By Lisa Batson Goldberg, Houzz

You don’t need weeks or months of remodeling to refresh your kitchen’s palette, especially if you’re starting with a neutral look. Here are four of my favorite elements to add color quickly to any white, cream or gray kitchen.

kitchen color

Rikki Snyder, original photo on Houzz

1. Artwork.The art you’re drawn to can bring color and personality into the room with one piece (or a few). Art also creates a more inviting atmosphere, which is a needed element in a room full of functional tools and surfaces. 

You might already have art in the attic or another room that would work in the space. Or you can go on a quick shopping trip, or browse online and have it shipped to the front door.

When choosing what kind of art you’d like to feature, always go with something that speaks to you. It could be big or small, vibrant or subtle. When it comes to art, there is no right or wrong, as long as in your home it makes you feel good.

Art is also easy it to change when you’re ready for a new color palette in your kitchen. A great time to do this is when the seasons are changing. You can swap out fall art for a winter scene and instantly the room has undergone a mini makeover and has a different mood.

When picking art, consider options with a personal meaning, such as a kids’ favorite drawing or a painting your mom did years ago. If it’s not framed, you can find a frame for it or have one custom made. 

kitchen color

Robb & Co., original photo on Houzz

This art obviously personalizes your space but also creates a family-centered atmosphere in a busy, social environment.

Inspiration: This punchy piece of art captures a playful and contemporary vibe, and plays off other elements in the small kitchen. Choosing to showcase the art on a black feature wall makes it even more impactful. 

2. Fabrics. Whether it’s on throw pillows, a bench cushion or a set of bar stools, custom fabric can liven up any kitchen.

You might also consider a vibrant fabric to enliven well-used chairs at your breakfast table or dress up the kitchen window with a patterned Roman shade.

I often recommend that clients choose a fabric they love and have cushions custom made. As a designer, it’s one of my favorite ways to incorporate a client’s personal style into a functional piece of the room. 

Pro tip: Note that if you go the custom route, it may take a while to get it — certainly longer than if you buy something already created from a store.

If custom cushions are pricier than your current budget allows, choose a color palette and feeling you want to capture, and search for premade options in your favorite colors. Mixing and matching different cushion finds can be a great way to create a custom look for less. 

Another inexpensive way to incorporate color is to gussy up your kitchen table. A patterned tablecloth or cloth napkins can have a similar brightening effect, on a much smaller budget.

kitchen color

AHMANN LLC, original photo on Houzz

Inspiration: The rich colors and complementary fabrics chosen for this cozy nook make the space feel inviting and balances out the white kitchen.

3. Kitchen essentials. This tip sounds simple, and it is. Adding colorful things, both big and small, to your neutral kitchen will infuse it with energy and make it more fun. Plus, you need and will use these items anyway — why not pick fun items you love.

Adding a vibrant toaster, bowl for fresh fruit, vase with bright flowers, cereal bowls or other items stocking your shelves and countertop will broaden the palette.

Kitchen items like plates, bowls, cups and glasses are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to introduce more color.

However, if you are willing to spring for a bigger color boost, consider a new appliance in a vibrant hue, one of my absolute favorite ways to add character and bold color to a kitchen.

While this might not be for everyone, it sure goes a long way to creating a fun, bright and enjoyable space.

kitchen color

Lisa Bakamis Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Inspiration: This bright and beautiful kitchen, beginning with a calm and neutral scheme, looks more playful with the addition of a sunshine-yellow stove. Kudos to the homeowner for making this bold move.

4. Lighting. New or revamped light fixtures can keep a room bright and colorful. One of the benefits is that you can swap them out for a new color or style without too much trouble.

I also love finding ways to repurpose old vintage pieces. For example, you can paint a pendant light you love, giving it a fresh, new look. This one change can create a colorful focal point right in the middle of the room.

kitchen color

d2 interieurs, original photo on Houzz

Inspiration: These lime green lights are a fun and fabulous find for this white kitchen. The complementary and colorful fabric choice for the stools amplifies the effect, giving this kitchen a distinct and welcoming feel.

kitchen color

Elms Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Why to add color to the kitchen: Kitchens are naturally filled with energy and life, and as a designer, I believe that adding a little color amplifies the energy, enjoyment and overall experience we get from this functional area of our homes.

This room is practical, as it helps us cook up nourishment for our bodies, but it also serves as a place to nourish the soul. In the midst of the practical, the kitchen turns into a social space. We sit here for breakfast with our loved ones, chat with friends over lunch, and catch up with our partner while making dinner after work.

By mixing a little vibrance into the kitchen palette, we capture some of that social energy and feeling, and can create a more personalized cooking space.

Related Links:

Read Up on Roman Shades

Add Small Doses of Color With Vibrant Light Switch Covers

Inquire About Colorful Appliances