12 January 2010

Sensible Style - Easy Color Updates

Sensible Style launched in July 2009 to answer your questions about kitchen design and remodeling. This time around, we’ll look at updating your space with color. One of the most common questions readers ask is how to incorporate color into a kitchen without dating it. Unless you’re completely committed to a beloved blue or red, and resale is not an issue, you may not want to change all your cabinets, countertops or appliances to that hue. Here are some ways to add a hot color without a major investment.


One of the easiest and most affordable ways of adding this season’s hottest colors to your kitchens is with dish towels, accent rugs, table settings and pot holders. If you want to make your kitchen sunnier, add a pop of yellow to your black and white kitchen with one or more of these items. Or add a burst of orange if you’d love an energy boost each time you walk into the room! Or go soft with one of the season’s woodsy neutrals.

A detail as small as dish towels can update your kitchen. These, from NapaStyle, are both attractive and organic.


Paint is another easy, affordable way to incorporate the latest colors into your kitchen. It’s especially inexpensive if you’re providing the sweat equity yourself. Some of the hot paint colors that work great with popular cabinet finishes include…

* Deep plum or cool grey with blond maple cabinets
* Watery blues with cinnamon cherry or painted white cabinets
* Spring or seaweed green with black or dark oak cabinets.

Note, too, that paint doesn’t have to be limited to your kitchen's walls. You can also paint your ceiling and the inside of glass-fronted cabinets for a color surprise.

Paint adds instant impact to a room. Here, Valspar’s Seaside Retreat adds a cool, coastal note to a white kitchen.

Countertop Accessories

Canisters, spoon rests, utensil crocks and even cutting boards can be swapped out for colorful components, giving your kitchen an instant and very affordable update. You can find traditional or contemporary styles in the latest shades, and donate them easily to a charity’s thrift shop if you want to update again in a few years.

Add color and charm to your kitchen with Sur La Table’s new Italian Ceramic Spoon Rests.


You can certainly add color to your kitchen with new dishes, glasses, bowls and trays. If your kitchen features open shelves, glass-front cabinets or built-ins, this is a great way to color-kick the space with ease. When choosing dish colors and styles that will be open to the room, consider coordinating them with the permanent elements in the room.

Update your space with new dishes, like CB2’s new Petal Green Dinnerware set.

Countertop Appliances

Choosing non-neutral countertop appliances is your next level of color commitment! Not as pricey as a range or refrigerator, but not as inexpensively replaced as a canister set. Be sure that you love the color you’re selecting, as you’re likely to own that appliance for a number of years. Consider, too, whether your chosen color will look good on your counters, an easy one if your tops are black or white.

Colorful countertop appliances can add a kick to your kitchen’s color quotient. Just choose one you won’t kick yourself for in a few years. KitchenAid’s Empire Red Artisan Stand Mixer, available at Williams-Sonoma is a classic, (and easy to match to other brands' red models, too.)

Window Coverings

Window treatments are another way to add color to your kitchen. If your windows are a standard size, this can be an affordable update with in-stock retail or online offerings. If you need a custom size, this will be a costlier investment. Many kitchens have windows over a sink or doors to a patio. Adding an updated shade to these areas can brighten the space without a major color commitment. You can add accents in the same color in your table settings both indoors and out to extend the color in your space.

These Woven Waterfall Shades from Smith + Noble add a soft color note to a black and white kitchen.


Cookware can be a major long-term investment, and should be chosen for its performance and durability, above all. That being said, there are delicious colors to choose from in this category and if you store your cookware on a pot rack or open shelving, it can spice up your palette as well as your palate.

Colorful cookware, like this Azure Blue Dutch Oven from LeCreuset, available at Williams-Sonoma, can add a burst of flavor to your kitchen’s décor.

Visit the Sensible Style box on the right column for links to all the posts in this ongoing series.


  1. Jamie, I'm SO sorry that I haven't visited you blog in such a long time. For some reason, your most recent posts don't show up on our blogroll -- is there a link you can send me that'll update your latest post regularly??

    It just so happens that we're in the midst of a kitchen makeover, and I'm incorporating copper and red into it :-) So far, I have a sexy Jenn-Air toaster in brushed copper, and I'm having a roman blind made for the window above the sink and curtains for the patio door. The curtain fabric is red & chocolate brown stripes with some gold & copper, and the blind fabric is a plaid version of the same fabric.

    Do you have any other ideas for ways to spice up glass-fronts cabinets?? Our dishes are pretty plain, so I've been trying to think of ways to make the inside of the cabinets more interesting than white.

    And what do you think of a copper toe kick on the cabinets??

    I saw the kitchen you submitted to the Design Trade competition -- it's really nice!! :-)


  2. Kelly,
    Thanks for your kind words! Your kitchen sounds like it will be lovely. You could paint the insides of your cabinets something that will contrast the dishes and look great with the rest of the space. You could also wallpaper it. Regarding a copper toekick, very pretty, but prone to denting and scuffing. Could you live with that?

  3. Thanks Jamie :-) I think I might try painting the inside of the cabinets with the glass doors. Although..... I saw a really cool copper & cork wallpaper on TV a while back, and I've been trying to think of a way to incorporate it into our kitchen or family room. Maybe I could use that in the cabinets. Hmmmm....

    I think I'd be OK with dents and scuffs on a copper toe kick. I look at things like that as adding character and making a home look and feel lived in and well-used :-)

    Any suggestions on what kind of copper to use and where to get it??


  4. Great post! I love these ideas!

    I would also love your support on the ELLE DECOR window that I decorated for the Big Window Challenge this year. As we all know, AT doesn't make it easy, but you can vote TWICE a day. Once online & the other by texting "1" to 89800.

    Your support means the world to me!!


  5. The colors are warm and earthy. Perfect to balance a bright room or other vibrant elements.:)

  6. I simply love bright and vibrant colors, they make the room look so lively and beautiful. Colorful living.

  7. Thanks for all the great feedback! I really appreciate it, and sorry that I haven't been able to respond to everyone personally. As Eddie put it so eloquently above, your support means the world to me.


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