New Home Tips, Trends, and Ideas - Raleigh Custom Home Builders

Kitchen Cabinet Ideas: Dual Finishes and Hardware Combinatio​ns

Posted by Penny Hull on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 @ 14:08 PM

Dual Cabinet Finishes - Mixing Kitchen Cabinet and Hardware Styles

We were recently asked this interior design question, through "Ask Andrea": 

Have you seen having the base cupboards in a dark wood and the top cupboards in a milky white, with different handles? There will be no island in this kitchen and I thought that the lighter on top would give a more open look. What do you think?

And here's what Stanton Homes' on staff interior design expert Andrea has to say:

White Upper Cabinets

Thank you for your interesting question regarding using more than one cabinet finish within the same kitchen and also mixing hardware as well.

I believe this is still currently considered to be a "trendy" look by some but depending on what part of the country you reside in, the look has actually been going on for over a decade already that I have personally seen.

In your case I believe you are correct with your assumption that it will make your kitchen look a little larger and a little more open with the milky-white wall cabinets up top and the dark wood base cabinets below.

Island Dark Base Cabinets

Ironically though, the look of mixing cabinet finishes first became popular as kitchens became larger and so the mixing of finishes in some cases was a way to break up the look of so many cabinets--in essence, to make it seem a little like LESS cabinets!


However, as focus on the kitchen as the heart of the home continues very strongly and with transitional floor plans leaving the kitchen wide open to other common areas of the home, kitchens have also become increasingly more custom and furniture-like in their overall look so that they will enhance other areas of the home such as great rooms and other common areas.


We are entertaining in our kitchens so we are going for less of a straight kitchen look and more of a "wow" factor.

Furthermore, regardless of the size of your kitchen, customized looks such as mixing cabinet finishes are associated with the term "upgrade" so we are seeing this happening all over the country without much hesitation.

Home-owners are having fun with the chance at some creative expression.

All that being said, the one thing I would consider is the fact that once you start customizing your kitchen too much, you are taking the chance, as with anything that is too custom, that there will be some-one somewhere who does not care for your selection.

Custom Kitchen Cabinets

If you are not trying to put your home on the market right away then I wouldn't worry about it. In my own home however, I did mix an antique cherry cabinet with a white shaker cabinet--so I not only had different finishes but also different styles.

The cherry cabinet was a tall cabinet in the center of a wall of white cabinets. The cabinet was made to look as if it was a salvaged antique that we wanted to use in the middle of the long wall of cabinets to break up the white. It also had different hardware--antique silver.

As luck would have it, I ended up having to move shortly after the home was completed. It was an un-anticipated move. The house ended up selling very quickly and the new home-owners loved the kitchen! I was glad I had taken the chance with some customizing.

Glass Cabinet Hardware


Recently Stanton Homes completed a home with dark walnut shaker cabinets on the perimeter and a charcoal-glazed white island.

The island has vintage-styled lilac glass hardware and the perimeter has modern brushed nickel handles--it looks fabulous!

I would say go ahead with your plan to mix cabinet finishes and hardware



Dual Cabinet Finishes

I think the white for the upper cabinets would work to make your space feel more open while having the dark color below will naturally recede from the eye and again should make the space seem larger.

You could also leave one upper cabinet with no door on it at all and paint the inside of that cabinet with an accent color. Fill the cabinet with stacks of white dishes--that is a great look and opens up to the eye even more.

Stacks of white dishes you can purchase quite inexpensively at World Market or TJ Maxx will pop next to your accent color--they also always seem to add a touch of "gourmet" to the look of a kitchen---think "room service" at a fancy hotel and what color are the dishes most often? White.

Have fun with your project and send us a photo when you are done--in the meantime we will post a couple of our kitchens with two cabinet finishes.


*Images courtesy of Andrea Enns, Design Coordinator, Stanton Homes or

Tags: Kitchen Islands, kitchen design trends, kitchen trends, Custom Home Builders Raleigh