One of the hardest parts of designing a new kitchen 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. They want chic, practical, and design styles that will last.

We get lots of requests for bright white kitchens, but many of our customers are also interested in something a little more bold, 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.

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The short answer, of course, is yes, you can have anything you want! 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 more cozy? Figuring out the mood of the room will help you make other decisions.

Darker floors absorb more light, and will “ground” a space visually. For some people this provides a secure feeling. There are some people don’t like the look of all-white rooms. One customer told me she thought all-white would be “too hospital like”. Others love it, however, so go with what makes you feel good. After all you’re going to be living with this kitchen for many years to come.

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.

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 as well, this may make a difference too.

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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 with show scratches more. Even if your darker floors are made of tile, they will still show hair and crumbs more.

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.

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 floors will provide some contrast to the room over all 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.

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 like in this example:

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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 contemporary, unified look:

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How Do You Know For Sure?

When we design kitchens, we like to 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 will allow you to see how the colours look in the natural light you get from the outdoors.

The light cabinets and dark floors combination 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 even 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 to see more colour combinations.