White cabinets work with various kitchen color schemes, so they're often used by interior designers for a wide range of designs. White also helps to make the space feel brighter and lighter, especially in a high-gloss or semi-gloss finish.
But what color should your kitchen walls be?
Earthy colors are often recommended for kitchens with white cabinets, but ultimately it depends on your style and the space you're working with. Modern kitchens might use bright white for their wall color while old-school designs might use rich browns – it all depends.
Here we look at the best kitchen paint colors for white cabinets, no matter your design style!
What is a good color for a kitchen with white cabinets?
If you just want some solid paint color choice recommendations without diving into the details, then here are a few brilliant paint color choices for rooms with white kitchen cabinets:
Greige – Sherwin Williams SW 7647 Crushed Ice
Greige is an effortless combination of gray and beige that is essentially a gray color with a warm beige undertone. This particular shade from Sherwin Williams feels like a warm gray, giving the kitchen a warm and inviting feel but without losing the modern color palette.
This warm shade of light gray works well in both modern and transitional kitchens. If you're going for a more classic design style, try regular beige instead of this semi-gray color.
Bright Green – Benjamin Moore Clover Green 2034-10
This clover green is an excellent pop of color for your kitchen space, offering tons of contrast against those white wall cabinets. While it can look tacky in some kitchens, this vibrant hue can be the perfect color for kitchens with a sense of pizzazz.
This paint color can look good in modern and transitional designs, but it's a bold wall color choice, so consider speaking to a professional interior designer beforehand. You probably should stay away from this paint if you're going for a traditional kitchen feel.
Dark Blue – Benjamin Moore Stunning 826
Looking for a look that's cool and deep? This dark blue from Benjamin Moore has a deep hue and cool undertones, bringing a sense of effortless chic and sophistication to your kitchen space. This dark blue is naturally a very elegant color that makes your white cabinets stand out beautifully.
This shade looks great in transitional and modern kitchens, especially if you're going for a chic, opulent aesthetic that looks beautiful. It could potentially work in a classic-style kitchen space, though it depends on the colors of other elements such as the countertops and furniture.
Beige – Sherwin Williams SW 0050 Classic Light Buff
If you've got pure white kitchen cabinets and a lot of natural light coming into your home, you might want to make the space feel warmer and more inviting. Beige is a brilliant paint color for making your kitchen feel warm and inviting, effortlessly bringing about a nice, cozy atmosphere to your kitchen.
Beige wall color tends to look good in classic traditional kitchen designs, keeping the color palette focused around the warm tones and brown color of classic building materials like wood and brick. I'd avoid this color for more modern homes, though.
Cool Brown – Benjamin Moore Woodcliff Lake 980
Brown might sound like a strange color for your kitchen wall space, especially when paired with bright white cabinets, but cool-toned browns can actually be a really good choice for modern and transitional kitchens, bringing about a sense of elegance similar to the deep blue we just mentioned.
The brown color you choose is very important – this Woodcliff Lake shade from Benjamin Moore gives us the modern hue we want without looking tacky.
This cool brown color has the potential to work in classic, transitional and modern kitchen designs depending on how you pair it with other kitchen colors!
What is the most popular color for a kitchen?
There's no one “most popular color for kitchen walls”, whether you've got white cabinets or not. The color scheme for your kitchen depends on the style you're going for, the feel you want to evoke, and the personal touch of the interior designer.
Here are some popular themes used to select wall colors for homes with white kitchen cabinets:
Contrasting colors usually refer to colors on the other side of the color wheel that are going to clash with one another in a positive way that livens up the space. Contrasting colors tend to have a modern, vibrant feel that works very well for modern kitchen styles.
If you're going for this design theme, true colors such as:
- Bright blue
- Green shades
- Vibrant reds
- Bright yellow
If you've got a home with a more traditional design, then you might want to try a high-contrast look with more toned-down wall colors. For example, colors like cool brown and deep navy blue can work very well with off-white cabinets or antiqued white kitchen cabinets while still creating contrast.
It all depends on the design of your home!
Matching colors are designed to enhance the white cabinets and other white color features in your room's design. For example, you might want to find colors that complement the backsplash, kitchen island, cabinets, appliances, and other pieces of furniture in the room.
When matching your paint color, make sure you're complementing elements of your kitchen that won't change anytime soon, such as your granite countertops or kitchen island – everyday furniture is more likely to be replaced.
Matching colors for your kitchen walls are usually seen in transitional old-meets-new designs, where there will be a lot of muted pastels and neutral shades such as:
- Pale greens
- Pastel blues
- Off-white color
- Olive green
As always, it's impossible to recommend a matching color without first seeing the backsplash, countertops, and other features in your home. Still, these colors might give you some color ideas for the look of your room.
Neutral colors are the safest option for your new kitchen design, and they're what I'd recommend using to homeowners who aren't experienced in interior design. As long as you can roughly match a neutral paint color to your room, then you should end up with a good-looking kitchen regardless.
Due to their low-key appearance, neutral paint colors are very versatile, fitting into modern, transitional, and classic kitchen designs easily. Neutrals aren't competing for attention visually, so they're a great way to emphasize other key elements of the room without distracting from focal points.
Common neutral paint colors for a kitchen with white cabinets include:
- Light gray
- Steel blues
- Off-white color
- Soft beige & greige
The undertones are everything with neutrals. Generally speaking, cold undertones (i.e. blue undertones) work well for a modern design, whereas warm undertones (i.e. yellow or pink undertones) work well for a more traditional country-style design.
Which paint finish should I use for my kitchen?
High gloss is one of the most common paint finishes used for a kitchen because it's shiny and therefore able to reflect artificial and natural light around a small space, making it look and feel bigger than it is.
This shiny paint type also gives the clean vibe that many kitchens are going for, no matter their design concept. Despite being so bright, this type of paint is actually very good at hiding dirt and stains, so it's great if you've got pets or young children.
Finally, high-gloss paint is very durable, which is always good for a kitchen or bathroom environment with lots of steam, humidity, splashes, spills, and sticky fingers! After you choose a paint color and style, you also want to know how to clean your painted cabinets.
Semi-gloss is similar to high-gloss except it's not as shiny, giving you about 50% the sheen of full-gloss paints. This is also good for making a small kitchen feel larger by reflecting light around the room, though it won't be as in-your-face as the full gloss version will be.
This type of paint finish does very well in humid, moist environments, which is why it's one of the most popular kitchen paint finishes of all time. It's also very durable and once again good at hiding dirt, stains, and scratches if used strategically.
Satin isn't seen too often in kitchens, though it could work its way into certain transitional kitchen designs, especially if used in a classic color like white or light gray. When paired with white cabinets, this paint finish could look very regal and opulent if done correctly.
Satin paint has a velvety finish that looks great in almost any color, but bear in mind that your brushstrokes will be visible, so it's not the ideal finish if you're not an experienced painter.
Similar to satin, eggshell paint has a slight luster to it without being overbearing – similar to the dull shine you see on a chicken's egg shell… hence the name.
Eggshell paint is great for covering imperfections in your walls, which is something you may have to deal with during a remodel. However, it's not the most durable wall paint you can get, so it's not ideal for the harshness of a steamy cooking environment.
Boasting a trademark matte appearance, it's actually quite unusual to find a modern kitchen with a flat paint finish on the wall, regardless of whether it has white cabinets or not.
This is because matte paint isn't super durable (not ideal in a kitchen) and it tends to show dirt easily, so it can start to look nasty quite quickly.
Nonetheless, the flat type of paint finish absorbs light and helps to make the space feel smaller, which could be a good trick if you're going for that cozy farmhouse kitchen style. For modern styles though, you should probably steer clear of matte wall paint.
Should cabinets be lighter or darker than walls?
There are no rules when it comes to interior design – a modern design might call for white cabinets lighter than the walls, while a classic country kitchen design calls for cabinets darker than the walls around them – it all depends on what kind of vibe you're going for.
Generally speaking, this is how your cabinets and wall color should be coordinated:
- Modern Kitchen – white cabinets with high-contrast walls (black, bright blue, cool brown, etc.)
- Transitional Kitchen – cabinets and walls in complementary colors (pastels, beiges, light gray etc.)
- Classic Kitchen – cabinetry darker than the wall, natural tones (wood, brick, etc.)
Nonetheless, these design “rules” are broken all the time, so don't limit your wall paint color choices just because you've got white paint for your white kitchen cabinets!
The Bottom Line – How do I match my walls to my white kitchen cabinets?
As we've discussed here today, there are many different styles and designs of kitchen, usually falling into 3 main camps – classic, transitional (old meets new) and modern. Each kind of kitchen style requires different colors to carry on the theme.
Even then, the rules are broken all the time!
If you've got a space with white cabinets, you're lucky, because white kitchen cabinets can work with basically any wall color. This is why so many homeowners love to have white cabinets – it makes it easy for them to change the theme of their kitchen down the line without having to repaint the cabinets.
So whatever color you wind up painting your walls, we hope that you find the perfect hue to reflect your home's style while making sure that your white cabinets look glorious. Good luck!