Bring visual interest and dimension to your kitchen with the popular two-toned cabinetry trend. Combining two complementary cabinet colors allows you to add subtle contrast and make a design statement. Two-toned kitchen cabinets are a great way to update your space, showcase your personal style, and get the high-end custom look without the astronomical price tag.

An Overview of Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Two-toned kitchen cabinets feature upper and lower cabinets finished in different colors or materials to create visual contrast. Typically, you would choose one color for the uppers and a different shade or stain for the lowers. The contrast immediately draws the eye, adds character, and breaks up the monotony of an all-one-color kitchen.

Two-toned kitchens have been growing in popularity over the past several years. The mix-and-match look offers more options for customization and self-expression than traditional cabinetry. Homeowners looking to remodel their kitchen on a budget are finding two-toned cabinets to be an easy DIY upgrade that allows them to transform the space without replacing everything.

Benefits of Choosing Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

There are many advantages to choosing two-toned cabinets for your kitchen remodel or upgrade:

  • Visual Interest – Contrasting upper and lower cabinet colors immediately creates depth and dimension. The eye is drawn to the unique two-tone aesthetic.
  • Classic Style – Two-toned kitchens have a timeless, classic appeal that fits both traditional and contemporary kitchens. The look has staying power and won’t appear dated.
  • Custom Feel – Mixing and matching cabinetry colors provides a high-end custom look without the outrageous price tag. It’s an easy DIY way to get custom style.
  • Refreshed Look – Adding two-toned cabinets provides a simple update that can give an outdated kitchen a fresh new look without a full remodel. It’s easy to just swap door fronts.
  • Accent Small Spaces – Using lighter cabinets up top and darker lowers grounds the space and makes a small kitchen appear larger and more expansive.
  • Personalization – Two color combinations allow you to add your personal style to the heart of the home.

No matter what your design goals may be, two-toned kitchen cabinets offer an easy, cost-effective way to customize your kitchen and create a focal point.

Popular Color Combinations for Two-Toned Cabinets

When selecting two colors or finishes for your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want complementary hues that pair well together without clashing. Here are some of the most popular two-toned color schemes for kitchens:

White Uppers & Dark Lowers

This classic look pairs crisp, clean white uppers with rich espresso, navy or charcoal lower cabinets. It creates contrast and expands the space visually.

Light Uppers & Dark Lowers

For a slightly softer contrast, pair light gray, beige, or tan uppers with darker coffee, slate or taupe lower cabinets.

Neutral Uppers & Wood Lowers

Mix a neutral painted upper with warm wood lower cabinets in oak, maple or walnut. Provides textural interest.

Colorful Uppers & White Lowers

Make a vibrant style statement by pairing vibrant teal, navy, green or even black uppers with bright white lower cabinets.

Complementary Colors

Choose any two complementary hues such as blue and orange, green and red, yellow and violet. Vivid yet balanced.

Natural Wood Tones

Select two different wood species or stain shades, like white oak uppers and walnut lowers, for subtle natural contrast.

Matching Finishes, Different Colors

Go bold with contrasting colors on upper and lower cabinets unified by the same finish like high-gloss paint or matte lacquer.

When selecting your two-toned color scheme, consider the overall aesthetic you want for your kitchen. A white/dark combo maximizes contrast while similar shades are more subtle. Complementary colors make the biggest decorative impact.

Design Elements to Consider for Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Careful planning is required to ensure your two-toned kitchen cabinets look cohesive and purposeful. Here are some design considerations:

  • Cabinet Door Style – Slab, shaker, traditional, or modern? Door style should suit cabinet colors and be cohesive.
  • Upper Cabinets Only – Only swap out uppers for a cost-effective quick update with less dramatic contrast.
  • Perimeter Only – Use two colors on just the perimeter cabinets for a framed accent wall effect.
  • Island Color – Make the island a different color than the uppers and lowers for added distinction.
  • Accent Pieces – Use pops of color on just an accent cabinet or island for a more eclectic look.
  • ** Mirrored Cabinets** – Add mirrored cabinets near a window to reflect light and make the space seem larger.
  • Mix Finishes Too – Combine painted and stained cabinets for more texture and depth.
  • Hardware – Coordinate cabinet hardware finish to tie the two-toned look together. Black pulls work with any color scheme.
  • Countertops & Backsplash – Anchor the cabinets with countertops and backsplash in materials that complement both colors.

Take some time to plan how all the elements of your kitchen will work together before taking the two-toned cabinet plunge. The overall aesthetic should feel cohesive.

How to Make Two-Toned Cabinets Work In Your Kitchen

To successfully work the two-tone trend into your kitchen, here are some tips:

  • Stick with one color on top and one on bottom for the most cohesive look. Don’t mix colors on the same level.
  • Make sure both colors complement each other and the overall kitchen scheme. They should have visual harmony.
  • Spend more on the lower cabinets since they’re more visible. Go for higher end for lowers.
  • Install interior cabinet lighting to showcase the cool two-tone color combos. Under and over cabinet lighting recommended.
  • Add modern metallic hardware in matte black, brass or chrome to play up the contemporary vibe.
  • Install open shelving on just one wall to break up cabinet colors. Looks great with a feature backsplash.
  • Extend your backsplash to the ceiling behind the stove for a dramatic focal point and to blend cabinet colors.
  • If you have an island, make it a different shade than wall cabinets for defined separation.
  • Crown molding and trim should match the cabinet color below for a seamless custom look.

A professional kitchen designer can help you select perfect color pairings and plan the layout. Take advantage of their expertise. A little forethought goes a long way to creating a cohesive yet unique two-toned kitchen.

Two-Toned Kitchens: Ideas and Inspiration

Need some visual inspiration for your own two-tone kitchen cabinet project? Here are a few stunning examples and ideas to spark your creativity:


A light blue island provides eye-catching contrast against bright white perimeter cabinets and rich walnut base cabinets. The mix of colors and textures is stunning.


Crisp white uppers allow the dramatic black lower cabinets to take center stage in this modern kitchen. Gold hardware and light floors keep it bright.


Perimeter cabinetry in a blend of matte gray and glossy white creates compelling contrast and visual texture. The gray lower cabinets ground the space.


Inky navy blue lower cabinets provide sophisticated contrast to light gray uppers in this chic kitchen with marble countertops and brass accents.


Glass front upper cabinets maintain an airy vibe against the moody dramatic gray lower cabinets in this contemporary kitchen.


A brick backsplash and wood-topped island add organic warmth to balance out the cool tones of sage green and blue gray cabinets.

There are truly limitless possibilities when playing with two-toned kitchen cabinets. Use these gorgeous spaces for inspiration as you envision the perfect color scheme for your own kitchen. Have fun with it!

FAQs About Two-Toned Kitchen Cabinets

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the two-tone cabinet trend:

Is the two-toned kitchen look just a passing trend?

No, while very popular at the moment, two-toned kitchens have been around for decades and have a timeless, classic appeal. The mix-and-match look has staying power.

What’s the best way to choose two complementary cabinet colors?

A good rule of thumb is to choose an upper and lower color within the same color family such as two shades of gray or blue. Colors opposite on the color wheel also pair well.

How can I make my small kitchen look bigger with two-toned cabinets?

Use light, reflective colors like white or light gray on the uppers. Darker hues on the lower cabinets will ground the space. Mirrored cabinets also visually expand a small kitchen.

Should I spend more on upper or lower cabinets?

Focus your budget on lower cabinets and choose more affordable uppers since lower cabinets make the biggest impact visually with bolder, darker colors. Save on upper cabinets.

How can I give my existing cabinets a two-tone makeover?

You can easily reface existing cabinets by just replacing the doors rather than doing a whole new cabinet install. Refacing with new doors is an affordable two-tone facelift.

Should I pair painted and stained cabinets together?

Yes, combining painted and stained finishes adds beautiful visual texture and depth. Just make sure the tones complement each other.

Achieve the Two-Toned Look For Your Kitchen

Two-toned kitchen cabinets open up an exciting new world of design possibilities. Playing with color and texture can make a dramatic impact without a full renovation. Before committing to contrasting hues, thoroughly plan your color scheme, cabinet layout, and overall aesthetic goals. A professional designer can help ensure it all flows beautifully. With smart planning, you can achieve the striking two-tone style you love within your timeline and budget.