12 Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinet Ideas for Your Next Remodel

Paul Pogue
Written by Paul Pogue
Updated April 29, 2022
Father cooking for kids in modern kitchen
Photo: MoMo Productions / Getty Images

An unexpected twist that can add dimension to your kitchen

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Two-toned cabinetry is a popular interior design kitchen trend that can take your space to the next level. You can get the look by combining two different colors or materials of cabinetry. For example, you can choose different colors for upper and lower cabinets, or you can contrast the kitchen island from the rest of the surrounding cabinets. Use this guide to learn more about two-toned cabinets, and browse through some inspiring ideas to incorporate the look in your kitchen.

Why Two-Toned Cabinets?

Two-toned cabinets can add depth and visual interest to your kitchen. There are a few reasons to consider incorporating them when planning your kitchen renovation. One bonus is that this type of cabinetry can make a small kitchen feel larger. Light colors are known to brighten up an area by reflecting light, which makes the area seem more open. Using a light color on the uppers and a darker hue on the bottom will create the illusion of a larger space by drawing the eye upwards.

This is a chic design trend that is an attractive feature for prospective buyers, which can help with resale value if you’re considering selling your home after renovating. What’s more, two-toned cabinetry allows you to add multiple colors and textures to the space to bring together a certain look you’re trying to achieve. 

Another reason to consider two-toned cabinetry is it can be a budget-friendly hack when remodeling your kitchen, as you can save money by only replacing some of the cabinets in the space, rather than all of them at the same time. For example, you can replace the cabinetry on an island, but repaint the surrounding cabinets a different color and replace them at a later time.

12 Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinet Ideas

Here are some different two-toned cabinet ideas to spark inspiration when selecting cabinetry for your own kitchen.

1. New Kitchen Island and Repainted Kitchen Cabinets

Large kitchen featuring wooden island and white cabinetry
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

A creative and trendy way to save money when selecting cabinetry for your kitchen is to use the two-toned trend to your advantage. This space features new walnut cabinetry on the island, but makes use of the old cabinets on the surrounding walls by repainting them a creamy white. This not only makes the space feel larger, but the two varying types of cabinets tie together the stone backsplash and light wood flooring.

2. Warm Wood and Bright White

Luxury kitchen with white cabinets and dark wooden island
Photo: bmak / Adobe Stock

This kitchen is an example of how using light and dark cabinetry can break up the space and also make it feel larger. The rich wood on the bottom creates a distinct separation between the island and the cabinets to create a focal point. The surrounding bright white kitchen cabinets make the rest of the space feel larger and provide an elegant design statement.

3. High Gloss White and Contemporary Wood

White high gloss cabinets and two-toned wooden cabinets
Photo: Gina / Adobe Stock

Consider different materials and textures when creating your cabinetry design. For example, this space uses flat front white cabinets with a high gloss finish on the upper cabinetry. Then, warmer wood is used on the bottom cabinets and around the stainless steel appliances. The white cabinets give a sleek look, and the warm wood provides a visual intermission to ensure the entire kitchen doesn’t feel too stark.

4. Chic Blue and White

Blue island and white surrounding two-toned cabinets
Photo: slavun / Adobe Stock

All-white kitchens have been a popular interior design option for some time—and they may never go out of style. However, you can shake up this trend by breaking up the white-on-white color palette and painting the kitchen island a slate blue. This color combination makes this area the center of attention, which can be helpful if you want to direct foot traffic towards the island as the main gathering point in your kitchen.

5. Warm Earth Tones

Two-toned cabinets in modern kitchen
Photo: TriggerPhoto / Getty Images

Consider using earth tones to bring warmth into the space and make the kitchen feel more homey. Dark, earthy green coordinates well with the creamy beige to elevate the coziness in the space, while providing an inviting area to share a meal.

6. Gray and Dark Wood

Gray kitchen island and dark wood surrounding cabinets
Photo: samiam2007 / Adobe Stock

If you like the look of two-toned cabinetry but want less contrast, consider using gray instead of white. For example, this space uses light gray cabinets for the island combined with warm dark wood surrounding cabinets to break up the space in a dimensional way—without as much contrast. This color combo also mixes warm and cool tones to create balance within the room.

7. Light Wood and White

White and light wood two-toned cabinets in kitchen
Photo: denisismagilov / Adobe Stock

Create distinct separation between upper and lower cabinets by choosing white high gloss for the bottom and light wood cabinets on the top. The reeded glass display cabinets above the sink provide visual respite for an intriguing way to bring texture into the space amongst the flat-faced cabinetry.

8. Modern Black and White

Modern black and white two-toned cabinets in contemporary kitchen
Photo: 4595886 / Adobe Stock

There’s no need to shy away from black cabinets, especially if you’re using a two-toned color palette. This kitchen uses matte black upper cabinets to break up the white surrounding cabinets, bringing depth to the modern kitchen. The choice of black contrasting cabinetry ties together the black trim on the kitchen island for an industrial feel. Moreover, placing a strip of LED lights under the cabinets brightens up the dark tone to separate the base of the cabinets from the backsplash. 

9. Unexpected Sage Green and White

Sage green and white two-toned kitchen cabinets
Photo: Serghei Starus / Getty Images

One of the benefits to using two-toned cabinets is that you can incorporate colors you may not typically associate with traditional kitchen design. For example, these light sage green kitchen cabinets pair well with the white flat-faced upper cabinets to bring more color into the room. The accent rug and patterned backsplash help to unite the green and white together so the room looks well-coordinated. 

10. Light Wood and Darker Wood

Large kitchen with two-toned wooden cabinets
Photo: Wollwerth Imagery / Adobe Stock

Use the same type of wood but in different shades when choosing a two-toned cabinetry concept. This kitchen uses a darker color of wood for the island, which grounds it to the center of the room. The surrounding light natural wood cabinets create a level of symmetry to balance the dark and light wood. 

11. Walnut and Beige Lacquered Cabinets

Walnut and beige two-toned cabinets in kitchen
Photo: phototropic / Getty Images

Rather than using different colored upper and lower cabinets, use opposing colors side-by-side to break up the kitchen space. This kitchen features walnut wood surrounding the stainless steel appliances and beige lacquered cabinets on the right side of the L-shape layout to separate the space into two distinct zones—a cooking space and a prep space.

12. Contrasting Color Palette

White kitchen cabinets and navy blue island
Photo: Fotoluminate LLC / Adobe Stock

This kitchen shows an example of a two-toned color combo with high contrast, but does a good job of creating cohesiveness between the shades. While the navy blue and white have a clear divide, the continuous marble countertops provide unity in the space. Moreover, the blue and white medallion tile backsplash behind the range hood adds a focal point to inform the color choices throughout the rest of the kitchen.

Tips When Adding Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Here are some other considerations to keep in mind if you’re planning on trying out the two-toned cabinetry trend:

  • Consider the focal points in the kitchen, and use the contrasting color around these areas to draw the attention towards them. For example, if you want the island to be the center-of-attention, use the cabinets to provide a pop of color around this piece. 

  • While many two-toned kitchen designs use contrasting upper and lower cabinets, you can get creative and use varying cabinets on either side of the room or side-by-side.

  • Tie the two colors together using accents and decor that feature a blend of the different shades.

  • Take the lighting into account when deciding how to incorporate the two tones. For example, cabinets that are near a source of natural light or directly illuminated by a light fixture may be able to handle a darker shade than cabinets in areas that aren’t exposed to as much light.

  • Use matching hardware on all of the cabinetry to provide more cohesion throughout the space.

  • If you don’t want as much contrast between the two tones, pick one color family to work with, and choose two different shades within the color family to add depth.

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