This design feature means you can incorporate a splash of bold color with a calmer one, as well as making it easier for you to choose between your favorite colors – simply include more than one on your kitchen ideas moodboard. ‘By using two shades, not only does it allow the opportunity to pose two colors from your preferred palette, but it also lets you change the pace of your scheme. By incorporating a more familiar, unexpected shade like white, you can be more adventurous with your cabinet accent color.’

Two-tone kitchens – ideas, tips and design advice

If you are torn between two kitchen color ideas or looking to have a kitchen design with more depth and interest, a two-tone kitchen may be for you.  You can try a second color on a focal point like the island cabinetry, bring in complementary tones from a similar palette or use contrasting colors for dramatic impact. There are more two-tone kitchen ideas here to inspire your design. Here, our experts give their insight on how to make a two-tone kitchen work best in your kitchen.

1. Balance bright colors for an uplifting effect

Why choose between green kitchen ideas and wood kitchen cabinet ideas when you can have both? Jess Piddock, founder of King Celia Studio (opens in new tab), hand-made the tiles, and has since developed the brush mark pattern, called Pool Party, for textiles and prints. ‘The rich green is a semi-transparent film that enables the grain of the plywood to shine through while providing a protective coating that’s easy to clean,’ she adds. ‘Bold tome tones benefit from a grounding shade. In this case, a warm terracotta adds depth and dimension to this otherwise small kitchen.’

2. Combine color with timber to create warmth

Use timber for one of your tones and enjoy a two-tone kitchen with natural beauty.  ‘In this London kitchen we loved the warmth of the pink kitchen cabinets against the interesting terrazzo floor but wanted to add an element of muted masculinity and impact with wood wall cabinets,’ explains Tiffany Duggan, founder and director of Studio Duggan (opens in new tab) and Trove (opens in new tab).  Tactile cement countertops and backsplashes bridge the top and base units, uniting the two shades with quiet style. 

3.  Choose a hand-painted design to future-proof your kitchen

Painted kitchen ideas are your future. ‘The beauty of a hand-painted kitchen is that in time, should tastes change, it’s simple to create a new look with painted kitchen ideas, especially if you restrict your bold choice to one unit, like an island or dresser,’ says Jasper Middleton, design director, Middleton Bespoke (opens in new tab). 

4. Use color-blocking for a more modern spin

The two most popular ways to divide colors in two-tone kitchens is either a horizontal split – wall units versus base units – or a focal point split where just the island unit or dresser is a different shade.  But there is a third way. Color blocking, as seen here, corrals contrasting colors into distinct areas for a modular, almost freestanding look. ‘Color blocking can make a simple two-tone kitchen feel much more dynamic. A high-contrast split will make the strongest impact. Tie the colors together using small details like cabinet handles and taps,’ says Ashleigh Hanwell, senior designer, Second Nature Kitchens. It can also help darker rooms successfully embrace deeper shades – so blue kitchen ideas can combine with white kitchen ideas to create a room that’s dramatic but still bright and airy. 

5. Choose a tide-line effect to add character

The use of two colors doesn’t need to be limited to cabinetry – it can apply to walls also. Over at British Standard by Plain English, (opens in new tab) Adrian Bergman, Senior Designer, says the ’tide-line’ effect is chic, easy and increasingly popular.  He explains: ‘One of our favorite effects is the ‘tideline’ – 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 differing colors or the same color in different finishes, eggshell and gloss for example.’

6. Go for a muted two-tone kitchen in a smaller space

If you are looking for small kitchen ideas, it is better to opt for a lighter shade instead of dark hues due to the minimal expanse of space.  Graeme Smith, Head of Retail & Commercial Design at Life Kitchens (opens in new tab), explains: ‘Lighter colors will draw in natural light, illuminating dark corners and in turn make the space seem quite larger than it might be. Go for warm earthy tones or pastels if you still want to incorporate color into a small kitchen. Taking a more subtle approach to color will bring interest into the space without making the kitchen feel enclosed.’

7. Choose contrasting colors for drama

If you’re feeling bold, you can unleash your creative flair and opt for statement contrasting yet complementary colors for a joyful, engaging and maximalist look.  In this kitchen by deVOL (opens in new tab), decorating with green and pink – two shades from opposite sides of the color wheel – were chosen for dramatic effect, proving that design fortune really does favour the brave. 

8. Look out for natural materials

‘When thinking of going for a two-tone kitchen, look at using more natural materials for the floor like timber – the visual and textural appeal here can help draw attention away from the combined color and add some balance to the overall design,’ suggests Graeme. 

What is a two-tone kitchen? 

Graeme Smith, Head of Retail & Commercial Design at Life Kitchens, explains: ‘A two-tone kitchen is when a design incorporates two shades. This “dual color” approach is a popular and great way to enliven a space and add visual interest without being too overpowering – as well as allowing you to highlight specific areas of interest or difference.’

How do you do a two-tone kitchen?

You can create two-tone kitchens in various ways. The most obvious way is having two different colors of the base and upper cabinets. These two colors can be complementary or contrasting depending on the effect you are after.  But the two-tone effect can be achieved in other ways too. You can use a neutral color for your cabinetry and use a bold, vibrant shade on your island, making it a focal point.  You can also use different shades of the same color for visual interest. You can also use blocks of color to create a freestanding effect which is a very on-trend take on two-tone kitchens.  The two-tone look is not limited to paint but also materials and finishes. Whatever you choose, it will bring a dynamism into your kitchen design.