Color Blocking


By Dana R. Butler


Photo Courtesy: Master Brand Cabinets

The concept of color-blocking first found a home on the fashion scene in the ’60s and seems to make its mark again about every 20 years. These days, in addition to shoes, nails and hair, we are finding this bold and interesting use of color in interior design. Certainly the accent wall was an expression of this fun trend, and now we are seeing it in kitchen cabinet finishes. “Color is so important for expressing personal style and getting a unique kitchen that either reflects your personality or exhibits one of its own,” says Stephanie Pierce, senior manager of the MasterBrand Cabinets Design Studio. “Color-blocking is a more modern way to accent colors within a
space where the design is less balanced and an asymmetrical flow is already integrated into the cabinet layout.” Still, given the amount of time a family spends in the
kitchen, it’s important to end up with an aesthetically pleasing space. “You want to be selective in how many areas you paint and also selective in how many colors you
choose,” says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams, who recommends using “colors that are the same value or saturation to create harmony.”
Here are six ways to incorporate this edgy style—which, by the way, is ideally suited to those of us who simply can’t choose just one color—into your kitchen.



Color Blocking works equally well whether your taste runs more toward the contemporary or the traditional. “Using a contrasting color really accentuates any color pop,” says Pierce, “and gives you a wide variety of color platforms to play with.”

Photo Courtesy of Master Brand Cabinets



“Mixing finishes is a great way to add interest and personalization to the space,” says Pierce. “Multiple finishes within the kitchen can increase the design flexibility, enhance transitions within the space and provide more opportunities for use of colors and tones.” Simply choosing different paint colors or two shades of the same cabinet limits your options. “Multiple textures are key to creating dimension in a space and assisting with the incorporation of an organic, natural feel,” says Pierce. “With opaque or painted finishes being extremely popular due to their clean and classic appeal, they can also feel quite sterile without the right amount of depth brought into the finish palette.” She adds, “Contrasting those finishes with tone-on-tone brushed effects, distressed wood with visible grains or layering of colors, the space gains a more natural presence that has a longer-lasting appeal.”



Choosing complementary colors for your upper and lower cabinets maintains an organized look. A good rule—although not a requirement—is to go with a darker color on the lower cabinets. This scheme grounds your design and ensures that your kitchen doesn’t feel top-heavy. “Darker or wood-stained lower cabinets with an accent color or lighter, painted uppers sets a good foundation for the space while letting your work zones and visual appeal at eye level be bright and energetic,” says Pierce.

Photo Courtesy Sherwin Williams



The use of color might be the most straightforward way to define your space, and highlighting a section adds an element of distinction to one area of the space. “The blocking should be zoned,” says Pierce “and a bold contrast that creates interest is the perfect opportunity to add a designer edge.” Jordan suggests using two high-contrast colors— like black and white or the same color in light and dark versions—for more continuity. “Color blocking can also be used to identify or create spaces within a space,” Jordan says.

Photo Courtesy Master Brand Cabinets



The kitchen island is already the front and center star anchoring the room, so it’s an ideal place to break from the color story already being told with the wall-mounted cabinets. “Color blocking has several benefits,” says Jordan. “One, it can be used to highlight or accent an area, adding drama, energy and color to a space.” Pierce adds, “This standard of practice is an exciting way for designers and homeowners to bring bold color back into kitchens.”

Photo Courtesy Master Brand Cabinets



You shouldn’t feel like you have to be limited to only two hues; it is possible to use multiple colors without ending up with a Mondrian painting for a kitchen (which, now that we think about it, would be really cool). “This is a fast-growing trend because of all the benefits in flexibility,” Pierce says, “but it is also one of the most difficult to pull off well and requires a good eye and a creative design.”

Photo Courtesy Sherwin Williams


Master Brand Cabinets

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