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The Best Two Tone Kitchen Cabinets

Have you ever seen a kitchen with different color cabinets or island? It’s a fabulous look and one of the hottest trends in kitchen design. But what are the best two tone kitchen cabinets? What colors work and which don’t. Keep reading and we’ll tell you.

White or cream colored top and bottom cabinets with a deep blue, forest green, rich brown, black or a real wood island are all fantastic combinations. This kitchen design trend is stunning when done right. Using multi colored cabinets opens up all sorts of exciting style opportunities like using colors in the kitchen that wouldn’t ordinarily be found or varying your entire cabinet style. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a home with black kitchen cabinets. But when black is your island color and paired with white or cream the look is a stunner. Kitchens have almost always been designed with matching cabinetry. The cabinets on top are the same color as the ones on the bottom and if there’s an island it matches too. However, two tone kitchen cabinets throws that style out completely.

What’s really exciting for me is how multiple colors opens up so many possibilities. Ever thought of using shaker style white cabinetry with a flat faced black island and different hardware. In the past it may not have worked but I’ve seen it done and it looks absolutely fabulous.

Tips For Choosing The Best Cabinet Color Combination

It’s hard enough to choose a single cabinet color for your kitchen, and now you’ll have to choose two. it’s not an easy decision to make. Both cabinet colors will have to work well with not only each other but also the hardware, tile or wood flooring, backsplash, paint, and countertops. There’s a lot to think about. But luckily it’s been done a lot and other designers have already tried lot’s of color combinations.

Below we’ll go over out tip on how to choose the right multi colored kitchen cabinets as well as the most popular combinations.

Balance Your Colors

Choosing a two-tone cabinet combo means creating a sense of balance. The colors need to work together. The more colors you put into a room the harder it gets. Decide which color will be the focal point and make the other a pale neutral. For example a white cream upper and lower with a forest green island. The green is the focal point while the cream colors drop back.

Royal blue, dark brown, black and gray would all work in place of the green but don’t replace the cream with another color.

Choose one neutral and one bold color.

If you want to use two colors then make them harmonious and not two completely different colors. For example a brown island with blue cabinets. The colors just don’t go together. Instead vary the tone in a single color for example light gray with dark gray.

Paint lower cabinets the darker hue and uppers the lighter one. Always put the lighter cabinet on top. It helps the room feel brighter and larger. The dark color on top can overpower the lower color and squash the room. Much of selecting a great color combination is how they sit in the room. How they feel in the room.

Pay Attention To Value

Choosing a great two tone kitchen cabinet combination isn’t just about selecting colors but also their value. That means how dark or light the color is.

Contrast is very important to a design. We recommend the main color be lighter while the focal point color is darker. This is easy to achieve if you want a really dark bold color like white cabinets with a dark brown island. But if what you want is a subtle difference like light wood cabinets with a light green island it’s harder.

If you take a photo of a room and then convert it to black and white you’ll see what I mean. The colors in grayscale mean nothing because all you see is darks and lights. If your wood cabinets and pale green island are the same tone the image will look flat. That’s what I mean about paying attention to value. You want one one color to be distinctly lighter than the other. Contrasting your elements makes them both stand out.

Choose A Focal Point

When you have two colors in a room they can fight for attention. Decide early on in the process which in the focal point and which is an accent.

I always do a two tone kitchen cabinet design with an island. I choose a light pale neutral color for my upper and lower cabinets like white, cream, gray or wood. Then I choose a bold color for the island. My island is the focal point and my cabinets are the accent.

I do this regardless of style. It works with Modern, Contemporary, Traditional, Country, Colonial or whatever else you design.

I like to make the island my focal point because it’s typically right in the center of the room. It’s got pendant lighting, seating and often a sink or other appliances. The island is a great way to draw people into the kitchen and an area where they can sit and relax. Kitchens are a functional room and the island adds to that. Making it an exciting vibrant color just makes sense to me. I want the other colors to drop back. 

I don’t want the cabinets to go unnoticed but I don’t want them popping out at you either. Since the island is generally forward from the other cabinets a darker color helps create some depth.

Use The Color Wheel

If you decide to use two colors then get yourself a color wheel. It’ll help you choose two colors that work well or compliment each other.

I don’t recommend using two different colors without a lot of thought. And if you do there’s not a lot of room for error. The exact shade you choose will make a huge difference. For example if you said you wanted blue cabinets with a green island I’d definitely try to change your mind. But there are a few combinations of blue and green that can work. If you choose the right shades and vary the values it could work. A very pale blue gray cabinet with just a touch of blue paired with a deep forest green island would work. A dark royal blue cabinet with an equally dark green island wouldn’t.

Whenever I use a two color combination I look for harmonious colors. There are just some colors that naturally go well together.

Consider The Temperature

The best two tone kitchen cabinets I’ve ever seen have worked together on many levels. One of them is temperature.

If you’ve got a warm cream then go with a warm color for your island. Follow that trend with some warm gold hardware and lighting. I personally love using warmer colors in a kitchen. Cool colors just don’t work for me. I want my kitchen designs to feel welcoming and soothing. I make sure all my marble has a warm gray vein and I even pay attention to the stainless steel I select. Some is cooler than others.

Pure white is an easy color to work into any two tone kitchen cabinet design because it’s a true neutral and doesn’t have a temperature. But when I want white I make it a warmer white. Did you know there are over 100 different variations of white. I recommend one of the warm ones.

How Dark Is Too Dark?

This is a tricky one because it depends on the colors your selecting. I like a light colored upper and lower cabinet with a dark island and recommend you do the same. especially if your building or remodeling a home for resale. Studies have always shown people prefer a light and bright kitchen with warm cabinets. Light wood, white and warm cream are always the most popular choices.

For an island there is no such thing as too dark. Even black looks fantastic. If you stick with our recommendation and use a pale warm neutral as the main color then go as dark as you like for the island. Gray, wood, white, cream, or even taupe can all be used as your cabinet color if they’re light. Then go dark on the island.

I actually prefer a dark second cabinet color. I like contrast and want to draw the eye. My two tone kitchen cabinet designs are meant to draw attention to the island. A dark foreground color with a light backdrop is a wonderful look and creates a ton of depth.

The Best Two Tone Kitchen Cabinet Colors

Below are the most popular two tone kitchen cabinet colors. Use them as inspiration and outright copy them if you like because they work.

White upper and lower cabinets with a medium gray island.

White upper and lower cabinets with a medium gray island.

White And Gray Two Toned Kitchen Cabinets

One of the most popular two kitchen cabinet colors is white and gray.

White cabinets are super in style at the moment and so is gray. The color combination is being used all over the home which includes the kitchen. And nothing is hotter than either marble or marble quartz which of course includes more white and gray. Backsplashes are either marble or white subway tile which also plays into the color scheme so it’s only natural that gray would be used as an island color.

The fantastic kitchen shown above does everything right. White shaker style cabinets, marble quartz with matching solid slab backsplash and a medium gray island. Make sure if you use a color combo like this one that the gray is at least medium dark.

One of the great things about gray is how easy it is to add just a little hint of color. It’ called a tint. This same gray island could easily be tinted with a little green or blue and it would look just as good.

Beautiful transitional style kitchen with white and black cabinets.

Beautiful transitional style kitchen with white and black cabinets.

White And Black Two Toned Kitchen Cabinets

One of my favorite two tone kitchen cabinet color combos is white and black. You can’t get more contrast than this.

Whites feel more white and blacks more black when they’re placed along side one another. I bet most people wouldn’t consider using a black cabinet in their kitchen but when your using a multi colored design it becomes a possibility. That’s one the best thing about using a second cabinet color as a focal point. You can do things and use colors you wouldn’t normally even think about.

Notice how the gold hardware matches. You don’t have to match the color but it’s a good idea when the kitchen layout is like this. Even though the colors and possibly even the styles are different the cabinets are still a part of an overall design.

I only like to vary my hardware if the cabinets are far apart.

Beautiful kitchen design featuring two tones white and blue cabinets.

Beautiful kitchen design featuring two tones white and blue cabinets.

White And Blue Two Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Another great two tone kitchen cabinet combination is white with a blue island. I like to use a deep blue for this although lighter hues work well too.

The reason I like bolder colors for the island is because I want to create a clear focal point and because I can. It’s really that simple. There’s no other way I can work a blue this color into a kitchen in a large way. Maybe I can sneak it in as a pot or with some artwork on the wall but those are just accents. If I want to actually use blue as a part of the kitchens color scheme this is the way I can do it.

It’s a lot of fun to add bright exciting colors in a kitchen. Everything is white, gray, neutral and pale. Even wood tends to be on the muted side. Have some fun with color and play with your island. I love bright bold colors and because of the two tone cabinet trend I can finally use them in the kitchen again.

White kitchen cabinets with a forest green center island.

White kitchen cabinets with a forest green center island.

White And Green Two Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Green and white is another great color combination for a two toned cabinet design.

The reason I like it so much is the same as blue. How else can I use a color like this is the kitchen let alone the entire home. It’s such a beautiful color and extremely hard to use. Cabinetry is the perfect place for it but not for all the main cabinets. It has to be left for a focal point. This two toned cabinet design is fantastic. A bold green island stands out and makes an immediate impression against the much lighter white backdrop. Although it’s not so overpowering that the other cabinets get drowned out.

I think what I like best about using a two toned cabinet design is how both cabinet colors can stand out at the same time. If the island were white with a matching light counter the kitchen would look flat. Contrary to what some designers think there is such a thing as too much white.

Beautiful luxury kitchen featuring a two toned cabinet design using white with a brown island.

Beautiful luxury kitchen featuring a two toned cabinet design using white with a brown island.

White And Brown Two Toned Kitchen Cabinets

White and dark brown is another one of my favorite two toned cabinet combinations.

Brown is such a beautiful color. Stay away from anything with red or too golden. I like deep rich browns that look like chocolate. Stay neutral without any tints.The color I like best with brown is warm cream. If you want a warm and inviting kitchen color scheme then this is the one for you.

Whenever I use brown I like to use stain instead of paint. The reason is that I love wood grain. Even when the grain is subtle it’s still there as a texture.

When you use brown you have to consider how it plays into the hardwood floors. Assuming you have them. Don’t use a brown that’s too close to the floors. You want contrast and a clear separation. The brown used on this island is so dark it doesn’t clash or blend in at all with the floors.

Conclusion: The Best Two Tone Kitchen Cabinets

One of the hottest trends in kitchen design are two tone kitchen cabinets. The term two tone or multi colored kitchen cabinets refers to any kitchen that combines two different color cabinetry.

Whether it be white or cream colored cabinets with a deep blue, forest green, rich brown, black or real wood island. This kitchen design trend is absolutely fantastic. Using different color cabinets opens up all sorts of exciting opportunities like bringing colors into the kitchen that wouldn’t ordinarily be used or being able to vary the style of your cabinetry. I’ve never seen anyone choose forest green or deep royal blue as their main kitchen cabinet color. But when it’s your island color and paired with white or cream shaker cabinets the look is fabulous. Traditionally, kitchens have always been designed with matching cabinetry. The cabinets on top are the same color as the ones on the bottom with a matching island. And all the hardware is matching too. However, the trend of using different color cabinets has thrown out that idea completely.

What’s especially refreshing for me is that with multiple colors comes the option of using different styles as well. Ever thought of using shaker style white cabinetry with a flat faced stained wood island. Traditionally it wouldn’t work but with this modern kitchen design trend it looks absolutely fabulous.

I hope the information and pictures above give you inspiration for when you design your next kitchen. If you have any questions or comments e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.

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