Grey kitchen ideas – 30 design tips for using dark and light greys on cabinets, worktops and walls

If you're looking for an alternative to white kitchen units, you really can't go wrong with these beautiful grey kitchen ideas
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  • 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 kitchen ideas proving a major hit. Tone is important, probably even more so within the grey family where warmer greys create a different feel from blue-based shades of slate, for example.

    When it comes to kitchen ideas in shades of grey, consider every surface, from walls to worktops and everything in between. 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 design 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 enhance the design and prevent it looking top heavy. For stronger, contrasting kitchen colour schemes, 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.

    For balance, clever kitchen lighting is all-important in a grey kitchen. Delivering the right level of brightness and warmth as and where you need it.

    Grey kitchen ideas to inspire

    1. Blend contemporary designs

    A matte grey kitchen unit with a wooden island and Campbells Soup artwork

    Image credit: Harvey Jones

    Create a sophisticated grey kitchen by mixing contemporary design materials across cabinets, worktops and flooring, seen here in this grey and white kitchen. Combining different materials adds interest to the space, allowing the design to reflect the character of the rest of the house.

    Streamlined matte grey cabinets welcome a throughly modern vibe in this white kitchen idea, while the natural wood worktop helps to ground the look, and stop it from feeling too stark. It’s all about balance.

    Expert advice for mixing materials comes from Melissa Klink from Harvey Jones.

    ‘A wooden worktop adds warmth in a kitchen, but it is a soft material which can become scratched or scorched during wood preparation. Confine the use of wood to soft-use areas, such as breakfast bars for eating or entertaining. Use a harder surface which is easy to clean, such as  granite or quartz composite, for food prep areas.’

    2. Frame grey units with brass detail

    A grey kitchen with brass trim cupboards and marble worktops

    Image credit: Matthew Williams

    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 kitchen lighting ideas up the ante even further.

    3. Unite an open-plan living area

    A grey open-plan kitchen with a wood burner and wooden flooring

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    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.

    4. Team grey with light-coloured wood for Scandi-style

    A kitchen with wooden shelving and grey cupboards

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    To emulate the effortlessly stylish ethos of Scandi design in your grey space, look to incorporate wood or wood effects. In this Scandi kitchen idea, on-trend grey base cabinets paired with open shelving showcases the natural material to perfection, creating an understated air of sophistication. Consider stripped-back wood for flooring, dining tables and worktops, as well as shelving.

    ‘Look to light coloured wood like beech or ash if your 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.’

    5. Match your paint shades

    A light grey galley kitchen with wooden flooring and a child's toy

    Image credit: David Giles

    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 if you’re looking for small galley kitchen ideas. With paint matching services, and many kitchen fitters even making their own paint range this look has never been easier to achieve.

    6. Introduce a colour match for all work surfaces

    A kitchen with a grey splashback, cabinets and flooring and a white Belfast sink

    Image credit: AluSplash

    If you’re looking for a matching grey colour scheme, choose one tone to incorporate throughout all of the work surfaces. To keep the look unified choose the same finish for all surfaces, so if the paint finish is matte choose the same for the floor tiles and the splashback.

    This new matte splashback features a coarse finish that forms the surface of the Smoked Ember panel, ideal for complementing natural finishes and enhancing a soothingly soft colour palette.

    Keeping the walls painted white helps to highlight the grey choices on the furniture and flooring. Finish the look off perfectly with a statement butler sink and wicker accessories.

    7. Work the pastel trend with a grey backdrop

    A grey wall behind a pink pendant light and a light green island unit

    Image credit: Dulux

    Last on-trend 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.

    8. Add interest with a feature wall

    A large kitchen with light grey cupboards, an island and wooden flooring

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    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.

    Bright wallpaper is a great choice if you’re looking for ways to add colour to an all white kitchen, too.

    9. Echo grey elements of stainless steel

    An island with a steel sink below pendant lights next to bifold doors

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    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.

    10. Mix materials and finishes

    A grey kitchen with gloss cabinets and wooden worktops and a splashback

    Image credit: David Sill

    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.

    11. Brighten an outlook with a splash of yellow

    A yellow splashback in a grey kitchen with dog artwork on the wall

    Image credit: Robert Sanderson

    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 colourful kitchen design idea, as it sits ready to attract the light and shine a warming glow onto the surrounding space. Yellow works brilliantly, thanks to its association with sunshine, but you could use any bright colour to create the same effect.

    12. Balance the light with darker hues

    A dark grey kitchen with wooden bar stools around an island

    Image credit: Chris Snook

    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.

    13. Create the perfect grounding with concrete

    A dark grey kitchen with an island with a wooden worktop and industrial style stools

    Image credit: James French

    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 flooring has become increasingly popular in recent years with the rise of open-plan living. The look can be easily achieved now thanks to a luxury vinyl to save on the expense of having your flooring professionally 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 harder to mark. Which can’t be a bad thing in a busy kitchen?!

    14. Embrace exposed brick for an industrial look

    A grey kitchen with an industrial brick wall and large pendant lights above an island

    Image credit: Magnet, Tribeca kitchen in Graphite, starting from £3,136

    The kitchen 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 matte black bar stools. The mix of dark grey tones and textures creates a sophisticated industrial finish.

    15. Say yes to Shaker units

    A light grey kitchen with an island and white bar stools

    Image credit: David Giles

    Want a kitchen that looks both sleek and stylish? Then bespoke Shaker units could be just what you’re looking for. And this design doesn’t have to be traditional, as this Shaker-style kitchen idea proves. While handleless is all the rage, we think these stylish copper handles add wow factor here. White metro tiles also help set off this striking look.

    16. Add natural vibrancy to grey with accents of green

    A dark grey kitchen with green splashback tiles and a black oven

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme 

    There’s no danger of this grey kitchen looking gloomy thanks to an injection of forest green. The splashback tiles are a smart green kitchen idea, especially when 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.

    17. Welcome warmth with wood furnishings

    A traditional style kitchen with light grey cupboards and wooden flooring

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    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.

    In this grey kitchen idea, almost purple-grey units have been teamed with a chunky pale oak worktop and knotted floorboards to harmonious effect. If you wanted something that works with a darker, charcoal grey, you could try a deeper walnut.

    18. Layer tones of grey

    A modern kitchen with dark and light grey cabinets and a curved island

    Image credit: Tom Howley

    Using various layers of grey shades to pick out individual elements of the room creates a cohesive feel in this modern kitchen idea. The walls and island are painted a dark, slate grey, the cabinetry is a softer shade, and darker flecks in the marble of the work surface 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.

    19. Smarten up compact kitchens with colour

    A grey galley kitchen with statement ceiling lights and a wooden stool

    Grey kitchens | Kitchen | PHOTO GALLERY | Beautiful Kitchens | Housetohome.co.uk

    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.

    20. Add grey shelving for a casually cohesive look

    A grey shelf holding crockery mounted on white tiles above a sink

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    We love these smart grey kitchen units but using them on the walls, too, might have been a step too far. Instead, this simple grey kitchen shelving idea 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.

    21. Choose French Grey for a rustic scheme

    A country style kitchen with French grey cupboards, metro wall tiles and mosaic floor tiles

    Image credit: Philip Lauterbach

    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 in the small kitchen idea shown above 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.

    22. Throw in pops of bright yellow

    A large grey kitchen with yellow barstools at an island

    Image credit: David Merewether

    Add highlights to brighten up the grey in the form of an accent colour. Here, bold yellow Tolix-style stools along with matching flex cord on the lights 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.

    23. Go white on the walls

    A U-shaped kitchen with dark lower cabinets and light upper cabinets

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    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 have been painted in a brighter white shade so that they blend in. We said earlier that a darker walnut timber works well with charcoal grey, and here’s the proof.

    24. Tiny kitchen? Pick pale grey and add reflective surfaces

    A small grey kitchen with white metro wall tiles and a sink below the window

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    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.

    25. Add copper accents to warm a mid grey

    A grey kitchen with copper lighting over the island and industrial bar stools

    Image credit: Paul Massey

    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.

    26. Trim with timber

    A grey kitchen with wood trim, a large island and white metro tiles

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    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.

    27. Go dark and dramatic

    A dark grey kitchen with an island and open shelving for books

    Image credit: Paul Raeside

    For true drama, go for a really dark shade of grey or even consider black kitchen ideas. 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.

    28. Incorporate a contrasting colour splashback

    A grey kitchen with a pink splashback and a range cooker

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    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 idea shown 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.

    29. Dare to pair pink walls as a backdrop to grey units

    A kitchen with pink walls, grey cupboards and a wooden dining table

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    This pink kitchen idea 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.

     30. Team glossy grey with striking blue

    A glossy grey kitchen with a white island and a blue splashback

    Image credit: David Giles

    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 the 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 small kitchens but larger spaces may need some sections of bolder colour to prevent the scheme looking bland and wishy-washy. We like pairing pale greys with deep navy kitchen ideas, or even a shot of fuchsia pink.

    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.

    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 paired with stainless steel and brightly coloured accents, such as small appliances, splashbacks and barstools, will help lift the mood.

    The right lighting is key to making the colour scheme feel warm and inviting. Opt for warm bulbs rather than cooler white tones, to avoid making your chosen shade of grey feel cold. Pair overhead lighting with plenty of task lighting to add pools of warming light.

    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?

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