The One Color You Should Never Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets (2024)

Jon Gorey

Jon Gorey

I’m a past-life musician, part-time stay-at-home dad, and founder of House & Hammer, a blog about real estate and home improvement. I write about homes, travel, and other life essentials.


updated Nov 16, 2022

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The One Color You Should Never Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets (1)

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Painting your kitchen cabinets is a popular way to refresh the room without spending a fortune or tossing otherwise useful cupboards just because they look dated. While your color options can be limited when installing new cabinets—IKEA, for example, sells only a handful of drawer and door faces that aren’t white, wood, or gray—painting existing cabinets expands your potential palette to tens of thousands of swatches. But think twice before going with a splashy, loud color for your cabinets, as it could hurt your resale value.

What Are The Best Cabinet Colors for Resale?

A word of advice? Just don’t get carried away. Cabinets, after all, aren’t exactly accent pieces; they take up a lot of prime visual space in most kitchens. Experts caution against using bright or daring colors if you’re trying to boost your home’s resale value.On the other hand, painting your kitchen one tone can create a more expensive look that buyers will love.

“There are obvious bold colors that I would steer DIY homeowners away from using on kitchen cabinetry, such as hot pinks, bright oranges, fluorescent yellows, and purples,” says Colleen Toner, a real estate agent in Lynn, Mass.

“Most consumers prefer neutral colors—whites, grays, browns, and perhaps even some shades of antique blues or greens,” she adds. And while black can be a common finish elsewhere in the home, she says Toner discourages its use in the kitchen—a room that ought to feel joyful, bright, and airy. “Black is overpowering and has a somber feel.”

Jennifer Lozada, owner of Fresh Start Interiors in Concord, Mass., admits she’s not a big fan of painting kitchen cabinets unless there’s no room in the budget for new ones. Even in those cases, she insists on hiring a professional painter “who will take the time to properly prepare them with cleaning, sanding, priming, and hopefully spraying the doors off-site for the best final finish.”

However, she’s open to a full spectrum of color options. “I have seen cabinets successfully painted shades of white, gray, navy, deep green, and even black,” Lozada says. She says light neutrals are generally the best colors for resale because they appeal to most people, but she advises against painting cabinets taupe or beige. “There’s the tendency for people to accidentally go too warm—with golden or tan overtones—and then that would be a mistake that’s hard to correct.”

Go Light and Bright

Adam Rosenbaum, an agent with Century 21 Adams in Arlington, Mass., recommends playing it safe with neutral tones. “Any color that draws attention is a bad idea,” he says. And Dana Bull, a property investor and agent with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International in Marblehead, Mass., agrees that hues with hubris can turn off a lot of buyers. “Obviously, for resale, most prefer white, and any bright color may not appeal to the masses,” she says.

“[But] you can paint your cabinets any color as long as the craftsmanship and quality is solid,” Bull adds. She notes that her advice could be taken with a grain of salt. “You’re talking to a girl with a mint green fridge.”

Jamie Cholette, owner and broker at Boston Harbor Real Estate, says mint green is actually lovely in some contexts but it’s not always easy to pull off, making it a far riskier bet. “Mint green is a popular and lovely paint color that photographs beautifully across many professionally designed Pinterest and HGTV kitchens,” Cholette says. “However, when combined with certain finishes and colors, mint green can create a 1950s-60s retro feel or an unintentional pastel palette more commonly seen in children’s rooms.”

Cholette says red would be her top choice of cabinet color to avoid. “As with cars, red is not a one-size-fits-all paint color,” she says. “Red limits furniture and other decor options throughout the space, especially with an open concept floor plan.”

But among the six pros we surveyed, there was one color that absolutely no one could get behind when it comes to painted cabinets, at least in terms of resale value: Purple.

“The worst color I’ve seen that I would never recommend is purple,” says Hudson Santana, a real estate agent specializing in investment properties and development in the Boston and Miami areas.

But poor purple is just taking the heat for an entire category of overstated and audacious colors, from hot pink to metallic gold, that most homebuyers are just not ready to embrace for dishware storage.

“I would never recommend any flashy color in general,” Santana says.

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The One Color You Should Never Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets (2024)


The One Color You Should Never Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets? ›

'Colors to absolutely be avoided are darker colors and shades of green, blue, red, and purple, which will cast a shadow on food and darken the space. Green and orange, in particular, should be avoided in kitchens,' she warns.

What color not to paint kitchen cabinets? ›

What are the worst colors to paint my kitchen cabinets?
  • Yellow. The first color I would recommend steering clear of for kitchen cabinet painting would be Yellow. ...
  • Red. The next color I would avoid in cabinet painting is the color red. ...
  • Purple.
Jul 5, 2023

What is the number one color to paint kitchen cabinets? ›

Yellow is a common go-to kitchen color; on cabinets you can try a light, buttery yellow or a pastel shade more reminiscent of lemonade. Sky blue is another popular kitchen color for walls and cabinets. It can create an airy, ethereal vibe and looks great with white and stainless steel accents.

What color cabinets never go out of style? ›

"Honestly, the only color, in my opinion, that will never go out of style is white cabinets," says Shaolin Low, principal and founder of Studio Shaolin. The shade effortlessly complements all design aesthetics, from traditional to coastal grandmother, meaning your cabinets won't be dated by a specific trend.

What color should a kitchen not have? ›

Deep Browns

"They can make the kitchen feel unfriendly and uninviting, probably not what is envisioned for the central living space and heartbeat of the home," she says. Additionally, she suggests avoiding drab, dark browns, which can often feel outdated and stale if not paired with the right complementary colors.

Should kitchen cabinets be painted lighter or darker than the walls? ›

While lighter kitchen cabinet colors reflect more light, giving the illusion of a larger space; darker ones give the space some depth. 'I prefer darker-colored cabinets against lighter walls in a kitchen as it adds depth and grounds the kitchen in the space,' says Kashi Shikunova, director at Yam Studios.

What color kitchen cabinets are low maintenance? ›

Steer clear of finishes that show fingerprints and water spots like stainless steel or chrome. They're also harder to clean. Oil-rubbed bronze, satin bronze, brushed or polished nickel and white hardware are all much easier to maintain. Choose the finish that matches your style and kitchen design.

What is the most timeless cabinet color? ›

Arguably, the most timeless kitchen cabinet color is white. Bright white cabinets suit a variety of beautiful kitchens, including modern, contemporary, and farmhouse styles. Brilliant whites work to give kitchens a light and airy feel, and off-white options, like the White Dove shade, provides warmth.

What is the most popular kitchen cabinet color for 2024? ›

The most popular kitchen cabinet colors for 2024 will be warm neutrals, jewel-toned blues, and moody darks. Two-toned cabinets will also continue to be a favorite choice among homeowners and designers because of their visual variation.

What color kitchen doesn't date? ›

A white or neutral colour scheme

White and neutral tones are popular choices in the kitchen for one reason: they don't date. Before you start to worry about it being boring, remember the more bold your design choices in the kitchen are, the bigger chance there is of you changing your mind down the track.

What color sells a kitchen? ›

Painting cabinets the wrong color can definitely hurt resale value. Avoid bright or intense colors that buyers can't picture themselves living with. Whites and neutrals are the way to go when you're getting your house ready to sell.

What is the luckiest color for a kitchen? ›

Black and blue are two of the most popular vastu colours for kitchen. Black is believed to be one of the best colours for a kitchen as it promotes energy flow and brings good luck. Blue, on the other hand, symbolizes tranquillity, making your kitchen an inviting space to hang out in.

What paint colors should I avoid in the kitchen? ›

5 Paint Colors To Never Use In Your Kitchen, According To...
  • Neon.
  • Very Dark Hues.
  • Browns.
  • Stark White.
  • Icy Tones.
  • Bright Red.
Feb 2, 2024

What kitchen cabinets Cannot be painted? ›

Types of Kitchen Cabinets You Should NOT Paint Over
  • Open-Grained Wood Cabinets. Open-grain wood cabinets have surfaces that look rustic and textured. ...
  • Oak and Hard Maple Cabinets. These are also open-grain, and if painted over, they can end up looking like orange peels with tiny holes and pores. ...
  • Non-Wood Cabinets.
Sep 16, 2021

What is the best neutral color to paint kitchen cabinets? ›

Some popular neutral paint colors for the kitchen include white, beige, gray and sage. White is a classic kitchen color. It's crisp and clean, and it goes hand-in-hand with the part of the house where food is prepared.

What is the hardest paint for kitchen cabinets? ›

Oil paint is the hardest, most durable paint to use for painting cabinets. It takes longer to dry and is harder to clean up, but when applied right and allowed to cure, the result is a finish that can hold up scratches and hard use for years.


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