In the past, there may have been more of an all-or-nothing approach to colour in the kitchen. 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.
How do you add warmth to a grey kitchen?
It’s all about the right shade. Warmer tones on the grey scale create a different feel from blue-based shades of slate. So if you’re looking to add warmth start with the right shade – that goes for paint, cabinets and flooring.
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.
Another consideration: Kitchen lighting ideas – to deliver the right brightness levels as and where you need it
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.
Grey kitchen ideas to inspire
Read on to discover our favourite grey kitchen ideas…
1. Frame grey units with brass detail
The devil, they say, is in the detail. But we find this subtle use of brass to edge these deep grey units positively heavenly. It’s a great way to bring extra glamour to existing cabinetry. Or to make new off-the-shelf furniture look a whole lot more expensive. Coordinating lighting ups the ante even further.
2. Unite an open-plan living area
Choose a warming shade of grey to make an open-plan kitchen and living area feel like a comforting haven. Use the same rich tone of grey throughout, from kitchen cabinetry to the paint colour on the walls of the living area, to unite the spaces – making them feel like one. Enhance the warmth by using natural wood worktops, flooring and accessories. Textured fabrics with a tactile quality will help to add depth and a sense of cosiness to the open-plan elements.
3. Team grey with light-coloured wood for Scandi-style
To emulate the effortlessly stylish ethos of Scandi-style in a grey kitchens look to incorporate wood or wood effects. Here on-trend grey base cabinets paired with open shelving showcases the natural material to perfection – creating a understated air of sophistication. Consider stripped-back woods for flooring, dining tables and worktops, as well as shelving.
‘Look to light coloured wood like beech or ash if budget allows,’ suggests Hayley Simmons, Head of Merchandising for Magnet. ‘Avoid stained or varnished woods for countertops as the raw, natural, untreated looks is much more in keeping with Scandinavian style.’
4. Match your paint shades
Create a uniformed look by matching the paint colour on the walls to the chosen grey shade on the cabinets. This helps to seamlessly blend one into the other, helping to create the illusion of a bigger space. This is an especially useful technique in small galley kitchens. With paint matching services, and many kitchen fitters even making their own paint range this look has never been easier to achieve.
5. Work the pastel trend with a grey backdrop
Last big in the early noughties, pastels have been reworked for 2021 with a new emphasis on sherbet oranges, violet whites, peaches and muted greens. And the best backdrop to these mouthwatering array of colours? Grey – in this case Misty Mirror by Dulux, paired with Tranquil Dawn cabinets. A change of wall colour can transform every other element of a kitchen design.
6. Add interest with a feature wall
Add interest and character with a feature wall that mimics the grey colour scheme. Shaker-style units in an easy-going mushroom hue keep the look light and fresh. Original Victorian wooden flooring adds warmth, and a woodland-inspired feature wall for the dining area gives this space depth and detail. Wallpaper can work well in a kitchen. Go for a dramatic design to create a feature wall. Although the pattern is bold, the colour is a subtle grey, which brings tranquility to a large, open-plan room like this.
7. Echo grey elements of stainless steel
Enhance the natural tones of stainless steel – the brushed-chrome finish offers as close a colour match as you’ll get within the grey colour palette. Encase an industrial-style sink with tonal cabinetry to present a uniformed finish. Go one step further by adding matching taps and fittings, even industrial-style pendants to tie the cohesive scheme together.
8. Mix materials and finishes
With an increasing trend for championing natural materials in our homes designers are looking for more and more creative ways to incorporate wood into their kitchen designs. This example is a perfect partnership of contemporary high-gloss cabinets alongside natural-look wood worktop and splashback. The contrast creates a harmonious blend of modern design with the warmth and grounding ethos of wood.
9. Brighten an outlook with a splash of yellow
What brightens up a cloudy day? A little bit of sunshine, of course! The same can happen in a deep grey kitchen. This yellow glass splashback beside the window is a smart design idea, as it sits ready to attract the light and shine a warming glow onto the surrounding space. Yellow works brilliantly, thanks to it’s association with sunshine – but you could use any bright colour to create the same effect.
10. Balance the light with darker hues
Go for stylish and sophisticated with dark design choices. Feel emboldened to use brooding dark greys and walnut wood by getting the balance right with lighter tones. Keeping the walls white will allow the light to fill the space more freely. Teaming a white tiled splashback and a light grey herringbone floor adds the perfect fashionable finishing touches, that won’t date thanks to the muted colours.
11. Create the perfect grounding with concrete
Draw on the natural grey tone of concrete to create a contemporary, authentic grey scheme. Start from the floor up, tailor your kitchen to create a vision in grey.
Polished concrete floors have become increasing popular in recent years, with the rise of open-plan living. The look can be easily achieve now thanks to a luxury vinyl, to save on the expense of having your flooring professional tailored.
The beauty of vinyl over the real thing is the maintenance. Faux flooring measures are more durable and easier to clean than the real thing, because the material is less porous and easy marking. Which can’t be a bad thing in a busy kitchen?!
12. Embrace exposed brick for an industrial look
The trend for industrial style remains hugely popular. Grey is the perfect shade to help achieve the look, because it’s not too far removed from industrial steel. This contemporary look is characterised by raw materials like exposed brick, natural wood and metal. Paired with rich greys and urban-style accessories like prominent metal pendants and matt black bar stools. The mix of dark grey tones and textures creates a sophisticated industrial finish.
13. Say yes to Shaker units
Want a kitchen that looks both sleek and stylish? Then bespoke Shaker units could be just what you’re looking for. And Shaker doesn’t have to be trad! As this example proves. While handless is all the rage, we think these stylish copper handles add the wow factor here. White metro tiles also help set off this striking look.
14. Add natural vibrancy with green
There’s no danger of this grey kitchen looking gloomy thanks to an injection of forest green. The splashback tiles are complemented by real-life greenery in the form of succulents and fresh herbs. Leather handles are a smart finishing touch that makes the off-the-shelf units look high-end.
15. Welcome warmth with wood furnishings
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.
16. Layer tones 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.
Enquire now: Kitchen from £25,000, Tom Howley
17. Smarten up compact kitchens with colour
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.
Enquire now: Kitchen from Chalon
18. Add grey shelving for a casually cohesive 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.
19. Choose French Grey for a rustic scheme
Grey is just about the most flexible colour for a kitchen. In charcoal, it can feel very modern, but opt for a French grey like this and you’re immediately transported to the Gallic countryside. Even if you do live in Grimsby.
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.
If you’re going to introduce a few different colours in accessories, it’s best you keep to one single tone for the backdrop – so make sure your splashback, cabinets and flooring all match. Otherwise the overall effect will be less stylish and more shambles.
20. Throw in pops of bright yellow
Add highlights to brighten up the grey, in the form of an accent colour. Here, bold yellow Tolix-style stools and accessories inject energy and fun. The matching flex cord on the Notice, too, how the interior door has been painted in a very dark grey to match the window frames, for a more cohesive look.
21. Go white on the walls
Deep grey base units make this kitchen feel very grown up. But to keep the scheme bright and airy, off-white units have been used above, and the walls painted in a bright whiter shade so that they blend in. We said earlier that a darker walnut timber works well with charcoal grey, and here’s the proof.
22. Tiny kitchen? Pick pale grey 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.
23. Add copper accents to warm a mid grey
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.
24. 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. Give your scheme a cool, New York loft vibe with ever-popular metro tiles.
25. Go dark and dramatic
For true drama, go for a really dark shade of grey. This charcoal vignette gives the open plan area a sophisticated, sexy air, disappearing when not wanted, while still being no-nonsense functional and capable of being put to hard work.
26. Incorporate a contrasting colour splashback
Add a punchy accent colour by way of a statement splashback. This can be tiled or glass, depending on the look you’re after. In the high-gloss grey kitchen above a fabulous fuchsia pink splashback adds a vibrant hit of colour. The chosen accent colour is accentuated further by stark white walls as a contrast.
27. Dare to pair pink walls as a backdrop to grey units
This isn’t a look for the faint hearted, but if you LOVE pink, it’s a winning combo. Rosy copper handles and utensils, together with wooden furniture, help blend the cool of the grey with the warmth of the candy-coloured walls.
28. Team glossy grey with striking blue
Finding an accent colour to go with a mid grey like this can be tricky – but this teal works perfectly. An expanse of glass splashback mimics the glossy finish of the slab-style doors for a look that’s very clean, modern and practical.
What colour goes best with grey kitchens?
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.
Another colour to think about: White kitchen ideas – 22 sensational schemes that are clean, bright and won’t date
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 from our pick of the best grey kitchen ideas?