Paint Colors For A Cramped Kitchen


Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

I have a lot of cupboards and they make the kitchen feel small and cramped. I need some help in guiding my thoughts on what to do to update the room while making it feel roomier.

I like SW Pure White for the upper cupboards (cutting out the middle of some cupboard doors to fit glass in them) and SW Bittersweet Chocolate for the lower cupboards. For the wall, I am looking at a shade of blue from your spring catalog. Is having white and dark cupboards the best of both worlds or overkill? And what to do about the ceiling?

I also don’t have an entry way/mud room at the back door, so I was considering doing something like the last picture (from Pinterest) on the north wall. The kitchen itself measures approx. 16′ x 10′ and the north wall is approx. 7 1/2′ x 8′.

I like a clean, simple, classic yet modern look – I just don’t know how to achieve it!

Thanks for your help. 🙂


Kitchen Cabinets




Painting cabinets can be lots of fun as you begin to see the results of your labor. We like your choice of colors and have a few suggestions for you as you continue on your journey. Let’s discuss the three different areas for which you had questions.

1. Overall paint colors

2. Your new “mud room” wall

3. Other styling suggestions for the kitchen

For your overall paint colors, we suggest going one of two ways with your colors …

1. If you go with a blue wall color, we recommend using only white for the cabinets and then accent with Bittersweet Chocolate within the space. For the ceiling, use an extremely light shade of the wall color.

2. If you want to use Bittersweet Chocolate on the base cabinets, then we recommend staying within a small range of white and off-white paint colors for all the other surfaces, bringing blue in as the accent color.

Our recommendation for your new “mud room” wall …

Instead of cutting up your one large wall with trim work, consider using paint to create a frame and then mount your coat hanging hardware within that frame. We think you could have fun with this wall space by incorporating all your favorite colors along with different pieces of artwork. Below is an over-sized example of how we used the concept in a living area.

Painted Frame

There are a few additional styling suggestions we would like to offer…

1. Add seeded glass inserts to all upper cabinets

2. Install a tile backslash that will compliment your chosen colors

3. Install Roman Shades over the larger and smaller windows

4. If you paint all your cabinets white, paint the table in Bittersweet Chocolate

5. Replace chairs with molded acrylic chairs

6. Add a small chandelier over the table and a couple of pendants over the peninsula.

Happy Decorating and we look forward to seeing your after photos!

The How to Decorate Team

Do you have a decorating dilemma? Send us your own questions here.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply

    Joanne Prasad

    July 18, 2021

    What is the paint color on page 14 in the March 2021 catalog? It is a medium blue.

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      July 20, 2021

      You can find all of our paint colors from our Spring catalog here.
      Happy Decorating,

  2. Reply


    March 5, 2021

    What color blue on page 14 March issue?

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      March 12, 2021

      You can find all of our Spring 2021 paint colors here..

  3. Reply

    Alesia Myers

    December 12, 2017

    December issue bedroom page 93, color of wall please?

  4. Reply

    Laren Bridges

    October 31, 2017

    Nov. 2017 catalog, page 73. Beautiful bronze looking paint on bedroom wall…can you tell me the color? Bed has tufted cream headboard, garland over the artwork, green and cream bedding.

  5. Reply


    July 19, 2017

    What was the wall color on page 51 in July 2017 issue?

  6. Reply

    Jessica Strack

    July 13, 2017

    Hello! What color is the blue paint in the late Summer 2017 catalog on page 44-45? Thanks!

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      July 17, 2017

      Hi Jessica,
      I want to make sure I give you the right paint color! Could you please be more specific and describe the room on the page?
      Thank you!

  7. Reply

    Jill Rizzuti'

    June 21, 2017

    What color was used in July catalog, page 64

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      July 10, 2017

      Hi Jill,
      I want to make sure I give you the right paint color! Could you be more specific and tell me/describe what is on that page?
      Thanks so much!

  8. Reply

    Karen Pappas testa

    May 30, 2017

    What color blue was used on page 28 wall in the May 2017 catalog