When it comes to color, interior designer Michelle Gage practices what she preaches: Her and her husband's sunnily lit powder blue kitchen is the first piece of proof—the fact that the space was nearly a deep green ("Ultimately, it didn't flow properly with the rest of the first floor," she explains) is the second. But choosing this particular hue—a process that, the pro admits, was "pretty tricky"—didn't happen in a vacuum. "We had visited the English countryside a year or so prior to designing this space and fell in love with the powder blue kitchen in the house we stayed. We really wanted to bring that vibe home with us," she tells Martha Stewart Living.
Selecting the cheerful hue was one thing—executing it in a way that felt balanced and fresh was another. She integrated sleek appliances and finishes, incorporating a gray marble to fend off color overload. The end result is one that will make you rethink your own neutral space. Ahead, Gage's best tips for integrating a bright shade into one of the biggest hotspots of your home.
Bold calls for balance.
Gage's kitchen is colorful and calming—not overly-bright and overwhelming. Achieving this balance was a goal she set early on in the project. As for how she pulled it off? "We toned down the powerful color of the cabinets with simple finishes in the other selections. For example, the matte black Kohler fixtures kept the space shine-free (as opposed to metallic with a brass or nickel)," she explains. "The Caesarstone countertop was the perfect shade of gray (Georgia Bluffs); we strategically chose to continue that onto the backsplash for a fluid look. Adding another element—a tile for example—could have appeared cluttered, which wasn't the vibe we wanted in here."
Find a grounding moment.
For Gage, selecting a classic, grounding motif to offset the unexpected color was essential in achieving this balance. "Ultimately, we wanted to create a timeless space. The blue cabinets somewhat debunk that sentiment," she explains. "We felt that matte black touches helped propel that idea forward."
Gage's kitchen connects to an equally colorful butler's pantry (this intermediary space is the link between the kitchen and the dining room, which features the same epic wallpaper). She kept this space in mind when selecting the former's hue; the teal, she says, "really worked with our kitchen cabinet color dreams." "The teal was really the only color we considered for this space. I wanted something upbeat and my husband wanted something dark—so a deep teal was the perfect compromise," she adds.
Intimidated by color? Order samples.
"There's no shame in getting samples," advises Gage. Ultimately, though, opting for a bold paint color—as opposed to a more universal neutral—comes down to personal preference. "Choose a color you know you can live with long term—perhaps a shade of something that's already in the home that you know you love." Can't commit all the way? "Try a colorful cabinet on the bottom and do white uppers." Alternatively, try selecting something bold for the kitchen backsplash or pantry wallpaper, she suggests.