Modern Design Blog

Kitchen with light cabinetry

Light Vs Dark Kitchen Cabinets: What To Choose?

Trends come and go in modern kitchen design, so regardless of what’s hot right now, the choice between light and dark kitchen cabinets really comes down to personal preferences. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing the color palette for your cabinetry. After all, that’s the one element that will really define the feel of the space and one you will have to be happy with for a long time.

Here are the things to keep in mind when it comes to the light vs. dark kitchen cabinets debate.

1) Light cabinets tend to give the space an airy, clean feel while dark tones can give the kitchen an edgier and more dramatic look.

2) Light cabinets work much better than darker ones in smaller environments and/or kitchens with no access to natural light because they help make the space feel bigger.

3) Conversely, a large space bathed in sunlight can truly make dark kitchen cabinetry shine in all its glory.

4) If your kitchen features one or more walls of exposed bricks, lighter cabinets will create a much better contrast.

Light kitchen cabinetry against brick wall


5) Lighter kitchens tend to be perceived as more timeless. However, both extremes (like an all-white or an all-black or gray) can grow tiresome after a few years. So, even if you want a predominantly light or dark palette and like the look of lacquer, it is best to mix those tones with some wood cabinetry – because wood adds warmth to the space, its texture introduces visual variety and it is a choice that never really goes out of style. For example, you can combine white with Cinnamon Walnut or light Oak or Elm wood and gray cabinets with Smoked or Coal Oak or Coffee Elm.

Kitchen with dark gray and dark Smoked Oak wood cabinets

White kitchen cabinets paired with light Elm wood


6) Lighter cabinets will show stains and wear and tear more easily (especially white cabinetry), so be sure you are ready to deal with that.

7) Nowadays, dark kitchens are often associated with more formal, luxurious homes.

Dark kitchen cabinets, all gray


8) Lighter cabinetry lets you add other colors as accents without creating a visually overwhelming look.

Light kitchen cabinetry complemented by pops of color


When you have dark cabinets, other colors used as accents will pop a lot more and might create visual overload. However, some touches of one or two brighter colors can complete the space and give the kitchen a very unique personality.

Modern kitchen with black lacquer cabinets and red wall


Whatever you do, try to find a way to create at least a bit of dark/light contrast with your choice of colors and finishes. It will make your kitchen design more interesting and more timeless.