The most stunning kitchens are a sum of their parts. They’re a mix of form and function, where color plays off natural light and small details are just as important as big appliances. When all of its details work in harmony, a kitchen becomes the hub of the home without even trying—there’s no other room that can so easily draw a crowd when done right.
Perhaps the parts that contribute most to a kitchen’s future success are its countertops and cabinets. These two components take up the most visual space in the room, and often define the rest of its aesthetic. So what makes for a winning duo? We collected our favorite countertop and cabinet combinations from past Dwell features to showcase all the ways in which these two features can determine the overall eye-catching quality of a kitchen.
Whether you use them as inspiration for a future project or a simple reason to swoon, these projects prove that countertops and cabinets make or break a kitchen’s design success.
Gray and Wood
The sun-filled kitchen of this Culver City, California home by Woods + Dangaran proves that durable materials can also make for a beautiful combination. White oak timber was selected for the cabinetry, and was paired with Caesarstone quartzite countertops. The neutral palette plays off the natural light, and provides a simple backdrop to the surrounding greenery.
Rosemary and White
The footprint of this kitchen, which is set inside a renovated home in Portland, Oregon, didn’t change. But its two-tone cabinetry and countertops did—and the upgrade made a big difference in the room’s overall personality. The designer opted to paint some cabinets in Sherwin Williams’s "Rosemary," which complements the custom green-tile backsplash. White countertops provide a consistent anchor for the other shades and finishes seen throughout the room.
Wood and Stone
The owners of this vibrant kitchen in Adelaide, Australia, which was overhauled by design firm Fabrikate, also didn’t shy away from color. Pops of red flash throughout the entire space, which contrast a mix of blackbutt wood and smooth black cabinetry on either end of the room. Countertops along the perimeter of the kitchen were made from Essastone Concrete Pezzato weathered stone, while a custom island was finished in terrazzo.
Teal and Steel
It makes sense that the historic "Wave House" in Palm Springs would have a kitchen to match its dramatic roofline. Its renovation called for stainless steel countertops and powder-coated cabinets, which were painted in a teal shade in honor of its 1950s origins. Sliding pastel panels concealing the upper cabinetry complete the throwback look.
White on White
A white kitchen will never go out of style, and the renovation of Sarah Sherman Samuel’s Michigan kitchen highlights the beauty of this classic choice. A white marble backsplash adds interest to the Caesarstone quartz countertops and surrounding, matching cabinetry. Brass and wood accents ensure that color and texture are present, too.
Marble on Rainbow
And yet, if the surrounding walls are white, then there’s no harm in infusing a bit of color—or a lot, if it’s tough to choose just one. Let this renovation outside Copenhagen be a guide, since it uses a MATCH kitchen by Muller Van Severen for Reform that was customized for the space with variegated polyethylene panels. Calacatta Viola marble countertops were placed on top for a high-end contrast, making for a finished look that’s entirely unique.
Blue and Gray
Small spaces can benefit from color too, as is the case in this contained Swedish kitchen inside a 258-square-foot home. The renovation maximized the space by streamlining the design, which focuses the eye on floor-to-ceiling powder blue cabinetry inspired by the owner’s favorite scarf. Thin Carrara marble was picked as a backsplash and countertop, and a mirror was hung on one end of the room to make it feel larger.
Black on Wood
For a moodier take on a kitchen design, turn to this renovated Los Angeles tudor home for a peek at its dark-hued kitchen. Black soapstone countertops offset a walnut island, and those two materials are complemented with a handmade-tile backsplash flanked in steel. Greenery and metal accents soften these features, while artfully placed mirrors allow light to bounce through the room.
Concrete and Pink
The owners of this Pennsylvania property had the right idea for its renovation: Preserve what they could of its midcentury roots, but overhaul the rest of its outdated features. The kitchen was a prime suspect—it was complete with orange countertops—and it was modernized with concrete countertops and cabinets painted "Pink Ground" by Farrow & Ball.
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