A kitchen remodel presents the perfect opportunity to incorporate high-end design details that make this important room in your home as beautiful as it is functional. When it comes to choosing fixtures, finishes, and styling for your kitchen cabinets and island, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Small touches can make a big impact, elevating your space from ordinary to extraordinary. Here are 12 designer details to consider for your kitchen cabinets and island.

Mix and Match Cabinet Colors

Gone are the days when all kitchen cabinets had to match. Feel free to get creative by combining different cabinet colors in your kitchen design. Try using a lighter tone on upper cabinets and a darker shade on lowers. Or create visual interest by selecting one color for perimeter cabinetry and a different hue for the island. Mismatched colors work especially well in contemporary and transitional kitchens. Just be sure to stick with a cohesive color scheme.

Add Architectural Molding

Molding is an easy way to make cabinets look custom. For a high-end built-in look, add crown molding across the top of your upper cabinets. Install it directly on the cabinets or on the wall above them. Crown molding instantly gives your kitchen a polished, designer feel. Other options include ornate corbels under wall cabinets or decorative brackets on island ends. Wainscoting panels on the bottom half of islands lends a furniture-like elegance.

Illuminate with Under Cabinet Lighting

Strategically placed lighting casts your kitchen in a flattering glow while also providing task lighting where you need it most. Under cabinet lights not only illuminate countertops but also create a soft uplighting effect on cabinetry. For the most designer look, opt for LED tape lighting. It comes in various lengths and can be easily cut to fit. Hardwired strips give off an even glow, while battery-operated versions offer versatility. Install under both upper and lower cabinets for ample lighting.

Add Glass Cabinet Doors

Glass-front cabinet doors maintain a clean, open look in your kitchen while also allowing you to display cherished dinnerware. Glass doors work especially well on upper cabinets and on either side of the range hood. Choose between clear glass for full visibility or tinted glass for more subtle peeks inside. Glass can be combined with solid cabinet doors for visual balance. For extra elegance, select glass doors with beveled edges or arched tops. Illuminate interiors with LED cabinet lights.

Install Mirror Backsplashes

A mirrored backsplash instantly Multiplies the light and dimension in your kitchen. The reflective surface makes the space feel larger while adding glamorous style. Go for dramatic impact with a wall-to-wall mirrored backsplash. Or use small sections of mirror strategically, like behind a faucet or range hood. Mirror tiles come in various sizes and shapes to fit your design vision. Keep the rest of the decor minimal to let the gorgeous mirrors take center stage.

Add Architectural Details

Unique architectural flourishes make a strong style statement in the kitchen. Customize cabinetry by selecting decorative feet or legs for base cabinets and islands. Or opt for thick countertops that extend past cabinet faces for a cantilevered look. Wall niches carved out of upper cabinetry create charming display spaces. For a textured touch, add fluted panels or beadboard to cabinet faces. Even small details like exposed hinges or textured hardware knobs dial up the design.

Install Shelving Mix open and closed storage with a few open shelving sections. Free-standing shelving units work especially well in galley kitchens. But shelving can be creatively incorporated nearly anywhere, like above an island or desk area. Use shelves instead of upper cabinets for a more contemporary feel. Mix materials like wood, marble, glass or metal to match your kitchen esthetic. Then style shelves with decorative objects, dishware or potted greenery. Keep things looking streamlined by not overcrowding shelves.

Add Interesting Island Legs

Kitchen islands already tend to command attention, so why not make them even more eye-catching? Unique island legs or bases make a strong style statement. Opt for thick, chunky wooden legs for a rustic look. Sleek metal brings an industrial edge. Or try ornate turned legs for a traditional touch. Floating shelves under an island create visual lightness and space. Multi-level islands with a dropped bar section are great for additional casual seating.

Incorporate Open Shelving

Open shelving gives your kitchen a lighter, airier look and allows you to gracefully display dishware. But supplies can quickly look cluttered on open shelves, so edit carefully. Limit displayed items to things you actually use and love. Group items together in neat little vignettes for a cohesive look. Always keep surfaces and items dust-free. For the most designer look, illuminate open shelving with built-in LED lighting to highlight key pieces.

Embrace Mixed Metals

Don’t be afraid to get eclectic when it comes to metal finishes. Mixing brushed nickel, bronze, antique brass, polished chrome and more creates depth and visual interest. Try pairing metal knobs with metal bar pulls in different finishes. Use a distinct finish on island pendants to set that space apart. Just be sure to stick to 2 or 3 complementary metals. Match them to other kitchen finishes like the faucet, sink and lighting fixtures.

Add Archways or Cafe Curtains

If your kitchen opens onto an adjoining space, define the boundaries in a beautiful way. An arched opening outlines the kitchen without totally closing it off. Or install a cafe-style curtain rod near the ceiling and hang sheer curtains to soften the transition while still allowing an open feel. Choose curtains in a neutral linen or cotton fabric that coordinates with the rest of your kitchen decor. Draw them closed as needed for privacy or to block cooking sights and smells.

Install Plate Rails

Plate rails give you an eye-catching way to display treasured dishware while keeping it in easy reach. Mount shallow ledges or thick shelves near the ceiling, above upper cabinets or below open shelves. Then arrange plates, saucers and platters in a neat row for a dramatic look. Plate rails work especially well in kitchens with high ceilings. Make sure pieces are secure so they don’t rattle when opening and closing lower cabinets. Coordinate rails with cabinetry for a cohesive look.

Add Unique Range Hoods

An over-the-range hood is a must for any kitchen. But it also presents an opportunity to add visual interest through unique, architectural styling. Stainless range hoods with sleek profiles look especially modern and minimal. Copper and bronze hoods introduce warmth. Opt for distinctive features like arched tops, cascading tiers or decorative trim. Let taller ceilings inspire your range hood choices. The larger the space, the more daring you can go with size and style.

With any of these special details, you can take your kitchen design to the next level. Mix and match elements to create a look that reflects your personal taste and lifestyle. Aim for an overall feeling of quality, beauty and purposeful design. The right designer details will have you happily spending time cooking, dining and enjoying this special heart-of-the-home space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Designer Kitchen Cabinet and Island Details

Here are answers to some common questions about incorporating high-end details into kitchen cabinetry and islands:

What are some popular cabinet colors to mix and match?

Some top color combinations include navy blue lower cabinets with white uppers, gray lowers with light wood uppers, black lowers with white uppers, and green cabinets on the perimeter with neutral shades on the island.

What types of molding can I use to upgrade my cabinets?

Options include crown molding at the top of upper cabinets, thick corbels under wall cabinets, ornamental brackets on island ends, and wainscoting or raised panels on lower cabinet sections or islands.

How difficult is it to install under-cabinet lighting?

Under-cabinet LED strip lighting is designed for easy do-it-yourself installation. Hardwired lights require professional wiring but offer uniform illumination. Battery-powered lights involve minimal wiring and allow you to reposition as needed.

Should I do open shelving throughout my whole kitchen?

Limiting open shelving to just a few areas prevents a cluttered look. Try a couple of free-standing shelving units or shelving over a desk area rather than cabinets. Mix with glass-front and solid cabinets.

What types of unique island legs are most popular?

Chunky farmhouse-style wooden legs, sleek metal hairpin legs, and ornate turned legs are all great options that add style. Multi-level islands create additional casual seating at a lower bar-height section.

How do I determine the best placement for plate rails?

Install plate rails high on walls above eye level or directly beneath upper cabinets to optimumly display special dishware. Center rails over islands, ranges or sinks. Align with cabinetry for a streamlined look.

Should my range hood match my other metal finishes?

It’s fine to select a unique range hood finish that stands out, like polished brass or antique copper. Just be sure it complements the overall kitchen color scheme and other metals used in the space.


The right designer details can make your kitchen cabinets and island true showstoppers. From mixing cabinet colors to adding architectural molding, under cabinet lighting, glass doors, shelving and hardware, small touches go a long way. Use these high-end ideas to create a kitchen that both looks beautiful and functions efficiently for your needs. Pay attention to the smallest details, and your kitchen is sure to have a custom, designer feel you’ll adore coming home to.