Why Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets Are the Trend You'll Be Seeing Everywhere

black and white kitchen

Studio McGee 

Say goodbye to the stark white kitchens of the past and hello to the mix of colors that define the kitchen trends of the present. According to Yelp's home expert, interior designer Lauren Makk, "a two-toned kitchen is a really easy way to create instant interest." While the look has been around for a few years, it's clear that this dynamic trend is here to stay. It involves playing with different color variations, usually in your kitchen's upper and lower cabinets.

A frequent iteration of the look includes a darker color for the lower cabinets and a lighter shade for higher shelves. Think white cabinets above the sink paired with shades of blue, black, or brown below. However, there are no set rules for which color combinations or design elements work best.

If you're feeling experimental, try color-blocking one whole wall of both upper and lower cabinets or play with varying shades of the same color for a mesmerizing monochrome.

Trade restrained color schemes like white-on-white for bold contrasts of black and gray, variations of green and blue, and combinations of tan and white. "Whether your home is a chic cottage or a modern mansion, this trend can easily be implemented into any good design or style," Makk says. Grab some paint swatches, a few brushes, and an old T-shirt and start designing.

Here are 16 two-toned kitchen cabinets to inspire your next show-stopping interior design project.

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Go Green + Gold

Green Kitchen Cabinets

Sarah Sherman Samuel

"Variables like tile and appliances may change in the future, but your cabinetry tends to stick around a bit longer, so pick combos you can live with for years to come," Makk advises. Here, gold handles connect white cabinets to complementary light green cabinetry beneath a white marble counter. The subtle green of the lower cabinets is a choice that could easily adapt to other changing design features.

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Combine White Uppers + Black Lowers

Black and White Kitchen Cabinets

Kate Osborne Photography DESIGN: Studio McGee

A crisp way to test out two-toned kitchen cabinets in your home is to contrast white overhead cabinets with black cabinets beneath the countertop. With white subway tile backsplash and a statement-making patterned tile, this kitchen appears refined and highly designed.

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Don't Be Afraid to Mix Materials

Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

 Black Lacquer

"Whether your space is big or small, a two-toned effect adds instant drama to any well-designed space," Makk says. When mixing colors, don't be afraid to opt for unconventional materials and textures to bring the drama. This contemporary kitchen features slick black cabinetry paired with lighter ones made of an entirely different material. These disparate elements play with the contrast of the brown wooden door and table to give the kitchen a variation of colors and textures.

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Experiment With Pastels

Mint Green Kitchen Cabinets

 Sharyn Cairns DESIGN: Fiona Lynch

For something with a touch more edge, experiment with a unique hue like this pastel mint green. The burst of color completely shifts the tone of this otherwise minimalist gray-and-white kitchen. The muted palette of the rest of the space draws the eye upward and allows the cabinets to pop against the marble wall.

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Mix Traditional Wood With White Cabinets

Modern Kitchen

 Alexandra Rowley DESIGN: Studio DB

"Most kitchen designers have shaken it up by mixing traditional wood cabinets with a colorful kitchen island," says Makk. This two-toned kitchen seamlessly incorporates white cabinets with wooden elements. Cabinets above the sink match the waterfall kitchen countertop, while wooden features from the floor, under the island, and on the lower cabinets unite the space. The subtle black from the hanging pendant lighting also matches the black barstools to tie the kitchen together.

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Layer Similar Hues

Black and Gray Kitchen

 Ragnar Ómarsson DESIGN: Pella Hedeby

Using multiple colors doesn't mean you have to opt for bright, loud hues. This black-and-gray kitchen is subdued and sophisticated. The primary colors match the minimalistic décor of the space, making the kitchen look clean and streamlined. 

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Try Color-Blocking

Contemporary Kitchen

 Thomas Dalhoff DESIGN: Brett Mickan Interior Design

Instead of contrasting upper and lower kitchen cabinets, try color-blocking and leaving one wall of cabinets a single shade while switching things up on another wall. Here, all-white cabinets, counters, and subway tile backsplash stand apart from a wall of charcoal-colored cabinets. This gives the space some serious dimension.

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Pair White With Blue

Blue and White Kitchen

Jessica White Photography DESIGN: Studio McGee

For a subtle distinction in color, pair white cabinets with a cool blue hue. According to Makk, "your color combinations are always reliant on a variety of things, and should complement your finishes." This kitchen features bright white and understated blue shades that flow nicely with each other, as well as the marble subway tile backsplash. The combination brings out the gray tint in the lower cabinets.

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Streamline the Materials

Blue and White Kitchen Cabinets

Sarah Sherman Samuel

A surefire way to ensure that two-toned kitchen cabinets remain cohesive is to use the same material throughout the room and only vary the design in color. This industrious kitchen keeps white cabinets from looking disconnected to blue ones by uniting the elements with the same material featuring vertical lines and gold hardware.

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Stay Timeless

Black and White Kitchen Cabinets

 Amber Interiors

"One common mistake is to choose colors that are too trendy and won't withstand the design test of time," Makk explains.

To avoid this pitfall, stick with color combinations that you know work well together. This space utilizes a black island to add dimension and flair to the rest of the white kitchen. This look still features pops of color found in the pink runner rug and brown textured barstool chairs.

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Consider the Flooring

Blue and White Kitchen Cabinets

Becky Kimball Photography; DESIGN: Studio McGee

Take the flooring into consideration when selecting colors for the rest of your kitchen. In this space, navy and white kitchen cabinets stand out against dark wood flooring, making the colors pop even more. The kitchen island also matches the blue and white of the rest of the space, keeping the various elements connected.

12 of 30

Vary Color and Texture

Two-Tone Kitchen

 Alexander Design

A simple variation in color and texture between a kitchen island and kitchen cabinets adds so much interest and dimension to a space. This welcoming kitchen features a wooden island with deep brown cabinets that stand out against the black countertop and darker cabinetry above. Along with the cabinets, a colorful rug adds another element of design to the room.

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Use White Uppers to Reflect Light

White Kitchen with Brown Cabinets

 BHDM Design

This Upper East Side kitchen may be small, but it's brimming with stunning décor and sleek design elements. Shiny white cabinets sit above the countertops and complement the textured tile backsplash. Then, opposite a neatly organized gallery wall sit darker cabinetry on the lower half of the kitchen. With lighter elements on top and dark pieces below, the kitchen feels much more spacious.

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Invest in Hardware

Blue and White Kitchen

 Elizabeth Roberts

This blue-and-white two-toned kitchen proves that the dynamic design can look and feel traditional. Located in a Carroll Gardens Townhouse in Brooklyn, the white subway tile backsplash, navy blue lower cabinets, and white upper shelving create a timeless look. Try using gold hardware like this to tie the varied elements together.

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Add a Bold Countertop

Marble Kitchen

Elizabeth Roberts

Not only is this kitchen two-toned, but it also features beautiful marble countertops, shelves, and backsplash. Sleek, seamless white drawers and appliances on one wall contrast with black lower cabinets beneath the sink. Combined with the stunning marble, this loft kitchen is a sight to be seen. Add a bold countertop into the mix to get the look for yourself.

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Incorporate a Wood Island

Victorian Kitchen

 Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

The bones of this kitchen may have been built in 1885, but the two-toned cabinets and gold light pendants make this space entirely modern. A glamorous white ceiling, walls, and cabinets contrast with the dark wood of the kitchen island. In addition to the varying shades between the island and the cabinets, the white drawers also stand out again the black stove. If you have room, try incorporating a large square wood island in the center of an all-white kitchen to achieve a similar look.

17 of 30

Use Shelving to Create Dimension

white and gray modern kitchen

Cathie Hong

This modern kitchen shows how subtle changes can upgrade a space. It has a minimalist perspective with white upper cabinets, a textured white backsplash, and gray lower cabinets. Adding in the light wooden shelves just below the upper cabinets adds a brand new sense of depth and creates an interesting view to display smaller items. Incorporate some wooden shelves under your cabinets for extra space and an aesthetic boost. 

18 of 30

Decide Your Focal Point

ocean meadow kitchen, muted blue cabinets, white patterned backsplash, white countertops

Blakely Interior Design

Choosing your colors is essential, but so is their placement. Before finalizing your decision, keep in mind what you want the kitchen's focal point to be. If you have a stunning backsplash nestled between upper and lower cabinets, as this kitchen does, it would be best to select a color, like this dark ocean hue, that will contrast enough to showcase it. With additional white cabinets under the sink and island, there is plenty of backdrops to allow the blue to shine.

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Add a Splash of Color

white kitchen accented in wood, bright blue kitchen island

Maite Granda

Committing to painting an entire row of cabinets in a bright color can feel risky–but there is a way to make it work. Use a kitchen island as a focal point to display a radiant, eye-catching hue. This works exceptionally well if your kitchen is primarily a neutral shade, like this mostly white one, so your chosen color can shine without overpowering the whole room.

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Go Monochromatic

monochromatic blue kitchen cabinets

House Sprucing

Two-tone color schemes can come in a variety of ways–including different shades of the same color. Using a pale blue on the higher and muted periwinkle blue on the lower cabinets, accented with a wooden counter, gives a fresh, clean look. Select a color and experiment with different hues to ensure the space looks cohesive while still adding variety.

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Use Subtle Pairings that Make a Difference

white and pale green kitchen with wooden island and modern farmhouse vibes

Gold a la Mode

Sticking to strictly neutrals isn't the only option if you want something subtle. Using white on upper cabinets and pairing with a paler version of another hue, like the army green here, gives a minimalist atmosphere while still including non-neutral possibilities. Try using muted tones of your favorite color to try the trend out for yourself.

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Mix Dark Wood with Colorful Cabinets

modern kitchen with bright blue upper cabinets and dark wood lower cabinets

Louis Dunca-He

If you want to embrace your eclectic side, a brighter color for your upper cabinets can be a fun way to mix things up. This kitchen used a bright teal for the top cabinets, which command attention immediately. However, rather than pairing it with a white or strictly brown color, use dark wood instead. It works perfectly as an anchor and adds some variety. Throw in some circular modern light fixtures to add some flair.

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Go High Contrast

modern kitchen with white and black cabinets, marble backsplash

Naked Kitchens

White and black kitchen cabinets already scream classic, but adding some dark wood into the picture takes it a step further. This kitchen uses ceiling to floor white cabinets that flow into a black and white marble backsplash, giving the impression of a larger space. Adding the kitchen island that contains charcoal cabinets, a marble counter, and dark wood gives the hallmarks of an upscale classic kitchen.

24 of 30

Try a Statement Backsplash

blue and pale pink kitchen with blue and pink cabinets, gold hardware, and a marble inspired blue and pink backsplash and wooden palette wall

Naked Kitchens

Colorful kitchens can be tricky but are absolutely worth it. These teal lower cabinets and pastel pink upper and side cabinets are tied together with a stunning marble-inspired backsplash containing both hues. It's a perfect way to tie the whole room together. 

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Use Matte Finishes for a Clean Look

blue and brown kitchen cabinets with teardrop light fixture

Naked Kitchens

Matte finishes can give a clean, fresh look to whatever space they're in–kitchens are no exception. Using rich yellow for the cabinets along the wall provides a contemporary vibe and makes a perfect frame for the white and gray wall. Contrasting with deep blue cabinets under the island and topped with a white, reflective counter keeps things looking smooth. Use complementary colors with a matte finish to try the look in your space.

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Go For Bright Colors

light pink and plum cabinets with wooden wall

Naked Kitchens

There is no need to shy away from brighter colors for your kitchen cabinets. Pairing a lighter pink on the lower cabinets and a darker plum shade on the upper seems like it's breaking the rules. Still, the result is a dazzling and inviting kitchen space that's worth it. Choose a lighter and darker shade of your favorite hue to add some excitement to the place you prep your meals.

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Embrace a Fresh Farmhouse Look

gray and blue farmhouse kitchen with wooden counter and stools

Naked Kitchens

Farmhouse styles don't always have to be the standard white and blue color scheme–gray works just as well. If you want to give your kitchen a modern farmhouse twist, lean towards a darker blue and light, muted gray, with golden wood accents and silver hardware.

28 of 30

Try Glass Cabinets

kitchen with white subway tile backsplash, white cabinets with glass panelling, island featuring dark blue cabinets and marble counter

Naked Kitchens

There is more than one way to create interest in your kitchen through cabinets. Instead of hiding plates and glassware behind solid doors, go for options with a glass door and white trim. The inside of the cabinets show off a stunning bright teal and make the space feel larger by revealing what's inside. Switch out your upper cabinets for ones with glass doors and see how much your spaces changes.

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Think About Your Wall Color

Teal lower cabinets paired with dark wooden upper cabinets, white marble backsplash and light gray walls

Naked Kitchens

There are several aspects to consider when applying two-toned cabinets to your kitchen. Keep in mind what your wall color is–it may be the key to tying together two different hues. This kitchen combines multiple colors and textures: a bright blue-green lower cabinets and dark wooden upper ones, a marble backsplash, and a light, gray wall that serves as the perfect backdrop.

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Use Purple and White for a Modern Touch

Purple and white modern kitchen furniture, front view


Serghei Starus via Getty Images

Shiny white upper and deep purple lower cabinets capture your attention right away in this kitchen. Add reflective cabinets to give a futuristic, modern feeling to your space, and add a non-distracting backsplash and minimal dećor to keep things clean and sophisticated.

Updated by
Lacey Ramburger
lacey ramburger bio
Lacey is an editor with 4 years of experience writing about and researching home décor trends, techniques, and helpful tips.

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