10 kitchen cabinet colors to make a small space look bigger

Discover clever design choices and kitchen cabinet colors to make a small space look bigger

Neutral kitchen with wooden cabinets
(Image credit: deVOL kitchens)

You may be in need of some kitchen cabinet colors to make a small space look bigger if you're in a tiny apartment. Small kitchens don’t have to lack in style, they can be neatly designed spaces that are both stylish and functional. 

But what colors should you choose for your cabinetry if you want the space to appear bigger than it is? We asked designers for some of their expert advice.

Whilst searching for kitchen color ideas, bear in mind how you can complement the color of your cabinets with the color of your walls to ensure a well thought out kitchen space.

Kitchen cabinet colors to make a small space look bigger

We found some small kitchen cabinet ideas to make the most of your limited space. Whether you're in a studio apartment or just a smaller house, there's something for everyone.

1. Go dark and bold

Small dark kitchen with marble backsplash

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

One of the biggest misconceptions about interior design is that using a dark color will make a space look smaller. However, if it’s used in the right way it can actually have the opposite effect.

"I think color is a completely personal choice and a decision that should be primarily based around the atmosphere you want to create, rather than trying to make a small room look big. However small a room is, if you want moody and atmospheric then go dark or bold or busy," explains Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL Kitchens. 

Bold dark colors that work fabulously well in a kitchen include emerald green, burgundy, and midnight blue. All of these shades will bring drama and wow factor to a small kitchen upgrade. We love Lick's Purple 03 which is a deep velvety purple with blue undertones.

expert headshot of Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL Kitchens, a blond woman standing in a kitchen with a white shirt on
Helen Parker

Helen Parker is deVOL's creative director. Joining in 2004 as a kitchen designer, by 2011 she had become responsible for deVOL's style, creating one-of-a-kind showrooms, sourcing antiques and gifts, and designing new pieces of furniture and accessories.

2. Light wood

Light wood kitchen in neutral colors

(Image credit: Anna Design)

Wood kitchens are a massive trend right now. Because they are a light natural material, they are bound to make a smaller kitchen appear bigger than it actually is.

"If your aim is to make your kitchen look bigger, then the best way to achieve this is by not filling the room full of cupboards and instead, leaving plenty of light and space around windows, so avoid wall cupboards," says Helen Parker.

She goes on to say, "It is also a good idea to keep the colors and materials similar, so soft light woods and flooring and similar color walls and cupboards. This will have more of an impact than just painting your walls in a light color."

3. White

All white kitchen looking into dining area

(Image credit: Lance Gerber. Design credit: Joshua Smith)

White is a fail-safe option when it comes to tricking the eye into making a space look bigger than it actually is. Whitewashing a kitchen by designing white walls and white cabinetry doesn’t have to look clinical. For a true white, try White 07 by Lick which is an illuminating cool color.

However, if you want to incorporate white but still add your own twist to your white kitchen ideas, the director of marketing at Benjamin Moore, Helen Shaw, suggests "For something a little more trend-led in a small kitchen, consider painting the lower cabinets in your favorite hue. This not only adds interest but will also trick the eye into making the space feel bigger – the walls and upper cabinets in white seamlessly blend into the ceiling, making it appear further away."

Helen Shaw headshot
Helen Shaw

Helen Shaw is part of Benjamin Moore's UK division. Color expert and international marketing director, Helen and her husband Craig are founders of Shaw Paints, acquired by Benjamin Moore in 2020.

4. Pastel pink

Pink kitchen cabinets in a small kitchen with neutral walls

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Pastel shades work wonders for lightening up a space but at the same time, they can bring style and personality. Painting your kitchen cabinetry a pastel shade such as pink, lilac, or yellow and contrasting it with a neutral wall color, will balance the whole scheme out beautifully. We personally love pink kitchen ideas for something that will really pop.

"Opt for a light pastel such as pale pink on the lower fronts to create a relaxing feel that keeps the space open. These light - almost spiritual – shades pair beautifully with natural materials and inject a sense of tranquillity, often needed in one of the busiest rooms in the home," explains Helen Shaw. 

5. Nearly black

nearly black small kitchen with crittall style window and patterned floor

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Embrace a modern kitchen look by opting for ‘nearly black’ cabinetry. It has the same impact as using a pitch-black color but there’s an added depth that immediately adds visual interest.

"Don’t be afraid to go dark on your cabinetry, especially when paired with a good mid-neutral on the walls. Dark kitchens are striking yet timeless and are good at giving presence to a small room.," explains Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball. 

"To further increase the illusion of space, paint everything in one color but in the appropriate finishes for your walls," says Patrick.

Patrick O'Donnell
Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell has been bringing his impeccable eye for color to Farrow & Ball since 2012. Over that time, he has been a showroom manager, global color consultancy manager, and now brand ambassador.

6. Pale blue

Pale blue kitchen cabinetry in small kitchen

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Light, powder blue is a whimsical shade that immediately makes you feel like your head is in the clouds (in the best possible way)! 

"Using a soft, airy blue in a kitchen evokes a serene, sky-like quality," says Ayten Nadeau, founder and principal designer of i-TEN Designs

Pale blue cabinetry works really well with a light quartz worktop, which will immediately lift and brighten the entire space. Blue 04 by Lick is a peaceful mid-blue with cool gray undertones.

headshot of Ayten Nadeau
Ayten Nadeau

Ayten Nadeau is the founder and owner of I-TEN Designs based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her design studio provides high end residential, commercial and staging design services. 

7. True green

Green and pink small kitchen with open shelving

(Image credit: Yester Home)

Bringing the outdoors in has been a huge trend and theme for a while now and for good reason. Using green in the home immediately evokes feelings of being in nature, which inevitably makes a space feel bigger and more free-flowing.

Choosing cabinets that are painted what we call a ‘true green’, best described as a mid-tone green, is the ideal color for a smaller kitchen that wants to pay homage to nature. As this trend catches on, you'll be seeing green kitchen cabinets everywhere.

8. Yellow

Bright yellow kitchen with dining area

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Inject a big dose of joy into a small kitchen with the color yellow. Sunshine yellow is a playful tone that will instantly brighten up a space. Consider using yellow to color drench your entire kitchen if you want to make a statement.

Alternatively, Ayten suggests considering "a beautifully aged yellow that infuses warmth and cool, such as Pale Hound by Farrow & Ball." 

There are lots of different yellow tones that you can choose from that will exhibit different types of energy, we recommend swatching a few to see what works best in your individual space. 

9. Warm neutrals

Neutral colored kitchen with a pop of teal

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

Want to avoid stark white but still want your smaller kitchen to boast a neutral color palette? Try and stick to warmer tones to make your kitchen feel cozy and inviting. 

Anna Vasiltsova, head designer at Anna Design explains, "Warm light colors possess a unique ability to amplify the perceived size of any room. When applied thoughtfully to kitchen surfaces such as walls, cabinetry, and countertops, they create an illusion of openness and airiness."

"Whites, creams, soft pastels, and gentle grays are particularly adept at reflecting both natural and artificial light, thereby bouncing it around the room to visually enlarge the space."

headshot of Anna Design LA
Anna Vasiltsova

Anna Vasiltsova is the head designer at Anna Design. She is dedicated to providing their clients with a full-service architectural interior design experience. Their mission is to bring clients dream homes to life by understanding their vision and guiding them through the design process

10. Lilac

Ivory and lilac shaker kitchen featuring an island and bar stools

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Lilac is proven to have an uplifting effect in the home, so it’s a wonderful choice for when you’re working with a smaller space.

"Pale colors introduce subtle hues to your kitchen for added charm. Farrow & Ball’s Calluna is a tranquil lilac shade that will add a touch of sophistication without overpowering the space," says Anna.

She goes on to say, "Lilac will bring an understated boldness and a spacious feel to a small kitchen." Purple kitchen ideas are ideal for those who want to make a stylish statement. 

FAQs

How does the paint color actually make a kitchen look bigger?

"Color significantly influences a kitchen's perceived size. Light colors reflect light, enlarging smaller spaces. Darker hues add intimacy to larger kitchens. By balancing light and dark tones, designers create dynamic environments that suit inhabitants' preferences and needs," explains Jasmine Mirahmadi, lead interior designer at Pedini LA. 

Jasmine goes on to say, "In kitchen design, color psychology, scale, and proportion are essential elements. By understanding how colors affect emotions, manipulating scale and proportion, and harmonizing light and dark hues, designers create kitchens that are both visually appealing and functional, tailored to meet the needs and preferences of those who inhabit them." 


Avoid outdated kitchen cabinet trends and opt for one of these aspirational shades that are sure to make a smaller kitchen feel bigger.

Choose a kitchen cabinet trend that you love and that’s going to stand the test of time in your kitchen. Whether you’re planning to transform your current kitchen or redesign an entirely new one, we hope we have inspired you with our small kitchen cabinetry color ideas. 

Freelance Writer

Becca Cullum-Green is a freelance interiors content creator and stylist. She fell in love with interiors when she landed her first job as an editorial assistant at a leading UK homes magazine fresh out of university. You can find her renovating her 19th-century cottage in the Suffolk countryside, consciously trying not to paint every wall with Farrow and Ball’s ‘Pitch Black’. Her signature style is a mix of modern design with traditional characteristics. She has previously worked for House Beautiful, Grand Designs, Good Housekeeping, Red, Good Homes, and more. 

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