Step out of the single-color zone: Two-tone kitchen cabinets can work with a variety of kitchen styles. Learn how to embrace a more colorful look with this top kitchen trend for 2022.

All-white kitchens had their time in the spotlight, but we're ready to leave this look in the 2010s and welcome color back into the kitchen. One of our favorite 2022 kitchen trends, two-tone kitchen cabinets are all about ditching uniformity and embracing contrast. The happy medium between all-white and color-covered kitchens, this look has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years, and we're now seeing tons of dual-color kitchens flooding our Instagram feeds.

The best part about this timeless kitchen trend: Two-tone cabinets let you play with color without going all in. Splash a daring hue on the island or one wall of cabinets. Layer neutrals on top and color on the bottom. Or choose two complementary neutrals and bring in color with appliances or accessories. Here are a few ideas to integrate two-tone kitchen cabinets into your own cooking space.

kitchen with green and white cabinets and stenciled floor tiles
Credit: Annie Schlechter

1. Strive for balance.

Choosing a two-tone cabinet combo means paying special attention to the color balance in your space. A few design tricks can help you do that. For starters, instead of picking two completely different colors (yellow and blue), vary the tonality in a single color, such as pairing sunny yellow with pale buttercream. Paint lower cabinets in the darker hue and uppers the lighter one. If you have distinct colors in mind, think about their brightness and lightness. Very bold colors (like vibrant orange) demand more visual energy and need to be balanced with a more neutral hue.

deep blue cabinets in white modern kitchen
Credit: Jeff Herr Photography Inc

2. Use the second tone as an accent.

If you're on the fence about two-tone kitchen cabinets, then strive for highlights versus true color balance. For example, pick a small spot such as a short stretch of cabinetry or a built-in desk and use it to try out your color variation. Another way is to paint only the crown molding in a slightly darker tone to add a definitive border to a kitchen with high ceilings.

Kitchen with patterned tile and island
Credit: Brie Williams Photography, Inc.

3. Try a contrasting material.

If choosing a second color seems intimidating, think of it in different terms: Pick a secondary material that complements the undertones in your primary color. For example, blonde wood and white-painted cabinets make a natural pair that offers contrast without overloading on color. Or consider warming up the cool blue of navy kitchen cabinets with a darker stained wood.

Suggested paint colors: Natural oak wood + Pitch Black No. 256, Farrow & Ball

modern kitchen with dark cabinets below and white cabinets above, black and gold oven range
Credit: Dane Tashima

4. Use white for a harmonious look.

Choosing a trio of colors is a commonly used design trick that helps to ensure visual balance; it's often referred to as the 60-30-10 rule. For color selection, it translates to 60% of a dominant color, 30% of a secondary color, and 10% for the accent color. For kitchen cabinets, white is a good choice for the second color in a mostly two-tone cabinet composition. Try painting a few uppers white to allow resting places for the eye or to balance a very strong tone with a very light hue.

Suggested paint colors: Polar Bear 75 + Very Navy M500-7, Behr

white and green kitchen with vintage range
Credit: David Tsay

5. Reference the color wheel.

Choosing colors is a tricky feat; that's why there are books, magazines, websites, and professionals devoted to it. If you're committed to two-tone kitchen cabinetry but unsure where to start, use a simple tool: the color wheel. In general, adjacent or analogous colors on the color wheel work well together, as do complementary colors, which are across from one another. A pair of neutrals with similar undertones (like warm white and taupe gray) also form a no-fail combo.

Comments (2)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
March 25, 2020
What are the paint colors in kitchen #5 with the warm white and taupe-grey?
Better Homes & Gardens Member
March 19, 2020
Perfect topic and nicely defined how to balance 60-30-10 with color wheel reference. It certainly reassured me on how to finish my current kitchen refresh! Thanks