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How do I choose a countertop color for my kitchen?

How do I choose a countertop color for my kitchen?

Your kitchen countertop color is one of the most important design decisions you’ll make when remodeling or building a new kitchen. The right countertop color can make the space feel bright, warm, and welcoming. The wrong color can make the space feel cold, dark, and uninviting. With so many countertop options and color choices available, it can be overwhelming to choose. Here are some tips to guide you in selecting the best countertop color for your kitchen.

Consider the Overall Style of Your Kitchen

What is the overall look and feel you want for your kitchen? Is it modern and sleek or more traditional and homey? The countertop color should complement the kitchen’s overall style.

For contemporary, minimalist kitchens, neutral countertop colors like white, gray, or black are fitting choices. These darker neutrals pair well with stainless steel appliances and chrome hardware for a polished, modern look. Lighter neutrals like cream or pale gray can also work well for a clean, pared-down aesthetic.

For traditional kitchens, warmer neutral tones like beige, tan, or light brown are good options. These earthy hues pair nicely with features like wood cabinetry and antique-inspired hardware and fixtures for a classic style. Richer tones like dark granite can also complement a traditional kitchen.

Consider the Cabinets and Flooring

The cabinetry and flooring are two other key elements that will inform your countertop color selection. You’ll want your countertop hue to complement these existing features in your kitchen.

If your cabinets are white or light wood, you have more flexibility with choosing a darker countertop color to contrast them. Black, charcoal gray, deep blue, and exotic granite patterns would all stand out nicely against light cabinets.

With medium to dark wood cabinets, aim for a lighter countertop color to complement them. Tan, light gray, cream, and white marble would look elegant with darker cabinetry.

As for the flooring, a general rule is to coordinate the countertop and floor color in terms of lightness/darkness levels. A dark granite countertop would match best with dark wood or tile flooring, while light flooring goes best with a lighter countertop.

Factor in the Lighting

The natural and artificial lighting in your kitchen also affects how the countertop color looks. Lighter colors like white and cream reflect light well, making them ideal for darker kitchens with limited natural light. Darker hues can work in well-lit kitchens but may look dreary and cavelike in dim kitchens.

Likewise, artificially-lit areas like a kitchen island call for lighter countertop colors that won’t appear too dark under pendant lighting. Near windows, you have more flexibility with dramatic darker hues that will pick up the natural light. Evaluate your kitchen’s lighting as you choose a color.

Consider Ease of Maintenance

Maintenance is another practical factor in choosing a countertop color. Stains and smudges will show up more clearly on lighter-colored countertops like white, cream, or light granite. While beautiful, these colors require diligent cleaning to keep looking pristine.

On the other hand, darker countertops like black, charcoal gray, or heavily-patterned granite do a better job of hiding everyday messes and don’t require as much cleaning effort. The tradeoff is darker colors show fewer design details like veining compared to lighter hues.

Visualize How the Color Looks With Your Decor

When deciding on a countertop color, it helps to visualize how it will look alongside your existing kitchen decor. Grab paint color swatches in the hues you’re considering and hold them up in your kitchen space. Or use photo editing software to mock up the countertop colors you’re considering.

Seeing the colors in the actual kitchen environment, next to your cabinetry, backsplash, floors and decor will give you the best sense of how they’ll look once installed. This can help narrow down your options to the most attractive, harmonious colors.

Choose a Timeless Classic Color

While color trends come and go, there are a few classic countertop colors guaranteed to stay in style for years. For both traditional and contemporary kitchens, it’s hard to go wrong with clean white countertops. White has a crisp, bright appearance that works with any style.

Cream and beige are additional classic neutral colors that pair well with many kitchen designs. Black and white marble also has enduring appeal, as does the look of natural stone like granite. Stick with one of these timeless hues if you don’t want to redo your countertop with every passing trend.

Complement Your Existing Appliances

Your existing appliances should factor into choosing a coordinating countertop color. Stainless steel appliances pair best with lighter countertops like white, tan, or gray that accent the appliances nicely. Black stainless appliances would look sharp alongside a black countertop.

For vintage-inspired appliances like turquoise or red, go for a neutral countertop that lets the appliance colors pop. But if you’ll be replacing appliances, choose the countertop first since cabinetry is harder to swap out.

Consider a Multi-Toned Look

One trendy option is pairing two complementary countertop colors in your kitchen design. For example, you might opt for white quartz on the perimeter counter with a gray-veined marble island. Or tan granite surrounding a central white marble prep space.

This multi-tone look adds visual interest through contrasting textures and colors. Just be sure the two colors and material types coordinate well together. You want the combination to look intentionally designed, not haphazardly mixed.

Select a Low-Maintenance Material

Maintenance needs should also guide your countertop color selection. Seamless materials like quartz and solid surface (Corian) resist staining and etching better than natural stone. Quartz incorporates coloring throughout, so chips or scratches are less noticeable compared to surface-dyed materials.

Tile can also be very durable, but the grout lines may require more regular sealing and cleaning. Laminate is affordable and comes in many colors but can scratch and scorch more easily than other materials. Select a low-maintenance material especially if choosing a lighter color prone to showing messes.

Don’t Overlook Neutrals

While bold pops of color are trending, don’t overlook the versatility of neutral countertop hues. Timeless whites, grays, tans, and other earth tones act as a subtle backdrop that fits seamlessly into both vibrant and understated color schemes.

Plus, neutral counters won’t clash with an accent wall or brightly colored appliances if you change up those elements down the road. For resale value and flexibility, a neutral countertop is a safe bet.

Coordinate With Your Backsplash

Your kitchen backsplash and countertop work together to form a cohesive look, so coordinate these elements in your color scheme. Matching the countertop and backsplash color creates a streamlined appearance. Or pick contrasting colors from the same palette for visual interest.

For example, pair a neutral white, gray, or tan countertop with blue, green, or terra cotta backsplash tiles in complementary tones. Make sure the countertop doesn’t compete too much with a bold backsplash pattern or color.

Consider How the Color Makes You Feel

Kitchens are often warm, nurturing spaces, so pick a countertop hue with the vibe you want. Soft creams and pale blues have a soothing, peaceful effect. Crisp whites feel clean and bright. Rich browns or blacks lend an elegant, upscale look.

Cool grays read modern and sleek. Greens and blues bring in natural, peaceful feelings. Go beyond practical concerns and choose a color with the emotional effect you desire.

Look at Stone Slabs in Person

If choosing a natural stone like granite, marble, or quartzite, select your slab in person rather than from a small sample. The veining and coloring in stone can vary widely. Seeing the full slab will give you a better idea of the overall look and let you avoid undesirable markings.

Quartz has a more consistent appearance since the coloring is infused throughout, so small samples are more representative. But with natural stone, always inspect the full slab first before finalizing your selection.

Select a Matte or Satin Finish

The finish of your countertop also affects its appearance. Poland and glossy finishes offer more shine and reflectivity. Matte or honed finishes have little to no sheen and a soft, natural look. Satin or leathered finishes provide subtle luster between high-gloss and matte.

Matte and satin finishes do the best job of hiding fingerprints, watermarks, and superficial scratches. High-gloss shows more wear and requires vigilant cleaning and polishing to maintain its shine. Consider the amount of upkeep required to keep your desired finish looking its best.

Gather Inspiration From Photos

Browse through kitchen design photos to gather color inspiration before committing to a countertop hue. Look for kitchens with similar cabinetry, floors, lighting and layouts to yours and see which countertop colors appeal to you in those contexts.

Tear out pages from magazines, save images from websites, or create an inspiration board online of potential countertop colors. This visual research can help narrow down your preferences.

Take Material Limitations Into Account

Certain countertop materials only come in a limited range of color options. For example, stainless steel is silver-toned by nature. And soapstone derives its appeal from its natural dark gray color palette.

If you have your heart set on a material like concrete, recycled glass or copper, you may need to adapt your color expectations around the inherent color limitations. Weigh the pros and cons of your favorite materials and colors together.

Consider an Eclectic Mix of Colors

For a funky, eclectic kitchen, don’t be afraid to mix and match countertop colors. For example, use a black laminate island to contrast white granite perimeter countertops. Or pair navy blue solid surface counters with bright yellow tile as an accent.

An eclectic kitchen is all about creativity, so have fun combining colors and textures you might not expect. Just ensure the overall look still feels cohesive, not chaotic.

Choose Contrasting Edge Colors

For added design interest, select a contrasting countertop edge color. Adding a bright pop of color along the counter edges draws the eye while keeping the main field color neutral.

For example, pair white quartz counters with a kiwi green edge. Or use sky blue for the edge bordering neutral gray marble counters. Contrasting edges provide personality that can easily be swapped out later for an updated look.

Consider Porosity

Countertop materials have varying porosity levels, which impacts their stain resistance. More porous natural stones like marble generally stain more easily than denser options like quartz. However, you can apply sealers to enhance the stain resistance of more porous materials.

If you desire a white marble look but worry about stains, choose quartz designed to mimic marble without the maintenance issues. Or be diligent about promptly wiping spills and sealing the stone regularly. Assess your own habits realistically before installing a porous surface.


The ideal kitchen countertop color reflects your personal style while harmonizing beautifully with the cabinets, flooring, lighting and other elements in the space. By considering the tips in this article, you can confidently land on just the right countertop color for your kitchen. Remember to visualize color options in the room, look at stone slabs in person and make sure your selection coordinates with adjoining finishes for the most attractive results. With careful thought and planning, your new countertop will not only look stunning, but will delight and inspire you for years to come.

Countertop Color Pros Cons
White – Bright, clean look
– Matches any style
– Reflects light well
– Shows stains/smudges
– Needs frequent cleaning
Black – Dramatic, elegant look
– Hides messes well
– Can look harsh under some lighting
Gray – Versatile neutral hue
– Contemporary look
– Cool tone doesn’t feel warm
Cream – Warm, welcoming look
– Classic for traditional kitchens
– Stains easily
Wood – Natural, earthy look
– Matches wood cabinetry
– Needs sealing to resist stains