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How to Match Your Countertops With Your Kitchen Cabinets

by Jeffrey Bradley

Posted on May 30, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Whether you’re renovating your entire kitchen or just upgrading the countertops, all the components of flooring, backsplashes, mosaics, and accents will come into play.

Tip: Kitchen designers start with the cabinets and work from there.

Your kitchen’s motif may change over time, but your cabinetry is often a permanent and expensive investment. The decision to go with light or dark colors on with your cabinets impacts the direction the rest of your kitchen takes, but you can always paint or re-stain them any color you want if you change your mind. Vibrant or nontraditional cabinets like stainless steel can easily overwhelm a kitchen, so they work best with more neutrally-colored materials.

You can make a personal statement in your kitchen, but try to strive for harmony. Clean horizontal lines against a rising vertical expanse of cabinetry can provide a kitchen with plenty of contrast and interest. Avoid matching countertops, cabinets, and flooring of the same materials and color, or you’ll risk your kitchen appearing too busy, top-heavy, or bland. Even stark contrasts, blended creatively, can bring a touch of inspired personality to an otherwise hardworking kitchen.

Tip: Adding dimension to your color palette helps balance the natural light and brings out the details.

The versatility of natural stone makes it a popular countertop material. Homeowners appreciate the colorful array of themes and contrasts found in the patterns of granite, while others opt for the veining and elegance of classic marble (which is most commonly available in black or white).

After establishing a countertop that works with your cabinets, determine how this combination will look in relation to your flooring.

  • To add a focal point or make a statement, go bold! Arresting colors and patterns with panache bring movement to your countertop that offsets cabinetry and can add bright pops to a kitchen.

  • For harmony and balance, a clean-lined consistent countertop in subtle mixes of hues and patterns ties your elements together and leaves the attitude for the accents.

Considering the Combinations

Contrasting themes may be a matter of personal taste, but current trends favor dark cabinets paired with lighter contrasting countertops, creating a combination that has a practical side. Dark cabinets hide spills and splashes better between cleanings, and lighter countertops highlight the messes for a faster sanitary cleaning. They also show off colorful foods to your advantage.

Still, you can hardly go wrong in choosing the timeless look of light cabinetry against darker countertops either!

Light on Dark

Natural stone in mixes of whites, creams, and ivories with subtle gray veining and metallic hints complement just about everything from stainless steel to the darkest of cabinets. If your kitchen already has lots of natural light, this is a combo that can really shine!

Dark on Light

Too much white can make a kitchen feel like hospital. A darker countertop with patterns of texture adds depth and movement to space while highlighting the accents. A honed white marble countertop and slab backsplash under a centered tile mosaic will create a dramatic focal point to contrast your dark-stained cabinetry. Adding a contemporary cut or beveled edge to the countertop transforms nearly any kitchen into a modern high-end space. Marble with dark veining will blend all aspects of the black and white materials found throughout your kitchen in a classic style.

Tip: Keeping your countertop and cabinet choices simple allows you to change the theme more frequently by tweaking the accent color.

Accents come in two basic options: a slab backsplash that artfully highlights the subtle color variations in your countertop, or a tile mosaic that depicts a theme. (A third way dispenses with tiles or backsplashes altogether and considers the countertop the accent between cabinets and flooring.) If your budget has room to splurge, here is where you should do it. Consider this: Whenever you’re in the kitchen, the backsplash area will be staring you in the face. Why not make it into something special?

Mosaics have been used in home décor for centuries. Wall tile friezes famously adorned the walls of Roman villas with scenes from everyday life. Today, an alluring geometric design or riveting pattern will more likely appeal to the modern taste. Done in funky offbeat colors or soothing earth tones — not too neutral or everything will simply blend in — mosaics can reflect your personality, so don’t be afraid of making a statement. The practical benefits of natural stonework particularly well in these high-moisture areas.

It’s an Adventure

Matching isn’t all about coordination and contrast — especially in the kitchen. Creating a stylish kitchen means matching materials to your lifestyle and to the overall theme of your home. By using visualization techniques and understanding the materials involved, you'll lessen the time spent in considering your design and can get to the really fun part: creating a beautiful new kitchen!