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.
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.
What makes two-tone kitchen cabinets such a great choice? Although there are several benefits, the most important ones to consider are that they:
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.
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.
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.
If you’re considering two-tone cabinets for your kitchen, there are a few things to keep in mind:
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most aesthetically pleasing ways to incorporate two-tone kitchen cabinets into your renovation project is by using them to highlight specific areas of your kitchen. Instead of using two-tone cabinets throughout, select smaller areas like a kitchen island or pantry wall. This contrast will draw the eye to those areas, giving those design elements a little extra attention.
Both natural and artificial light can affect the look of two-tone kitchen cabinets. Pay special attention to lighting when deciding how to enhance your overall design.
If your kitchen doesn’t have many windows, whatever color scheme you choose will appear darker. Even in spaces that let in plenty of natural lighting, adding artificial lighting in key areas, like under the cabinets, can help you highlight the two-tone cabinets’ different colors and finishes.
When choosing to use two-tone cabinets, consider everything else in the kitchen. While you want the cabinets to stand out and add some visual interest, you also want to ensure these fixtures contribute to a cohesive look with other elements in the kitchen.
Remember, everything from the backsplash and countertops to the appliances will influence the finished look.
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.
Are you looking for further inspiration for two-tone kitchen cabinet designs? Below are ways to incorporate two-tone cabinets into your space:
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.