how to paint a kitchen

[This is part of Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]

We always knew we wanted the kitchen to wear a cameo blue paint scheme.  But what we didn’t know was that we’d end up with five different shades of blue in our small kitchen.

I can’t tell you how happy we are with this color scheme.  Our little kitchen is now so very warm and inviting.  With all the new molding detail and color, spending time in the kitchen is more like spending time in a cozy parlor.

Here are the paint colors we used and a few painting tips unique to this room.

Our Paint Colors for the Kitchen

Paint numbers correspond with the above photo.

1. Ceiling, Light Blue

light blue ceiling paint colorYou would think having a color over your head would be oppressive, but it’s not at all —  it’s a great way of showing off your crown moldings.

Let me warn you of this one thing.  While you’re painting your ceiling the light color, your brain will be screaming that it’s way too dark.  But that’s because you’re comparing it to the ceiling white.  The moment you paint over that last bit of white on the ceiling all of a sudden it becomes virtually as white-looking as it did before.  It’s an odd effect.

  • Icelandic, SW11303
  • Sherwin Williams, Cashmere
  • Low Lustre Finish
  • $35.00 per gallon.  We used 1 ea. gallon.


2. Moldings (Crown, picture rail, door trim, pilasters, wainscoting, baseboard and valance box), White

how to paint moldingsI do not recommend using Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint brand on moldings.

It dries way too fast, even with paint extender like X-I-M or Floetrol added.

This paint is so bad for moldings, in fact, that we will not use our remaining half-gallon of this expensive paint any place else in the house.  We’ll save it for kitchen molding touch-ups.

  • White Dove, OC-17
  • Benjamin Moore, Aura
  • Satin Finish
  • $65.00/gal.  We used less than 1 gallon.


3. Dark Blue Accents on Crown Molding Frieze, Door Trim & Valance Box

border color below crown moldingYou can replicate this beautiful Robert Adam paint effect with your own moldings, but using your own color scheme (green being another color at Osterley Park — we’ll be replicating that effect when we get to our master bedroom).

If you are going for this look, there are two important factors to consider:  One, the color must be so dark that it’s almost black.  Two, it must be a flat paint finish to get the depth of color that is the essence of this effect.

  • Batik, EB19-1
  • Valspar, Signature
  • Matte Finish
  • $13.00/quart.  We used 1 ea. quart.


4. Brick Wall Accent Color, Medium Blue

paint an interior brick wallWe’ve lost track of how many paint colors we’ve tried on this brick wall in the last year — at least four, I think, even before we decided to install all the moldings.

The texture of the brick made it very difficult to predict exactly how the final coat of paint would look.

When we found a color that we were pretty sure we liked after painting a large test area, we learned that it’s best to paint the whole brick wall (sometimes just half) before making the final decision.

  • Lobelia, SW6810
  • Sherwin Williams, Cashmere
  • Lowe Lustre Finish
  • $45.00 per gallon.  We used 1 ea. Gallon.


5. Kitchen Walls, Medium Blue

white moldings with dark colored wallsThis mild cameo blue started off as an accent wall at the sink end of the kitchen.

But once the moldings were installed and painted white, it was clear it should be the main wall color with even darker blues as accents.

That’s one of the joys of white-painted moldings; they are so bright that you can paint your walls even darker, bolder colors without the room feeling dark.

  • Cosmos, SW6528
  • Sherwin Williams, Cashmere
  • Low Lustre Finish
  • $45.00 per gallon.  We used 1 ea. gallon.


6. Wainscoting Panels, Dark Blue

wainscoting painted dark colorOur original wainscoting color choice was white.

But after priming it white, we looked through all of our historic home decorating books and discovered a whole new world of color choices for wainscoting.

All-white wainscoting seemed more common in Colonial America, but in the U.K. and on the Continent, the color choices below the dado become vast and exciting!


  • Lupine, SW8810
  • Sherwin Williams, Duration
  • Low Lustre Finish
  • $14.00 per quart.  We used one quart.


A Few Kitchen Painting Tips

how to paint a kitchen

Color Matching that Doesn’t Match

We could not find a dark blue that we liked for the border at our friendly, neighborhood Sherwin Williams paint store.

So under great duress we went to the paint section of our local big-box home improvement store and actually found a color we liked — Valspar’s, Batik.

We bought a quart as a test color, tried it out at home and were delighted with it.  Since the test quart we bought was the wrong sheen, we asked our Sherwin Williams guy if he could match it.  No problem he said.  Problem was, though, it didn’t match.

How to match wall colors from different paint manufacturers

Two coats of dark blue paint below the crown molding. Batik wins!

I’ve never been one for custom mixing paint colors for just this reason.

There are so many stock paint colors from all the various paint companies that if you just look hard enough you can probably find just the right color without resorting to custom mixes.

Wet Paint Uncertainty

You know when you open your can of paint at home and feel this shudder of dread ripple across your whole body because the wet paint doesn’t look anything like the color on the chip?

And your first thought is that the guy at the paint store somehow really screwed your color up and now you’re going to have to fight the traffic to go back and then fight with him because you think he mixed it wrong and he says it’s right?

Yeah, well, this dark blue paint did that to both of us.

valspar paint dark blue

Looks like the wrong blue. Until it drys. Then it’s suddenly the right blue again.

How Many Coats of Dark Blue Did You Say?


Three coats of dark blue paint.  Valspar is good paint.  It’s not the paint’s fault, really.

Some colors just need more coats of paint to realize their true color.  Paint colors with deep bases like this Batik blue I almost always expect to lay on three coats of paint.  But I like to paint so it’s not a problem.  I know, I’m strange that way.

how to paint a kitchen

You are a Sculptor

A major tenet of our decorating with moldings philosophy is making do with what we’ve got.

In this case it’s dealing with rounded corners in our house.

The after-thought picture rail left us with this gap between it and the ceiling in this one spot.  With a little careful sculpting and paint you’ll never notice the fill when the project’s complete.

how to paint a kitchen blue

Tip: Let the joint compound dry for a day or so. Then get a coat of primer on it so it does not get too dry and start to crack.

Good luck painting your own kitchen.  If you have any questions that think we might be able to answer don’t hesitate ask.

[Back to Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]

how to paint moldings and millworkHow to Paint Moldings Series

This post has a whole lot more detail about how to paint a room full of moldings.