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What color makes a small kitchen look bigger?

What color makes a small kitchen look bigger?

Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, but small kitchens can present unique design challenges. The right color scheme is one of the most effective and budget-friendly ways to make a small kitchen appear larger and more spacious. When selecting paint colors for a small kitchen, it’s important to consider how color can impact the perception of space.

Use light, bright colors

Light, bright colors like whites and off-whites are go-to choices for opening up small spaces. The light colors reflect light, helping the room appear airier and less cramped. Soft whites, such as Swiss Coffee or Classic White, are popular neutral paint colors for small kitchens. Going for an all-white color scheme using white paint on the walls, cabinets, and trim can make a small kitchen appear crisp and spacious.

Incorporate cool undertones

Along with pale hues, paint colors with cool undertones of blue and green can make small kitchens recede, creating the illusion of more space. Cool paint colors like pale blues, light grays, and sage greens can help walls appear farther away. Combining cool paint colors with glossy finishes can also reflect more light around, further brightening up the space.

Use monochromatic color schemes

Monochromatic color schemes, where you use different tones and shades of one color, are an easy way to visually open up a small kitchen. Lighter and darker shades of one color can add visual interest while still keeping the space looking airy and unified. For example, pairing a pale blue on the walls with a deeper blue on the cabinets allows you to add depth without overwhelming the space.

Add accent colors strategically

While lighter colors enlarge small kitchens, strategic use of bolder accent colors can also create dimension. Bright pops of color on just one wall or accent pieces like bar stools help draw the eye, making the kitchen appear more expansive. Good accent colors for small kitchens include vibrant reds, emerald greens, and citrus yellows. Just be sure accent colors are used sparingly to prevent closing in the space.

Consider ceiling and trim colors

Along with wall colors, small kitchens can benefit from strategic use of ceiling and trim paint. Painting ceilings and crown molding white or close to the wall color makes the space appear higher and less choppy. Darker ceiling colors can make a small kitchen feel cramped. For trim, white or off-white typically works best to fade borders into the background.

Use reflective surfaces

Incorporating reflective surfaces is another visual trick for opening up small kitchens. Paint with a high-gloss finish, mirrored backsplashes, glass cabinet fronts, and reflective countertops bounce light around, creating the illusion of more space. Just be sure to balance reflective surfaces with some matte finishes to prevent too stark of a look.

Avoid dark, bold colors

Deep, saturated colors like navy blue, black, and jewel tones can make small kitchens feel closed in. Dark colors absorb light rather than reflect it, which can make a small kitchen feel extra cramped. Bold wall colors also limit your ability to showcase decorative items that can brighten up the space. If you love darker hues, incorporate them through accessories vs permanent finishes.

Consider kitchen layout

Beyond just color selection, kitchen layout also impacts how small a space feels. Here are some layout tips to enlarge a small kitchen:

  • Use glass cabinet doors and open shelving for a lighter, airier look
  • Incorporate reflective surfaces near the entry to visually expand the room
  • Maximize natural light with larger windows and skylights
  • Use barstool seating at islands to open up floor space
  • Opt for smaller-scale tiles to make the room feel larger
  • Keep the space free of clutter that visually overwhelms

Top paint color choices for small kitchens

Here is a summary of the best paint color options for enlarging a small kitchen:

Color Type Examples
Whites/Off-whites Swiss Coffee, Classic White, Alabaster White
Pale blues Breezy Blue, Baby Blue, Cloud White
Light grays Gray Owl, Rockport Gray, Silver Lining
Sage greens Tradewind, Feather Gray, Jojoba
Citrus yellows Lemongrass, Pale Yellow, Buttercream
Reflective finishes High-gloss paint, mirrored backsplash, glass cabinet fronts

Tips for painting a small kitchen

Once you’ve selected the ideal paint colors to enlarge your small kitchen, here are some tips for tackling the painting project:

  • Clean surfaces thoroughly and fill any holes before painting
  • Protect nearby surfaces with drop cloths and painter’s tape
  • Apply two coats of primer for the best color coverage
  • Use rollers and angled brushes to reach narrow areas
  • Work in sections, like cabinets first then walls
  • Allow proper dry time between coats as specified on the paint
  • Finish cabinet fronts removed from the frames for easiest access
  • Touch up any final spots and replace cabinet hardware
  • Maintain ventilation while painting to allow paint fumes to escape


The right use of color, from bright whites to cool undertones, can work visual magic in a small kitchen. When planning a kitchen paint job, consider light, monochromatic, and strategically-placed bold colors for opening up the space. Reflective surfaces also lend a spacious feel. Incorporating these color ideas along with an open layout will help a small kitchen live large.