Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

My kitchen is technically interior project #3 on the list this year (first the stairs/living room re-do, then the dining room, then the kitchen). So even though I’ve got a while to decide on what I really want to do in the room, I wanted to let you know what I’ve been thinking of lately. The kitchen is just beyond the black and white staircase when you walk into the house, so basically, the cabinets are one of the first things you’re able to see from the entryway. So, I’ve been thinking that I might need to balance out the white/black contrast of the stairs with white upper cabinets and something dark on the lower half. Here are some great two-tone kitchen cabinet ideas that helped me so from one kitchen reno to another, here we go…

two tone kitchen cabinet ideas – black and white

There are a ton of examples of two-toned kitchen cabinets on Pinterest. Some are stark contrast, like this white/black combo:

The white kitchen cabinets and the high contrast of a true black make my heart skip a beat, but this darker shade of black may be too overpowering for my small kitchen. The marble backsplash provides a ton of depth and dimension, which I think really makes this could-be- modern kitchen cozy. I love the sleekness that stainless steel appliances brings to this space, while the dark wood table in the middle brings a we-live-here vibe.

two tone kitchen cabinet ideas – white and light gray

Some are much more subtle, like this white/light gray kitchen:

These uppers read a bit more beige than white, but it’s a nice option to add some warmth if bright white isn’t your thing. A lighter shade of gray on the lowers isn’t terrible idea but I’m pretty messy so this might not be the best solution for a haphazard cook like myself. Along those same lines, the white countertops are beautiful but not for me. Keeping everything a pretty light color would lend itself to being able to bring in pops of color, if seasonal decorating is your jam. The white backsplash is definitely something I’d like to bring into my space. Upon a closer look, this designer may have painted just the kitchen island, which is another fun way to bring in a pop of personality on a budget.

two tone kitchen cabinet ideas – navy

And some even incorporate color, like these navy blue lowers:

Can we just take a moment to swoon? I love that the upper cabinetry goes to the ceiling, giving room for so much storage! This could even be a clever way to disguise duct work, creating a focal point instead of an eyesore. The textures of high gloss subway tile and the use of hardware are contemporary accents that I love too. If I didn’t plan on going with butcherblock, these marble countertops would be a frontrunner.

two tone kitchen cabinet ideas – dark gray lowers are my fave

But overall, I think the two-tone cabinetry I like best is white uppers with dark gray lower cabinets. When I also consider the butcherblock counter top that I’m planning to replace the existing painted ones, I think this combo is my favorite.

The window above the sink also needs a little punch to really stand out. So far, the window picture below is at the top of my list for inspiration. I figure it’s going to be the easiest solution to the narrow strips of wall on either side of the window. Instead of worrying about backsplash tile (or the more difficult decision – where the tile stops and the upper wall area begins), I’ll just beef up the molding around it. The white/black color palette will be played up here as well, just like it is in the picture (the window is already housed in black metal and I actually like the look, so I don’t plan to replace them).

I think this cottage-y feel will perfectly match the house’s overall feel. What do you think? Do you like the trend of two-toned cabinet? Have you painted any wood cabinets in your own home using white cabinets up top and something totally different at the bottom?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy: I love comments, especially if they make me laugh. Feel free to let your words of wisdom and humor fly (there's no swear jar on this blog), but if you're overly spammy, rude, or just plain boring, you're just going to have to accept that your comment may not see the light of day. P.S. If you leave an affiliate or monetized link when making a comment on this site, such links might get overwritten by a plugin I have installed that uses my own internal tracking. See terms and disclosure page for more info! Thanks in advance. You rock.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Hold on, let me wipe the drool off my face. Love the two tone cabinets, and I am also partial to gray. I do like the navy blue example more than I would have thought. Hmm. My cabinets are dark-ish wood and the thought of painting all of them makes me twitchy, but if I were GOING to paint them I’d go two tone.

  2. LOVE the two tone look- I like the the gray/white combo as well as the one with navy lowers!

  3. I really like the two-tone look. I’ve been thinking about doing it in my own kitchen! I like the white on top, dark grey on bottom you showed, and also the white and navy combo (but I love all things navy, so that’s not surprising).

  4. Love the two tone and I favor the light gray/dark gray combo! I just did mine last summer using Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint Barren Plain for the top, and Granite for the bottom. Still in love with them :)

  5. I love the two tone look, but is it possible to do it with wood cabinets? I’ve only ever seen it with painted cabinets. My husband is set on wood faces, which is fine by me, but I love the added drama of the two tone look.

  6. I ADORE two tone cabinets! The house we’re moving into had (nice) oak cabinets and unfortunately my husband is a sucker for natural wood….so I will live vicariously through the internet.

  7. Alright, I’m the Debbie Downer: while I really like the look of two tone cabinets, I feel like it’ll look dated in a couple of years and you may not like it anymore. I think it’s something that people are really liking right now, but might not hold up over time…

    I told you I’m a Debbie Downer!

  8. I LOVE the two-toned cabinets! Hoping to do ours white on top and gray on the bottom one day but I have yet to grow the balls to do so. Saw so many bad cabinet paint jobs while house hunting that I’m so worried about messing up. Looking forward to living vicariously through your kitchen paint job while I work up the guts to tackle my own!

  9. i adore the two-toned cabinet look! i’m dreaming of doing that in my future home. i love how light having white cabinets looks…but i like how grounding darker lower cabinets can be. it’s a great option in my opinion!

  10. When my husband and I were planning our home remodel, we originally thought we’d keep the existing cabinets (they were light maple) and just have them painted all the same color. As our ideas morphed, we settled on a two-tone look for the kitchen. We wound up with dark walnut shaker panel cabinets form the base. White open shelves are on the one wall near our sink, and the pantry wall is white. We used a white quartz countertop. I couldn’t love the contrast more. If you’d like additional inspiration and confirmation that dark/light combos in kitchens work, as well as for your idea of gray as your dark color, check out houzz.com if you haven’t already. Enjoy the planning!!!

  11. Wow! Looks like we have basically the same plan for our kitchen. Since our kitchen is on the small side, we wanted to go with the lighter upper cabinets to make it feel more bright an open. We also have the window surrounded by cabinets (and that same awkward no-man’s land between them), but we opted to remove those upper cabinets and install some open shelves. I personally love the white/navy combo, with butcher block countertops as well. We’re starting on it this summer!

    1. Good luck on the open shelves! That is a big difference between yours and mine – no way would I be able to stay that organized!

      1. LOL, that’s why we are only doing a few open shelves! We are only taking down 3 cabinets, and it’s really just to open up the room. This way I can still hide my messes! Either way, we still have to redo the kitchen floor (we’re trying the brown paper floor) and install a wood burning stove, so we have plenty on our to-do!

  12. I really like the two-toned cabinets. I prefer the lighter gray to the darker however. Remember, do what makes you happy (like the stair runner) and don’t worry about the next owner or if it will be outdated someday. Who knows what may be considered outdated down the road! Like I said before…you may as well paint everything tan and live in a house of beige if you are going to worry what the next owner may think. So do what feels right for the space.

  13. A big fat YES to that. Not only do I love that look, I did that in my own kitchen when we remodeled it. Actually I did a tri-color look mixing dark, white and metal/glass. I love the look!

  14. I’m drooling over the ones with the blue on the bottom. I wish my kitchen was in bad shape so I had an excuse to redo it! Next home for sure!

  15. I absolutely love two tone cabinets. So much so that I decided to paint ours two tone during our recent kitchen revamp. We went with the white/dark grey combo. I really love it paired with wood countertops and am hoping to replace our island with a good piece of old wood someday. My kitchen is a bit more modern/eclectic than cottage in design, but you can take a look at my color choices if you’d like. Can’t wait to see what you do.

  16. I think lower black cabinets are good if you have black or stainless appliances (range, dishwasher). Looking at the picture of your kitchen in the Rustoleum paint-the-counter project I would definitely say to do the black and white combo. As a plus, it carries through the black/white motif from the stairs.

  17. I really like the two-tone look as well, and I think it’ll look great in your kitchen. Is the grey you’re thinking of similar to your inspiration picture or darker? Are you planning on painting your existing cabinets, or refacing the boxes with new doors?

    Using beefy molding around the window instead of figuring out where to do paint/tile is a brilliant idea – the dark metal window will look great in there. Are you going to add an island or a peninsula with a breakfast bar or something?

  18. Another thumbs up for the two-tone look here as well, Sarah. I think it will definitely add that something special

  19. Yes, I love the two-toned look! The white/light gray and white/dark gray combinations are my faves. When we get around to remodelling our kitchen, I’m hoping to go for that look.