Published on January 16, 2020

green and white cabinetsPin It
Photography by British Standard Cupboards

Our stress levels peak just thinking about picking a cabinet color—so why narrow down your options to just one? In reality, feeling stuck between a couple of shades for your kitchen is a great opportunity to look at your space with a fresh pair of eyes. Aside from the fact that it makes the whole decision-making process easier, two-tone spaces are incredibly dynamic. 

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to painting your cabinets two different colors. In small spaces, a super-dark, grounding hue on the lowers and a bright white on the uppers can make the ceiling appear taller than it actually is. In other cases, it’s as simple as not covering up all the wood and letting the millwork shine. Here are a few color combos we’re loving right now.

White and Gray 

grey and white apartment kitchenPin It
Photography courtesy of Crystal Sinclair Design

On their own, these neutrals come off as safe, but together they’re utterly sophisticated. NYC-based designer Crystal Sinclair sourced this apartment’s modern uppers and country-style lowers from IKEA and splurged on marble countertops. 

Gray and Wood 

wood lower cabinets with no hardwarePin It
Photography courtesy of Naked Kitchens

British design studio Naked Kitchens paired its flint paint color (a dusty tan similar to Farrow & Ball’s Charleston Gray) with its limed grain doors for this Scandi-inspired space. The hardware-less drawer and cabinet fronts are made of plain oak and finished with a real oak veneer to highlight the wood lines. 

Blue and Light Blue

blue gradient cabinets in a small spacePin It
Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Designer and photographer Emily Simms’s gradient scheme is proof that the slightest variation in shades can be just as alluring as a stark contrast. Next time you find yourself leafing through a giant fan deck of samples, pluck out your favorite card and let it guide your palette. 

Cream and Wood 

large white kitchen with steel fridge and wood islandPin It
Photography courtesy of Studio Mcgee

Studio McGee knows exactly how to spotlight a (massive) custom island: natural wood and nickel hardware that looks like it was taken off an antique chest. The surrounding white cabinetry is a cool change. 

White and Black

black and white kitchenPin It
Photography by Kate Osborne, courtesy of Studio McGee

A long and narrow floor plan calls for high contrast—and nothing says opposites attract like black and white (or, well, Paul Abdul). To break up the juxtaposition, Studio McGee added playful floor tiles and opted for gray grout around the subway-tile backsplash to tie everything together. 

Wood and Black

black and wood kitchenPin It
Photography by Aaron Bengochea

A rental revelation we learned from florist Marisa Competello’s NYC apartment: Laminate is surprisingly chic when it’s painted black. Think beyond uppers and lowers when giving your space a fresh coat, and take your brush up the exposed sides, too. 

White and Navy

Blue and white kitchen with vintage runnerPin It
Photography courtesy of Studio McGee

We don’t often think of blue as a neutral, but a darker tone that skews almost black, such as Benjamin Moore’s Blue Note (pictured above), checks that box. Steer clear of nautical vibes by peppering vintage rugs throughout and embracing farmhouse features, like a trough sink. Move over, monochrome, two can play that game!

See more stories like this: 
Choosing Green Kitchen Cabinets Is the Bold Decision to Make This Decade
Farewell, All-White Kitchen—These 11 Cabinet Designs Are About to Take Off
The 7 Paint Colors Featured in Our Favorite White Kitchens