Just the right shot of kitchen color adds personality, impact

When Pat and Bob Coyle decided to update the kitchen in their 1929 Morningside bungalow, they wanted to play it safe and use a neutral color palette.

“We wanted to do the project for ourselves, and for our enjoyment,” said Pat. “But we also were concerned about resale.”

For design help, the couple enlisted Burns Century, a certified kitchen designer and owner of Burns Century Interior Design. In Century’s design plan, the updated kitchen would feature simple lines, new appliances, cabinets, countertops and a fresh color scheme of creams, whites, grays and browns.

In keeping with their conservative design thinking, the Coyles signed off on a new but ho-hum stainless steel range. But when Century introduced them to the color series by Bertazonni, the family-owned Italian manufacturer of kitchen products, Pat perked up.

“Once I saw the orange stove, I knew it was right,” said Pat. “It adds warmth and personality to the kitchen. It makes me smile every day.”

Adding color in the kitchen can express your personality. It also can add interest, impact and life to a kitchen.

But homeowners are often apprehensive about committing to a color, especially a bold one. They fear making an expensive mistake that they will tire of it and have to live with for a long time. They also worry that a current or trendy color won’t appeal to future buyers.

Mary Kathryn Timoney of Design Galleria and Bath Studio in Atlanta agrees.

“Everyone loves color, “said Timoney. “At least that is what they say until it’s time make it a permanent feature. But as the permanence of the choice kicks in, color gets relegated to a ‘supporting actor,’ like tile or accessories. Not that this is a bad thing.”

But clients who have embraced color and “take the dive” don’t tire of their choice, said Timoney.

Choosing a color that is current and timeless is a difficult call, but there are ways to add a pop of color in the kitchen with appliances, the backsplash, cabinetry or accessories.

For advice on adding color, consider these tips from various sources, including Century, Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design for GE Appliances; and Poggenpohl, the German kitchen brand.

True colors

- Stay neutral: Grays, whites, blacks, browns and creams are popular colors for today's kitchens. Neutrals can look elegant and timeless, or clean and crisp.

“A clean timeless look is what the majority of our clients are looking for,” said John Coulter, designer and showroom manager at Poggenpohl-Atlanta. “And our natural colors, such as white, teak lava and stone grey work with most surroundings.”

- Stainless fatigue and slate. While stainless steel is still considered the premium finish for home appliances, General Electric found that some consumers wanted an alternative to stainless. In 2012, to fight what it called "stainless fatigue," GE launched Slate, a warm, grey metallic with a matte finish that is resistant to fingerprints.

- Go bold. La Cornue, the French oven and cooking range manufacturer, offers 30 colors. Royal blue and Matte Black are two of the company's top colorful finishes. GE is also testing the customer appeal of Cupcake Blue and Chili Pepper Red in three stores in the Midwest.

- Retro chic: For the look of the 1950s but with today's modern amenities, Colorado-based Big Chill offers its retro line of appliances in eight fun colors.

What to consider when adding color

- Create a backdrop palette with a monochromatic color scheme in shades and tints of the same color or by blending neutral hues. Grays, whites, blacks, browns, creams and metallics are foundation colors for cabinets, countertops, flooring, walls, light fixtures and tile, said Burns.

- Does the color complement the other colors in your kitchen, such as flooring, countertops and cabinetry?

- If your kitchen opens to the family or living room, consider how the kitchen appliance colors blend in with the rest of the decor. “Open-concept design puts the appliances front and center, visible whether you’re sitting in the kitchen or the adjacent living space,” said Lenzi. Appliances can be visual interesting without causing a distraction.

- If you’ve decided on a particular color, is it a color you can afford to live with for five years or more?

- Are you replacing appliances for resale? Generally, neutral colors appeal to a broader number of buyers.

- A colorful range (and hood) can be a focal point. If your other appliances are stainless steel, they will still look good together.

- Choose a color you love and accent it with one of those major elements in the kitchen. If you’re hesitant on adding color on something permanent or expensive, go with bar stools, furniture, dishware or artwork, said Century. Carry that color through other areas of your home to connect the design.

- Hire a designer who can guide you and offer options you may not have considered, but still reflect your personality and stay true to the architecture of the space.