One of the hardest parts of planning a new kitchen renovation is choosing colours. Budget, the principles of effective kitchen design and the existing shape of the room often determine the overall layout. So in a way, that part’s almost easier. But our customers often agonize over colour choices. That’s why custom cabinets are better vs. prefab. They want chic, practical, and design styles that will last.

As Ottawa’s leading custom cabinet markets, we get lots of requests for bright white kitchens, but many of our customers are also interested in something a little bolder or that works with the dark floors in the rest of the home. They end up asking us if they can combine the brightness of light cabinets with dark kitchen floors.

The short answer, of course, is yes, you can have anything you want! Light floors, dark colours, dark flooring, bright colours- it’s all possible when you’ve got good design ideas. Kitchens with dark floors and light cabinets are a common request, and the contrast makes for a modern new kitchen. If you know what you’re doing, it can look amazing. The real question is, will it work for you?

Here are some important questions that will help you decide.

1. What Kind of Mood do You Want?

First, think about how you want your kitchen to feel. Are you looking for a light, airy mood or something cozier and inviting for your space? Figuring out the mood of the room will help you make other decisions.

Dark wood floors provide warmth by absorbing more light and “grounding” a space visually. For some people, this provides a secure feeling. However, some people don’t like the look of all-white rooms.

Flooring comes in many different colours and shades that will set the mood for your stunning kitchen. A kitchen with a dark wood floor offers a rich, inviting space when lots of natural light is available. One customer told me she thought all-white would be “too hospital-like.” Dark kitchen cabinets may be the best thing for her, but so could white cabinetry with a bright backsplash and dark countertops. Others love the all-white look, so go with what makes you feel good. After all, it is your own home, and you’re going to be living in this kitchen for many years to come.

Check out more Contemporary Kitchen Designs at our Design Gallery

2. How Much Light is There in the Room?

If you want a light kitchen overall, you can still have that breezy, summery feel with darker floors—but only if there’s enough light and space in the room.

The amount of natural light is a huge factor. If you have a larger space with lots of windows, it means your options are open. With an enclosed galley kitchen with no windows, however, dark floors may make the space feel too closed for some people. Light hardwood floors may be the answer for your kitchen to deliver a fresh kitchen that doesn’t feel cramped.

The artificial light in the room can also play a part. If there are plenty of pot lights and other fixtures, and your kitchen remodelling plans include under-cabinet lighting, this may also make a difference.

3. Are Dark Floors a Practical Choice for Your Lifestyle?

Because dark wood floors are made with a dark stain over lighter wood, dark wooden floors show more scratches. And even if your darker floors are made of tile, they will still show hair and crumbs.

If you’re particular about your home having a showroom-clean look, you may want to go with a medium or light-toned floor. This is especially true if you have kids who will drop crumbs or pets who shed hair or have claws. These lighter shades of flooring can still offer a contrast with the right kitchen cabinets and are starting to appear more in today’s contemporary kitchen.

A couple of hints:

  • If you love dark floors, a matte finish will show dirt less than a glossy finish.
  • If you’re refinishing oak but want a more contemporary look, you may want to go with a dark colour. It will hide the grain.

4. Do You Enjoy Bold Contrasts?

Dark wood floors will provide some contrast to the room overall and really show off those light cabinets. A lighter floor colour will blend in, and the difference won’t be as clear. Again, this is neither good nor bad—but you will have to think about what you prefer. Black cabinets or white cabinets, and everything in between, make for a lot of choices. You need to decide if you want your kitchen cabinets to be the bold piece, or maybe the walls or backsplash will provide the contrast? Even the ceiling can be a focal point in the right room!

Dark wood floors and white cabinets aren’t your only option. There are different colours you can use, and some choose a bold colour for their kitchen island (like a deep green or blue) while keeping their walls and cabinets in a more traditional white or grey. Take this beautiful kitchen as an example:

If you need a bit of colour contrast in your kitchen but also need a practical choice that won’t show dirt as much, try a medium toned floor (vs. dark brown) like in this example:

5. What’s Being Used in the Rest of Your Home?

While you don’t have to use the same tone of flooring in your kitchen as in the rest of your home, having a different colour will separate the space visually from the rest of the home. This can be a beautiful effect, but if you want the kitchen to harmonize with everything else, you may want to keep things unified.

In this example, the homeowner wanted to keep the same flooring throughout the home for a modern, unified look:

How Do You Know For Sure?

When we design kitchens, we show computerized mockups of the kitchen so our clients can get a feel for the overall effect. We also recommend that our customers bring samples of cabinet doors and flooring home with them and look at them in their kitchen. Even though everything will be changing, this essential step allows you to see how the colours look in the natural light of your space.

Light cabinets with dark floor combinations can be very effective whether your style is contemporary or traditional. It all depends on what works for you and for your home.

If you’re still not sure about whether light or dark cabinets are right for you, check out our guide to choosing between light and dark kitchen cabinets.

You can also view our design gallery for inspiration and to see more colour combinations.