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Follow the Trend: Color Blocking

Posted on Aug 02, 2023

by Marsh Kitchen & Bath

Follow the trend color blocking feature
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Color blocking comes on strong, especially in kitchen design.

Color blocking first appeared in fashion in the mid-1950s, when Yves Saint Laurent created dresses in the geometric style of the painter Piet Mondrian. Today, “color blocking” refers to any style that mixes two or three bold, often contrasting blocks of colors in one ensemble to make an exciting statement.

As we’re starting to see a move away from all-neutral interiors, our designers have been seeing color blocking in shows, trade reports, and online. For kitchen or bath design, color blocking starts with using more than one color of cabinets within a single space. Typically, a single color is used for a section of cabinets, and then a different color for another area. More about how it’s done… in a minute.

Blocks of color break it up.

To us, color blocking is a natural evolution from the all-white and all-gray cabinets we’ve been seeing for the last 20 years or so. Some homeowners feel that all-monochrome all the time can be… A little. Bit. Monotonous. Color blocking is a great way to add interest and make your new kitchen current.

Mary Baber, our design manager, explains, “It’s becoming commonplace for homeowners to ask for an island or base cabinets in a darker tone than the upper cabinets. In a large, open kitchen, this can help split the sense of vast space and make it feel warmer and cozier. Lower cabinets feel grounded, while the overall effect can stay bright and breezy from countertop to ceiling.”

How color blocking is being done.

Baber advises: “A good rule is to add a color pop against a more neutral color, such as white, gray, or natural wood cabinets. With wood floors, it makes sense to consider stain on the cabinets or island to pull your look together.”

Our designers also use color blocking to create high contrast, such as putting a black island in front of white cabinets. For a serene effect, they combine analogous colors or mid-tones. Or they’ll create a moodier color palette by shifting the colors to the dark range and adding lots of texture.

Combining three colors from nature.

One common tactic our designers employ is borrowing a color palette from nature, especially “background” colors like green, light tan, and near-black. Done right, these colors can function as neutrals.

The sophisticated, yet comfortable design above makes a large kitchen feel as if you’re walking through a forest with dappled sunlight and shadow. “It works because all the colors are from nature’s palette,” says Baber. “The colors you see outside the window are also inside.”

The kitchen above was designed with cabinets in three different colors: Hunt, a classic hunter green (perimeter). Jute, a rich, medium-blond stain (island). Carbon, a nearly black stain (stacked cabinets). The dark stain keeps the wall of cabinets from overwhelming the space.

Color blocking shows up in the coordinated stone countertops as well—whose colored streaks help unify the design. Natural beams in the ceiling are stained to match the island; wood bowls and boxes reinforce the natural color. A little splash of green’s complementary color, red, makes the Oriental runner pop. Hardware and fixtures were chosen in different finishes.

Want to try color blocking at home? Consult a designer!

When it comes to color blocking, your imagination is the limit. A designer can guide you through the nuances of balancing colors, adding texture, and even going for additional color “pops,” such as appliances, countertops, feature walls, backsplash, and décor.

A Marsh Kitchen & Bath designer is ready to help you inject the color you crave into a kitchen or bath you love. We help you make sense of the trends—and your spending. Visit a showroom to see what you can do.

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