Kitchen Cabinet Colors: The Tuxedo Look is Unsuitable

Designing a kitchen involves countless decisions, including choosing the best colors for the cabinetry.  Recently, the so-called “tuxedo look,” in which the upper cabinets are a different color than the finish used on the lower cabinets, has gained popularity.

An example of a white and black combo is shown below. But the tuxedo label applies to kitchens with other two-color combinations,  such as white and gray or white and blue.TuxKit1

The decision to mingle cabinetry colors raises other considerations, particularly if the kitchen includes a self-standing island.  If you decide you like the two-color tuxedo look, here are my guidelines:

  • Keep the lighter color on the upper cabinets.
  • Do not mix painted finishes with wood stain finishes.
  • Consider installing only pulls on both the drawer and cabinet fronts, rather than mixing knobs and pulls.
  • If you have one or more solid cabinets extending from floor to ceiling, avoid the tuxedo look. Tall cabinetry, without a counter in between, will negate the look.
  • Use the same countertop material throughout the kitchen, including on the kitchen island.

If you choose a single color for all of the cabinets (both upper and lower) along the kitchen’s perimeter, then it’s fine to pick a different cabinet color for the kitchen island.   You can also use a different countertop material for the island than what’s used on the main kitchen countertops.  Just make certain that the two different countertops coordinate color- and pattern-wise.

Popular cabinetry colors in my region currently are whites, greys (including both painted and wood stain finishes) and different hues of blue.  Color preferences can differ across geographic areas.  A new neutral gaining favor is greige – a combo of grey and beige.

One other kitchen design tip:

If you’re installing a countertop with a great deal of movement in its pattern,  keep the backsplash simple.  Pick a solid color tile, or use the same countertop material on a 4-inch high backsplash and then paint the wall above.

Remember: Once installed, kitchen countertops attract clutter, including toasters, coffee makers, utensil jars, can openers and other food prep items.  Minimizing the number of different colors and patterns in that all-important room will help prevent visual overload.

Kitchens today are the new family room where everybody gathers.  Don’t overcrowd the space.