It’s easy to play with the styling of your interior and stay aligned with the latest design trends. Add new accessories, swap out soft furnishings, bring in a new piece of furniture, or repaint some walls. But there are some areas of your home which once designed will prove trickier to change. Your kitchen, for instance, is a big investment, and once in place, most of us would rather it stayed put for a good while.
If you want your kitchen to look as good in a few years’ time as it does now, you’ll need to steer clear of passing trends, and opt for timeless combinations that you won’t get bored of because they’ll always look good. With a myriad of cabinet colors and countertop materials to choose from, it can all get confusing and overwhelming, so I spoke to interior designers who create beautiful, timeless kitchens, and asked them to share their go-to combinations that you’ll be sure to love now, and for a very long time to come.
When looking to create a timeless aesthetic, neutral colors and natural wood will always be relied on. They’re easy on the eye and prove a solid base to hold layering trends around. But all those color lovers out there needn’t worry. The experts shared that bold and colorful can have a timeless appeal too. The secret is in choosing the correct combinations and tones. So here are the 5 modern kitchen ideas for cabinet and countertop pairings designers swear by, to help you create a space you'll always love.
1. Light cabinets and dark countertops
One of the most classic kitchen color combinations of all time, a light cabinet paired with a dark countertop will always look elevated. The secret is in the balance. Keep the dark as an accent on your countertops and paint the cabinets light. Like any true classic, this look stays relevant, and designers keep coming back to it time and time again. ‘Dark worktops are a rising trend in kitchen design,’ Caesarstone’s Head of Design, Mor Krisher, tells me.
‘I’m a big fan of dark countertops paired with pale cabinetry and metallic accents like brass, copper or steel taps and handles,’ adds the expert. If in doubt on which dark and which light colors to pick, stick to black for your countertops and an off-white for your cabinets. The classic combination is a staple of elegance in design and a safe bet for a luxurious look as long as you make sure the materials you use are of good quality (both black and white show off any scratches or marks easily, so think durability).
‘Pairing a dark surface with light cabinetry and flooring will help to keep the space feeling open and neutral,’ says Mor. ‘This is especially beneficial if you want to create a cozy atmosphere, but your kitchen isn’t vast in size,’ he adds. If your kitchen is on the smaller side, using a light color is a great way to create the illusion of space, while the darker accent will give a grounding feel and add interest too. Keep the combination modern and stick to off-whites for your cabinets as opposed to brilliant whites. These will look softer next to your dark countertops.
2. Natural oak cabinets and stone countertops
Oak is one of the most popular materials for a kitchen due to its durability, natural look, and affordability compared to other types of wood. With the right maintenance it will last for years, making it a great investment, while the natural look has a relaxed, timeless appeal.
‘Natural oak cabinets with light stone countertops are a classic that will never go out of style,’ Nicole Levin of Barnes Vanze Architects tells me. When choosing your countertops, think natural tones that won’t clash with your cabinets, like beige, brown, sand or stone grey. Granite or quartz are great countertop material choices that look modern now and will stay relevant in time too, while a marble surface with veining in warm tones will always look impressive and elevate the look of any kitchen.
3. Green cabinets and light countertops
Our love for green isn’t going anywhere. Derived from nature, it’s easy to live with, and easy to pair with other colors too. It’s no wonder green kitchens are having a moment. And of all the greens that have come and gone with the passing of trends, sage is a shade so easy on the eye and natural, it feels like a breath of fresh air in a home.
A green kitchen is a bold choice, but it can have undeniable appeal especially when combined with burnished brass hardware and sleek white worktops. For the look to stay timeless, make sure the green you pick is as nature inspired as possible, steering clear from anything too artificial. Interior designer Ami McKay agrees and thinks that 'earthy green painted cabinets look great when paired with light quartz countertops'.
4. Dark blue cabinets and light countertops
Right up there with green on our list of favourite timeless kitchen cabinet colors is dark blue, or navy. ‘Contrary to what people often think, dark kitchens aren’t always sombre or austere,’ says Caesarstone’s expert, Mor.
While greens look fresh and natural, a dark blue is still a bold choice, but with a more classic presence, creating an expensive, more imposing look. ‘If you love bold colours, your kitchen could be the perfect place to employ a dramatic navy tone,’ says Tom. Think dark and dramatic tones of blue for your cabinets. The point of this color is to create a strong look, so stay away from pastel shades that aren’t as visually striking.
Add an element of contrast to your dark kitchen with light countertops. White and cream accents, such as a sleek white marble-look worktop, can help to create a modern and fresh look and a deep blue kitchen is a great way to uplift more rustic elements in the room, such as a brick feature wall, adding to a striking design effect.
5. White flat sawn oak cabinets and black countertops
White oak has become very popular with the rise of Scandi inspired aesthetic, and it’s no surprise. It's a shortcut to a minimalist kitchen while keeping its warmth, and its neutral character makes it very easy to live with. Perfect for creating kitchen design schemes that feel relaxing and welcoming, a white oak material for your cupboards looks even better when flat sawn, a cutting technique which keeps the wood’s unique arch shaped grain.
Interior designer Ami thinks natural white oak flat sawn cabinets and black soapstone countertops make a beautifully timeless pairing while keeping that contemporary edge. Take the black throughout your kitchen as an accent, and add black light fittings, or hardware, for a cohesive scheme.
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Green kitchens look fresh and inviting, just make sure you pick a very natural tone.
A black faucet will make light oak cabinets and dark countertops look modern.
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Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.
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