Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Color me hungry: the surprising psychology of colors in the kitchen

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Your kitchen has to play a lot of roles beyond simple food preparation. As seasoned kitchen designer Johnny Grey puts it in his article The psychology of the kitchen, "A room once dedicated exclusively to food preparation is now a heavily used social space. Most family life takes place in the kitchen." In such a space, "psychology, neuroscience and ergonomics overlap," says Grey, making design and color choices of paramount importance.

Color psychology and your kitchen

"What color you paint your walls isn't just a matter of aesthetics. It's a tool that can be leveraged to affect emotions and behavior," says Leslie Harrington, a color consultant and noted expert in the field. When it comes to your kitchen, you've got a few main areas you can effect change:

  • The walls can be painted, decorated or adorned with art.
  • The appliances can be purchased or customized in a variety of colors -- or stainless to reflect their surroundings.
  • The furniture can be reupholstered, repainted, restained and generally reworked to meet your matching and accenting needs.
  • The cabinets can be refaced with wood or other materials in almost any color you'd like.

The largest undertaking of these four is undoubtedly the cabinetry. If you're trying to change up the color scheme in your kitchen, there's just no avoiding the cabinets. Lighter wood cabinets will take a stain, allowing you to add color without losing the wood grain, but darker woods will need to be painted or flat out removed if you're looking for a change. If you aren't sure about what can be done with your cabinets, talk about your goals with a bonded, licensed and insured* contractor -- like those available through this site.

Here are a some of the best colors for your kitchen and what they're doing to your attitude and appetite:

  • Blue is notorious for suppressing appetite, which is great if you're trying to lose weight.
  • Purple and violet lend a relaxing tone to a room while also promoting a creative atmosphere -- a perfect blend for the aspiring chef.
  • Red is a wonderfully energizing color, but it's real talent lies in making food look more appetizing, which is why it's often used in restaurants.
  • Yellow, as bright as it is, causes anxiety. Keep it out of the kitchen except as an accent color.
  • Green can make things feel homey, safe and secure, and it's good for concentration, making it a fine choice for around the kitchen table, where dining isn't always on the menu.
Play with swatches of color before committing to something that could end up being garish, and always call in a professional contractor before getting in over your head on a DIY cabinet refinishing project.

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