If you need evidence that there are challengers to the rule of grey, we have it. The hip kitchen company British Standard has eschewed using grey in its showroom in Hoxton, east London, in favour of bright hues — its kitchens are painted in a palette of rich blues, greens and a splash of pillar-box red.
Not so long ago a neutral, handle-less kitchen was the “must-have” look. These days, the kitchens that attract the most attention feature colour, texture and pattern. The interior designer Tara Craig, who has recently designed a kitchen in a flat in Paris with teal blue British Standard cabinetry and a maroon Aga, says: “It is more interesting to have colour. The most amazing kitchen I’ve seen was one from the Victorian era in pillar-box red.”
Colour has made a slow return in the kitchen. It started with the retro Smeg fridge, which was designed to be a focal point in the kitchen. A spokesperson for Smeg says: “The first major introduction of splashes of bold and pastel colour was in 1996, through the launch of our Fifties-style range. In the past few years the introduction of colourful, traditionally styled range cookers and built-in appliances from our Victoria range has seen the colour trend grow, with consumers adopting a more permanent colour scheme and focal point in their home.”
Companies such as Rangemaster, the stove maker, have introduced a huge range of bright colours. It says that china red, orange and blue are good sellers. David Thacker, marketing manager at the Aga Rangemaster Group, says: “People are moving away from dull colours, as bold brights make the stove a statement piece.”
However, we are not just adding colour through appliances. Victoria Harrison, the editor of home renovation website Houzz.co.uk, says that we are accessorising with bold tones to create a stronger, more unified look. “Bar stools, pendant lighting and splashbacks are easy ways to add a pop of colour.”
But is it wise to opt for a bright colour on the walls or on the cabinets?
Katie Fontana, creative director at the design company Plain English, the sister company of British Standard, says: “Avoid passing trends or making a spur-of-the-moment decision; choose a colour that you have liked for a long time.” Jane Telford, of Roundhouse, the deluxe kitchen and interior designer, adds: “Buy tester pots to try out colours. If you want to be really certain, paint the inside of a shoe box to see how the colour changes in light and shade.”
Penny Hockenhall, and her husband Peter, have used bright colours to create a kitchen with a retro twist at their 1960s home in Bearsted, Kent. They revamped their kitchen because they wanted to “bring back the style of the property’s mid 20th-century origins”. They went for Ikea’s Metod range because it had
up-and-over wall cabinets — a style that is associated with that era — and opted for high-gloss doors in Jarsta yellow and Ringhult grey. Yellow and red accessories were added — the red matched the colour of their Smeg fridge — and they papered a wall in MissPrint yellow-and-grey Mountains Sunrise wallpaper. They spent about £9,000 (excluding the cooker, hob and fridge freezer) on the revamp.
Penny says: “We thought the yellow was a knockout, gorgeous colour and it really brightens your mood in the morning. I chose the patterned wallpaper because I wanted to bring something busy into the room as everything else was plain.” The couple are selling the four-bedroom property for £760,000 through Your Move.
You can give your kitchen a colourful makeover without purchasing a new one. One reader wrote in to tell us about how he revamped his kitchen on a budget of £2,000. Nigel Fraser-Gausden saved money by looking for low-cost alternatives to more popular materials. For the flooring he used lime-green studded 30cm square vinyl tiles from Gerflor, which were “easy to lay and cheaper than rubber”. The cost of the flooring was £60 to £70. Instead of ceramic tiles he used perspex in hot pink and white to create splashbacks, and gave the cabinets a high-gloss look by covering them in sticky-back black vinyl — the stuff that is used for sign-making. He also bought lime-green fabric pendant light cord for a set of LED bulbs that hang above the kitchen sink.
If you have traditional-style cabinetry, Alfred Newell, of the London Workshop, a traditional joinery company, says different paint techniques can give it a contemporary look. “The ‘nail varnish’ look or ‘hard shell, waterproof finish’ look is cool and can be achieved with enamel paint,” he says. “It has a crossover with industrial style. Go for a bold primary colour, such as signal red or Oxford blue. Another way to create an interesting look is to paint the wood multiple times. Thick layers will create the effect that it has been around for a long time,” he says. Newell says that he prefers oil-based paint even though it is trickier to use and it doesn’t dry as quickly as water-based alternatives.