Paint Samples during Project Design Phase

Recently, we posted a couple of cabinet door samples on our company facebook page, and the topic stimulated a surprisingly large conversation about opinions on color tones for wood. I use the term “paint samples” referring to the general category of sampling finishes for projects. Anyways, the topic on facebook generated so much interest, from just a picture, that I thought I would share more detail about the sampling process and the project as a whole, in this format.

The Importance of Paint Samples

paint samples

Two natural wood door samples

During the planning or design phase for a home project, it is really helpful to create paint samples for planning and purchasing purposes. It is kind of tricky to do, because during a remodel, for instance, everything is conceptual. That is why it is important, in the initial planning phase, to also consider the goal: the finished result, in terms of what the space will look like in the end. As paint is the final aspect of any project, it is helpful to have several paint samples and work backwards from there in selecting other components of the project. In other words, instead of waiting until the end of the project to pick paint colors based on other aspects, let your preferred color palette drive the overall feel of the project.

Case in Point: Custom Kitchen Remodel

paint samples

Countertops…another great way to integrate natural wood

Without doubt, the most significant component of a kitchen remodel is the cabinetry. Cabinets involve other elements as well, such as hardware (knobs, hinges), countertops, backsplashes and integrated appliances. All of these components have to work together in a successful kitchen remodel.

Sometimes, it is interesting to mix painted and natural wood finishes in the same space, and it can be particularly effective in a larger custom kitchen, to keep the cabinetry from dominating the space. If it is all painted, it can get to be a bit much.

Where to start?

The most obvious place to start in color selection for a kitchen remodel, for the purposes of starting down the path of cabinetry and all that goes with it, is TRIM COLOR. Typically, the cabinets will be the same color as the trim in the room, because often the baseboard and crown molding in the room will run through the cabinets, tying the whole space together.

Making it Feel Custom

Getting away from the cookie cutter feel of “yup, everything on trim and cabinets is white”, is not all that difficult. One great way to do it is to integrate some natural wood tones into the cabinet design. This can be done with wood countertops, or even making a section or two of the cabinetry natural wood instead of painted. Islands, peninsulas and appliance housings can be great ways to do this as well.

So how do we pull all THAT together?

On one of our kitchen remod projects, we did exactly this, and we integrated natural woods and painted finishes into the same cabinet design.


  • select potential cabinet/trim colors
  • choose potential wood species and finishes
  • create paint samples of both
paint samples

Using a subtle glaze in corners and edges is a good way to bring some of the natural wood tone through the paint grade sections when some of the kitchen cabinets are natural and some are painted.

Once you have picked the paint and natural wood finish choices from the paint samples, you can then take it to the next level by integrating the painted and wood finishes even further by using a subtle glaze tone on the painted surfaces, pulling from the darker tones in the natural wood.

This is a great way for the cabinetry to act as a “bridge” between the natural wood tones and the solid painted trim elements of the kitchen, and really pull things together for a custom feel.