HomeThe Best Paint ColoursBenjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams: Paint IdeasThe 4 Best Paint Colours for Kitchen Islands or Lower Cabinets

The 4 Best Paint Colours for Kitchen Islands or Lower Cabinets

Posted on August 18, 2021 by KylieMawdsley

The Best Blue, Gray, Teal & Black Cabinet Colours

I’ve talked a lot about oak cabinets, white cabinets, appliances, and wine – all in the same sentence, but I’ve YET to touch down on the best paint colours for a kitchen island or lower cabinets. And while this idea isn’t for EVERYONE, there are some brave souls out there who want to add some personality to their kitchen but don’t necessarily want it on a LARGE-scale (ie: ALL of their cabinets).

Best gray paint colours. Kitchen island painted dark gray, black quartz countertop, modern pendant lights, Dorian Gray paint colour walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign and decor blog

Now, if you go onto Pinterest or Houzz, you’ll find no shortage of ideas for what colour to paint your island or cabinets, and we’ll touch on a few of my faves below, but…

just because you CAN paint your island a different colour, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

This is why today, we’re not just chatting about some of the best paint colours for your island/cabinets, we’re also going to look at some pros and cons.

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The Pros to Painting Your Kitchen Island or Lower Cabinets a Different Colour 

1. A PAINTED ISLAND CAN CREATE A FOCAL POINT & A FOUNDATION FOR A ROOM

Painting your island a different colour from the main cabinets can be a great way to ground your space and create a striking focal point, especially if you have light coloured tile/vinyl and white cabinets.

Open layout kitchen, dining room, living room, warm grays and greige. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Brittanica Warm quartz countertop, shiplap (2)

2. A PAINTED ISLAND OR LOWER CABINETS CAN BREAK UP A WOOD-ON-WOOD LOOK

While some kitchens can pull off the wood-on-wood look, it can be a bit much if the floor and cabinets are EXACTLY the same OR have different undertones. Breaking things up with a coloured island/lower cabinets can add a nice shift while giving the countertop/backsplash an opportunity to be pulled into the palette.

Ideas to update wood oak cabinets with island. Painted island in navy blue Cyberspace. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour expert and diy decorative advice blogger

In the above kitchen, there was a HECK of a lot of wood grain going on. Painting the HUGE island a dark, grounding colour (Sherwin Williams Cyberspace) was a great way to slow things down and give the space a solid foundation for the remaining wood to really dance (and you all know how I love to make wood dance)!

3. YOU CAN NOD TOWARD THE CURRENT TREND WITHOUT HAVING TO PAINT ALL OF THE CABINETS

Painting ALL of your kitchen cabinets a trendy paint colour can be a risky choice. However, nodding towards the trend by painting ONLY the island is a great happy medium without a 100% commitment to colour on a large scale.

This is also an important consideration if you want to sell in the next 5-10 years. Chances are, whatever trend you commit to will be gone, or on its way out and could affect your resale value.

4. IT’S MORE AFFORDABLE TO CHANGE IF YOU GET BORED OR TRENDS CHANGE

Painting kitchen cabinets is an expensive project and not every budget can accommodate this kind of investment. Painting the ISLAND is not only more affordable to do NOW, but it’s also affordable to change down the road if you get bored (or on a monthly basis like me).

Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in kitchen with white cabinets and warm gray toned quartz countertops. E-design and Colour Consultation by expert Kylie M Interiors

Painted kitchen cabinets. Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, Gray Owl, white subway tile, black laminate countertop. Budget friendly Kylie M Interiors E-design Colour expert (1)

It’s not just about paint colours either! Painting the MAIN cabinets white (for example) and partnering them up with an island or lower cabinets in a wood stain is a popular idea, as shown in these next photos. Both of these kitchens were created from scratch, so doing the island a different colour/stain was easier to incorporate vs doing a remodel using existing products.

Contemporary yet transitional style kitchen with white glazed cabinets, dark cherry island, coffered ceilings and marble and granite countertops by Kylie M Interiors

Sherwin Williams White Duck greige cream walls. BEnjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray cabinets, dark wood island, wood beams. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color blog (1)

The Cons to Painting Your Kitchen Island or Lower Cabinets a Different Colour

1. A PAINTED ISLAND/LOWER CABINETS CAN MAKE A KITCHEN LOOK TOO BUSY

If you have two different countertops, painting your island a different colour from the main cabinets can add to the busy-ness, unless things are very carefully coordinated. It’s a bit easier to do if your island has a butcher-block countertop and wood flooring, as that would eliminate a few products that need to be cross-coordinated, but if you have tile/vinyl flooring and two different countertops, things can look really cluttered really fast.

Farmhouse country style kitchen, Cloud White cabinets, black granite countertop, butcher block island, wood floor. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint color consultant (2)

Even though the above kitchen had some great bones in place, painting the island a different colour wouldn’t have ADDED to the look, it would’ve cluttered it up.

2. IT CAN OVERWHELM A KITCHEN THAT ALREADY HAS ENOUGH GOING ON

Wait, didn’t I just cover this, just in different words? Anyway, it’s a good point to make…again.

Multiple cabinet colours can be too much of a good thing if you already have some interesting features happening in your kitchen. In this photo below, painting the island a different colour would have cluttered things up and taken away from what is already a gorgeous space!

Kitchen cabinets painted Benjamin Moore Ballet White, glaze, Cedar Key walls, travertine tile floor , red orange brick walls. Island with wood top. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, client photo

3. IF YOU DON’T PICK THE RIGHT PAINT COLOUR, IT WILL BE A HOT MESS

Picking the best paint colour for your kitchen island isn’t just about picking the colour you WANT to paint your island, it’s about picking a colour that ties into your existing finishes – including the floor, countertop, backsplash and main kitchen cabinets.

Revere Pewter kitchen cabinets, Cambria Brittanica warm quartz, URbane Bronze island, oak wood floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign (1)

4. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT BLEND AND BALANCE OF DEPTHS, YOU COULD SET THE ROOM OFF-BALANCE

Not every kitchen was designed to have an island in a different colour. Some spaces need the consistency of ONE cabinet colour due to the depth of the walls, backsplash, countertop and main cabinets.

For example, in this next space, while a darker island would’ve looked ‘okay’, the balance down the center of the room, considering the stately stone fireplace and dark sectional, would’ve been pretty strong, whereas the white island added balance.

Best gray paint colour. Open concept kitchen and living room, Stonington Gray, stone fireplace K2. Kylie M INteriors Edesign. Vaulted ceiling

Read more: The Best Sherwin Williams White Paint Colours

5. IT’S TRENDY

It’s as simple as that. Right now, painted islands are popular…but so are crop tops and shorts that show off your bum cheeks (hey, I would if I could). Like any trend, it’s only a matter of time before painted islands or lower cabinets aren’t as popular and when it comes time to sell, your choice could devalue your home.

4 PART SERIES: How to Create a Timeless Home

And now, let’s get this party started…

Best paint colours for kitchen island or lower cabinets. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color expert and edesign, diy decorating advice blogger

Colours are just example blobs, not direct references to actual colours

1. The Best NAVY BLUE Paint Colours for Kitchen Cabinets (or Island)

When it comes to my Online Colour Consulting, navy blue is definitely the top choice when it comes to painted islands and lower cabinets. However, there are MANY kitchens that can’t visually support ANY type of blue, so make sure it makes sense for YOUR space and its finishes!

Pure White kitchen cabinets, subway tile backsplash, white quartz and oak flooring. Navy blue island Sherwin Williams Cyberspace, prep bar station.

See more of this project HERE

Oak wood kitchen cabinets update ideas painted island in Sherwin Williams Cyberspace, brass hardware, oak flooring. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour expert decorating blogger (6)

Shown above, Sherwin Williams Cyberspace

Kylie M Interiors Edesign. Oak cathedral style arched cabinets painted Benjamin Moore Cloud White, travertine tile backsplash, beige countertop, navy blue Ocean Floor island.

Shown above, BM Ocean Floor is wicked gorgeous with Cloud White main cabinets

While there are ALWAYS exceptions, in order to paint your island or cabinets blue, your kitchen would ideally have:

  • white or wood cabinets
  • a countertop that has blue in it or is white/gray
  • it’s flexible towards many tiles/linoleum products, it DOES love wood floor too!

Read more…

The Best Blue-Gray Paint Colours

How to Choose the Best Blue Paint Colour

2. The Best GRAY Paint Colours for Kitchen Cabinets (or island)

Coming in a hot second to navy blue would be gray. Choosing a neutral is almost ALWAYS a better choice than a colour if you’re worried about resale value, as you’re more likely to appeal to a wider range of buyers. And gray is HANDS-DOWN the most popular neutral choice for a kitchen island/lower cabinets, but that’s not to say it’s the easiest…

Painted maple, cherry wood kitchen cabinets in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, Amherst Gray, green granite. Black appliances. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace and Amherst Gray

BTW, because I rely 100% on my Online Paint Colour Consulting photos, I don’t always have a good shot of the colour suggested, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great contender! 

Every gray has undertones. It’s important to make sure the undertones in your countertop, flooring and backsplash (if they have gray in them) jibe with the undertones of the gray of your cabinets. Some of the more POPULAR quartz and marble countertops lean towards a soft purple or blue-purple undertone, so you’d want to pick a gray with those same undertones. If you choose the wrong undertones, you’ll have a HOT mess on your hands that can only be fixed by repainting.

Best white paint colour. Walls or cabinets.White kitchen, gray painted island. Cambria quartz countertop black, dark wood flooring, pendant lights, modern. Kylie M Interiors Edesign. Pure White Sherwin Williams cabinets

Golden oak kitchen cabinets with white q

Shown above, Sherwin Williams Dovetail

When it comes to painting your island or lower cabinets gray, there is a LOT of room to move, but there are a few limitations…

  • if you have warm-toned countertops, there aren’t many gray paint colours that are going to look good
  • if you have beige tiled flooring, again, there are few grays that will work
  • gray cabinets look good with MANY of the most popular white paint colours, but NOT always as good with overly warm or creamy ones

The Best Paint Colours for a Bathroom Vanity (or any cabinets)

3. The Best TEAL or BLUE-GREEN Paint Colours for Kitchen Cabinets (or island)

I LOVE TEAL or blue-green kitchen islands…but there sure aren’t many kitchens that can visually support these colours, unless you’re starting things from scratch and can include them from the get-go (and I’m eagerly awaiting some of my client’s after photos to show you how pretty they can be!).

And while a LEGIT GREEN isn’t popular for kitchen cabinets, neutrals with green-inspired undertones sure are!

Let’s look at this cutie-patootie little before and after…

Before and after painted pressboard mdf cabinets, budget-friendly beige tile floor, backsplash, laminate countertop. Kylie M Interiors edesign

By pulling into the colours in the backsplash tile and the flooring, we were able to give this lovely little home some great personality for a FRACTION of the cost of a new kitchen.

This next kitchen had the standard granite and backsplash tile from the early 2000s and a fresh coat of paint gave the kitchen a whole new lease on life!

Oak kitchen cabinet update ideas before being painted white with island colour (3)

Kylie M Interiors Edesign, painted oak cabinets, dark green gray island off-white cabinets. Sherwin Williams. Travertine backsplash and green, orange, beige granite countertop. Kilim Beige

Shown above, Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray

While there are ALWAYS exceptions, in order to paint your island or cabinets green or teal, your kitchen would ideally have:

  • white or wood main cabinets
  • white, black or gray countertops OR butcher block countertops, although there are a few exceptions
  • there are also a few granites from the ’90s and early 2000s that can work well (update ideas for that era HERE)
  • white subway tile or a tile with green/teal in it that is the same type of green/teal as your island colour

The Best Blue-Green Blend Paint Colours

In this next example, the yellow stain of the maple cabinets clashed with the orange-red tone of the wood flooring, but after, it’s a whole new kitchen!

Before and after painted oak, maple cabinets. granite counterop, wood flooring. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

4. The Best BLACK Paint Colours for a Kitchen Cabinets (or Island)

Ooooo, I do love a black island and it can be a great way to tie in black appliances if you aren’t ready to shift to white or stainless steel.

Here’s another gorgeous kitchen with painted cabinets and a striking darker island…

Alabaster, White kitchen, Alabaster, Island Sherwin Iron Ore, Viatera Aria, Sandbar. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online virtual paint color consulting. Kitchen remodel

And one more, just because it’s so fun…

Before and after painted oak, maple cabinets. granite counterop, beige tile, travertine backsplash. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

Shown above, Sherwin Williams Iron Ore

Kitchen cabinets painted Sherwin Williams Alabaster, walls Bleeker Beige, island Tricorn Black, granite countertops

While there are ALWAYS exceptions, in order to paint your island or cabinets black, your kitchen would ideally have:

  • black or gray in it
  • a butcher block countertop
  • white or wood cabinets
  • wood flooring or tile/lino that can easily accommodate a sharp colour like black

And of course, I HAVE to mention Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze. Not only is this awesome colour the Colour of the Year for 2021, but it’s also the colour on my own kitchen island!

Best warm gray paint colour.Kitchen, gray cabinets, dark painted island, white oak flooring, Brittanica Warm quartz countertop. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour blog. Benjamin Moore

See the whole space HERE

READ MORE

The 3 Whites I Would Never Paint My Kitchen Cabinets

Should You Paint Your Wood Kitchen Cabinets? A Questionnaire

Painting Kitchen Cabinets: How to Pick the Best Paint Colour

Not sure what the best paint colour for your island or cabinets is?

Check out my Online Paint Color Consulting packages, I’d love to help!

Online paint colour consultant Benjamin Moore Sherwin Williams, Vancouver Island, USA, UK. Interior, exterior, edesign colors. Kylie M Interiors, blogger marketing DIY Decorating and design ideas

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2020, UPDATED IN 2021



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Comments

  1. Hi Kylie!!

    I’m a major fan and have been following your blog for years! Currently painting my new house based on recommendations from your blog (will send pics soon) and basically I can’t go wrong if I follow your recommendations. I was just wondering about the teal/blue-green recommendations here. Maybe I’m not color savvy enough but grizzle gray and urbane bronze don’t seem to be blue green blends to me. I would say they’re gray and gray brown. Can you shed some light on these choices? Also Gulfstream seems to be a very strong color for a kitchen island comparing to your other posts on blue-greens but maybe you need something more punchy for islands? I’m eager for your response too because I am thinking of painting our kitchen island and lo and behold you just wrote an article on it! Also if you need another article suggestion, I loved all your home decor articles and it would be awesome if you could do something about wall art. I’m mostly interested in balancing textures and how much of the wall space in a room should be used. For instance my dining room and living room both have two giant empty wall spaces facing each other (the other ends are windows and entrances) so I’ve been a little puzzled about how, what, where to hang anything. Anywho, thanks for all your advice – you’re awesome! Your humor is too 😉

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Megan!

      You’re right! Urbane Bronze and Grizzle Gray definitely aren’t blue-greens! Urbane is a greige with a green undertone and Grizzle is a green-gray blend. I just don’t have photos of ‘true greens or teals’ that are clear enough for ye ole blog, so I went with colours that have a green undertone (Urbane) or a bit more of a commitment to green, while still having some gray in there (Grizzle Gray) :). I HOPE I’ll get some good ones soon though!
      As for Gulfstream, you know, it’s too bright for me, but I’m surprised at how many times my clients have requested a stronger teal approach for their island – when they want to have some FUN! I’m still awaiting those after photos though ;). I’m going to adjust that section though, to make it more clear and see if I can add a bit more, so thank you!

  2. Hello!

    Your blog has been so helpful in deciding the colors for our overhaul! We’re redoing the upstairs of our split level ranch home. Currently I’m leaning towards Colonnade Gray for the walls, Pure White for trim,ceilings and cabinets, and maybe the wrought iron for the island. The living area gets a lot of southern light while kitchen and dining aren’t as exposed. Would these colors work? I’m so overwhelmed!
    We’re still working out the floors but I think the paint colors would help narrow that down and we currently have black appliances.

    Thanks you for all of the detailed articles! I wish I would have found you before we did our basement, it turned out to be a very cold blue-gray that I hate! 😒😭😂

    1. Post
      Author

      Shian, that sounds GORGEOUS, I have NO ISSUES at all with that (of course, I haven’t seen your home ;). Seriously, sounds beautiful!

  3. Hi Kylie! I found your site while doing some research for some updating we’re doing in our home. Your advice on paint has been spot on so far! I’m curious about our cabinets though. Ours are a darker stained wood, and we have an island that is stained slightly darker, so we were thinking of painting that an accent color. (previous owners installed it and it drives me nuts that they don’t completely match!) What advice would you give for colors that may coordinate with dark cabinets? Everything I see is always lighter cabinets with a dark accent island.

    1. Post
      Author

      Well, it actually TOTALLY depends on your countertop and flooring for things to flow! Sometimes a lighter island can work, something with an LRV approx 30-40, but it also depends on HOW DARK the cabinets are. I’ve also seen a cream work, as long as it was GLAZED, to help it tie into the cabinets more. So, I can’t say for sure, but I DO lean darker vs lighter. If you have lighter countertops and wood floor, you have a better chance of having a lighter island.

  4. Hi Kylie – I have been following your blog for a long time, and my biggest wins have been following your suggestion to use White Duck, and also Cyberspace! I am looking to paint my island Water’s edge BM Paint with White upper cabinets. Could you tell me the island color you used in the picture you posted above with White upper cab, and a blue gray color for the island ? There are bright yellow flowers on it. That is what I am looking for. I think you also have a second picture in this blog with different lighting.

    Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      Ahhhh yes, that one’s tricky as it was a manufacturer’s colour, so nothing in the BM or SW fan deck!

  5. Hi Kylie,
    I am new to your site and have found all of your color advice to be spot on! Can you please tell me where you purchased the brown (trimmed in silver) drum pendant lights over the island shown above. These would be perfect for my kitchen renovation.

    Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      HIya! I’m assuming you’re talking about the ones that look a bit more modern? They are SO PRETTY! They’re actually BLACK, it’s the warmth of the bulb shining through making them look brown. Now, the thing is, this project was 5+ years ago and we got them from a store called Illuminations (Vancouver Island), so I’m not sure that will be much help!

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