Designers Share Their Favorite Looks for Kitchen Cabinets

By Bryan Anthony

Among the many decisions made when remodeling a kitchen, the selection of cabinet style, color and hardware can be the most challenging. The options for kitchen cabinets are wide-ranging, so we asked our panel of designers and architects to share the cabinet looks they’ve been adding to their recent projects and how long they expect these looks to last.

Photo Credit Sabrina Alfin Interiors

1. Two-Tone Color Schemes

When it comes to choosing a color for your kitchen cabinets, our design panel seems to be asking, “Why choose just one?” Two-tone color schemes, with lower cabinets painted in one color and upper cabinets in another, is a hot trend that doesn’t seem to be cooling off any time soon.

Designer Sabrina Alfin has implemented two-tone color schemes in many of her recent kitchen projects. “I think people are tired of all-white kitchens and want to bring in both warmth and color,” the San Francisco designer says. Alfin recommends using blues and greens for lower cabinets and white for upper cabinets, like she did for this San Francisco kitchen that features lower cabinets in a teal color called Refuge from Sherwin-Williams.

Photo Credit Leslie Goodwin Photography

Designer Barbara Milner of South Hill Interiors in Toronto is also a fan of two-tone color schemes that feature blue and green lower cabinets, especially those covered in navy. “Put navy in any kitchen and it will work,” Milner says. “From nautical to farmhouse to modern, navy cabinets will introduce a layer of depth and richness to the design scheme.”

Milner recently went with Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy for the lower cabinets in this remodeled kitchen in Toronto. “Finding the right navy for your space is critical,” Milner says. “Don’t be fooled by a paint color’s name. Always test the color in your space with a large paint sample.”

Photo Credit Delphinium Design

2. Shaker Style

“The more things change, the more things stay the same,” seems to be what our design panel is telling us about the staying power of Shaker-style cabinets. “The most popular kitchen cabinet style that I see and have been using in my kitchen remodels are Shaker-style cabinets,” says designer Jena Bula of Delphinium Design in North Carolina.

Bula added Shaker-style cabinets to this farmhouse kitchen in New York. “Shaker-style cabinets have been around forever, and due to their timeless nature, I believe they will be popular for a long time to come.”

Photo Credit KitchenVisions

Designer Jodi Swartz of KitchenVisions agrees that Shaker-style cabinets are likely here to stay. “Shaker isn’t going anywhere. It’s been the trend in New England for at least the last 15 years,” she says.

Swartz recently added Shaker-style cabinets to this remodeled Boston kitchen, which also features dark-stained wood ceiling molding and bright red appliances. “Very little goes out of style if a kitchen is thoughtfully designed and sympathetic to the home’s aesthetic,” she says.

Photo Credit Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath

3. Low-Profile Hardware

When it comes to cabinet hardware, many in our design panel believe that less is more, preferring thin, low-profile handles and pulls. “We specify very few knobs these days,” says Maryland designer Jennifer Gilmer. “Thin handles and pulls are the most popular right now, especially ones that are routed into the door or drawer.”

For this recently remodeled kitchen in Washington, D.C., Gilmer added edge pulls that are routed into the tops of the cabinets. “It’s a clean look that works well with contemporary or midcentury styles,” she says. “It also keeps the look of a kitchen simple and uncomplicated.”

Photo Credit Karen Smuland Architect, LLC

Oregon architect Karen Smuland is also using low-profile hardware in her recent kitchen remodels. “With the influences of midcentury modern style being very popular now, many of my clients are looking for cleaner lines,” she says.

Smuland added stainless steel edge pulls to the stained wood cabinets in this recently remodeled kitchen in Bend, Oregon. “Edge pulls are pretty popular now because they are minimal with clean lines,” she says.


Photo Credit Kate Roos Design LLC

4. Open-Shelf Solutions

If you’re having trouble selecting the style, color and hardware for your upper cabinets or just want a less-crowded look, open shelves might be the way to go. Minneapolis designer Kate Roos says, “I have had a lot of requests for open shelves and the elimination of upper cabinetry.”

Roos added stained wood floating shelves with recessed lighting on the bottom to this stylish Minneapolis kitchen. “I believe that many clients are looking for less-complicated and less fussy-design,” she says.

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