You splurged on the granite and the kitchen is going to look fabulous -- if you can just find the right color paint for the walls and cabinets. That stone is a diva, so give it center stage and work with it to choose a shade of paint that complements the granite and flatters your entire kitchen.
The Dark Stuff
Black, chocolate and charcoal granite -- each is dense and dramatic, whether it's on the counters or on the floor. Pale cabinets, walls and ceiling will expand the sense of height in the room, especially if the floors are dark granite. Black granite is always sharp next to stark white -- and the decor can be modern or period with a black-and-white shell of a room.
Chocolate granite counters are totally Tuscan with yellow-orange squash-colored paint on the walls -- but anything over 70 percent cocoa is dark enough to almost qualify as black, and might look cool and contemporary with stainless appliances and a mix of light and medium gray paint on cabinets and walls.
Charcoal granite is your invitation to create a stunning cave of medium-to-dark grays -- think thunderclouds, pewter, gunmetal, battleship and steel. The effect is rich but austere, so soften the kitchen decor with a line of herb pots on a windowsill or a large green hanging fern.
Light and Buff
The frothy, creamy granites are like fluffy clouds or the foam on your cappuccino. You have a lot of options with paler granites, but you have to really think about every element of the kitchen to avoid a case of the blands. Keep the cloud-surround with different surfaces of the same pure white for granite counters, painted cabinets, tile backsplashes, appliances and cabinets. Choose accent countertop machines or potholders to add the merest spike of color. Blend softer neutrals for a richly nuanced harmony.
Cream, bisque or toast granite -- or even dove-gray -- is relaxed or rustic with buttercream, oyster, apricot, tan, white-asparagus or pale smoke paint on the walls. A touch of teal, turquoise or cinnabar in a rug, countertop canisters or a window shade interrupts the smooth spectrum to keep things interesting. A butcher block kitchen island or a wall-mounted rusty rooster weather vane add some country to a sophisticated room.
Color Spectrum Coordinates
Stone is varicolored -- granite has flecks and chips of color that provide big clues about the right paint for the kitchen. Study a tile or granite sample in the kitchen light. Note the main color that dominates. Now hunt for flecks of the same or close colors in the stone. Those would make excellent paint shades for the walls or cabinets. Pick up samples of the closest color match and try them in the room. Evaluate the samples in different lighting conditions to determine what works best. Or grab your trusty color wheel, determine the closest match to the granite, and look at the shades on either side of the matching color. This is a soothing way to create a calm, nearly monochromatic space.
Examine the granite for colors, not neutrals, and decide which cool or warm hue it resembles most closely. The opposite hue on the color wheel is the energizing complement to the granite color. Avoid too much contrast by selecting hues to either side of the complement -- a reddish-brown granite could be contemporary and arresting with pale acid-green walls and natural wood cabinets.