Artist Elizabeth Murray once likened gardening to painting with flowers and plants as the colors and the earth and sky as canvas. Painting your kitchen a cheery sunshine-yellow and blue-sky palette turns that upside down and brings the garden inside, letting you experience the delights of summer all year round. Allow the warmer tones of yellow to shrink large spaces for coziness, or to brighten a dark room, and use blue to enlarge and cool cramped quarters.
Easy Does It
Nothing could be simpler than painting one color on top and the other on the bottom -- using the chair rail as dividing line between. Correctly installed chair rails divide walls at the standard height of about one-third the wall height from the floor -- usually 28 to 32 inches, making the upper portion two-thirds larger than the lower. Therefore, choose your preferred color for the top area and save your secondary color for the bottom. Remember that warm colors like yellow come forward and make spaces look and feel smaller, while cool colors like blue do the opposite, so whichever color predominates in the upper space will mainly control the feel of your room. Choose a neutral white or pale gray for trim and chair rail.
Divide and Conquer
Spice things up a bit by dividing the upper portion of the wall into bright blue and yellow stripes -- vertical stripes to make the ceiling appear higher, or horizontal stripes to visually elongate a wall. Mix them up if you like and do two opposing walls one way and the other two walls, the opposite way, or get really wild with diagonal stripes. Optionally, paint only one wall with stripes and do the others in a solid color to match one stripe color. A checkerboard design on one wall is yet another option. Paint the bottom blue to anchor your whimsical designs, and paint rail, trim and cabinets to match.
One Color and White Plus Accent
For a softer color-scheme, choose pale yellow to paint both the top and bottom of the walls, then paint the chair rail, windows and door trim dazzling white. Paint the bases and sides of cabinets white as well, but paint the fronts of cabinets and drawers, inside backs of open shelves and other small details cobalt-blue for accent. Use flat or eggshell paint for the walls and satin or semi-gloss enamel for trim and accents. All white appliances and a cobalt-blue sink would look fantastic in this kitchen. (See Resources 2 and Notes)
Formal But Cheerful
Use satin paint in charcoal-gray for all the trim, the chair rail and the walls below the chair rail. Above the rail paint walls flat, pale gray-blue . Accent sparingly in bright lemon-yellow on drawer knobs, minor decorative elements or with accessories only. This could be a somewhat formal look with stainless steel or black appliances, a dark slate floor and blue and yellow glass or china decorative pieces. Additionally, a bowl of lemons or bright sunflowers will save it from a too-somber aspect and make it positively bright and cheery.
Paint everything except the walls in glossy white and use all-white sinks and appliances. Add charm and country flavor with hand-painted stencils in primary blue over butter-yellow top walls. Paint the lower walls robin's egg-blue. This is a pretty look with loads of cottage-style-garden flowers in white vases and chicken-wire cabinet fronts or open shelving displaying blue dishes.