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Choosing Your Color Scheme

Colors come and go in popularity and are highly subject to personal preference. There are some color schemes, however, that have stood the test of time. The most classic is the all-white kitchen. White, often accented with one color such as blue, is a popular choice for the kitchen because it's clean-looking and helps visually downplay the dirty dishes, pots-and-pans clutter that a kitchen is naturally prone to.

Kitchens are also expensive, and white never goes out of style. The only downside of an all-white kitchen is that is can look sterile and cold, but that's easily fixed with the addition of warm-toned elements, such as a honey-colored wood floor, or soft accents such as curtains at the windows or an upholstered banquette seat.

Even an all-white kitchen has color in it: An oak floor infuses it with yellow, a granite countertop can be gray, pink, green, or black. Keep in mind, too, that there are hundreds of whites; white can be warm or cool -- it can even be hot.

True colors -- as opposed to white, which is a neutral -- are generally considered warm or cool. Warm colors, such as tones of red, yellow, and orange, are energizing. Cool colors, such as blue, green, and violet, are calming. Color does indeed affect mood. Studies have shown that exposure to red, for instance, quickens the pulse and breathing rate and increases the appetite. Any color can be used with great success in the kitchen if you follow a few color guidelines.

Generally, it is wise to pick one color as an overall or base color and then one, or maybe two at the most, as accent colors.

Complementary colors -- those that lie opposite one another on the color wheel -- intensify each other and impart the space with energy. Analogous colors -- those that sit next to one another on the color wheel -- are visually softer together, and will make the space seem more serene. Neutrals such as taupe, tan, black, white, cream, and shades of gray can be a color scheme in and of themselves, or can be paired with nearly any color as an accent.

When thinking about what kind of a color scheme you'd like for your kitchen, think not only about your favorite colors, but also those that run through a favorite quilt, in the blue-and-white willowware dishes you inherited from your grandmother, or in a beloved painting. Perhaps your color inspiration will come from memories of a favorite vacation. Choose a color scheme based on something you love and you'll never tire of it.