With so many shades available, there's a gray paint color for every kitchen style. Use these tips to choose the best gray hue for your cabinetry.

By Sarah Egge and Jessica Bennett
Updated March 10, 2020
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Timeless and versatile, gray is a go-to color for many interior designers and homeowners. In addition to appearing on furniture and decor, this favorite neutral color is a popular choice for kitchen cabinetry. With a variety of different tones, gray kitchen cabinets can skew either warm or cold, making it easy to pair with a variety of backsplash designs, countertop materials, and appliance finishes. Whether you have a farmhouse-inspired kitchen or a more contemporary cooking space, gray works with nearly all kitchen styles and cabinet designs. Use these color-choosing tips to incorporate gray kitchen cabinets into your own home.

low-contrast gray kitchen with pops of yellow
Credit: Emily Followill

Choose Light or Dark Gray Cabinets

The perfect hue for your gray kitchen cabinets depends on personal preference, but it also has a bit to do with your kitchen's characteristics. If the space is small or has limited natural light, dark gray cabinets could make it feel smaller and darker. Deep, saturated hues absorb light, whereas light shades bounce light back into the room, amplifying the brightness in the space. Opt for light gray cabinets in small spaces, and use dark gray shades to ground a larger room.

slate blue cabinets in kitchen with orange accents
Credit: Adam Albright

Select a Warm or Cool Cabinet Color

While gray might seem like a straightforward neutral, it is actually deeply influenced by reds, yellows, and blues. The influencing hue or undertone can make the color appear cooler or warmer. For example, a gray with a blue undertone will be a steely shade; gray kitchen cabinet colors with a red undertone will be a putty tone, similar to taupe. To better visualize how these shades work in your space, tape paint chips of several gray shades next to each other on your wall and examine them throughout the day. Notice the variation in color from one to the next and select the one that appeals most to you. If you're installing kitchen units that are not customizable and selecting from a set palette, ask the cabinet company to let you borrow several finish samples or doors to test in your space.

kitchen gray cabinets with island
Credit: Ryann Ford

Decide Between Painted or Stained Cabinets

With gray kitchen cabinet ideas, you have a choice between painted cabinets, which are covered in an opaque gray hue, or stained cabinets, which have a translucent finish that allows some wood grain to show through. Just as with paint colors, there are many variations of pale and dark stains. Painted cabinets offer a crisp, even coloration and are easy to wipe down, while stained cabinets have a textured appearance that highlights the wood underneath. With the proper protective coating, they too can be easily cleaned.

natural light flooding pastel gray kitchen with gold accents
Credit: Jennifer Hughes

Match Cabinets to Countertop Colors

Virtually any countertop color looks good with gray kitchen cabinets. Your options for countertop materials are nearly endless because gray works as a neutral hue similar to white, brown, and tan. Select a splashy countertop color, such as aqua, or go for a sophisticated monochromatic look using slate or stainless steel. Natural stone, such as granite and marble, is also a popular complement to these cabinets because the stone often features gray veining or flecks.

kitchen gray cabinets with dining table
Credit: Kim Cornelison Photography Inc.

Incorporate a Mix of Colors

To add more interest to your gray kitchen, try the two-tone look, which combines two cabinet colors in the same space. Because gray is a neutral shade, it pairs well with almost every color. Gray cabinets also work with any wood tone, so you can choose stained mahogany cabinets for the island, for example, and a cement gray for the wall cabinets. One approach is to stick to similar shades and intensities, such as butter yellow with dove gray, for a cohesive look. Another style is to play with contrast, such as charcoal with ivory, which creates a dynamic space.

kitchen gray cabinets close up
Credit: Michael Partenio Productions

Add Complementary Hardware

Silver is the most common color of hardware used with gray kitchen cabinets, but many other metallic finishes also mesh well. If you have a warm-tone gray, gold or brass drawer pulls are very flattering, especially if they're paired with a matching sink faucet. Cooler gray tones, or gray cabinets with a blue-ish hue, tend to look best with traditional stainless-steel hardware. Nearly-black, dark gray cabinets are particularly stunning when dressed up with a black-finish handle. Take a paint swatch with you to the store when picking out your hardware to make the decisions easier.

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