Two tone kitchen ideas – how to achieve the colorful kitchen trend we can't get enough of

Give your kitchen more dimension and add a little creative flair with our two tone kitchen ideas

Two-tone kitchen ideas, small kitchen with dark blue base cabinets and yellow walls
(Image credit: Little Greene)

If you're in the market for something a little more creative than an off-the-shelf kitchen then two tone kitchen ideas just might be the way to go. Growing in popularity we are seeing designers using bold accents to create showpiece islands and with most kitchen brands now offering color match services to create bespoke painted kitchen doors in whichever hue you can dream up.

Painted, real wood kitchens are also growing in demand as the trend for natural textures as well as mixing textures and materials, even across door ranges in the kitchen, continues. To give your kitchen more dimension and add a little creative flair be inspired by these kitchen color ideas – because why choose one beautiful hue when you can have two?

Two tone kitchen ideas to get that one trend look

1. Modernise traditional units

Tall kitchen cabinets with white upper cabinets and olive green bases

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

A traditional kitchen idea can be completely transformed with the right colors and if done correctly can be show-stopping in its combination of classic silhouette and contemporary duo-tone. These tall traditional cabinets by Tom Howley look even grander by painting the top units in a crisp white bright and base cabinets in olive green bringing out the detail in the traditional paneling and design.

'Two-toned kitchens have been in popular demand over the past year,' explains Tom Howley, Design Director. 'With darker colors now materializing in kitchen design, using a two-toned palette allows you to add confident shades without overwhelming a space.' 

'You can use bold colors side by side to create a high contrast look or combine calming neutrals with a dark paint color on the kitchen island for depth and sophistication. Remember, when it comes to choosing a palette for your kitchen, it’s essential to choose the right tones to reflect and balance your lifestyle and personality.'

2. Go monochrome in small spaces

An open plan kitchen with white walls and a smart black L shaped kitchen and mid-century dining table

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

Opting for a two tone palette doesn't have to equate to a color bomb of hues – a carefully considered black and white palette can pack a punch and be in keeping with a modern decorating scheme and works well not to overwhelm a small kitchen like this apartment.

'The contrast between our Oyster Catcher painted base cabinets, with Holkham Frost, white units, worktops, and wall tiles, creates a sense of drama in this stunning Edinburgh kitchen,' explains Jayne Everett, Design Director of Naked Kitchens. 'The sharp difference creates a really modern twist in this fabulous high ceiling traditional space. The dark outer cabinets frame the island which again uses the contrasting cabinets wrapped in a crisp white worktop. The white wall cabinets are softened by the use of the white walls and tiles. The whole space is lifted by the use of white walls and upper cabinetry and grounded by the dramatic contrasting dark island and base.'

3. Combine color and texture

A two tone kitchen with raw wooden base cabinets and mint green wall cabinets

(Image credit: Future)

If you like the creativity that a two tone kitchen allows but also want to retain character and texture in your surroundings then combining painted units with raw textures might be the way to go. This generously sized modern Shaker kitchen features mint blue painted upper cabinets with brass details and beautifully crafted lower cabinets in unpainted rustic wood.

Painted, real wood kitchens are growing in demand,' says Sinead Trainor, Kitchen Category Manager at LochAnna Kitchens. 'The trend for natural textures as well as mixing textures and materials, even across door ranges in the kitchen, continues.'

4. Create a tideline around the kitchen

A rustic kitchen with yellow base cabinets and white wall with a strip of yellow

(Image credit: British Standard)

Many kitchen cabinets like those by British Standard are delivered ready-made in an-off white color, ready for installation and painting. The beauty of this is that the cupboards can be painted in any number of colors – offering a simple way to add interest.

'One of our favorite effects is the 'tideline'' says, Adrian Bergman, Design Manager at British Standard by Plain English. 'This involves adding one color at eye level in a continuous line around the room – it is guaranteed to add character to a kitchen, with the welcome reassurance that it does not need to be a permanent design statement. This could be two different colors or the same color in different finishes, eggshell and gloss for example.'

5. Paint cabinets in tonal hues

Modern kitchen cabinets in blush pink and dark purple against a white wall

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

In a small space, you may want to incorporate a kitchen that doesn't necessarily look like a kitchen and blends in with the furniture around it to keep everything streamlined and minimal. This elegantly hued duo tone kitchen looks like storage that could be found in any room, using minimal fronts and painted in blush tones to achieve this chic pared-back look. 

'Depending on the feature of the kitchen like an island or an isolated wall unit, there is usually an area in the kitchen where a color contrast can be useful,' says Allison Lynch a designer at Roundhouse Kitchens. 'Kitchens are also now bigger spaces, often in large light-flooded extensions, with very effective lighting used, so the idea of using color is no longer daunting but can be embraced.'

6. Uplift and energise with bold pairings

Two-tone kitchen ideas, small kitchen with dark blue base cabinets and yellow walls

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Kitchens are a great space to experiment with color and color combinations. You should consider the entire space and the overall atmosphere that you’re trying to create, whether it’s fun and energetic with pops of color, paired back and elegant, or perhaps moody and sophisticated. Take this blue kitchen idea, the blue is a very grounding safe choice, that's always going to work on kitchen cabinetry, but then you add the contrast zing of lemon yellow of on the backsplash and all of sudden the blue feels fresh and new.

'If you want to create an uplifting and energizing atmosphere you can be a little more adventurous and bolder with your color choices,' advises Ruth Mottershead Creative Director of Little Greene. 'Utilising contrasting colors across your walls, upper and lower cabinets, such as a delicate yellow like ‘Sunlight’ paired with a rich, blue ‘Woad’ on lower cabinets.'

7. Enhance historical elements

A country kitchen with dark red plate rack and cabinets with pink kitchen skirt

(Image credit: deVOL)

When it comes to more traditional kitchens, often the go-to colors are more demure, more classic, to suit the shapes and styles of the cabinetry. But we love it when we see that clash of classic kitchen and bold hue, like this stunning deep red deVOL kitchen painted in Refectory Red against a plaster pink wall. 

'A plate rack can really add something special to a kitchen, a traditional and historical piece that is not only beautiful to look at but enormously useful.' explains Helen Parker, Creative Director at deVOL. 'Going bolder in a dark rich hue really makes every design element of the kitchen stand out, nothing just blurs into the walls or goes unnoticed.'

8. Colour block

A modern white kitchen with glossy green color blocked cabinets

(Image credit: Gundry Ducker)

Color blocking can be used as a functional treatment for kitchen cupboards as well as a dramatic design choice. This modern kitchen by Gundry & Ducker Architecture uses Little Green's 'Puck' with a brilliant white wall color, which actually makes that bold zingy green feel far more liveable, it tones it down so it doesn't overwhelm the space.

'We used white and dark green in one of our recent projects,' says Christian Ducker, Director of Gundry & Ducker Architecture. 'As well as being aesthetically bold, the method helps to conceal irregular door openings which were needed to accommodate kitchen storage for various domestic appliances in this kitchen. If you choose to hand-paint your doors like we did, choose a dark color that is forgiving.'

Are two toned kitchens still in style?

Two-tone kitchen ideas are a big design trend and with good reason. Two tone cabinets can create visual interest, make a small kitchen seem more spacious, and elevate an old kitchen on a small budget.

Should upper or lower cabinets be darker?

The rule of thumb is to keep your darker colors down low and brighter colors up top. Dark base cabinets keep the kitchen looking grounded, while light upper cabinetry helps reflect more light into a small space.

Rohini Wahi

Rohini Wahi is Content Editor for Livingetc Online. With a decade-long career in the interiors and design industry working as a journalist for premium lifestyle publications then delving deeper into the business as a trend forecaster, Rohini has amassed a wealth of global design knowledge that informs her work. She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home.