Multi-Tone Kitchen: Double the Finish, Double the Style

January 10, 20134 comments

Everyone wants a one of a kind kitchen that has character and a personality all its own, right? Well, one often overlooked way of doing this is by going multi-tone in your kitchen.

Yes, that’s right. You can use multiple finishes throughout your space to create a unique look. The kitchen cabinets and countertops are great places to get creative. Not only is the visual variety is fun, but it can even make your kitchen look more high-priced if done correctly. That’s doubly awesome!

There are no hard and fast rules for using multiple finishes. But an easy way to learn what works and what doesn’t is to see what others have done. Here are some pictures and advice for pulling off a multi-finish kitchen.

We’ll start with the cabinetry.

Multiple Stains

Multi-tone Kitchen Stain

Use contrasting stains to highlight the naturalness and beauty of hardwood. Make sure to select finishes have enough difference to prevent it from looking like a section of your cabinetry is just discolored.

Multiple Paints

Multi-Tone Kitchen White Black Island

Painted finishes will probably be a little more straightforward to mix and match. Here, the dark paint anchors the island as the center of the kitchen, while the white keeps the space airy and light overall.

Stains and Paints

Multi-tone Kitchen Maple and White

With the right stain and the right paint, you can create a pleasantly varied look. This provides greater contrast and offers more creative appeal.

Understated Contrast

Multi-tone Kitchen White and Linen


While you are bringing variety into your kitchen when you go multi-tone, try to keep it simple. Too much contrast in your cabinetry can be an eyesore. Shoot for an understated contrast, rather than something super bold and loud. In the kitchen pictured above, the white adds a soft, subtle touch of difference.

Light On Top

Multi-tone Kitchen Light and Dark


For visual balance, it’s recommended to keep light cabinets above dark cabinets. Darker paints will be visually heavier, and with them on the bottom, the kitchen will seem bigger and more open.

Contrasting Island

Multi-tone Kitchen Contrast Island


The least daring way to use multiple colors on your cabinetry is with a contrasting island. As you can see from the pictures in this post, it is a very popular option. Generally, the darker or more bold tone is used on the island.

Accent Special Areas

Multi-tone Kitchen with Contrasting Island

You can create a focal point by introducing a different color. Pictured here, the darker cabinetry calls out a small desk and command center area.

Multiple Cabinet Styles

Multiple Cabinet Styles Kitchen

Don’t be afraid to mix multiple cabinet styles when you combine colors too. This kitchen has shaker kitchen cabinets on the island and raised panel cabinets along the walls.

Now for mixing and matching countertops.


Multi-tone Kitchen Two Granite


Can’t decide on one granite to use? Well, use two then! Light and dark, dark and dark, or light and light, the choice is up to you.

Butcher Block

Butcher Block Granite Counter

Butcher block counters are really popular right now. The contrast between wood and stone adds interest and warmth.

As you can tell, there are many ways to combine finishes in your kitchen. Best of all, there’s no real right or wrong. But, as is with any design, you have to approach using multiple tones carefully. Trust your gut and you’ll create something great!

What do you like to see in multi-tone kitchens? If you have a multi-tone kitchen, how did you design it?


Showing 4 comments

  1. Kathy Banks Reply

    Can you tell me the manufacture of the stone used in the black splash in the contrasting island picture. Thanks.

    • August Drilling Reply

      Hi Kathy,
      The backsplash is from Jeffrey Court out of California. The website is The product pictured is a few years old, however, so they may not carry it anymore. You might be able to find a similar look browsing a few stores and online though. Hope this helps!

  2. Judy Garey Reply

    Beautiful kitchens!

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