Everything You Need to Know About Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinets

BY Wolf Home Products |

The average American spends 37 to 51 minutes a day in their kitchen, making it one of the most used rooms in your home. If you're going to spend that much time in one room, shouldn't it look good? 

Two-tone kitchen cabinets are a hot design trend right now — and with good reason. Two-tone cabinets can create visual interest, make a small kitchen seem more spacious and help you stay within your budget. 

What Are Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinets?

What Are Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinets

Traditionally, kitchens have been designed with matching cabinetry. The cabinets on top are the same color or stain as the ones on the bottom, and all the hardware is the same throughout. However, the trend of two-tone cabinets has thrown out that idea.

The term "two-tone kitchen cabinets" refers to any kitchen space that combines two different colors of cabinetry. This combination comes in many forms. In some cases, it may simply refer to a kitchen where the island is a different color than the cabinets. Or, it could refer to a kitchen where half the cabinets are one color and half are another, contrasting shade. 

Some homeowners decide to mix painted cabinets with finished wood cabinets. Others select two complementary paint colors to contrast each other in the kitchen. 

In the past, kitchen cabinets have blended into the background. If you wanted something visually interesting in your kitchen, you'd pick a fun paint color or add a wallpaper border. However, in recent years, many homeowners have realized that utilizing two-color kitchen cabinets is a great way to create a beautiful kitchen space. 

Benefits of Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinets and How They Can Transform Your Space

Benefits of Two Tone Kitchen Cabinets

What makes two-tone kitchen cabinets such a great choice? Although there are several benefits, the most important ones to consider are that they:

Improve Aesthetic Appeal

Two-tone cabinets can make even the plainest of kitchens feel elegant. They provide more visual interest and create an elegant yet relaxing look. Incorporating a two-tone design into your kitchen is a great way to enhance the space. Plus, there are several details and finishes to choose from that will take your design over the top. 

Increase Resale Value

Since two-tone cabinets are a hot trend right now, having this look in your kitchen is a great way to attract potential buyers. If you're considering putting your house on the market anytime soon, two-tone cabinets make for a great upgrade because they'll appeal to savvy buyers who are looking for a house that's move-in ready. 

Make a Small Kitchen Feel Larger

Two-tone cabinets are a great way to create the illusion of space in a small kitchen. If you put white cabinets above and darker cabinets below, the eye is immediately drawn up to the brighter shade, giving the appearance that your kitchen is more spacious than it actually is. If you opt for white or another light color on the top, you'll also notice that your kitchen is brighter because they will reflect the light coming in from the windows. 

Tips for Using Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinets in Your Home

If you're considering two-tone cabinets for your kitchen, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

1. Choose Your Focal Point

The first thing to do when designing a two-tone kitchen is to decide which spot will become the focal point — that is, the section of cabinetry that will be different from the rest. Many homeowners opt to use their kitchen island as the focal point, but that's just one option. 

Another option is to choose some cabinets that are set apart from the rest as the focal point ⁠— such as a row of cabinets along one wall or the cabinets that surround the refrigerator. This may not work well in a kitchen where all the cabinets are close together — such as a U-shaped kitchen — but it could be a good option in a kitchen where the cabinets are broken up or spread apart. 

2. Select Colors

It sounds easy, but finding two shades that pair well together is challenging. This is where it's helpful to look at photos online or, better yet, sit down with a professional design company that can show you samples. 

A bold pop of color can look fantastic in a kitchen, but if that's not your thing, you don't have to pick bold colors to create a beautiful two-tone kitchen. Many clients opt to pair white cabinets with a wood shade for a more natural effect. Often, it's the subtle changes in color that create the most visual impact. 

However, keep in mind that the lighter color you choose will likely become an accent color throughout the kitchen, so make sure it's something you're happy to use in other places.

3. Go Darker on the Bottom

Go Darker on Bottom Cabinets

One great option for incorporating the two-tone trend is to keep your upper cabinets light and paint or stain all the bottom cabinets in a darker color. Or, you could select a dark wood stain. 

When your bottom cabinets are dark, it helps to define your kitchen space — a great feature if your house has an open concept design. The lighter color you use for the upper cabinets can also become an accent around the room. This keeps the room feeling light and spacious, regardless of its size. 

Avoid putting the darker color on upper cabinets unless you've chosen one section of cabinets as a feature. Having a lot of dark high cabinets can make the kitchen seem dark and cramped. 

4. Don't Forget the Details

If you opt for two-tone cabinets, it's important to have an element that unites the two together. In some cases, this may mean selecting a color, then using a lighter shade of it on top and a darker shade on the bottom. In other cases, this unifying element may simply be the hardware you choose. We always recommend that designs with two-tone cabinets incorporate matching hardware throughout to unify the design and your kitchen space. 

Two-Tone Wood Cabinets vs. Two-Tone Painted Cabinets

There are a few ways to install two-tone cabinets, but your main choices will likely be to install wood cabinets or painted cabinets. Displaying two shades of wood or two shades of paint can help you achieve your desired look. Either option could be beneficial for your design goals, so consider each one before deciding.

Stained wood typically enhances or colors the wood's natural shade, available in subtle or rich, natural hues. Painted cabinetry is available in multiple colors and finishes for style preferences. Each option will bring a touch of color and warmth to your home.

If you're interested in traditional shades of wood, install Wolf Signature cabinets in different stains. For example, a lighter stain like Toffee would look gorgeous for your upper cupboards, and Barley would be a terrific darker shade for the bottom cabinets. You could also choose Wolf Endeavor cabinets in Polar and Sterling for a modern yet subtle two-toned appearance.

Be sure to think about both dual tone kitchen cabinet options to pick the combination that complements the rest of your space, including existing furniture, wall colors and doors.

Two-Tone Kitchen Cabinet Ideas

Are you looking for further inspiration for two-tone kitchen cabinet designs? Below are ways to incorporate two-tone cabinets into your space:

  • Choose contrasting colors for upper and lower cabinets: Try differentiating your cabinet colors for each set of cabinets you install. For example, you could choose white for your upper cupboards while using a darker shade for the bottom ones, such as gray or black. Pairing your two-toned cabinets with a backsplash or tile that matches both colors will tie everything together.
  • Mix cabinet materials: One of the more popular two-tone kitchen cabinet ideas is to use more than one material. If your bottom kitchen cabinets are made of dark wood, you could do white cabinets with glass fronts above your countertops.
  • Go bold with island cabinetry: Does your kitchen feature an island? Consider keeping your upper and lower cabinets one color while using a bolder tone for the cabinets under your island. A few stunning selections would be varying shades of blue, green or yellow.
  • Incorporate textured materials: Get creative with textures in your cabinetry and counters, like concrete and butcher block surfaces.
  • Add custom fixtures: Accentuate your two-tone cabinetry by replacing the existing drawer pulls, knobs and fixtures with custom fixtures from an antique shop or craft store.

Find a Wolf Home Products® Dealer Today

When designed well, two-tone cabinets can push any kitchen design over the top. If you're planning a kitchen upgrade, you'll want to select quality products that you can enjoy for years to come. 

Transforming North American homes for more than a century, Wolf Home Products has a reputation for high-quality, gorgeous cabinetry to fit any kitchen design. Planning a kitchen upgrade? Let us help. Find an independent dealer near you. 


Last Updated on December 17, 2021 at 10:30 am