The Kitchen Counter-Cabinet Combo That Will Take 2020 by Storm

Opposites attract.
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painting leanigng against a kitchen window
Photography by Michael Wiltbank

Most decisions in life aren’t black and white, but designing a kitchen can be. The classic color combination is reentering trending territory by the looks of Pinterest’s December report, which shows searches for white kitchen cabinets with black countertops are up 1,276 percent year over year. 

“Pinners are loving the look, which allows for your own touches in handles and knobs and surrounding rugs,” says Pinterest insights manager Swasti Sarna. The platform’s three most popular photos include a refined farmhouse-style space by Marianne Simmons featuring hexagon floor tiles; a Studio McGee–designed kitchen with a mix of glass and Shaker door fronts; and, finally, a contemporary home shared by Coco Kelley that’s all about matte, moody accents (including a dramatic black hood). 

High-contrast spaces are soothing to the eye, but at this point, the monochrome scheme has been pretty played out. The trick to pulling off this counter-cabinet pairing is building layers of textures—if the design is too clean, it can skew stark. Here are three more examples we love (and why they work).

Lean Toward Taupe Shades

There’s a whole spectrum of white paint colors out there, some better suited for millwork than others. For this space, designer Whitney Filmoeatu landed on Farrow & Ball’s Schoolhouse White for the lower cabinets. Her reasoning: It’s a shade or two darker than the walls, which are covered in White Dove by Benjamin Moore, so it adds dimension to the room. 

Because every shade will look a little different depending on the light, blogger and Juniper Home founder Jenny Komenda recommends testing swatches on large wood boards and moving them around the room at different times of the day. 

Invest in Natural-Looking Stone

black alcove with white brick walls

Even though soapstone costs an average of $20 more per square foot than standard engineered quartz, it’s the ideal choice for a kitchen with white cabinets. The nonporous surface’s subtle veining and ultra-smooth texture add much-needed character to a neutral palette. 

If you have reservations about its softness, Filmoeatu suggests going with a honed black granite. “I get asked all the time if it’s real soapstone!” she says. Another budget hack: Cover sheets of plywood with concrete and stain them black à la Komenda. 

Accent With Wood (and Plants!)

white kitchen cabinets with glass panel section
Photography by Love Create Celebrate

Lindi and Russel Vanderschaaf’s Alberta, Canada, kitchen had white cabinets and dark laminate counters from the get-go, but a beige geometric backsplash really dated the small space. After covering the tiles with a gray peel-and-stick alternative, the couple painted the work-top using Rust-Oleum’s Black Mica transformation kit and propped cutting boards up against the wall for easy access. “The warm accessories and touches of greenery keep it feeling inviting,” says Lindi. Opposites most definitely do attract.

See more stories like this:  The Best Gray Paint Colors for Kitchen Cabinets Are Anything But Boring Hands Down: The 10 Best Blue Paint Colors for Kitchen Cabinets The 7 Paint Colors Featured in Our Favorite White Kitchens

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.