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We’ve all seen it before: white upper cupboards mixed with lower ones in shades of gray, muted green, or navy. At face value, the rise in popularity of two-tone kitchen cabinets makes a lot of sense. Uppers are most often hung against white walls, so a neutral shade makes the look more seamless (and the space feel larger). On the other hand, inky lower storage anchors the room.

But there is more to two-tone kitchen cabinets than this popular light-dark formula. We rounded up seven next-level ideas to flex your design muscles even further. If you’re planning on renovating, this is a good place to start.

The Classic Combo, Elevated

Photography by Gieves Anderson

Zosia Mamet’s upstate New York cabin kitchen appears to be a traditional take on the two-tone trend—with the exception of one very important detail: The navy of the island carries over to the window trim, giving the view a punchy frame.


The Modern Rustic Twist

Photography by Sara Tramp

Emily Henderson put her spin on the trend by playing with different materials. In her kitchen, she mixed natural blond wood (on her lower cupboards and floor-to-ceiling pantry) with blackened planks (for the island), giving her home a minimalist-made-rustic feel.

The Memphis Homage

Courtesy of Dries Otten

Multicolored kitchen expert Dries Otten gave this space an unapologetically playful ’80s vibe with sky blue lower cabinets and a semicircle fire-truck red backsplash with an integrated vent hood. He finished the room with perforated blush doors and brushed brass trim, but even without those details, the two-tone moment shines.

The Golden Touch

White kitchen with brass island

In her Grand Rapids, Michigan, home Sarah Sherman Samuel kept her IKEA kitchen cabinet fronts a timeless white but hid a showstopping surprise on the backside of the island: antique brass panels.


The Everything-Goes Statement

Courtesy of Yaroslav Priadka

This space by Yaroslav Priadka is vibrant on its own—the teal floors and rust-hued ceiling ensure that. But the kitchen cabinetry expands the muddy primary palette with mustard cupboards and a dusty turquoise frame a shade darker than the wood planks.

The Desert Duo

Louis Litrenta and his wife, Natalie Saunders, also kept the two-tone effect to the lower cabinets in their Joshua Tree kitchen, but amped up the contrast by focusing on material and texture instead of color. Off-white plaster frames set the stage for beautiful reclaimed-wood doors.

The Horizontal Moment

Photography by Hanna Polczynska for Kroniki Studio

This Poland kitchen by design firm In Architekci makes use of different shades horizontally instead of vertically. Lavender-hued cabinets flank a floor-to-ceiling pantry cupboard in a fresh minty shade, with hints of wood and pale pink popping up down the way. No matter how you choose to interpret the trend, it goes to show that rules are meant to be broken.

See kitchen renovations we love: A Clever Layout Tweak Doubled the Storage in This 36-Square-Foot Kitchen A $1K Reno Decision Was the Key to Transforming This Narrow D.C. Kitchen Can You Spot the Optical Illusion in This Mint Green Kitchen?