Neutral colors help tall cabinets blend with your room design.

How to Choose the Paint Color for Floor-to-Ceiling Cabinets in a Narrow Room

by Kristine Tucker

Choosing a paint color for furnishings and architectural features in a narrow room can be challenging. You need a color that visually expands the room, so your small, narrow space doesn't feel overwhelmed with dark or overly bright colors. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets, often referred to as built-ins when they are attached to the wall, are functional and provide extra storage. However, you must choose your paint color wisely, so the cabinets blend with the space to create a harmonious design.

Same Color as Walls

To create continuity in your room, paint the cabinets the same color as your walls. Even if the cabinets aren't built-ins, they will appear to be part of the wall if they are painted the same color. In a narrow room design, it's especially important to use light or muted paint shades, so the room doesn't appear to close in on itself. Paint colors such as soft sage green, pale golden yellow, light taupe, beige, light gray, Wedgewood blue and light mocha brown will help your room stay as open as possible.


You can't usually go wrong when you paint floor-to-ceiling cabinets white, as long as your wall color is also white or a soft, muted color. If you opt for a dark wall color, such as navy blue, deep red or charcoal gray, white cabinets will stand out in the space and make the room feel just as narrow. You can opt for bright white, off-white, linen, antique white or rustic white for your cabinets to coordinate with your overall theme, design motif and accessories. For example, bright white is modern and contemporary, and rustic white is casual and subdued. White cabinets against soft golden yellow, light taupe, pale blue, muted sage green or beige walls will help your room appear wider.

Light Earth Tones

Earth tones are an ideal option for tall cabinets because most shades resemble colors found in wood stains. Tan, peach, butter, gray, terra cotta, olive, sage green and taupe are common colors found in soils, rocks, bark, shrubbery and landscapes. These earthy colors create a warm environment and help the cabinets blend with the rest of your natural wood furniture and accessories. You might opt to paint the cabinets a slightly darker or lighter shade of an earth tone that's already represented in your space.

Contrasting Color

If your floor-to-ceiling cabinets are at one end of your narrow room, you might choose a color that dramatically contrasts from the wall color. This will help your room appear less long, if you want to create a space that seems more proportionate. For example, you might paint the cabinets black against white walls, or yellow against gray or sage green walls. Contrast will draw attention to your cabinets, making them a focal point in the room.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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