection of an olive green wall with the red and green touches in the 1920s poster offers the desired contrast. The inspiration came from a Cole Haan shoebox; we were taken by surprise at the stunning combination of that particular green and red, and how they worked harmoniously with the rest of our elements. The desired effect: A dynamic, refreshing small space."

Apple Green Walls

"The clients both had very different styles; she likes contemporary, while he's from England and has a very traditional sense of style. They also wanted something that didn't go too far outside the style of the house, which was built in 1947-that's where details like the larger crown molding come in.

"The hardware selection is a little more contemporary, but the door style is transitional, which lends itself to a traditional or contemporary look. The light to medium stain on maple also works with both styles.

"The green walls were the client's color choice, and work well. The green really brightens up the space, which was dark to begin with and part of the reason we took a wall out. The color leans more toward contemporary side of things, as that vivid of a color tends to be a little more contemporary, but it works with the other colors in the house, which tend to be a little more muted."

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