If you're looking for an alternative to white kitchen units, you really can't go wrong with grey.
Grey kitchen units can transform a kitchen design, adding character, individuality and a timeless elegance. In the past, there may have been more of an all-or-nothing approach to colour in the kitchen – remember lime green and orange in the 1970s? Today’s palette is more restrained, with grey kitchens proving a major hit. Tone is important too, even within the grey family warmer greys create a different feel from blue-based shades of slate, for example.
When choosing an accent colour or a mixed palette for your grey kitchen, it’s wise to follow trend and trusted colour theory. ‘Either select complementary colours, which are next to each other on a colour wheel, or contrasting shades from opposite sides of the wheel,’ says David Mottershead, MD at Little Greene.
‘Contrasting colours are energising, while complementary colours are calming.’ Soft, pale greys tend to work well in smaller kitchens, but larger spaces may need some sections of bolder colour to prevent the scheme looking bland and wishy-washy. We like mixing pale greys with deep navy, or even a shot of fuchsia pink.
There’s more where this came from! See all of our kitchen ideas.
For subtle contrast, two different shades of the same calm colour tend to work better on cabinetry than three or four, which can look like a mistake. An island painted in a deeper or contrasting colour to that of the wall cabinets will make it a focal point in your grey kitchen. Base cabinets in darker shades than wall cupboards help the design and prevent it looking top heavy. For stronger contrast, think light and dark, or two bold greys of the same ‘weight’ and balance. Too much heavy colour can make a room feel smaller, so you may want to balance things with a neutral floor and walls.
Elements of natural timber will add warmth to cooler grey kitchens, and equally a grey-white natural stone floor can cool down a fiery palette. As in nature, earthy browns, greys and sand colours blend harmoniously. Cool greys look good with stainless steel, and brightly coloured accents, such as small appliances, splashbacks and barstools, will help lift the mood.
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Read on to discover our favourite grey kitchen ideas…
1. Bring warmth with wood flooring and work surfaces
Grey has a reputation for being a cool and clinical colour – but by mixing in some wood, you can create a positively warm and cosy look. The trick is to find the right shade, and mix in the right tone of timber. Here, almost purple-grey units have been teamed with a chunky pale oak worktop and knotted floorboards to harmonious effect. If you wanted something that worked with a darker, charcoal grey, you could try a deeper walnut.
2. Use layers of grey
Using various layers of grey shades to pick out individual elements of the room creates a cohesive feel in this kitchen. The walls and island are painted a dark, slate grey, the cabinetry is a softer shade, and darker flecks in the marble of the worksurface and splashback prove an effortless transition between light and dark. Keeping the rest of the scheme light keeps the room feeling airy despite the abundance of dark grey.
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3. Smarten up a small kitchen
In a smaller space, some might worry that grey will prove an oppressive choice, especially darker shades, but this well-ordered kitchen shows that doesn?t have to be the case. Using the same dark shade on the lengthways run of cabinetry, sink area, upstand, kickplate, stool and lighting is a cohesive, eye-catching choice, and the pale shade of grey used throughout the rest of the scheme keeps the look airy.
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4. Add shelving for a casual look
We love these smart grey units, but using them on the walls, too, might have been a step too far. Instead, a simple grey shelf makes for more casual – even rustic – storage that doesn’t make the room seem too dark. Marble worktops, a Belfast sink and worktop-to-ceiling metro tiles in bright white further lighten the mood.
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5. Choose French Grey for a rustic scheme
A soothing green-grey, French grey takes its name from the shade heavily featured in French design and wallpapers from the 19th century. It’s as popular now as it was then thanks to its unique soothing quality, which makes it perfectly suited to relaxed rustic kitchen-diners like this one.
More inspiration: Shabby chic kitchen ideas that are packed with character
6. Throw in pops of bright yellow
What brightens up a cloudy day? A little bit of sunshine, of course! The same can happen in a deep grey kitchen – here, bold yellow Tolix-style stools and accessories inject energy and fun. Notice, too, how the interior door has been painted in a very dark grey to match the window frames, for a more cohesive look.
7. Go white on the walls
Deep grey base units make this kitchen feel very grown up. But to keep the scheme bright and airy, white units have been used above, and the walls painted in the same shade so that they blend in. We said earlier that a darker walnut timber works well with charcoal grey, and here’s the proof.
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8. Tiny kitchen? Pick pale and add reflective surfaces
Dark grey units may have been too much in this diddy kitchenette, but a soft grey works well. The cabinetry is complemented by stainless-steel accessories including a sink, appliances and kickboards, which also help to reflect light around the small space. It goes to show that grey doesn’t have to mean gloomy.
9. Add some copper
Copper is very on trend right now and it makes the perfect foil for a pale grey space, bringing out the pinky hues and feminising what could be a very austere space. Use it for lighting, pans, and – if your budget can stretch to one – a bronze or copper range cooker like this one from Mercury.
10. Have fun with opulent accessories
Slick, sleek and chic, grey is the perfect sophisticated foil to raw brick walls. Glam things up with elegant chandeliers and add a zebra just for fun.
11. Trim with timber
Temper all-grey units with a wood trim to give a clean, warm edge. Take it a step further by introducing matching wood wall cabinets.
12. Go dark and dramatic
Another colour to think about: White kitchens for every style and budget
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For true drama, go for a really dark shade of grey. This charcoal vignette gives the open plan area a sophisticatd, sexy air, disappearing when not wanted, while still being no-nonsense functional and capable of being put to hard work.
So there you have it. Proof that grey is one of the most stylish shades going, and can look great in any style of kitchen. Which look is your favourite?