How to Create Chic Contrast in the Kitchen

While an all-white kitchen will always be a classic, and monochromatic iterations can be full of interest, there’s something so alluring about a kitchen that incorporates two colors to create a bold, fresh, and inviting look. For those who might be considering adding new life to their kitchen through contrast, we asked Anne Marie Barton of AMB Design in Holladay, Utah, for her advice. Here, the designer shares her favorite hues to choose, how to create a soothing combination, and how to bring it all together to create a kitchen that feels like a stylish sanctuary.

Add contrast—not competition. “When you’re taking a step of creating more contrast in your kitchen by adding color to your cabinetry, keep in mind that not everything can be talking,” Barton, who believes in the beauty of a neutral foundation and infusing levity through color, explains. If you add one bold element, the rest of the space should be quiet—the countertops, the flooring, the tile, etc.

Remember that blue is always a safe bet. When a design calls for a pop of color, Barton’s go-to is almost always a peaceful blue tone that pairs beautifully with aged brass. “I never show clients the color blue without the piece of brass in my hand because that’s when it comes alive,” she says. Her top choice is the color shown above, Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball, a rich and classic hue.

Create a soothing combination. When pairing contrasting colors, whether you’re going with a deep blue or a drenched emerald (one of Barton’s other favorites) as a foil for your neutral, be careful not to create a stark contrast with cabinetry that’s too white. By opting for a warmer color like Sheep’s Wool or Revere Pewter (which she tones down by 50%), both by Benjamin Moore, you’ll create a calming combination while adding interest.

Note the importance of texture. If you’re installing new cabinets, Barton recommends selecting a top wood choice, such as white oak, even though your cabinets will be painted. “You will still see the wood grain behind the paint, which brings a realness to your kitchen,” she explains. She always starts painting with a wire brush so the final result has a tactile finish. Additionally, she advises her clients to go with a low-sheen finish so you can appreciate the integrity behind the paint.

Consider your countertops. When creating contrast with painted cabinetry, you’ll want to keep your counters on lighter end of the spectrum and minimize their visual impact. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. In keeping with her preference for natural materials, Barton favors the natural stone quartzite (not to be confused with man-made quartz), which is as durable as granite but has an ethereal lightness reminiscent of marble. Her favorite color is Mont Blanc, which has a hint of a vein without being dramatic.

TSG Tip 378 from Anne Marie Barton, of AMB Design in Holladay, Utah. AMB Design is featured in The Scout Guide Park City.