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The idea of high-gloss kitchen cabinets often conjures up a specific image: a stark, charmless rental space that looks like a plain white box you definitely don’t want to spend time in. Stereotypes aside, the style is actually super-practical. Shiny surfaces reflect light, brightening up even the tiniest of galleys, and the often acrylic material means messes are easy to wipe up. 

To get the look, you can either go the high-gloss paint route or choose acrylic covers; between custom builds and budget IKEA cupboards, there are plenty of options on the market. Use the contemporary finish to edge up rustic touches, and pick from a plethora of colorways—these seven spaces have the right idea. 

Start With Baby Steps

Follow the guidelines of this Rio de Janeiro apartment and keep the luster to the uppers. Not only will it draw the eye up, but it won’t overwhelm a smaller kitchen. If you’re planning on a similarly playful shade, keep the backdrop—from the tilework to the lower cabinets—minimal. 

Try Your Hand at an Artistic Effect

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

How cool is the ombré effect in designer Emily Simms’s New York City home? Luckily for her, the cabinets were already in place in her rental, but you can easily mimic the style by mixing and matching each individual front. Pick a color that blends in with the nearby rooms for continuity, then choose a hue that’s one tint lighter and another that’s a complementary neutral. 

Spice Up White Fixtures

The all-white look can get boring fast, so pick an unusual finish to make it stand out. This Manhattan space also includes aged wood shelving and touches of stainless steel throughout, making the pared-back palette feel expertly layered.  

Go All Out on Something Bold

Color-block a statement corner with the help of your storage à la this English country house. Design firm 2LG paired teal built-in cabinets with a cotton candy pink wall, and finished off the kitchenette with vinyl flooring that incorporates both hues. 

Toughen Up Sweeter Shades

Pastels are trending, and there’s no wrong way to style them. Give the colors a contemporary edge with a sleek door treatment, as seen in this Rio de Janeiro apartment. Pale mint green has never looked cooler (bonus points for the contrasting fiery orange accent). 

Forget About Defining the Aesthetic 

Take a page from this North Carolina house and mix up materials for an eclectic combination: Start with high-gloss kitchen cabinets to set the scene, add a vintage rug to infuse some character, and finish it off with a gilded copper hood for a hint of glam. No one could accuse the area of being one-note. 

Don’t Skimp on the Sparkle

Why limit yourself to just the cupboards? This Polish apartment pairs glassy green fronts with an equally shimmery backdrop to really drive the luxe look home. Turn your kitchen into a jewel box and splash out on lustrous finishes; sometimes more really is more. 

See more kitchen design ideas: 7 European Kitchen Cabinet Ideas to Turn Your Home Into a Perma-Vacation That Empty Space Above Your Kitchen Cabinets Is Actually Prime Real Estate Black Kitchen Cabinets Instantly Make Any Dated Features Cooler