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Kitchen colors: should you go bold or neutral?

A black-hued kitchen/Photographer: Gieves Anderson/A Denver kitchen designed by David Frazier features Benjamin Moore’s Mopboard Black paint to striking effect.

South Carolina kitchen designer and realtor Heidi Huddlestone knows a thing or two about kitchen design—and what clients love. Her spacious, airy kitchens speak for themselves. We quiz her on her favorite paint choices, and how (and when) to go bold.

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What are some of your favorite neutrals for the kitchen?
Kitchen neutrals depend on the cabinet color and the lighting. Recently, I selected Sherwin-Williams’s Ellie Gray for a kitchen with light gray cabinetry, charcoal counters and warm gray backsplash—it was not quite 50 shades of gray! [I used] many textures and hues to create a neutral palette for the room’s bold art and colorful antique rugs. Sea Salt, Marshmallow and Anew Gray are all favorites too.

Kitchen design featuring neutral colors/Photographer: Kim Graham Photography/A Heidi Huddlestone-designed kitchen features a textured, neutral palette.

What about color and pattern?
I am definitely not afraid of color and I recently specified Sherwin-Williams’s Refuge for kitchen cabinets. I also love that wallpaper is having a resurgence in popularity. I am specifying it more and more often. Bold color on cabinets creates great impact—I often will specify the ceiling gets painted a color. Don't overlook that ‘fifth wall!’

Bright blue kitchen cabinetry/Photographer:Mark Roskams/Bright cabinets in a Florida Keys home designed by Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem Associates make a strong case for color in the kitchen.

When in the design process do you select paint colors?
Paint is near the end if it's for walls. If it's for a cabinetry color, it's selected early—often, it’s selected first.

Blue cabinetry/Photographer:Laura Moss/Custom cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s Bachelor Blue paint feature prominently in this kitchen by Kim Scodro and Kathryn Scodro of Kim Scodro Interiors.

Tell us about how you’ve used color to create a mood.
Color is powerful and bold colors, in particular, evoke strong emotions. But sometimes when we are trying to create a serene, restful space—sea salt walls, white cabinets, quiet quartzite counters and natural wood elements for stools and flooring help create the perfect, hardworking kitchen [such as for] an island home with a view of palm trees and a golf course.

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