The days of kitchens as hidden-away work areas are long gone, but bring them into plain view as part of an informal kitchen-diner or open-plan layout, and expectations about how they look rise.
One tactic that can make them deliver decoratively is to swap a single unit finish for a pair of colours.
Whether it’s an island vs remaining cabinets division; one shade for wall cupboards and another for the base units, or a zone-separating duo, two cabinet colours can deliver fantastic results.
You could take a look at the picture below as an example.
Tips to Perfectly Pair the Colours
Make it subtle
The kitchen in this period home is understated, with an off-white and aluminium grey combination that visually separates the island and the remaining cabinetry. Both shades tone beautifully with the stone fireplace to add the new to the old without a clash.
Choosing between a contemporary or more classic kitchen for a period home? Sleek, handleless cabinetry like this can help to make intricate period detail stand out rather than fight for attention.
Get a metallic edge
Here, wall cupboards in a coppery shade contrast with white base units. The block of colour ensures the room feels warm and welcoming – picture white units of an equal height to appreciate its plus points. The white cabinetry has its own benefits, keeping the room feeling spacious, clean and modern.
If you’re exploiting a high-ceilinged space with tall wall cabinetry, as here, try this strategy of staggered doors to break up the large bank.
Colours near to each other on the decorator’s colour wheel can do their job of creating a harmonious effect in a kitchen just as they do in other rooms. This kitchen features the sea tones of Fired Earth’s Turkish Blue and Little Greene’s Aquamarine – Deep on cabinets and island respectively.
This room’s also big on inspiration if you’re thinking materials – the island’s wood worktop and shelves together with the tactile handles for the glassware cupboard would add to the pleasure of using the room.
A large kitchen is not a prerequisite for a two-colour design. In this extension to a flat, a narrow galley sees a dark and light combo for the two runs of units. The cabinets to the left have a solidity that helps delineate the kitchen in the open layout, while the peninsula is light in colour and presence to make the extension feel as large as possible.
There are other small-space strategies worth noting here. Slim pendant lights keep the view through the room uncluttered, while floorboards laid widthways make the kitchen floor appear wider.
Beautify with blue
Dark blue’s become a kitchen classic, but this room proves it looks just as good in a block for an island as it does in a whole-kitchen scheme. Check out the way the white finish for wall and base cupboards creates a crisp backdrop to the blue.
This room keeps things attractively simple with white worktops and bar stools, too, but notice how glass-fronted cabinets create display space and decorative interest.
Here’s another take on blue and white that’s perfect for smaller kitchens. White on the walls prevents the room closing in when there’s a necessity to fit in lots of closed storage, while blue is elegant and smart.
This is another low-contrast option. The room has an island unit that strikes an alternative note to the other units in both colour and style with its distressed grey finish.
It’s a tactic you might care to embrace to ensure a kitchen takes on a lived-in character. Or try it in an open-plan scheme to blur the boundary between work and living spaces.
This country-style kitchen uses a warmly toned duo – Farrow & Ball’s Incarnadine for the island and Joa’s White for the base cabinets – to make the room feel cosy. Notice how window and door treatments, as well as accessories, pick up the pairing in this pretty, rustic scheme.
In a low-ceilinged room, a reflective worktop like this one and a white ceiling as here will bounce daylight around to make the room feel taller.
This island also stands apart from its neutral kitchen partner. A dark lavender (this is Farrow & Ball’s Brassica) is a sophisticated companion for the divider between cooking and eating zones.
Keep it airy
Here’s a different approach to the blue-and-white combination that’s such a big hit for kitchens. A soft take on both colours in this open space helps keep the room bright and airy. The pretty shades are repeated in the tiled splashback, which is framed by toning over-island pendant lights.
These units have a satin finish that’s between gloss and matt. Consider it if you want to gently boost the reflective qualities of cabinet doors without full-on shine.
How to make a feature of your cooker splashback
Don’t forget that one of your kitchen cabinetry twosome can be wood rather than a laminate or paint. This kitchen features macassar ebony for the bank of tall units and the island, alongside a bright white for the remaining cabinets. The pairing is striking both because of the contrast in colour, and the plain/pattern juxtaposition.
The wood here is bookmatched – a technique in which adjoining surfaces create a mirror image of each other. It’s a way to introduce a natural twist without losing the order in a scheme.