A well-designed kitchen should be simple and functional, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Your kitchen can still reflect your personality, so don’t be afraid to incorporate more than one color into your kitchen cabinet design and material choices. To accomplish this, consider using two-tone kitchen cabinets for increased visual appeal and style.

Although the use of two-tone kitchen cabinets isn’t exactly a new design trend, the practice has been gaining ground over the past few years,[1] allowing for more color, contrast and visual interest without loading up on a single color.

Two-tone kitchen with white cabinetry and blue kitchen islandTwo-tone kitchen with white cabinetry and blue kitchen island

Accenting an Island

White kitchen cabinets may still be the most popular choice in most renovated kitchens — followed by medium wood-tone and gray cabinets — but incorporating more color into your kitchen cabinet design can add a subtle or even a dramatic twist. One easy yet very effective idea is to add a different color to a kitchen island. Choosing a complementary color for yours creates visual interest and draws attention to this popular feature. Two in five homeowners who add to or upgrade their kitchen island cabinets, for example, are going with a color that’s different from their wall cabinets. Gray and blue are the most popular colors for island cabinetry.[2]

Ordering cabinets for an island or a tall pantry area in a contrasting color such as our Blue or Black finishes gives the look of custom built-in furniture. This contrast also shines a light on your favorite parts of the room.

CliqStudios designer Sue Robinson has used this exact kitchen cabinet design technique for her clients. “I’ve designed kitchens with the island or the base cabinets a different color. I’ve also designed kitchens with just an accent, like the range hood or molding in a different color.”

A black and white kitchen using CliqStudios Shaker cabinets, black the base cabinets and white above.A black and white kitchen using CliqStudios Shaker cabinets, black the base cabinets and white above.

Balancing Your Space

When mixing cabinet finishes, place darker colors lower, such as base cabinets, and allow lighter colors to float toward the ceiling on wall or glass-front cabinets. This two-tone cabinet technique also makes a small kitchen look larger because the lighter shade on top will help draw the eye upward. The inverse, light colors on the bottom and darker colors on top, rarely works and often makes a space feel off-balance. Alternately, tall cabinets, like pantries and shelving units will work well finished in either a dark or a light choice.

CliqStudios Shaker Kitchen Cabinets in Painted Cream and blue-grayCliqStudios Shaker Kitchen Cabinets in Painted Cream and blue-gray

Whites and Neutrals

CliqStudios offers four shades of white that you can mix and match to create a fresh, versatile and welcoming space. Combining different white shades results in the classic all-white look but with a softness that’s much more visually pleasing. Again, to draw the eye upward, good options are White for wall cabinets, and Cream or Cloud for base cabinets

CliqStudios shaker-style Shaker cabinets in Medium Gray and Painted WhiteCliqStudios shaker-style Shaker cabinets in Medium Gray and Painted White

Mixing variations of neutral shades also gives your kitchen added depth. Gray has many of the same properties that people love about white, but in a more subdued tone. Lighter shades of gray won’t brighten up a kitchen the way white cabinets do, but many of them come close, such as our Medium Gray paint color.

Designing with two-tone kitchen cabinets is an ongoing trend that appears to be gaining popularity with professional designers and homeowners alike. With so many combinations of contrasting colors, neutral and white shades to choose from, it’s a look that will definitely stand the test of time.

Sources cites:

[1] Google Trends Two-Tone Cabinet Interest: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2010-01-25%202020-02-25&geo=US&q=two%20tone%20cabinets

[2] 2020 U.S. HouzzKitchen Trends Study: https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2020-u-s-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~129594531