Adding colour to your kitchen with  flair

by Media Xpose

By Stephanie Forbes, Kitchen Specialists Association

With a kitchen renovation we are spoilt for choice when it comes to various finishes, textures, colours, patterns and materials to choose from. In all honesty, it can be quite daunting, not knowing if we’re making the right decisions. Should we play it safe? Should we be bold? What are the trends?

Your kitchen may be the one room in your home that is the most neutral. White or wood cabinets and simple countertops make a kitchen look clean and uncluttered. An elegant and simple kitchen can also use a ‘pop’ of colour but how do you do this without dating or overwhelming the space?  There is a very simple way to come up with a balanced colour palette for your space. It’s the 60-30-10 rule!

How to use the 60-30-10 rule

The 60% is the overall colour of the room, the background colour. When you look at the space you’ll say, it’s the gray room, or a white room, or a blue room. This is your predominant base colour.

The next number in this rule is 30%. It will become the secondary colour in your space and will support the main colour, but be different enough to give the room interest. Think of it this way, you’ll be using half as much of this colour as you did for your main colour. This could be showcased in your work surfaces, making them a contrasting colour to your cabinets, or on your island by making its cabinets a different colour to the rest of your kitchen cabinets.

The fun percentage is the 10%, your accent colour. It can be bold or more subtle depending on what look you want. The 10% can be what gives the room character or keeps it much more neutral; it’s really up to you. This accent can be brought in by means of soft furnishings, timber accents in seating, light fittings, small counter appliances or an accent colour on the cabinets or drawer fronts.

Choosing the colours

To choose the three colors for your particular space, a colour scheme based on the colour wheel is the simplest method. We recommend any one of these four options, bearing in mind the amount of natural light you have in your particular space:

Monochromatic: Choose only ONE colour and use lighter and darker variations of that colour in your space. This works best with a neutral colour such as gray, cream, white, or ‘greige’.

Complementary: Select TWO colours opposite from each other on the colour wheel. One will always end up being a “warm” colour and the other will be a “cool” colour, giving you a nice balance. The traditional colour wheel will give you the complimentary colours of red/green, orange/blue, yellow/purple

Analogous: Select THREE colours next to each other on the colour wheel, with the middle colour being the more dominant colour. An example of this would be blue-green, green, and green-yellow (green is the key through all three).

Split complementary: This is similar to complementary (listed above) but you add in a third colour to the combination. Select a main colour, find its complementary colour across from it on the colour wheel, and add one of the colours next to the complementary colour. An example might be, blue as your dominant colour, then orange as your complementary colour and red as the third colour.

Do’s and don’ts to help guide you in your choices


  • Recognize that even if you have the most stunning cabinetry and counters in your kitchen, it can still benefit from well-placed and well selected colour. Even the slightest tint in a wall colour can transform a boring space without changing the overall vibe of the room.
  • Consider adding colour with lighting fixtures. The on-trend light fixtures feature metallics such as brushed gold, bronze, and black.
  • Learn the basics of cool versus warm colours. Being able to recognize the colour temperature of any colour you’re considering will help you choose the right colour to coordinate with your counters and cabinetry.
  • Have fun with colour. Use the guides above to add a pop of colour with accessories and dinnerware.


  • Be afraid to add vibrant colour to your kitchen. Yes, that does seem to buck the latest kitchen trend of white and grey, but not every kitchen is the same. If you love colour and your kitchen would benefit from a pop of colour, try a fun accent wall.
  • Hesitate to use grey wall colours in your kitchen. Grey or grey-blue works beautifully for beach-style, colour schemes. Warm greys or ‘greige’ look gorgeous with dark cabinetry and flooring.
  • At the same time; a word of caution… Don’t overdo grey in the kitchen. Grey kitchens are a hot trend. It’s easy to get caught up in the trend by choosing grey cabinetry, flooring, and counters. The fixed features of your kitchen will be around for many years, so consider using a grey wall colour or accents and keep one of the less-changeable features more neutral.
  • Forget that even adding colourful kitchen linens can change the look of the room inexpensively. Kitchen linens can be exchanged in and out with the seasons, and for a quick colour update.
  • Forget adjoining rooms in your colour scheme. You can add more colour by choosing an accent wall for an open dining area or family room. Tie the colour scheme together by sprinkling a little of the room’s colours in the nearby space.

Can I break the 60-30-10 rule?

Yes, if you’re feeling confident and rebellious, you absolutely can. It is not a steadfast rule, merely a guideline to help those that feel overwhelmed with the choices available to them.

Casting the ‘rules’ for interior styling and home décor aside; the end result is going to evoke feelings for you, so hone in and pay attention to how the space makes you feel. Your kitchen designer will be able to give you an overall idea of how your colour scheme would work with the marvellous 3D renders today’s design technology offers.

If you are feeling like you have an idea or flair for colours, go with it! It may end up being something like 40-30-20-10 or 40-25-15-10-10 or even 75-15-10. Whatever the case, just make sure you focus on your percentages to help with balance, otherwise it may look wild and crazy!

Hopefully if you were reluctant to add any ‘pops’ of colour, this advice will help to guide you and make colour in the kitchen that bit more accessible. 

  • TO BUILD  is a proud media partner of the Kitchen Specialists Association. For more information on all things kitchen, visit

Using the colour wheel

The colour wheel, sometimes called a colour circle, is a circular arrangement of colours organized by their chromatic relationship to one another. 

The colour wheel is used in the visual arts to represent the colours of the visible spectrum and their relationships to one another. The colours are arranged systematically in a circle, with each colour usually falling into one of three categories: primary, secondary, or intermediate.

In fields such as painting, fashion, film, and design, artists use the colour wheel to assemble colour schemes and visualize how colours appear beside one another.

The traditional painters’ colour wheel is one example of the subtractive colour system. Subtractive means that if you add these colour together, you are left with black.  Its primary colours are red, yellow, and blue (hence, it is also called the RYB colour model, after the first letter of each primary colour).

Source: Britannica

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