Deciding whether you should paint your kitchen cabinets lighter or darker than the wall shouldn't be too difficult if you learn a few things about color value, which describes the relative lightness or darkness of a color. Choosing what color to paint your cabinets depends on the color of your walls, and color values can help you to define form and create spatial illusions.
In interior design, light colors can make a room appear larger. On the color wheel, the warm colors are considered light colors and include yellow-green, yellow, yellow-orange, orange, red-orange and red, with yellow as the lightest color. Colors are made lighter by adding white to a pure hue, which is known as tints of a hue. Adding white to paint can create pale colors such as pink or pale shades or orange, green, yellow and blue.
Just as light colors can make a room appear larger, dark colors can make a room feel smaller, or cozier. When black is added to a pure hue, colors are made darker, which is known as a shade of a hue. On the color wheel, the cool colors are considered the dark colors and include green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet and red-violet, with the cool blues and purples as the darkest of all.
If you have dark wall paint, you can paint your cabinets a lighter color. This combination defines your cabinets against the walls by creating contrast. Likewise, if you have a small kitchen, you can paint both your walls and your cabinets in a light color to make your kitchen appear larger. Therefore, cabinets painted in light paint goes well with both light- and dark-colored painted walls.
Kitchens with light-colored walls can have cabinets painted in a dark color. As with the dark walls and light-colored cabinets, this combination defines your cabinets against the walls. In a large kitchen, you can paint both your cabinets and walls in a dark color to give it a warm and cozy feel. Painting both cabinets and walls with dark colors in a small kitchen, however, makes your kitchen appear even smaller. Therefore, cabinets painted in dark paint go well with light-colored walls and only with dark-colored walls if you have a large kitchen.