Interior designer Jane Lockhart imparts her wisdom on livening up the heart of your home

Remember when colour in the kitchen meant avocado green, harvest gold and flat, chestnut brown? Since the ’50s, kitchen colours have shifted every decade from nurturing pinks and turquoises, to the wild patterns and colours of the ’60s, to the ubiquitous earth tones of the ’70s.  

In the ’80s and ’90s, it was real wood with white, almond or black appliances, probably an equal and opposite reaction to all those years of colour. In the 2000s the palette of choice has been all white cabinets with hints of grey or beige in the counters and backsplash and, of course, stainless steel appliances.

But alas, the era of the all-white kitchen has begun to give way to more interesting colour schemes or, at the very least, a wider range of hues within a kitchen’s design.  

The greatest change in kitchen colour is the return to black or much deeper colours in cabinetry.  

For most homeowners, the island is one place where it’s “safe” to add colour, but recently we have seen one dark stain or colour on base cabinets and the island in another colour choice. If this seems extreme, and you’re considering adding colour, consider a black on the island mixed with charcoal lowers and pale grey uppers. This mix of neutrals is more interesting, more custom feeling.

In fact, cabinet colour is moving beyond a neutral palette.  Coloured cabinetry that expresses a new wave of personal style has gained traction. Rather than a white “builder” kitchen, the mix of materials and colours is heralding a new era of custom styling and detail we haven’t seen for decades.

Pale blue-grey, turquoise, butter yellow, navy — the list of colours for cabinetry continues to grow as homeowners look to define their style. In the process of this change, look for the addition of black faucets or other warm metals, including rose, antique and matte gold to complement this change in direction.

If this all seems too radical for you or a white kitchen is truly your slice of heaven (instead of a slice of chocolate cake), then consider adding colour to the kitchen through less permanent methods.  

For instance, change the wall colour to a deeper hue to add more drama around white cabinets.  This makes old cabinetry look fresh and new without having to touch the cabinetry itself.  

Even installing a more interesting backsplash can have a strong effect on the overall feel of your kitchen. Consider large back-painted glass tiles for a modern dose of slick colour. Or add patterned tiles to an area of the kitchen to add a more homey and personal feel.  

Swap out current countertop appliances and accessories with colourful versions of your favorite toaster, blender, etc., as these can add a powerful punch of hue at eye level without emptying your pockets. Appliance makers have heard the call, so new colours for counter and tabletop items will continue to populate savvy retailers’ shelves.

Even replacing black and white photography with more colourful options or opting for colourful island pendent lighting, rather than the compulsory silver and glass versions, will help enliven the kitchen.

Let’s face it, the kitchen is where we spend a good portion of our time at home, and making it personal is the goal here. Well, besides creating some really good food, of course! 

Article exclusive to TRNTO