Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the gray kitchen trend. And it’s not just kitchens! Everything is gray these days, from hardwood floors to cabinets to walls and trim, it’s gray gray gray gray gray. What is it about this tone that has the whole world scrambling to add gray to their decor?
Well, gray is an incredibly neutral color. There are tones of gray that truly can “go with anything.” If you’re the type who likes to redecorate every year or two, choosing gray for your more permanent fixtures like flooring and cabinetry will mean you have lots of options to completely change the look and feel of your room without doing time-consuming (and dollar consuming) renovations. Gray also adds a bit of personality and polish to a space that you may not feel like you get from white or natural wood-toned cabinetry.
In kitchens, gray is incredibly functional because it doesn’t show every speck of dirt. If you’ve got grubby little hands opening and closing your cabinets all day, choosing gray can mean you only need to wipe them down once a day rather than every morning. Gray is also a great backdrop to really let your food and dishes shine. A colorful bowl of fruit above gray cabinets makes for a striking juxtaposition and you can achieve it by simply using your kitchen the same way you always did!
While some shades of gray are more commonly used than others, you actually have a host of choices and options when you go this direction with your kitchen. You also don’t need to feel stuck with traditional-looking cabinetry if you’d like to dip your toe into the gray world, because there are modern and transitional options as well. Before you begin your gray journey, check out the gray kitchen looks we’ve compiled to help you find the perfect look for your space.
Tone is everything
Before you look at your choices for gray cabinetry, it’s important to begin to pick a tone direction. Gray kitchens can range from barely gray-white to matte charcoal. That covers a lot of tonal ground! If your kitchen is a small isolated room, choosing a lighter tone will make it seem more open and cheery; choosing a darker tone will make it feel a little more closed-in and cozy. Neither is a bad choice, but it’s important to consider the mood you’re going for in your kitchen before you choose your gray.
Another consideration is hardware. Do you want to have silver chrome finishes, or brass, or perhaps an oil-rubbed bronze? It’s a good idea to look at those finishes combined with any gray you’re considering as each will give a slightly different character to your kitchen, so think about those combinations before you begin.
Similar to hardware choices, think about the color of your appliances. Will you have stainless steel? How does your stainless steel marry with your chosen gray? Do they work well together? White appliances are making a resurgence in part because of the gray craze, so take a close look at your gray cabinet color against the color of your appliances to ensure the two will live well together.
You don’t have to go all the way
Don’t think of gray cabinetry as an all-or-nothing undertaking. If you like the look of a darker gray but are worried about making your space feel small or too dark, consider two-toned cabinetry to get the gray look without going overboard.
Two-toned cabinetry is popping up in high-end kitchens everywhere and it gives your kitchen a truly bespoke look. You can mix your gray with white, or natural wood-tones, or even another color. Gray’s versatility can truly shine if you let your imagination run wild.
One interesting way to embrace this trend is to just use gray on your kitchen island. This look can even be set off by a different countertop choice for different colored cabinetry.
Depending on your cabinetry style, you can also try a mix-and-match approach with multi-toned cabinetry with gray cabinets sitting right beside cabinets of another color. Gray plays well with so many tones and shades, you could create a look for your kitchen that makes it truly unique.
Don’t be afraid of pattern and texture
Because cabinet design and manufacture have become so sophisticated in recent years, you may be able to find interesting patterns and textures for your gray cabinetry. These interesting cabinet finishes can be combined with other gray tones, or completely different colors.
Choosing gray laminate cabinet finishes can make for a durable, highly functional look that’s also visually pleasing. These are great choices for high-traffic kitchens or those with small children. Laminate cabinetry usually wipes clean easily and patterns can help hide soil and stains.
Consider painted cabinets
While you certainly have the option to start from scratch with your gray kitchen, you may also be able to achieve the look on the cheap. If you’ve got wood or painted wood cabinets, you may be able to go gray without knocking everything out and starting over. Whether you do it yourself or choose to have a professional handle the job, painting your cabinets gray is a far more economical option than getting new cabinets and could yield exactly the results you want at a fraction of the price.
If you’re embarking on a cabinet painting project on your own, be sure to consult with your local paint shop to find the best paint to use for your particular situation. You will also want to consider how you prep your cabinets, including any paint or finish stripping projects and sanding before you apply new finishes. A reputable paint store will be able to help you find the right products for a high-use paint surface like cabinetry.
Whatever your chosen gray kitchen story, be sure to have fun and let your personality shine through. When we put time and money into home remodels and renovations, we sometimes forget that our end goal is to achieve a space that our families will enjoy using!