Trending – Dark Lower Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets white (or off-white) is the best way to brighten and update a dark, drab kitchen. But how do you feel about pairing white (or off-white) upper kitchen cabinets with dark or colorful lower kitchen cabinets?

painted kitchen cabinets

via Pinterest



Black, dark gray, or shades of blue and green – you'll be seeing more of these colorful combinations.

black lower kitchen cabinets

via Pinterest



light gray lower kitchen cabinets

via Pinterest




blue lower kitchen cabinets

via Pinterest



blue lower cabinets kitchen

via Pinterest


I've worked with several clients over the last few months planning kitchens with dark lower cabinets.  I hope to show you the results in the near future.  What do you think of this kitchen trend?  Subscribe to my emails so you don't miss my before-and-afters of design and paint colors.

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61 thoughts on “Trending – Dark Lower Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Abby says:

    This is my favorite way to go.  I've only had one client willing to go this route, but when I do my own kitchen, I can't wait to go with a deep color on the lower cabinets.


  2. Jean Molesworth Kee says:

    I love this idea… have done it twice in the past month.  A great way to get some deep color without it being overwhelming.  I've found that once a client is game to paint cabs, they are willing to take the leap.

  3. ange says:

    I did my lower cabinets grayw ith brass hardware and the upper white and I LOVE it!  I receive many compliments on it too.  With kids and dogs around I really enjoy not having to clean my lower cabinets as often because the dirt doesn't show as well.  🙂  

  4. Susanne says:

    Hi Kristie. I'm definitely in favor of this particular trend. That larger "pop" of color does the trick. My heart goes pitter patter over the photo featuring the pale grey combo. Some shade of blue would might have virtually the same effect. As you remind us, if for whatever reason we outgrow it, easy fix..just repaint. Have an excellent Friday!

  5. Sherry Darlington says:

    I have basic builders grade oak cabinets and just bought a white (really off white) harvest table from Pottery Barn. I have an island that I want to paint turquoise but is there a good white/ off white/ cream color you can suggest for the upper cabinets? Thanks & love your work.

  6. Cherie says:

    Since some people complain that white cabinetry is hard to keep clean due to children's fingerprints, spills, pet issues, etc., this seems like an excellent way to go.  Plus, it allows for more color in a white kitchen, which can be accented with other decor and accessories.  For example, blue lower cabinets, blue in the Roman shades, blue cabinet top appliances, that sort of thing.  I am talking myself into loving this trend a lot!

  7. Marcy says:

    We're going with dark gray cabinets (about as dark as that second photo) – but we only have one small section of upper cabinets above and to one side of our black refrigerator so we're still debating whether to make them dark gray or off-white.

    We're going with a light gray wall color (not white) and we chose a dark cabinet color to help the appliances blend in so we're leaning to the gray, but after we get the lower cabinets painted we might have too much dark going on in that corner so we'll make that decision last.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Good idea to reserve judgment until you get further along – the good thing is, it wouldn’t be a huge deal to change one portion of the cabinetry if you end up not liking the look you choose first.

  8. Angie says:

    This is one trend that I love because it looks great and it's practical!  When you have small children, dark lower cabinets would definitely hide finger prints etc much better than white.

  9. Eileen says:

    I think it's gorgeous.  To my eye,  the upper cabinets give it that fresh, clean neutral look, while the lower cabinets add some fun to the room and kind of ground it.  I can't see it working as well the other way around.  It's like if you were wearing  a dark dress and black tights and then threw on white shoes.  It seems like the darker should be at the bottom.  I also think that since the lower cabinets tend to get messier, I'd appreciate a darker color down there.   It's definitely what I'd like to do in my dream kitchen remodel.

    • Isabel de Y says:

      Eileen, you  are right in what you say about dark colors being at the bottom, as they give a sense of grounding. It's the same for Exterior Color: experts recommend a darker  shade at the bottom, for this same reason, to make the building look grounded.

      Kristie, congrats on your post! I really love this trend and maybe I'm going to apply it in my own cabinetry  🙂 I had some not so defined ideas that have become clear reading your post.

  10. sharon says:

    I did this in my own kitchen last fall, and it makes me smile each time I walk into the room.  Black on the bottom, off white (BM Spanish White) on the top.   Who knew I'd be on-trend!   All I wanted was to bring emphasis to the stone countertop…and it worked well.   Our kitchen is modestly sized, so I don't think a large space is needed to pull it off —- in fact I just recommended this approach to a client with a galley-style condo kitchen, confident it will look spectacular.  Like any paint project, it's a matter of chosing the right color combinations.  Black and white worked for me, but as these beautiful photos show, there's a wealth of possibilities.

  11. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Works just like jeans and a crisp white shirt. I have always loved this and done it twice now,

    pushes the upper half of the kitchen open. Classic and  beautiful.

  12. Lesley Walker says:

    Wow I did this in our former house 3 years ago (black on bottom, off white on top) …everybody thought I was crazy..looks like I wasn't! 

  13. Gretchen says:

    I did this in a house we owned 8 years ago and was so happy with the result. I didn't go super dark on the botton (I used a darker griege), but as someone mentioned above, it grounded the space. It was a modest-sized kitchen in an older home and it looked great. Also, the house sold in 5 days when the time came, so I guess it didn't turn off potential buyers! My only question is what to do when one has full-length cabinets?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Where you have a full-length cabinet (like a wall stove), I think it typically look best to use the color from the bottom.  But there are sometimes instances where you can tape off the full cabinet right at counter height and “split” the upper and lower cabinets (I did that once, and it worked well).

  14. Cheryl says:

    I love this idea, especially using blue on the bottom.  I have all white cabinets and they are impossible to keep clean.  I am also tired of them.  Might consider this as an option.  Would the cabinets have to have something done to them before painting?  Is this a DIY project?

  15. Holly says:

    I think Marcy brings up a good point with the size of the kitchen. I’d hesitate to do the different color on the lower cabinets in a small kitchen, but I guess it also depends upon the other existing elements too. I wouldn’t say our kitchen is tiny but it certainly isn’t huge, but I can’t imagine doing the lower cabinets a different color – I think it would break it up too much. But that’s just my opinion on our kitchen – I love the look. That first kitchen has always been a favorite of mine – I love that blue/green on the lower cabinets.

  16. Anne says:

    I LOVE it. My cabinets are the ugly maple….would love to paint them, but how can it be done one these prefinished, stained cabinets?

  17. Patsy says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!  I have been searching for this!!  I will be painting my all white cabinets soon and I LOVE this idea!  Now just to pick the colors!!  Can't wait!!

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  19. Angela D says:

    Kristie  – I love the blue green cabinets in the first picture and am trying to find a similar color.  My walls are edgecomb gray and my trim is a Swiss coffee.  Do you have any suggestions what blue is similar to that kitchen?  Thanks so much! 

  20. Jacinda says:

    LOVE this! I am building and will consider the same color scheme. So, would I do white cabinets all around and then paint? Or wood cabinets on lower then paint…suggestions?

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  23. Kim says:

    Just wondering what color blue you used in the first picture? I love it, but I can’t seem to find a color close enough….

  24. Marsha Case says:

    Okay, I am going to do this…..
    First pic with teal green on bottom…what color is this?
    Our home is a 1955 ranch and this is what our home needs..I might
    even keep our original green sink!
    Color # and maker please…

  25. Diane says:

    I would like your opinion…my husband and I have come to a crossroad.

    Overall concept: 2-tone cabinets (white and espresso), light gray walls, white subway tile backsplash, Super White Quartzite(white/gray) counters, ss appliances, white apron front sink, chrome Restoration Hardware pendants over island, espresso bamboo floors.

    1. White perimeter upper and lower cabinets (sink/window wall and range wall) and espresso island and espresso pantry wall (fridge wall)? OR

    2. White perimeter uppers, espresso perimeter lowers, espresso island, espresso pantry wall?

    My husband is concerned that espresso floors and espresso lowers are too much dark, but I think with white uppers, white backsplash, and white/gray cabinets there will be plenty of “light”.

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  28. Cynthia Sanchez says:

    I was thinking of doing light grey upper cabinets and navy lower cabinets on the contemporary side. I haven’t seen any posts or pictures on this combination. I don’t really want white.

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  30. Kimberly says:

    I am painting my cabinets and walls to refresh my kitchen waiting for a remodel. It’s a farmhouse and I was wanting to do a colonial/Americana scheme. I was thinking of painting the lower cabinets a darker burgundy. My curtains are tan with burgundy stars at the bottom. What do you think about that? I do like the dark blue I see, though, too. I’m not sure how I would connect the curtain color with that.

  31. Tracey says:

    What would you do if you have offset cupboards in one section ? I painted black on bottom left the tops oak but my desk area cabinets are off centre. I have a tall black pantry on one side and 3 oak uppers on the left? Do I leave it that way? Paint all black in that section or try and paint the single cabinet in the end upper black?

  32. Jennifer Bozarth says:

    I have a question….How would dark lowers look with black tile floors? Should you still go dark on bottom even with a black or dark floor? and dark counter tops? I have a large kitchen with a peninsula/bar my bar has a different granite than my counter tops but they compliment well and the bar stand out because the granite has more movement, it’s black with some neutral/tan, white grayish swirls, my counter tops are Portofino granite. I love the dark gray or peppercorn cabinets and was thinking about doing the bottoms in gray and uppers in white and the bar in gray. Just didn’t want my kitchen to be too dark with the dark floors, thanks for input.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Great question! I would NOT go dark on lower cabinets if your floors are really dark or black. Or if your countertops are dark. That would suck the light right out of your room. If you have dark lower cabinets, I always recommend a lighter countertop.

  33. Jackie Woody says:

    I have stained cabinets with wood stained trim in the room. Wood like to paint the uppers cream and the Lowe’s a nice darker grey. I also have medium oak wood floor. I want to do a lighter grey wall. Should toe kick be painted same grey as lowers? Also what about full size pantry with two small uppers over it, charcoal or cream.?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Yes – paint your toe kick the same as the lower cabinets. You could go either way with the tall cabinet, but I typically go with the darker lower cabinet color. I hope that helps! Please be sure to subscribe for free to receive my special newsletter and weekly articles with decorating advice!

  34. Virginia Bishop says:

    We live in Haiti and I love a tropical look. The landlord is replacing our lower cabinets with a new wood with an orangish stain. It sounds awful, but it’s not too bad. We only have a few upper cabinets so I’d like to paint them a stand-out color. Any suggestions? Also, I think I’d like to paint the yellow walls white to give it all a plain background.

  35. Ginny Bishop says:

    We live in Haiti and I love the tropical look. The landlord is replacing the lower cabinets with a nd using an orangish stain. It sounds awful, but it’s not that bad. We only have a few upper cabinets and I’d like to paint them with a stand-out color. Any suggestions? Also, I’m thinking of painting over our yellow walls to give this a clean, plain background. What do you think?

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