Transformation Tips: Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinets

Everyone loves consistency and clean lines when it comes to kitchen design – but using the same tone or shade for your floors, cabinetry, and furnishings can look a little too cookie-cutter. Today’s average homeowner might think they want an all-white kitchen, when in reality, spicing things up with two or more complementary colors can add a level of dimension to the space that elevates the design.

While all-white kitchens certainly had their time in the spotlight, two-tone cabinets are becoming one of the top kitchen trends of 2023. Rather than matching your upper and lower cabinets with the same color of paint or paneling, embracing a more colorful, contrasting look is gaining a great deal of popularity.

Whether you choose one color for your upper cabinets and another color for the lower ones, or you want to make your island cabinetry stand out with a unique accent color, how you blend your kitchen design with two-tone cabinets is entirely up to you.

As you step out of the single-color zone, here’s how to combine two tone kitchen cabinets and make the heart of your home extra trendy.

Large kitchen with flat front walnut cabinets on the bottom and white cabinets on the top.
Walnut Frameless Cabinets

1. Mix Wood and White

If you’re worried about two-tone kitchen cabinets making too bold of a statement, the classic combination of natural wood tones and crisp white hues can be a subtle starting point. Much like basil and tomatoes, pairing wood and white is one of those magical combinations that just simply works.

Since brown and white are both neutral colors, they work beautifully together and will make for a contemporary, sleek design that will give off a Scandinavian vibe.

For example, you could choose these Oxford White Shaker kitchen cabinets for your upper cabinets in one part of the kitchen, and then select these Walnut Frameless Cabinets for the island. This will create an airy and light feel, adding depth to the space and imbuing a naturalistic palette.

A standout choice is the natural and rustic, Natural Hickory Shaker cabinets. This hardwood cabinet door features striking variations in color and grain. It’s a textural cabinet that makes a nice contrast to many of the other cabinet choices.

Kitchen with blue cabinets on the perimeter and gray island with white, copper, and gray accents.
Navy Blue Shaker Cabinets

2. Choose a Vibrant Accent Color

From emerald green to cranberry red, who said all the color in your kitchen was reserved for the fruit basket? Selecting a fun and vibrant color to accent a specific area of the kitchen – such as a built-in desk or a short stretch of cabinetry – is a great way to add an element of surprise.

As you rifle through paint swatches and debate which color speaks most to your inner chef, there are endless possibilities that can transform your kitchen from boring and bland to quirky and cool.

If you’re stuck, try using a color wheel to help you discover which colors complement each other well. One of today’s most popular accent colors is navy blue. Why not pair these Navy Blue Shaker Frameless kitchen cabinets with these soothing gray Gunnison Shaker kitchen cabinets for a fresh look?

Large kitchen with white flat front cabinets on the perimeter and dark gray on the island.
Lacquer White Cabinets

3. Go for a Contrasting Material

If choosing a second color intimidates you, think of it in different terms: you can combine two materials instead for a fresh and interesting touch.

Of course, you can’t really go wrong with wood as a primary cabinetry material, and there are so many signature wood options like these Rustic Shaker kitchen cabinets. For the second material, a glossy cabinet like these Lacquer Frameless kitchen cabinets can create a beautiful contrast.

To ensure you keep harmony in your two-tone kitchen, it’s a good idea to make sure at least one of the materials you choose matches the flooring. Depending on your budget and the style you are going for, combining contrasting materials is a perfect way to add depth and texture to a modern kitchen design.

Blue Shaker cabinets with ornate tile backsplash and glass front upper cabinets.

4. Consider Kitchen Layout

Take into account the layout of your kitchen when choosing which cabinets will be in which color. Typically, the upper cabinets are a different color than the lower cabinets, but you can also consider using a different color for an island or a pantry cabinet. You can even employ your lower cabinet color on the upper half along with your secondary color with tall cabinets that extend from the floor up past the countertop.

The key here is to strive for balance in the distribution of colors. Avoid overwhelming one side of the kitchen with a dark color while keeping the other side too light. Balance is key to a harmonious design.

It’s also a smart idea to use the contrasting color as a focal point. For example, you can make the island cabinets a different color to draw attention to it and create a visual centerpiece in the kitchen. Or frame a coffee station or bar with your main color on either side and the secondary color in the center, as pictured above.

Sand colored Shaker cabients in a large neutral kitchen with black accents.

5. Use Natural Light

Consider the amount of natural light your kitchen receives. If your kitchen is well-lit, you can be bolder with your color choices. If it’s on the darker side, opt for lighter colors to make the space feel more open and bright.

Before committing to a color scheme, get cabinet door samples and test them in your kitchen’s light. This will allow you to see how the colors look in your specific lighting conditions, and it can make all the difference to your outcome.

Black cabinetry on an island with marble countertops.

6. Tie It All Together

When using two different cabinet colors, try to maintain consistency in other elements of your kitchen design, such as countertops, backsplash, and flooring. These elements should also harmonize with the cabinet colors.

The choice of cabinet hardware and accessories, such as drawer pulls and knobs, can play a significant role in tying the two-tone cabinet design together. Ensure they complement both cabinet colors.

Greige cabinets in a large kitchen.

7. Try Open Shelves

If you have a pretty solid cabinet bank on the top of your kitchen, you may want to break up the visual weight of the two-tone cabinets. Consider incorporating open shelving. Open shelving, especially floating shelves have a distinctive look and much less weighty feel and might just be what you need to break up that solid bank of cabinets.

Open shelving is an excellent opportunity to display decorative dishes, glassware, cookbooks, and plants. Use it to showcase items that add personality to your kitchen. On the other hand, they can be functional too.

Organize your open shelves into functional zones, such as a coffee station, baking supplies, or dinnerware. This makes it easier to find what you need and keeps your kitchen organized.

Select shelving materials that match your kitchen’s style but aren’t the same color as either of your cabinets. Popular options include wood, metal, glass, and reclaimed materials. Ensure the material is durable and can support the weight of your kitchen items.

There is no reason not to invest in the aesthetics of your kitchen, especially when there are so many ways to vary the design like integrating two-tone kitchen cabinets.

And don’t worry about breaking the bank; you can check out our tips here on how to make the most of your investment when remodeling your kitchen.

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