If you've got a kitchen with dark cabinetry, you need to proceed with caution when choosing your countertops. Your kitchen cabinets take up 75% of the visual space in a kitchen, so they will be the dominant color most of the time. You must therefore choose your countertop color very carefully.
Do you want to make a statement or keep the space warm and inviting?
In general, you want your countertops to either complement or contrast with your dark kitchen cabinets, helping to support the overall feel of the interior kitchen design at large. Depending on your kitchen design, you might pair your dark cabinets with light, neutral, or dark countertops. There are no rules!
So, what countertop color should you pair with those dark kitchen cabinets? Here we explore different styles and color schemes to try!
What color goes best with dark cabinets?
If you've got dark wood cabinets in your kitchen, you usually want to find countertop colors that either complement or contrast your cabinets.
For example, dark cabinetry with a white quartz countertop can feel very modern and high-contrast, while dark cabinetry with a darker granite countertop can feel traditional and maybe even gothic depending on the color scheme and kitchen design.
Here are some of the various ways that you can pair countertop colors with dark cabinets:
Light countertop colors
When a kitchen space has dark cabinetry, you'll usually see that it's paired with white, cream, or light gray countertops for a modern or transitional kitchen aesthetic. In most cases, lighter colors are the perfect countertop for dark cabinetry.
But there are no rules to a kitchen remodel!
For example, light counters such as Classic White Quartzite look very striking when paired with dark colored cabinetry, with the dark and light dimensions of the black and white elements really giving you that modern kitchen look.
If you want to tie the cabinets in to the counters, look for light countertops that have details (veins, flecks, patterns) that match the dark cabinets. For example, dark cherry cabinets paired with a white countertop that features cherry-colored brown veining.
Neutral countertop colors
If the kitchen space is more traditional or is going for that cozy, homely feeling, then you might see dark cabinetry paired with a neutral kitchen countertop style. These neutral and mid-range countertop colors come in various shades, including:
- Tan brown granite
- Medium gray
- Giallo ornamental granite
- Beige natural stone
- Neutral-based gold counters
- Various color fleck patterns
One of the most unique ways to pair dark cabinetry with neutral counters is to pair dark espresso-colored cabinetry with gold countertops that have a neutral-toned base shade. Complete this look with black and gold accent colors in the space for a dream kitchen that will look like it's straight out a Versace catalogue.
If you want something a little more subdued, the medium browns and grays of natural stone like granite or marble tend to look good, as well as quartz countertops engineered with flecks of various different neutral earthy colors. It's pretty easy to get counters in these medium shades, so feel free to explore!
Dark countertop colors
When you've already got dark cabinets, dark countertops may not seem like the obvious color choice. However, dark wood with dark granite countertops can look very opulent and expensive, for example, so don't rule it out.
Darker colors to consider here include:
- Dark natural stone
- Versatile cool gray shades
- Black quartz with white flecks
- Black marble with light veining
Dark cabinets and dark countertops can start to look gothic, which might be the vibe you're going for, but for most people this isn't the case. To counteract this, try to utilize lighter elements in other parts of the kitchen space, such as white walls, a light backsplash, light ceiling or wooden flooring.
If you can combine this all-dark scheme with the right pops of color and lighter colored flooring or wall elements, you can end up with a very unique contemporary kitchen. White cabinets are so old news!
What countertops go best with dark cabinets?
Okay so we've talked about the color palette, but which countertop style/material goes best with dark kitchen cabinetry?
Granite countertops look great with many different shades of dark wooden cabinetry, lending themself well to medium and dark woods such as cherry and maple cabinets.
Shades of granite commonly use in a dark cabinet kitchen design include:
- Oscuro Mist Satin Granite
- Ambrosia White Granite
- Tan Brown Granite
- Giallo Ornamental Granite
Because granite is a naturally occurring stone, it has natural variations in its hues, veins, and flecks. This can make for some very interesting kitchens, with various shades of black, grey, brown, cream, white, and gold helping to highlight cherry and maple cabinets well.
Granite is also one of the strongest countertop materials, with heat resistance up to 1,200°F that makes it perfect for cooking with hot pans!
Quartz is an engineered stone, so it's made artificially by stone fabricators. Quartz is around 93% minerals and 7% pigments and polymers, so adjusting these ingredients allows you to make the perfect countertop to complement your dark-colored cabinetry.
For example, if you can afford custom quartz counters, you could request flecks of cherry wood hue to match the cherry of your wood cabinets or flooring. This is an easy way to tie in the overall color scheme.
Quartz is also non-porous and durable, so it's great for keeping things clean.
Marble is another natural mineral that comes in various different hues, usually focusing on white, light grey, and black cool shades. As such, marble counters in kitchens are usually paired with black or dark gray painted cabinets, evoking a sense of cool, modern design.
Marble is also a very opulent-looking and expensive surface material, though it can damage more easily than stronger surfaces like granite. Be careful!
Are dark kitchen cabinets out of style?
Dark cabinets are actually in style for the 2020s, with many designers forgoing the classic white kitchen in favor of dark brown espresso-colored cabinets paired with contrasting light granite countertops and stainless steel appliances that reflect light into the space.
We're going to see a lot of espresso-colored shaker cabinets this year!
How can I brighten my kitchen with dark cabinets?
Dark cabinets take up 75% of the visual space in your kitchen, so it's important to brighten up your kitchen in other ways if you're going for an all-dark aesthetic elsewhere.
Choose a light countertop color
If you need to brighten up your space, the easiest method is to pick out a light countertop color. Choose a light cream, gray, of full-on white to make your kitchen feel brighter.
Install under-cabinet lighting
LED under-cabinet lighting is relatively cheap and easy to install, adding some extra light sources into a dark space. It also helps you to see when chopping vegetables, which is useful.
Use shiny, reflective countertops
Regardless of the countertop shade, make sure that the stone is shiny and reflective rather than dull and matte. This will make the space feel brighter and bigger.
Install large windows to maximize daylight
If you've got the wall space to do so, install large windows that let in as much daylight as possible. Also consider a skylight if your house design allows it.
Try a light backsplash
A light backsplash can be a great way to break up dark-colored cabinetry in your kitchen without disrupting the overall decor too much.
Purchase stainless steel appliances
Stainless steel appliances – such as fridges, microwaves and ovens – can be a brilliant way to reflect light around the space. They're also very durable and hygienic, which is a plus!
Use mirrors to make the space feel bigger
When in doubt, hang a mirror in your kitchen. Mirrors are the oldest trick in the book for making a space look brighter.
Use brighter bulbs to illuminate the space
If your kitchen is a little dim, make sure your lightbulbs are 80-100 watts or more. Anything less than 80 watts is too dim.
The bottom line – do your dark kitchen cabinet doors match your countertops?
If you love a dark cabinet, embrace it. Dark-colored cabinetry is a huge trend for 2021 and looks set to continue way into the 2020s. Take a look at our countertop colors and cabinet door colors for more inspiration.
Most of the time, you want to pair those dark flat panel cabinets with a white tile backsplash and light countertops that give a high-contrast modern look. This will work well with many kitchens and have a great resale value down the line.
However, if you want to embrace the dark aesthetic, dark granite countertops and gray granite or solid surface counters can be a brilliant combination so long as you put lighter elements elsewhere, such as the flooring or appliances.
Whichever design aesthetic you choose, we hope you find the best color countertops for your dark kitchen cabinets!