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Can kitchen cabinets be 2 different colors?

Having kitchen cabinets in two different colors is a popular trend that allows homeowners to add visual interest and personality to their kitchen design. The mix and match look can work beautifully if done right. When executing a two-toned kitchen cabinetry design, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

The Short Answer

Yes, kitchen cabinets can absolutely be two different colors. Using two colors for upper and lower cabinets is common. Or you can use one color on the main cabinets and a second color on the island. The right color combination can create a striking, on-trend look. Just be sure to use colors that complement each other and stick to a cohesive theme.

Choosing Cabinet Colors

When selecting two colors for your kitchen cabinets, you’ll want to choose shades that coordinate well. Going for colors opposite each other on the color wheel, like navy and orange, can look vibrant. Neutral tones, like light gray and white, also pair beautifully. Consider the overall look you want to achieve. Cool tones like grays, blues and greens create a more modern or minimalist aesthetic. Warm shades like reds, yellows and browns have a more traditional, rustic feel.

Popular Two-Tone Color Combinations

  • White upper cabinets, gray lower cabinets
  • White upper cabinets, navy lower cabinets
  • Gray upper cabinets, white lower cabinets
  • Espresso upper cabinets, cream lower cabinets
  • Black upper cabinets, red lower cabinets

It’s generally best to stick to one darker color and one lighter color. Choose bolder hues for smaller spaces like galley kitchens and lighter tones for larger, open layouts.

Cabinet Door Styles

In addition to choosing complimentary colors, it’s important to make sure your two cabinet colors work with your door styles. Here are some popular options:

Door Style Description
Shaker Classic flat center panel with clean lines
Slab Sleek, simple and modern
Inset Doors sit inside the cabinet frame
Louvered Doors feature slanted strips of wood

Simple, understated styles like Shaker or slab look best in a two-toned kitchen. Make sure to match the finish on the different colored cabinets – choosing a mix of granite, satin and high-gloss could look disjointed.

Upper vs. Lower Cabinets

One of the most common ways to mix cabinet colors is by using one shade on the upper cabinets and a different color on the lower ones. This can help ground the kitchen and visually anchor the space. Typically, you’ll want a lighter color on top and a darker color on bottom. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use a deeper color on the bottom cabinets to make them feel more solid and sturdy.
  • Stick to neutrals or natural wood tones on bottom to create balance.
  • Save bold colors like navy blue for upper cabinets only.
  • Make sure there is enough contrast between the upper and lower colors.

Island Color

Another option is using one cabinet color throughout the perimeter of the kitchen while the island features a different color. This can help the island feel like a focal point. Consider the following island ideas:

  • A bold island color like emerald green with neutral perimeter cabinets
  • A natural wood island with white or black main cabinets
  • A navy blue island against light gray cabinets along the walls

Make sure your island color feels cohesive with the rest of the scheme and doesn’t stick out too starkly. Tie it in with hardware, lighting fixtures or decor.

How to Choose Colors

When selecting two colors for your kitchen, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Style: Choose color based on the overall look you want – modern, traditional, rustic, etc.
  • Lighting: Consider how much natural light your kitchen gets. Bold colors show best in bright spaces.
  • Flow: Use a lighter color in tight galley kitchens to open up the space.
  • Functionality: Neutrals work best for busy family kitchens prone to messes and wear.
  • Personal Taste: Pick colors you’ll love for years to come. Don’t just follow trends.

You’ll also want to think about how the colors coordinate with countertops, floors, appliances and backsplashes. Try out different pairings using paint swatches before committing.

Tips for Implementation

Carefully planning your two-tone kitchen cabinets will ensure they work cohesively. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Choose lighter colors for areas like glass-front cabinet interiors.
  • Only use two main colors – add visual interest with texture and finishes.
  • Separate upper and lower cabinets with molding for a seamless transition.
  • Anchor the design with neutral countertops and backsplash.
  • Add hardware and fixtures in a finish that ties both colors together.

Avoid going overboard with too many different colors and finishes. Keep things cohesive with a clear style theme.

Pros and Cons

Here’s an overview of some of the benefits and potential drawbacks of having two-tone kitchen cabinets:


  • Allows you to mix up cabinet styles and colors
  • Creates visual interest and personality
  • Lets you showcase your unique style
  • Light and dark shades can balance out the space
  • Instantly updates the look of your kitchen


  • Can look disjointed if color pairings don’t coordinate
  • More planning required to get combinations right
  • Trendy look may feel dated faster than timeless neutrals
  • Darker cabinets show dirt, dust and grease more easily
  • Harder to match with countertops and backsplash

Cost Comparison

In general, two-tone kitchen cabinets don’t cost much more than single color cabinets. The pricing depends more on factors like:

  • Cabinet quality and construction
  • Door style and intricacy
  • Wood species and finish options
  • Overall kitchen size and number of cabinets needed

Here are some average installed costs for both types:

Cabinet Type Average Cost (per linear foot)
1 color cabinets $100 – $300
2 color cabinets $150 – $400

Expect two-tone cabinets to cost around 10-15% more for the additional complexity. Savings can be achieved by using semi-custom vs. fully custom cabinets.

Should You Hire a Pro?

Installing new kitchen cabinets can be a challenging DIY project, especially if integrating two different cabinet colors. Unless you have advanced carpentry skills, professional installation is recommended. Here are some key reasons to hire a contractor:

  • They can ensure all cabinets are properly leveled, secured and reinforced.
  • They have the experience to flawlessly integrate different cabinet boxes and hardware.
  • They’ll handle any electrical, plumbing or structural changes needed.
  • They can modify existing cabinets or paneling to match new ones.
  • They’ll clean up construction mess and remove old cabinets for you.

The pros can also provide guidance on designing and planning your dream two-tone kitchen. They can make the process smooth and headache-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

What two cabinet colors are most popular?

The most popular two-tone color pairings include white and gray, white and navy, gray and black, and light wood on top with darker lower cabinets.

What is the 60/30/10 rule for kitchen cabinets?

This guideline states that 60% of your cabinets should be a dominant neutral, 30% should be a secondary accent color, and 10% can be a bold color used sparingly as an accent.

Should island and perimeter cabinets match?

It’s common to use one color on the perimeter cabinets and a different shade on the island. Make sure they coordinate well. Using the same style cabinetry helps them feel cohesive.

Should cabinets match the floor?

Cabinets don’t need to perfectly match the flooring but should complement it. Wood flooring often looks great with stained cabinets. Tile flooring pairs best with painted cabinetry in similar cool or warm tones.


Two-tone kitchen cabinets provide an easy way to add character and style to your home. Combining lighter and darker shades, neutrals with bold hues, or mixing finishes can entirely transform the look of your kitchen. Just be sure to choose complementary colors that work with the rest of your decor. Plan combinations carefully and hire a professional installer for flawless execution. With the right approach, you can create a stunning and unique kitchen design that reflects your personal taste.