The Little Detail That Makes a Big Difference in Your Kitchen

updated Jun 9, 2019
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

This is a story about a part of your kitchen that you may probably pay zero attention to. You might not even know its actual name: The little cove at the bottom of your cabinets is called a “toe kick.” And it turns out that giving a little TLC to this humble spot can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your kitchen.

There’s a reason the toe kick exists to begin with. The next time you’re standing in front of your kitchen sink or working at the countertop, take a look down at your feet. Chances are, you won’t be able to see your toes, because they’ll be positioned underneath the front edge of your cabinets — in the toe kick. Without this little foot-cave you’d either bang your toes into the front of your cabinets, or you’d have to stand farther away from your counter. It’s a helpful little ergonomic detail that most people don’t even think about it at all. (Bathroom cabinets that go all the way to the floor also have these.)

But the toe kick can be more than just a practical thing. In most kitchens the toe kick is as inconspicous as it gets. There’s certainly an option to have more fun, though. These kitchens all take this humble detail and make it an important, and celebrated, part of the room’s design.

(Image credit: Brit + Co)

1. A matching backsplash and toe kick

This kitchen from Brit + Co has a cheerful yellow toe kick to match its cheerful yellow backsplash.

(Image credit: House of Hawkes)

2. A wooden toe kick

A wood toe kick adds a touch of warmth to this kitchen from House of Hawkes. The typical height for a toe kick is 3.5 inches, but many of these look a little taller. Increasing the height of the toe kick is one way to give it a little extra prominence and emphasize interesting materials, but keep in mind that you’ll lose a few inches in the height of your lower cabinets.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

3. A dramatic, black toe kick

This kitchen from Gisbert Poeppler has a dramatic black toe kick that pops against the colored cabinets and it’s also taller than usual. The black stripe at the bottom of the cabinets relates them back to the dark island, helps to ground the space, and creates a pleasing proportion in a very tall room.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

4. A funky pegboard toe kick

A pegboard toe kick adds a bit of funky charm to a kitchen from Pocket Witch. You obviously couldn’t hang anyone this pegboard, but it’s still pretty darn clever.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

5. A mirrored toe kick

A mirrored toe kick adds an extra touch of luxury to this kitchen from Ecora.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

6. A checkered tile toe kick

This is one of my favorite toe kick details — a black and white checkered tile that wraps up from the floor and onto the toe kick in a kitchen from Royal Roulotte.

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

7. An extra tall island toe kick

This Australian kitchen, from Hecker Guthrie via The Design Chaser, features something similar on the island, but here, the ‘toe kick’ is extra tall and deep, making the island almost appear to float.

(Image credit: Style Me Pretty)

8. A toe kick with cubbies

The toe kick here is quite typical, but what’s worth noting is the way the sides of the cabinets come down all the way to the floor, creating little cubbies for the homeowner’s feet. I love that this makes the kitchen cabinets look a bit more like pieces of furniture. Image from Style Me Pretty.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

9. A colorful striped toe kick

Designer Emily Henderson applied contact paper to the toe kick in the kitchen of Joy Cho’s studio for a little cheerful color.

(Image credit: Jatana Interiors)

10. A stainless steel toe kick

A striking stainless toe kick/baseboard in a coffee shop by Jatana Interiors.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Often Neglected Detail That Makes a Big Difference in Your Kitchen