Gray cabinets for kitchen spaces are very popular, largely due to their versatility and that face that different shades of gray can evoke very different feelings. Depending on how you use it in your space, gray kitchen cabinets could be neutral and subtle, or bold and attention-grabbing.
There’s a surprising amount of stuff you can do with grey!
Gray kitchen cabinets are found in all different styles, from farmhouse kitchens to modern kitchens, but they’re definitely most common in transitional kitchen designs – kitchens that take elements of both classic and modern kitchens to “meet in the middle” with a unique old-yet-new aesthetic.
Here we look at gray cabinets in kitchen spaces, telling you everything you need to know about gray cabinetry.
Are gray kitchen cabinets a good idea?
When it comes to kitchen cabinets, gray kitchen cabinets are often a good idea, especially if you’re working with an interior designer who knows how to pair your gray cabinets with other colors and elements in the space to really maximize the potential and aesthetic.
Gray is a brilliant neutral color that helps to bring out other colors and elements in the space, so you’ll often see light gray cabinets in kitchen spaces where the designer wants to emphasize other prominent features such as the subway tile, farmhouse sink, or marble white countertops.
Gray cabinets are often used to bright attention to other features, but that’s not always the case.
For example, certain shades of dark gray cabinets will be used as features in their own right. This is especially true in heavily white kitchen spaces that feature a lot of whites, off-whites, beiges, greiges, or wooden tones. A striking dark charcoal gray kitchen cabinets can actually be a really dazzling focal point in your home.
Big Kitchens vs Small Kitchens
If you’re looking to paint your kitchen cabinets gray, that’s brilliant to hear. However, you need to take the size of your space into account before deciding on a shade of gray for the room.
Depending on the size of the room you have available to you, the relationship to gray could become very different.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large kitchen space, then you probably want to go for dark gray cabinets paired with pops of color on the kitchen island, countertops, subway tile, or elsewhere.
This is because too much light gray in a large kitchen can start to look a little wishy-washy and the space can feel very bland and one-dimensional.
If you’re using dark gray cabinets in a larger kitchen, I would consider painting them with white countertops, white subway tile, and dark wooden floors and furniture elsewhere in the room. This gives a great amount of contrast and helps the space to feel modern and chic yet warm and inviting.
If you’re working with a smaller kitchen space, light gray cabinets might just be your best friend. This is because smaller spaces can start to feel claustrophobic if you use too many dark colors, so it’s a good idea to brighten up the space as much as possible.
Small kitchens are best served by light grey cabinets, white countertops, and other light or white kitchen elements (with pops of contrast) that help to keep the space feeling as large, light, and airy as possible.
You’ve got to trick the eye!
If you’re looking to make the space look larger, also try to maximize your window size, natural light, and consider putting up a couple of mirrors in appropriate places. Glass-fronted cabinets can also help with this problem too.
Are Gray Cabinets Going Out Of Style?
This is a hard question to answer, because “style” is always changing. If you’re looking to stay up to date with the latest trends, then be careful with how much gray you use in your kitchen.
A few years ago, it was popular to have your kitchen space adorned with several different shades of gray, whether it was gray cabinetry, stainless steel elements, a gray farmhouse sink… whatever. Gray on gray was very popular due to its uniqueness and the way it can elevate a smaller space.
Now, it’s not so popular.
For 2020 and 2021, I would suggest pairing gray kitchen cabinets with white countertops (or light marble countertops) and bold colors elsewhere in the space.
Stylish modern kitchens are not afraid to use bold reds, blues, and other colors in their kitchen. You might find vibrantly colored food appliances, stoves, fridges, backsplashes, kitchen island tops – there are so many home elements where you can really add that strong color.
This is good news for gray kitchen cabinets, as they’re perfectly designed to make bold colors pop while blending into the home seamlessly. If you’re going for the “pops of bold color” trend in 2020, look into different shades of light gray kitchen cabinets for sure.
Speaking of gray, unique features like steel tiled backsplashes are also having a moment lately, so be sure to keep your options open!
What is the Best Gray For Kitchen Cabinets?
Obviously, the best gray for your kitchen cabinets depends largely on the design on your home, the style of kitchen you’re going for, and the style of kitchen cabinet that you choose.
However, whether it’s light gray or dark gray, there are some telltale shades of gray that come up over and over again for the island and wall cabinetry.
Here are the most popular shades of gray for kitchen cabinets in the US:
- Stormy Sky 1616 (Benjamin Moore) – this medium-dark gray shade is widely used in transitional style kitchens, especially on Shaker cabinets that are paired with wooden floors and white counters. The fairly dark shade needs to be paired with contrasting colors, but it’s a brilliant striking hue in its own right.
- Gray Owl 2137 (Benjamin Moore) – this very soft, pale light gray is perfect for pairing with strong, bold colors in your kitchen that might look too overbearing with dark grays. A fairly neutral shade, Gray Owl is perfect for making small kitchens feel larger or for helping your kitchen cabinets to blend seamlessly into the background while the focal points in your space really shine.
- Amherst Gray HC-167 (Benjamin Moore) – this rich medium-dark gray is known for its undertones of green, which helps to add a unique element to the color scheme of your kitchen. Often paired with woods and marble counters to dazzling effect, this green-tinged gray is perfect for giving your gray kitchen cabinets that little bit of something extra.
- Metropolis CC-546 (Benjamin Moore) – yet another entry on this list from Benjamin Moore, Metropolis is a warm taupe-esque gray that’s very commonly used for both kitchen and bathroom cabinets. In fact, you’ll most commonly see this shade on bathroom cabinets and kitchen island cabinets. It’s perfect for pairing with whites, off-whites, and greiges – a color that’s halfway between gray and beige.
- Gauntlet Gray SW 7019 (Sherwin Williams) – the only entry on this list not made by Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams’ Gauntlet Grey is a stunning neutral gray that’s very commonly found in modern transitional style kitchens. It’s very often used for kitchen island cabinets in gray, as well as shaker cabinets and traditional cabinets paired with high-contrast fittings and handles.
As you can see, Benjamin Moore really is the leader when it comes to gray kitchen cabinets. Whether you’re looking for gray wall cabinets or grey kitchen cabinets for your island, there’s a lot of versatility in these shades and Benjamin Moore are just really on their game with the grays!
However, don’t disregard other paint brands too.
Depending on the aesthetic you’re going for, gray may be a dominant or neutral part of your design. If you’re not an experienced designer, I’d speak to a professional interior designer who knows best how to incorporate grays into your space, whatever paint shade you land upon.
What Color Walls Go With Grey Kitchen Cabinets?
Obviously, the color walls you put with your gray cabinets will depend on the type of kitchen style you’re going for. More traditional and farmhouse kitchen styles will usually pair grays with pale wooden tones, but it’s fairly rare to see gray kitchen cabinets in the rustic farmhouse aesthetic. It will normally be wooden or white cabinets instead.
You’ll most commonly find gray kitchen cabinets in modern and transitional styles, so the wall color here is more predictable. Generally speaking, you’ll want to pair gray kitchen cabinets with:
Pairing gray cabinets with brightly colored kitchen walls will almost always clash, so it’s best to stick with lighter whites and beiges that help to keep the space feeling light and airy. This is especially true with darker gray cabinets that will have a more striking effect on the room.
If you’re making the cabinets a focal point, be careful to choose colors that complement them.
While there are no strict rules in kitchen design, gray kitchen cabinets usually exist as part of a color story involving gray, white, and beige. The beige may be found in wooden flooring or countertops, while the white will usually be found on the walls to help brighten up the space and make it feel larger.
Just beware that if you’re using light gray cabinets with white walls, the kitchen could start to look a little bland. However, these light colors are a good way to make a smaller kitchen space feel much bigger than it is.
Gray Cabinets in Different Kitchen Styles
There are 3 main overarching kitchen styles – traditional, modern, and transitional.
Traditional kitchens are the “rustic” classic wooden kitchens with a farmhouse sink and lots of wooden tones. Modern kitchens are very glossy, minimalist, and sleek, whereas transitional kitchens take elements of both styles to make spaces that feel homely and inviting, yet stylish.
Transitional kitchens are probably the most common design you’ll see, as they take the “best of both worlds”, so to speak.
But how do grey kitchen cabinets fit into each style?
Gray cabinets are actually pretty rare in classic-style kitchens, so it’s not the best color to choose if this classic style is what you desire.
Nonetheless, there are designs where light pale gray has been used to great effect on rustic-looking wooden cabinets. If you can sand down the cabinets after painting to give them that aged, distressed look, then the light grey looks even better in the space.
Paired with granite counters and pale wooden tones in the rest of the room, then gray cabinets can work in this kitchen design. However, you need to be careful that the kitchen doesn’t start to feel too much like a pastel beach house.
Modern kitchens tend to focus on white cabinets and white kitchen elements paired with high-contrast black or strong vibrant blues and reds. As such, white cabinets are much more common than gray in this aesthetic.
Nonetheless, many modern kitchen designs will use gray for their island, helping the island to blend into the rest of the high-contrast design without being too overpowering and drawing attention away from the main focal points of the kitchen space.
Stainless steel is fairly common in modern kitchens, so you can sometimes find exceptions where homeowners have picked gray glossy kitchen cabinets to match all the metal tones in the kitchen.
It’s very common to find gray kitchen cabinets in a transitional kitchen. People often paint shaker cabinets and farmhouse-style cabinets in various shades of light and dark gray to complement other elements of the kitchen such as the island and the countertops.
Gray cabinets often adorn white walls or white tile backsplash designs complete with marble countertops, a kitchen island, and matte black fittings and handles to help break up the color story.
If you’re into the idea of gray cabinets in your kitchen, then a transitional design gives you the most freedom to work with different shades and colors, whether they’re for your wall cabinets, base cabinets, island cabinetry… whatever.
Should I Get Gray Kitchen Cabinets?
You should definitely consider getting gray cabinets for your kitchen!
Different shades of gray add contrast and dimension into the space and feel a lot more unique than the “white on white” or “wood on wood” associated with some kitchen styles.
Whether it’s for your island or your wall cabinets, gray has multiple shades that can make your cabinets a focal point or play them down and help them to highlight other elements of the kitchen. If you’re into gray cabinets you might also be into Modern cabinets and French Country cabinets.