How to incorporate Contrasting Elements in your Kitchen for a Visual 'Wow'

Contrast describes when something is “strikingly” different to something else usually in close proximity. Why is contrast so important to pay attention to when designing your kitchen? Because color is not seen in isolation it is almost always next to other colors, think about how even in an all white kitchen there will still be contrasting elements your eye will pick up, either from a darker floor or even something small like the hardware on your cabinets. Either way colors and how they contrast need to be considered in a larger context when designing any room but especially the heart of your home, the kitchen. So let us help you break down the best ways to incorporate contrast on your terms and make a “striking” difference to your kitchen design.

Hidden Kitchen Look with No Upper Cabinets Dark Navy Base CabinetsShop this quartz countertop here


Paint is a relatively easy way to incorporate contrasting elements in your design. Used sparingly or generously both options can pack a punch, if you are a little shy around color even just changing one wall can accomplish added dimension and interest in your space. If you want to take things further than a "feature wall," consider playing around with two toned cabinets. You can create a focal point by contrasting the base cabinets on your kitchen island or take a more modern approach using color blocking on a larger scale (as shown in the example below) to distinguish the space by areas in a more creative/unexpected way.

Shaker Two Toned Cabinets Blue and White Kitchen*Shop this quartz countertop here*

In the photo above you see the cabinets closest to the window are white, aka lighter, than the cabinets further away which are darker. It is not what you might expect to see in a kitchen but visually it is still organized in a way that makes sense and will certainly make a lasting impression on all those who see it. Color blocking can provide a lot of contrast in your kitchen and really make your space as dramatic as you could want it with minimal effort.

White Upper Cabinet with Contrasting Black Base cabinets with Gold Accents*Shop this quartz countertop here*


Finding a stone slab that has a high amount of contrast in it is our personal favorite way to add more contrast and "wow" to your kitchen but we may be a bit biased. With "Panda" style slabs on the rise choosing a bold quartz or natural stone can completely transform the look of your kitchen. In the photos below notice how a more graphic countertop can inject more energy and visual excitement into the space.

Jewel Toned Kitchen with Panda Slab side by side example of contrasting in stone.*Shop this countertop here*

If a high contrast slab is too much for you just contrasting the slab with the rest of the kitchen will still give you a stunning result. The same rules apply for any 2cm slabs you may want to use as a backsplash. Below you can see both examples, just by changing the color of the quartz countertop on the island you shift the contrast from the counters and cabinets to the backsplash and cabinets creating a different look. Using stone to inject contrast into your kitchen will provide you with a lot of control on where you want to direct someone's eye when they first walk into your space.

Black Kitchen with Contrasting countertops/backsplash*Shop this quartz countertop here*


Another way to incorporate a “wow” statement and make your kitchen memorable is by contrasting materials. Like pairing light and dark colors next to one another the contrast of materials works much the same way. However in additional to using a mix of materials for visual/aesthetic interest like one does with color they can also be utilized to designate different tasks for different surfaces. This will naturally create a visual and tactile workflow in your kitchen.

In the images below you can see the example on the left uses a mix of materials to incorporate contrasting elements for a visual punch while the example on the right, which divides the countertop between stone and wood, shows how you can contrast for more utilitarian purposes.

Side by Side comparison of material contrast in kitchens left is black base cabinets and white quartz countertops with metal doors on the right is white on white kitchen with grey countertops and wood cutting board built into countertop

In the left image you see an example of an aesthetic use of mix materials and on the right a functional use.

Flooring can also have a big impact on a room and even the slightest change in color can add a different vibe and energy to your space. There is a phenomenon in **Color Theory ** refereed to as the "Bezold Effect" that explains how when a color is applied in even distribution through out a space changing it will alter your overall perception of the composition. This effect is something to keep in mind when choosing tile, flooring, or even an area rug... those consistent patterns over large spaces can be very powerful even in the subtlest shades. Below we show you how a classic checkered floor can impact a space just going from brown to red.

Check Floor kitchen side by side comparison of how one color can effect your space*Shop this quartz countertop here*


If you crave a standout kitchen but perhaps prefer a more subtle approach focusing on texture and finishes can be a great way to add a little contrast that still leaves you with a lot of wow. Hardware and lighting can be thought of as the “jewelry” of the kitchen, if you have gone with a very white or neutral kitchen perhaps consider darker “jewelry,” to contrast. On the other hand if you have darker cabinets or stone maybe go with more “blingy” “jewelry” to create that sparkle and contrast in your kitchen.

Sparrow Lane Interiors (Left) Micah Abbananto Designs (right)*Shop this quartz countertop here*

Hopefully this has helped you get some ideas to up the “wow” in your kitchen. If you ever need help or want a stunning stone countertop that grabs the eye let us know, we love making kitchen dreams come true! Reach out to us at or visit us at You can also find us on social @stonetrashhq

Contrasting in Kitchens Recap:

Here are some of our top tips to recap the best ways to inject contrast into your project on your terms to take your kitchen or any space in your home to amazing new levels!
  1. Whether your style is bold/eclectic or minimalist/clean any aesthetic can be elevated by paying attention to the contrasting elements in your space.
  2. Use two toned or color blocked cabinets for a bold look.
  3. Select a contrasting stone (from the cabinets) for your countertops if you want to pursue a more subtle approach but still inject movement and energy into your space.
  4. Organize your kitchen visually through contrasting materials for an aesthetic workflow.
  5. If you include contrast in your flooring play around with the "bezold effect," and see what changing just one color will do to your overall space.
  6. Lastly don't forget to contrast the "jewelry" of the kitchen by selecting standout hardware to set your kitchen apart!