Why you should add a splash of colour to your cabinet interiors

Painted cabinet interiors

Thinking about repainting your kitchen? Why stop at the cabinets? Adding a pop of colour to the interiors of your wall units, open shelving or freestanding larders is the latest decorating technique you need to know about.

I was scrolling on Instagram, as one casually does, when I first spotted a homeowner’s beautiful breakfast cupboard drenched in two vibrant tones – one on the outside, and one, unexpectedly, on the inside. I was instantly drawn in, and that’s when I knew they were onto something.

Now, this decorating trick is rapidly gaining popularity in kitchen design. So, if you’ve been debating giving your cabinets’ exterior a makeover, why not give their interiors a bit of TLC, too?

Colourful kitchen design with pink larder with blue interiors.
Kitchen design by Pluck. Pluck kitchens start from £25,000. Photography: Malcolm Menzies.

Why should I paint my kitchen cabinet interiors?

Fancy a daily dose of dopamine? Let me set the scene: you’ve just woken up, gone to open the doors to your breakfast larder and revealed a colourful surprise. Well, painting your cabinet interiors is a guaranteed mood booster, which comes in handy on those gloomy autumn mornings.

Plus, if you can’t commit to a bold design just yet, this easy decorating technique is a step towards experimenting a bit more with bright hues. “Fancy a splash of colour, but hesitant to commit to an entire island or run of cabinets? Painting a selection of cabinet backboards in an elegant pastel can be a beautiful way to introduce colour, without overwhelming the space,” explains Tom Howley, creative design director at the eponymous kitchen company.

Dark kitchen design with tall display unit with pink cabinet interiors.
Kavanagh collection in Nightshade and Pink Dusk, from £25,000, Tom Howley.

Spice up your neutral kitchen cabinets

This design trick works well with any style or colour scheme, but it will stand out even more in neutral kitchens. Off-whites and creams can allow the bold and bright tones to do the talking. “Painting the interior of a cabinet is an ideal way to add a pop of colour, either as a contrast or as a way to add intrigue to an otherwise neutral scheme,” says Lois Riley, designer at Mowlem & Co.

To make the cabinets’ interiors stand out even more, opt for a tactile backboard material such as tongue and groove, advises Lois, as this adds to the interest factor. LED lights or spots will also help highlight your cabinets’ beauty.

Double breakfast cupboard with blue interiors and six wood shelves. Morning essentials are displayed such as tea and cups, along with small appliances.
Shaker kitchen, from £35,000, John Lewis of Hungerford.
Dark kitchen design with open and illuminated larder, bottle refrigeration and herringbone flooring.
Arbor kitchen, from £30,000, Harvey Jones.

The art of styling

What’s more, if you love putting your cook books, crockery and various kitchenalia on display, Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet, says a great way to utilise your cabinet interiors is to add glass fronts. “Then the paint colour can be a beautiful backdrop to your fancy glassware and also, create a sense of visual depth, especially if you use a darker contrasting colour,” she advises.

Tom agrees and says: “Imagine a bi-fold pantry where you open the black or white doors to reveal a pale pink interior, or a glazed cabinet with soft rosy tones filtering through – an excellent backdrop for showcasing your favourite glassware and characterful seasonal crockery.”

Off-white kitchen design with chrome handles, matching tap and wall storage unit with glass fronts.
English kitchen, from £55,000, Martin Moore. The cabinets are hand-painted in Martin Moore’s Oyster White with a subtle pop of Celadine Green on the inside of the wall cabinets.
Closeup look inside a neutral larder with white shelves and kitchenalia such as crockery, storage jars and herbs.
Stone Dark Warm paint in Intelligent Satin, £88 for 2.5 litres, Little Greene.

Colour drenched cupboards

Dare to go bold? Then why not adopt the popular colour-drenching technique? Paint both the exterior and interior of your cabinets, wall storage, open shelving or freestanding larder in the same shade for a cocooning effect. This will also help create a cohesive look throughout your design. To make your units stand out, opt for bright worksurfaces and metallic taps, handles and accessories.

Closeup of open shelving unit where plates and bottles are stored above the sink area.
Shaker kitchen, from £10,000, Olive & Barr.
Tall freestanding storage larder painted in dark green with marble worktops, and handles on the three drawers.
Henley cabinetry in Constable Green, Neptune.

Picking your colour palette

Are you finding it difficult to commit to one colour? Know you’re not alone. This is another reason why you should give painting your cabinet interiors a try; it allows you more freedom and creativity when it comes to the design of your kitchen. “I find it so hard to choose one colour, so I love using two colours on cupboards – on the outside and one inside,” says Annie Sloan, colour expert and founder of the eponymous paint company.

Shaker kitchen design with freestanding larder that had double doors with mounted spice racks and blue painted interiors.
Liberty kitchen, a bespoke design by Mowlem & Co. Kitchens start from £40,000.

There are so many colour palettes to choose from – powdery pastels, complementing rich shades, or if you’re more daring, hues that even fight for your attention (in the best way). “There are a few classic colour combinations which will never stop delighting me. A neutral and a bright in an opposite colour family, for example, a cool grey and a bright, joyful hot pink, or a beautiful warm shade with indigo, or my favourite bright jungle green with charcoal grey – those colour combinations are the best,” recommends Annie.

Choosing your shades might seem like an impossible mission at first, but taking your time to compare swatches, both in natural and artificial light, exploring different finishes and visualising them in your own space, can help you narrow down your choices.

Now, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves, pick up the paintbrush and splash a bright pop of colour inside my kitchen cabinets. How about you?

Modern kitchen breakfast cupboard with wood backboard, lime green drawers and dark green doors.
Kitchen design by HØLTE. Photography: Beth Davis.

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