The Surprising Reason Why I Chose This Kitchen Cabinet Trend During My Remodel (It’s So Functional!)

published Jul 9, 2024
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Two toned upper and lower kitchen cabinets.
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

The kitchen is not what sold me on our house in Knoxville — I’d actually go so far as to say that I fell in love with the house in spite of the kitchen. Although the Zillow blurb described the kitchen as “updated,” the dark wood cabinets that had too much space between them and the ceiling, the oddly placed stovetop that effectively cut the kitchen in half, and the crooked tile and black grout lines on the floor, begged to differ. And the thing is, I spend so much time in the kitchen — and when we first moved in, it definitely was not a room I wanted to be in at all. 

My husband and I knew without even discussing it that the first renovation project we’d tackle would be the kitchen, and I wasted no time getting to work redesigning it. I poured my 15 years of experience in my own kitchen (with a family of five) into each of my design choices, which included a heavy-duty garbage disposal and a workstation sink

First, I knew I wanted the room to feel light and bright. The kitchen is on the darkest side of the house, so I couldn’t count on sunlight alone. Making the ceiling feel high and choosing white for cabinetry seemed like obvious choices — but there was one problem: I didn’t want an all-white kitchen. For one, they feel too sterile for me and my design preferences. I enjoy a warm, embracing vibe in my home, one that I like to think hearkens back to the hearth roots of the modern kitchen, the center of warmth and sustenance. Plus, my sister had warned me about white cabinets. In her own kitchen, full of activity and cute little children’s hands, white cabinets were a lot of work; they showed all the spills and marks left behind by grubby fingers. 

To solve the problem, I leaned into a recent trend: two-toned kitchen cabinets. White cabinets extending to the ceiling would make the room feel airy and light, while darker bottom cabinets would not only add some depth to the kitchen’s palette but also — perhaps more importantly — disguise dirt. Honestly, it was just a bonus that this two-toned solution was en vogue. Our bottom cabinets are dark gray, nearly black, and the overall impression is, though trendy now, timeless and classic. 

Once the basics of kitchen cabinet colors were decided, I filled in the rest of the design. I took white zellige tiles up to the ceiling for the backsplash. Their uneven surface adds warmth and whimsy while the slightly reflective sheen bounces more light around the space. Gold hardware lends even more warmth to the room, and glass light fixtures keep the room feeling open and airy. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

So, did my solution of split-toned cabinets work for achieving my goal of lightening the kitchen while simultaneously disguising cabinet-front messes? After two years of heavy use of our kitchen, I can confidently say yes! If I look closely, I can see spills and splashes on many of our bottom cabinet fronts, but they are definitely camouflaged, allowing me to focus on what the kitchen is meant for, rather than making me feel compelled to constantly wipe them down. (The dirt is much more obvious in pictures than in real life, for the record.) 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

An aesthetic choice based not merely on what’s in style but instead on what cuts down on the appearance of messes (and therefore my sense of overwhelm) has proven invaluable to maximizing not only efficiency, but peace in our kitchen. The kitchen is indeed the place where we both gather and eat, a place where I work hard cooking and cleaning, but also find joy in. 

What are your thoughts on two-tone kitchen cabinets? Let us know in the comments below!