Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Browse your options for two-toned kitchen cabinets, and prepare to add an eye-catching design that can make your kitchen feel larger and increase your home's resale value.

March 16, 2022
Stylish, Functional Kitchen with Plenty of Counter Space

Plenty of Counter Space in Stylish, Functional Kitchen

A large kitchen island as well as base cabinets that surround the kitchen space give the homeowners plenty of counter space for meal prep and serving.

Photo by: Elizabeth Lawson

Elizabeth Lawson

By: Kamron Sanders and Sean McEvoy

If you're looking to add some visual interest and contrast to your kitchen, you should consider two-toned kitchen cabinets. This design trick is a great way to impart color into your kitchen, while visually enlarging the space and highlighting your kitchen’s strengths. Because kitchens have traditionally maintained a consistent color between upper cabinets, lower cabinets and the island, contrasting these elements makes for a striking visual that’s truly eye-catching.

20 Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinet Ideas

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Two Tone Kitchen Cabinet Designs

The two most common routes designers take when aiming for the two-toned kitchen look is contrasting upper and lower cabinets or contrasting the cabinets and the island. Contrasting the upper and lower cabinets is a great way to break up a boring kitchen, and, if done properly, it can even make the kitchen appear larger. Contrasting the island and cabinets is the more traditional of the two routes, but it too can have a massive visual impact on the space. A third level of contrast can be achieved by contrasting the uppers, lowers and the island.

Exotic Flair Added to Renovated Kitchen in Details

Details in Remodeled Kitchen Add Exotic Flair

The previous kitchen in the couple's home was small and closed in with very little countertop or cabinet space. Brio Interior Design's renovations, though, have replaced the outdated stock cabinets and formica countertops with modern, custom cabinets and an elegant butcher block countertop. One set of lower cabinets extends across the exterior wall, while another set was created across the open kitchen to provide plenty of storage and counter space. The lower cabinets are painted black in warm contrast with the white subway tile walls and white upper cabinets. Details such as the beautiful pink flower and brass fixtures bring an exotic feel to the space.

Photo by: Haris Kenjar

Haris Kenjar

Contrast can come in the form of color, finish and materials, though the latter isn’t as common. A popular color contrast is dark blue lower cabinets paired with white upper cabinets. A common finish contrast is painted cabinets with a stained island or natural wood island. You can also have a contrast in materials, like wooden cabinets paired with a stainless steel island.

Creating a Two Tone Kitchen

Create a focal point. Every kitchen is different and what works in one kitchen won’t necessarily work in the next. If your kitchen features a row of cabinets around an appliance, such as a refrigerator or range, it may benefit from a contrasting color to highlight the architecture and create a focal point.

Navy Blue and White Kitchen Cabinets

Navy Blue and White Kitchen Cabinets

This kitchen's south wall felt too long, and stark white cabinets didn't work there, so bold navy cabinets with subtle turquoise undertones were added. A coordinating runner was used over the espresso-colored floor, which features a herringbone pattern. A classic brass light fixture and kitchen ladder were also installed.

Photo by: Troy Thies Photography

Troy Thies Photography

Contrast opposing sides. In galley kitchens where cabinets are on each side of the room, contrasting the two sides can prevent the tunnel-vision look, making the space feel larger.

How to Choose Your Two Colors

When aiming to contrast colors, the rule of thumb is to stick with a darker color on the bottom and a lighter option up top. Not only does this ground the lower cabinets and create a more airy look at the top, but it can also make the ceiling feel taller by drawing the eye upward. Additionally, bottom cabinets tend to attract more dirt and scuff marks, so darker colors can help hide these unwanted markings. Colors should always be complementary, but shades can vary from subtler to stronger contrast.

transitional galley kitchen with green cabinets

Galley Kitchen With Gorgeous Green Cabinets

This galley kitchen in Decatur, Ga., was designed to be a functional yet stylish space that allows for effortless cooking and entertaining. Thus, the room features a deep sink and stainless appliances, gorgeous green cabinets and a wood dining table that seats six.

Photo by: Jeff Herr

Jeff Herr

Contrasting finishes is relatively easy when pairing elements such as white cabinets and a wood island, as these rarely clash. However, not all wood tones play nicely with all colors, and it may take some patience to figure out which will best complement one another. Wood is naturally warm and tends to pair more effortlessly with cool colors.

A Large Island and Natural Wood Cabinets Accent an Open Plan Kitchen

Neutral Kitchen Features a Large Island and Natural Wood Cabinetry

A matching pair of black wrought iron pendants hang above a large white kitchen island. Matching rattan barstools line the kitchen island providing the perfect in-kitchen dining space. Natural wood cabinets line the back wall of the kitchen and feature a section of open shelving that showcases fine china.

Photo by: Julie Soefer

Julie Soefer

Regardless of what your vision for the space is, always compare actual finish samples, if you’re able. If possible, compare the samples inside your space, as colors tend to vary majorly from room to room. To create further cohesion between the two colors, install matching complementary hardware throughout your kitchen.

The Benefits of Two-Toned Kitchens

Get your home market-ready. If you’re planning to put your home on the market, painting your cabinets in a two-toned fashion is a great way to catch the eye of buyers and potentially increase the value of your home.

Brown and White Chef Kitchen

Brown and White Chef Kitchen With Industrial Pendants

This beautiful kitchen takes a unique, two-tone approach to its design: Cabinets one one side of the room are all white, on the other side all brown. The island brings everything together with a little bit of both shades.

Photo by: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Make your kitchen appear larger. Opting for two-toned kitchen cabinets nearly always makes a space look larger by adding visual dynamics that weren’t present before. Going light with your uppers and dark with your lowers will naturally draw the eye upward, creating an airy feel and increasing the way the space’s height is perceived. In a similar fashion, contrasting cabinets on opposite sides of the room will add visual separation to the space, making the room appear larger and less crowded.

Break away from the boring. As two-toned kitchens are becoming more and more popular, monotone kitchens are seeming more traditional and less appealing. While there is certainly still a place for this look, why not break away from the boring and go for something bold?

Other Ways to Create Contrast in Your Kitchen

You don’t have to mix and match your cabinets to create contrast in the kitchen. Consider these other options:

Contrast textural elements. Opting for glossy painted or wooden cabinets contrasted with concrete countertops or stone backsplashes is a great textural mashup that adds charm to your kitchen.

Dark Limestone Countertops and Zellige Tiles in Kitchen

Earthy Kitchen With Zellige Tiles and Dark Limestone Countertops

This earthy kitchen is grounded by dark limestone countertops and Zellige tiles that offer the space an organic aesthetic. The natural look of the open shelvings blends seamlessly against the tan of the tiles, while the stark white cabinets offer a nice contrast the space.

Photo by: Gavin Cater

Gavin Cater

Cover the walls with tile. If your kitchen has a lot of wall space due to a lack of upper cabinets or floating shelves, choose a contrasting tile to cover the wall and create a two-toned look.

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