Creating Contrast with Kitchen Cabinets

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to design. As the entertainment and gathering epicenter of every home, the kitchen is an aesthetic focal point where function and “fashion” join forces. Using two-tone kitchen cabinets or mixing and matching materials creates contrast and visual interest. Whatever your personal style preference, from farmhouse to contemporary to modern, choosing complementary hues makes a statement.

There are a variety of ways in which to mix and match cabinet colors, some of which have definitely fallen into favor among homeowners. One is by having the island a different hue than perimeter cabinetry. This makes the island a focal point of the space, especially when using a complementary yet different color countertop than the primary counters.

Gaining traction is having upper cabinets a different tonal value than lower cabinets. It could be light and dark grays, differing values of white or blue, or two completely different hues, such as gray and white, black and white, or navy and gray. This concept can also be applied to painting all tall cabinets a distinctive color.

blue cabinetry with orange oven colored appliance on left, kitchen with island on right

According to Harrell Designer, Sara Jorgensen, one of the hottest trends she is seeing is matte black. “Matte black is on the rise,” says Sara. “It is being used in fixtures, lighting, and hardware. It is simple, clean, and visually dynamic.”

Another way to incorporate the high contrast, rustic chic of matte black is by applying a black glaze on cabinets. “This ties in that black element in a subtle yet very distinct manner,” Sara explains. Using floating shelves in another way to add in contrast. Some or all of the upper cabinets can be replaced with shelves in any style from modern, traditional, or contemporary. Using wood or black hardware makes an impact. Open shelves do require more dusting but the visual punch is well worth it more with many homeowners.

For homeowners who love the look of wood, Sara suggests using open bookcases, banks of drawers, end panels, or other accent pieces, the natural wood making them “pop” against painted cabinets.

“The grain of walnut is very desirable but the cost can be prohibitive for large banks of cabinets,” Sara shares. “Another option is using walnut as a contrasting accent for a wine rack, bookshelf, or for another key element in the kitchen.”

Whatever your preference, mixing and matching cabinet colors and materials should be deliberate and purposeful. From a design perspective, less is always more, and a thoughtful approach will result in a truly stunning kitchen or bathroom.

Woman-founded and 100% employee-owned, Harrell Design + Build has been creating distinctive homes since 1985. If you are considering transforming your space, allow our award-winning Design+Build team help you create the home of your dreams. Reach out to us to set up your design consultation or sign up for one of our frequent and informative educational workshops.