Pristine Perception: Do Certain Kitchen & Bath Colors Feel "Cleaner"?

Pristine Perception: Do Certain Kitchen & Bath Colors Feel "Cleaner"?

Carolyn Purnell
Jan 26, 2012

Upon hearing this question, our minds probably jump to white. It's a color commonly used in messy areas, given that it allows one to immediately notice dust and grime. But after two years of living in an all-white apartment, I realized that white kitchens and bathrooms also mean constant cleaning since white shows every molecule of dirt.

Perhaps instead of thinking in terms of specific colors that make a space feel cleaner, it may be more beneficial to think in terms of the relationship between colors in the room. To my mind, the perception of a room's cleanliness has more to do with the amount of natural light in the room than with the actual color. Often we conflate light and cleanliness, which would explain the immediate penchant for white, which reflects a great deal of light. But other colors can still feel clean, as long as they are reflective and receive adequate light.

Additionally, darker colors in small doses can sometimes help a space feel cleaner. For instance, dark-hued towels may seem cleaner if you have a problem keeping your whites from becoming dingy. Keeping larger surfaces like sinks and bathtubs white can improve the airiness of a space, but adding accent colors in strategic, less imposing ways, can make your space feel even fresher.

Finally, think about the other objects that will be in the room. In the kitchen, in particular, we tend to have a variety of differently colored objects in the open (fruit, dishes, flowers, etc.). Too many stimuli can make a room feel busy, cluttered, and subsequently, less clean. A neutral palette may ensure that these colors don't compete with one another, but a carefully coordinated palette can often accomplish the same task.

Do you think that our perception of cleanliness is more about the relationship of elements in a room, or do you think that certain colors inherently feel cleaner?

Color in the Kitchen: Best of the Kitchn
Kitchen Gallery: White, Bright, and Clean
Orange, Blue, White, & Red: Gallery of Colorful Kitchens
White Kitchens: The Absence of Color
Look: Affecting Appetite with Kitchen Color

(Images: 1. Decor Demon via The Lennoxx, 2. House Beautiful, 3. House Beautiful, 4. House Beautiful, 5. Peter & Blair's "Bohemian Preppy" Seattle Abode House Tour, 6. Elle Decor, 7. Elle Decor)

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