Give your kitchen one-of-a-kind personality and custom styling when you bring in a mix of cabinet finishes, colors, and materials.

By Jan Soults Walker
May 02, 2016

When your kitchen features a mix of cabinetry, character ensues. This kitchen welcomes a harmonious confluence of design worlds -- classic meets contemporary meets European farmhouse -- all thanks to three finishes. Caramel stain warms perimeter pine cabinets, while at the kitchen center, medium gray defines the work zone and brings subtle sophistication to the island. Rich walnut stain lends elegance to the sleekly styled dining counter -- a visual respite amid a wealth of details and textures. Dark glaze provides the common visual thread among the three, beautifully "aging" the pine cabinets, drawing out the island's traditional details, and lending depth to the dining counter.

Welcome Center

Transform an all-white kitchen into something to talk about by simply mixing in different cabinetry for the island. In this work core, tawny stain highlights the vertical wood grain on drawer fronts, creating a focal point replete in natural beauty and exuding warmth as an inviting social hub.

Subtle Overture

Mixing cabinet colors and materials makes magic happen in this kitchen. Dark walnut-stained lower cabinets anchor the space, while white upper cabinets lighten the look. This push-pull pairing provides the perfect foil for the star of the space: a backsplash of pearly turquoise tiles in a soft diamond shape that imitates the tranquility of ocean waves.

Free Kitchen Remodeling Guide

Instant Age

A kitchen assembled over many decades is bound to have a mix of cabinets, and that was exactly the style this homeowner wanted for her new home. To get the look, wood cabinets feature both traditional and farmhouse details, while rustic open shelves mimic the look of rugged timbers that were planed and cut to size. Distressed painted finishes in three tones complete the kitchen, creating the illusion that the space evolved over time.

Simply Stated

Proving less really can be more, natural birch facing on dishwasher drawers is just enough of a cabinet mix to add interest and warmth to this kitchen. Sleek natural birch open shelves repeat the look and stand in for upper cabinets. Chunky white marble countertops provide a serenely elegant finish.

Two Tones

In this kitchen, mixing materials and finishes -- a honed countertop and backsplash, sleek stainless-steel appliances, and painted and glazed cabinetry with visible brushstrokes -- lends visual and tactile interest. Limiting the palette to black and gray while varying the textures throughout helps to guide your eyes around the room rather than draw attention to a focal point. Black sphere-shape pendants add an artistic element, thanks to their sculptural form.

Farmhouse Charmer

What could be more iconic for a farmhouse than mixing cabinets? In this kitchen, upper cabinets are dressed in picket-fence white while lowers feature warm stained oak, reminiscent of an antique built-in sideboard. Reproduction pendant lighting, beaded-board kick panels, and classic Carrara marble countertops round out this vintage revival setting.

Tiled Muse

If you're having trouble deciding what materials and colors to mix for your cabinets, find a special element and let it inspire you. In this kitchen, the muted gray and white in these antique backsplash tiles bear repeating with whisper-soft gray upper cabinets and white base cabinets. White marble with gray veins emphasizes the understated palette.

Car Show

A mix of fearless colors and metallic accents makes this kitchen a fun place to cook and kibitz for a homeowner who loves cars. While painting the ceiling teal is a creative bid to connect the kitchen to a nearby living room, lime green quartz-surfacing countertops are as racy as a sports car. Balancing the bold colors are sleek metallic laminate upper cabinets and frameless full-overlay base cabinets in a charcoal gray laminate. Cabinet pulls resemble motorcycle handles and, on the floor, porcelain tile offers durability and the look of a concrete floor found in a mechanic's shop. Gray ceramic backsplash tile is a design nod to tire tracks.

Compact Classic

Even in a modestly sized space, mixing cabinetry makes a statement. In this butler's pantry, the same walnut and white cabinetry used in the kitchen repeats here. By using stained wood for the upper cabinets only, the space gains a focal-point display piece and a heartfelt dose of warmth.


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