Bringing this hot trend into your home is less complicated than you think.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated February 16, 2018
Kitchen with two-toned cabinets
Credit: Jumping Rocks/Getty Images

The idea that your kitchen cabinets need to be the same color—or even made from the same material—isn’t such a hard-and-fast rule any more. Two-toned cabinets are increasingly popular and, unlike some trends, you don’t need an interior designer to pull this one off.

You can give the busiest room in your home a major update and a chic, of-the-moment feel with a creative combination of colors and materials using one of these methods to make sure the space feels cohesive, not mismatched.

Go bottom-heavy

This is the most classic way to do two-toned cabinets. A perfect fix for small or cramped spaces, picking a dark color for the lower cabinets and a light (typically white) color for the upper ones helps a kitchen feel larger and airier. Here, the white upper cabinets blend into the tiled backsplash, a good trick for preventing the top set of storage from looming over you while you cook or overpowering the space.

Create an accent cabinet

Just like an accent wall, accent cabinets give a kitchen a focal point and they're a great option for large, spacious kitchens that need a little grounding. Make one wall of cabinets a different color than the rest, or—like in this kitchen—make the island pop.

Mix up materials

If you don’t want to go crazy with color but love the two-toned look, consider exploring different materials. You can stick to neutrals, like white and a wood, while still enjoying some contrast in the space. This gives the kitchen a more modern vibe, as shown here, where laminate white and synthetic wood cabinets lend the space an energized feel.

Incorporate a common element

The key to doing two-toned cabinets well is keeping everything feeling intentional: You don’t want the room to feel haphazardly thrown together, so you need to make sure everything feels matched in some way. You can do this by using two colors from the same palette for your cabinets, or by keeping one color neutral and picking a complementing shade. If you want to do wildly different colors, consider using cabinets of the same material. Whenever possible, use the same hardware on both to help keep the two sets of cabinets tied together visually. In this kitchen, gold pulls tie together the upper and lower cabinets, and its repetition on the stove and light fixture further unites the space.