How Two Tone Cabinets Can Update Your Kitchen

I know, I know.  Everyone seems to be having their wood kitchen cabinets painted.  And there’s good reason – it freshens up almost any kitchen, no matter what the style or era of the home.  

white painted kitchen

The Decorologist

 

In this client’s home, the kitchen was large with a good layout.  Although she wanted to update the kitchen, my client wasn’t in a place to replace the cabinets, backsplash, or the countertop.  

2012-01-25_15-46-54_114

kitchen “before”

 

I’m sure you’re not surprised, but my answer was “paint.”  We chose a light gray for the walls and ceiling, a fresh white for the trim and cabinets, and a dark gray for the base cabinets.  The yellow-orange wood got a major facelift. 

two tone painted kitchen cabinets kitchen “after”

 

We decided to do a two-tone effect – white paint color on the upper cabinets and a gorgeous gray paint color on the lowers.  A couple of changes in accessories, and the kitchen looks larger, brighter, and updated.

white and gray cabinets

The Decorologist 

 

The gray paint on the lower cabinets looks so pretty with the stainless steel appliances.  It feels like a brand-new kitchen!

white painted kitchen

 The Decorologist

 

So, where do you stand on painted kitchens?  Are you Team PAINT or Team WOOD?

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Elaine
Elaine
7 years ago

Team paint…..definitely!!!!

Luci@BungalowAtHome
7 years ago

Oh Team paint for sure!! No more beige builder basic.. Looks awesome!

Ellen @ Black and White and Loved All Over

Holy moly. Amazing transformation!! And I love that the only thing you did to achieve it is to PAINT. This kitchen is gorgeous now.

Dana Tucker
7 years ago

You know I’m team paint!! Lovely transformation!!!

ange
7 years ago

I painted my bottoms gray and uppers white last spring and still LOVE it! It changed the look of our home so much! Great work as always Kristie! So fun when we can make things our own with some paint and hard work.

elaine
elaine
7 years ago
Reply to  ange

what color is the grey and is it a satin finish white are they both oil paint, what color did you do your walls

Lisa
7 years ago

I’m a fan of both. When we renovated our kitchen I went with wood because I thought it was more true to the age of the house but I did stain the island black so there is some contrast. If you have builder grade cabinets that are an unfortunate color I think painting them can really freshen up a kitchen but I wish people wouldn’t automatically discount lovely wood cabinets right off the bat. They can be quite lovely too.

Debra in TX
Debra in TX
7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Agreed!

Patti Hutchinson
Patti Hutchinson
7 years ago

AWESOME!! We have the “Golden Oak” cabinets in our house. Although they look nice and match all of our colors, countertops and backsplash, I HATE THEM!! (And so do the kids). I am going to show this to my husband!! I also thought I read or heard that you can have a car detailing place do them for you. Do you know if this is true and if it’s the same thing? (We have a friend who is in the business and could use him).

Cathy Z
7 years ago

I’m curious about the white white cabinets with the creamy beige counter top. It’s hard to tell but the backsplash looks beige too (although that could be embossed metal and just reflecting the countertop?) Anyway, I know you’re a True Color Expert and I’m wondering about the fixed countertop element being bossy….which in my opinion should have lead to a creamier white decision for the cabinets? Thoughts?

Cathy Z
7 years ago

Thanks, I figured it was something like that 🙂 I’m taking Maria’s seminar in Toronto in 2 weeks – can’t wait!

Cindy Macdonald
Cindy Macdonald
7 years ago

Hi Kristie: Just wondering what colour you painted the cabinets. I am also a decorator and love to get inspiration and ideas!!

Love your blog.

Kind Regards,

Cindy Macdonald
Design Details by Cindy

Barbara Jacobs Color and Design
Barbara Jacobs Color and Design
7 years ago

What a lovely result! I’m also a fan of Paint and often actually recommend that an island be treated as a separate piece of “Furniture” – with Paint of course. Even with everything else all wood it can make the right difference. Thanks for your article, as always.

sharon
sharon
7 years ago

Hi Kristie,

What I enjoy about your makeovers is that they’re realistic. Each of us can imagine accomplishing something similar their own home, and feel inspired by what you do. Today, you’ve shared another great example of how paint can transform!

A year ago, I finally painted my own cabinets. Yes, I “two-toned” them – black lowers, creamy white uppers. Love ’em, and I’m always delighted by the compliments they receive.

Angela Ttofas
Angela Ttofas
7 years ago

I am a big fan of painting out wood and just convinced my husband to have our fireplace mantle painted. it is a yellow oak and after 18 years he is convinced it will freshen up the place and give the place a more modern look. My question with the painted kitchen is, I would definitely have the doors professionally sprayed but how about the sides of the kitchen that are fixed, how are they painted to avoid the peeling?

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

TEAM PAINT. I swear we painted every flat surface when we bought our house last year. Here’s a link to our kitchen overhaul with two tone cabinets. I went for a bold turquoise for the lower ones. 😉

http://refreshing1919.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/the-kitchen/

~syl
~syl
7 years ago

Love the transformation Kristie!!!!!! Awesome work!!!!!

Rhiannon
Rhiannon
7 years ago

The kitchen looks so much brighter and put together! I have BLACK cabinets…I think I might leave my island black and do something similar with the two tone effect on the rest of my kitchen. Thanks for the inspiration! I just love your blog!

kathleen
kathleen
7 years ago

So, what if you are doing a peninsula instead of an island. Should it be the same colour as the cabinets?

Barbara
Barbara
7 years ago

Fabulous transformation! I just bought a 6 yr old ranch with maple cabinets with a brown glaze. I really wanted a white kitchen, how does refacing hold up compared to painting?

Jayme
Jayme
7 years ago

Love the room-looks so fresh! I am a big fan of painted cabinets, but always worried about the wear and tear. We remodeled our kitchen last year, and instead of painting,we opted for refinishing by the Home Depot. It was one of the few times that we actually set back at let someone else do all the work-of course this was after we had torn out the counter-tops, reconfigured the layout, turned a closet into a fridge cubby and pantry, ran plumbing, electrical, installed a new farm sink, and pot filler, and painted-did I say we let someone else do the work? 🙂 Anyway, we love our cabinets-all cabinet frames were resurfaced and we got new drawer fronts, doors, hardware and trim. They even built and covered a shelf for me where the short above-the-fridge cabinet still existed so it didn’t look out of place. In the end, we are thrilled with the results and are now currently finishing up the tile project in the breakfast nook area.

So I think I got the best of both worlds-the look of paint with the hardiness of the resurfaced area-Martha Stewart’s line of cabinets in the color of Ocean Floor. With my Ivory Coast solid surface Silestone, my vacations now occur in my kitchen!

Barbara
Barbara
7 years ago
Reply to  Jayme

How was the price of refacing compared to new cabinets? Were you happy with home depot and how long do they say it lasts? Thanks!

Kelly
7 years ago

Looks so pretty and updated! I always say ” The Magic of Paint” and this is a great example. Thanks for sharing!

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago

Paint! it looks great.

Donna Frasca
7 years ago

I was never a fan of painted cabinets but it’s growing on me now. It would be so much nicer than the dreaded orange cabinets that I talk about all the time. I think the key to success here is choosing the right color and I love the gray! I really like this look!

Paula Van Hoogen
Paula Van Hoogen
7 years ago

Kristie–counter top & back splash aside—I have to say even if I were building a new kitchen, this is my favorite way to go. White on top cabinets seems to push them away and darker on bottom just looks grounded and right to me! Like jeans and a white shirt–they just “go”.

Nikki
Nikki
7 years ago

Do you think the two-tone look only works for cabinets in which the the uppers and lowers are perfectly parallel? I’ve been considering this look but my cabinets are choppy as the uppers accommodate two large windows and the appliances.

Kelli MCFARLIN
Kelli MCFARLIN
7 years ago

I have the same natural cabinets and tin backsplash. I would love to do this. Could you tell me what paint colors you used to paint the cabinets?

Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago

Kristie, this is exactly the dilemma I am in at this very moment… Paint Team all the way for me !!
Please share the paint colors as I’m racking my brains out trying to find a gray for the lower cabinets in the house that we just recently purchased… all the wood in the house is golden honey, and to begin the update, I am doing the kitchen/dining area first. I have chosen BM White Dove for everything above the countertop, including the bulkhead… Appliances are stainless and will have to stay. They were in the house and will not be replaced. I have prepared & primed surfaces and the process is underway…but I’m desperate to find a gray for the lowers. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time !

Joey
7 years ago

I have beige countertops, white cabinets, and tin backsplash. I really want to infuse some color, and I can’t thank you enough for this post, which came at the perfect time!

Peter Feinmann
7 years ago

Replacing kitchen cabinets entirely is an expensive and more time consuming process. If you are happy with the layout of the kitchen, refacing is always an option. The two tone trend can give your kitchen that “pop” you desire and if for some reason you don’t like it, you can just paint over it!

Steven
Steven
6 years ago

Everything I have read a Traditional Kitchen is preferred over a Modern One. The Traditional kitchen is inviting looking while a modern one typically is cold, and uninviting. When I see white cabinets I run away.
But I agree that stained wood cabinets can get out of hand. How about IKEAs Metal door cabinets that is starting to make its way into Big Box Stores. Would that be even more timeless? But of course also the modern vs traditional homey feel. We are looking at Bianco Antico or Aries White as our new countertop. Being in a shaded area even though the Bianco is lighter looking our home being a rich tan exterior color and all the Oak Trim and Doors throughout the house the only part that is our issue is the Kitchens look. We did work on the rest of the house and left the kitchen for last. So now it is time for that updating. We will be refacing and reveneering with Maple trim and sold wood doors. The dilemma is our reaction to White kitchens is unanimously we are not fans of that color. We did see their are many granites called White and then they are beige instead. And now see Paint colors in the White category but it is still confusing.
What would be appreciated is a big range or list of White and Off White colors recommended and links to see them to figure out the best whitish color to paint the new cabinets. Did you know it is more expensive to the by the cabinets Painted vs Stained? And which looks nicer? Stained ones. But I do agree that Oak had its day, Cherry its later day, Maple now? But to our family it is practically sacrilegious to cover natures beauty and mask it with artificial colors of paint. So we are in a quandary what COLOR to paint them if we did paint them. I am sure you know the other concern is EITHER WAY. Is we left the maple stained it would conflict with the Oak in the rest of the house? So that is why we feel painting it to limit or hide the maples nice grain is an OK idea! But then we think what color would Help the Stained Oak throughout the house vs. not help it. So came with up with the idea to find a nice color in the oak to Paint the Maple in. But have never seen that done before looking at thousands of images to find a few, even. So back to the color choice for a Off-White Painted Maple cabinet door. We found the beautiful colors in the Oak Wood to pull out. But then painting the Kitchen cabinets those colors could be garish. So then we tried other colors. We are not fans of Gray ones and hope that ends soon. And bright white is out of the question. Lighting we already put in four overhead lights in the kitchen, a skylight and Solatube on “top” of that…. To keep the shaded window supported in getting light to the kitchen. The other concer is the ceiling being vaulted the main back wall of cabinets want increased storage area so, how to configure cabinets with a vaulted ceiling to have it better than it is now which is OK but we want to add additional cabinets. Our bathroom we have no issue having off-white painting of the existing oak cabinets there for some reason! But the kitchen being such an important are. a: colors we are trying to consider are Putnam Ivory Monroe Bisque, Bone White, Shaker Beige, Abingdon Putty, Elmira White and few more. Are any of these in your White/off-white categories? Also we have and still love our bisque colored appliances. Dislike the stainless look, black and white appliances but think the Slate ones would work with the new granite. But this COLOR issue is what is messing up getting started! We totally agree if we have an Island that could be a different color or even a wood stained to give contrast. But think making upper cabinets a different color chops up the kitchen many times. Unless it the kitchen is a Modern style one then perfectly fine to do.

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