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How to Transform Your Kitchen Using Color

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The author of Color: Transform Your Home (which just dropped on Tuesday), Abigail Ahern is sharing her tips for decorating your kitchen in rich, saturated color. 

Abigail Ahern Color  Abigail Ahern Color


I am obsessed with my kitchen—it’s the command centre of my pad, the hub of my home, my main hangout space. I love pottering around in it over the weekend, or unwinding in it after a long working day. I need the space to feel loved, and to look and feel as cool as every other room in the house. The bottom line is that although kitchens do have to be practical, I want mine to be magical as well!

Color is the easiest way to turn a kitchen (or indeed any room) around. Pick up a paintbrush and in half a day you can go from drab to fab, or instantly transform the space with accessories and artwork in off-the-radar hues. People often get stuck in a kitchen color rut for some reason, opting for the same old subdued palette of pale neutrals. I’m in the “dare to be different” decorating camp. I’m evangelical about intoxicating, lavish colour—not to be gimmicky or quirky but because it’s the biggest game changer I know.

Abigail Ahern Color  Abigail Ahern Color


Think outside the box and experiment by pulling in hues that you would normally reserve for other rooms. In my own kitchen I’ve got softly smokey dark brown walls and black cabinets, but there are so many other ways you can go, like:

  • grey and rose madder
  • charcoal and tan
  • blue with grey
  • gold with forest green

You don’t have to stick with applying colour to walls either. I’ve seen the most beautiful hammered gold doors in a Parisien Left Bank apartment, and the tiniest galley kitchen painted inky black with a bold pink table. Just off of Melrose Ave in L.A. there’s another bijou kitchen with a surprise tomato red hue inside the cabinets. Closer to my own stomping ground in London, a beautifully vivid, homey kitchen contrasts rust-red counters with sophisticated olive walls—and it's stunning.

Color by Abigail Ahern  Color by Abigail Ahern

Accessories are another great way to add color. In my kitchen I’ve got lamps on counters, low hanging chandeliers over the island, mirrors, and oodles of plants and greenery, all of which add interesting layers of color. How about bringing a colored table lamp or flea market art find into the kitchen? Or juxtapose a beaten up wooden table with bright chairs in a bold yellow or orange hue? 

Color is so personal and we all gravitate towards different shades. My advice would be quite simply go with what makes you happy—the colors that give you an emotional tug, make your heart skip a beat, and plaster a big old smile on your face. There is such a movement these days for creating kitchens that are warm and inviting, making them cool hang out places in their own right. For me, color is essential for this! It can excite, inspire, tantalise, and so much more. Embrace it and it will give you a kitchen and a home that you never want to leave. Promise!

Photographs by Graham Atkins-Hughes

Tags: color, abigail ahern