HomeTips & IdeasDecorating Ideas and How To'sBlack Appliances and White or Gray Cabinets – How to Make it Work

Black Appliances and White or Gray Cabinets – How to Make it Work

Posted on June 13, 2017 by KylieMawdsley

Decorating a White or Gray Kitchen with Black Appliances

While stainless steel is undoubtedly the most popular appliance finish for a kitchen, black takes a close second and white…well that’s a whole different topic.

Today we’re going to focus on black appliances and how to coordinate them into a kitchen with white or gray cabinets. So whether you are thinking of buying black appliances or trying to update your kitchen with existing ones, these tips will get you on the right track!

ideas for how to decorate a kitchen with black appliances. Including countertop and backsplash tips


Black Appliances and White Cabinets

Soooo…awkward silence. While there is the very…very…odd exception, black appliances and white cabinets don’t mix. Why?

  • It’s a high contrast look. There is a time and place for high contrast and the ‘place’ is not in between appliances and cabinets
  • It can make your kitchen look smaller. While a high contrast look can be more dramatic and ‘interesting’, it can also make a space look smaller and more cluttered

Learn more about high and low contrast via this small bathroom article

BTW, I know that some of these images don’t show black appliances. I rely 100% on my edesign clients for their photos, so I can only use what I have! I’ve done my best to at least reference good COLOURS to explore for your cabinets! 

How to Make Black Appliances and White Cabinets Work Together

Because right now you might be thinking, ‘Dammit, I REALLY wanted to paint my cabinets white but I have black appliances!’ Here’s how to make it work…

Use a Medium or Dark Colored Countertop 

A medium or dark coloured countertop will give your appliances something ‘visual’ to grab on to that is a similar depth. While it’s still a high contrast look, it helps soften the blow. See how it looks in this beautiful kitchen on BHG.

Kitchen with Chelsea Gray, subway tile, black laminate countertop, stainless steel, Gray Owl paint on the walls (3)

Shown above: BM Super WhiteBM Chelsea Gray

While the backsplash doesn’t need to be completely black or intensely dark, a darker backsplash, when paired with darker countertops will lower the contrast level in your kitchen, leaving the cabinets as the only ‘light’ feature. You could then choose a lighter paint colour for your walls to transition the cabinets. This would make for a nicely balanced palette.

Alternatively, as shown above, you could do a few things:

  • Paint the upper cabinets white
  • Paint the lower cabinets gray
  • Use a white subway tile backsplash that blends with the cabinets, leaving the countertops and cabinets to coordinate with the black appliances.

The Painted Island

While I don’t think this ‘fixes’ the whole issue, I can say that it is better than nothing if you are totally hell-bent on painting your kitchen cabinets white and you have black appliances. DFW did a great job with their white cabinets, black island and black appliances. The medium-toned wood flooring shown also helps lower the contrast level.

Cambria Ellesmere black quartz island countertop, dramatic pendant lights in contemporary home with tall tiled fireplace with linear gas insert. Kylie M Interiors Decor and Design

Similar to SW Gauntlet Gray

In the above photo, notice the dark countertop and dark gray painted island – these features would help white cabinets integrate with black appliances.

Summary and Tips

  • Black appliances need something else dark coloured to grab on to – ideally, this would be the countertop
  • You can do a dark countertop with a white/light backsplash (ie. white subway tile or marble). You can’t do a dark backsplash with light countertops if you’re going for this look
  • Consider a lighter, low contrast paint colour on your walls to help transition the impact of the white cabinets, since the countertop/backsplash will visually belong to the appliances
  • A medium or dark toned floor will look better than a light floor
  • Related article: The Best White Paint Colours for Cabinets and Trim

Read more: The 3 Best White Paint Colours for Cabinets

Black Appliances and Painted Gray Cabinets

Black appliances look great with painted gray cabinets. Wanna know why?

  • Gray is the lighter version of black, so naturally, they look good together
  • When you use a darker gray/charcoal you are creating a low contrast palette, making a space look more seamless and larger.

These dark gray cabinets (Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray) are super low contrast with the black appliances. The multi-toned, but dark neutral countertop was also a great choice as it combined the lighter tones of the wall with the darker tones of the cabinets/appliances.

how to decorate a kitchen with black appliances and benjamin moore chelsea gray painted oak cabinets. Update ideas

And Chelsea Gray was a beautiful shade of gray for these cabinets. Because the kitchen is a bit smaller, this shade keeps the space looking proportional to itself and low contrast with the walls and backsplash.

Why it Works

  • Without the black countertops, Formica’s Mineral Jet, things might have been too high contrast for the black appliances to make sense. The black countertops were the PERFECT choice for this kitchen
  • There is a beautiful blend of light, medium and dark tones
  • The backsplash has a range of tones from light/medium/dark – paying homage to the wall colour, cabinets and appliances

Kitchen painted Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray with white quartz countertops and driftwood marble tile backsplash. Kylie M Interiors Decorating and E-Design Vancouver Island

Shown here: BM Amherst Gray

Shown above, BM Amherst Gray is a beautiful colour to coordinate with black appliances. Again, I know it’s shown with stainless steel, but I just don’t have enough of my client’s images using black appliances!

HOWEVER…with black appliances you would HAVE to have a dark countertop for the above palette to work with black appliances, the white countertop would be too high contrast.

LONG STORY SHORT, no matter what you do – you need to have dark countertops if you want to have black

appliances with white or gray countertops!

Summary and Tips

  • Black appliances suit gray cabinets that are medium-toned or darker. If you choose a light gray paint colour, you may want to refer to the suggestions in the white cabinet section of this blog post
  • Try to find a countertop that is either dark or a mix of light/medium/dark tones that CONTAIN gray. If you choose a busier countertop, keep the backsplash more simple
  • Consider a backsplash with a variety of tones in it, which will naturally tie into the cabinets/appliances, just keep in mind if you have a busier backsplash you should choose a simpler countertop
  • With gray cabinets, you can choose dark or light cabinet hardware, depending on your tastes and the style needs of your kitchen

Read more: The Best Gray and Greige Paint Colours for Cabinets

So there you have it my friends, I hope you found the inspiration you were looking for!

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign

Looking for personalized Kitchen ideas? 

Check out my Online Decorating and Color Consulting

edesign, virtual paint colour consulting. Kylie M Interiors Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams color expert. marketing (8)





  1. Thank you for this wonderful article. You just saved me from making a mistake. Question how do you feel about painting all the lower cabinets black, gray Marble counter and white backsplash and uppers?

    1. Hi Kim! I think it could look very striking, just keep in mind that black is a high maintenance finish as it tends to show fingerprints/dust/crumbs etc… Check out BM Kendall Charcoal or Amherst Gray for a slightly softer alternative 🙂

      Happy New Years!


  2. Great article – and just the “summary” I was looking for. We are trying to figure out how to make our white cabinets and black appliances work. There is money in the budget for countertops and backsplash, but not a full kitchen makeover. Thanks!

  3. Helpful article and images, thanks! I just bought black appliances and am now thinking what cabinet colors would look good with them. My thought is to do a deeper color (teal or blue grey) for the bottoms and a lighter color (cream) for the uppers. I plan to have quartz countertops in a marble pattern (white/light grey marbling) and maybe a weathered brick backsplash. I also am open to having a tiled backsplash. My uppers may even be maple wood as I plan to have them glass paned with hammered glass. Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Tricia! When it comes to more in-depth questions I generally refer to my E-design so I can take some time with things and look at photos. My initial thought is that teal might be too green for a more traditional quartz with the white/gray look and I might lean a bit more toward a blue/gray, purple/gray or even a blue/gray with a bit of green in it as a happy medium! I might also stick with a more clean white on the top rather than a cream as the cream will come up considerably more yellow when it’s paired with white quartz countertops.
      Hope that helps!

  4. This was so helpful! My question is, if doing something similar to the Navy Bean Lane photo that has the Kendall Charcoal cabinets could you paint the walls another shade of grey? I love the lighter color paint but it will not last in my house between the kids and dogs!

    1. Post

      Hi Stacey! You can definitely do Kendall Charcoal cabinets and gray walls – no problem, as long as the gray isn’t TOO DARK!!!

    1. Post

      Hmmmm, it could depend on how light/dark your kitchen is (natural light). I’m inclined to say that black would be too harsh, white too high contrast with the cabinets – so I’d land on Stainless…

  5. I have medium gray flooring that has some tan. I have black appliances. I would like to paint the walls blue gray. What would you suggest for countertops and backsplash if I keep the cabinets white? I have enjoyed reading about your designs!!

    1. Post
      1. Hi again Kylie,
        I am actually asking for your suggestions for my son. I do think I will definitely use your E-design when I remodel my kitchen. In the meantime, could you give suggestions for countertops and backsplash for my son? He has painted the wall Sporty Blue by Sherwin Williams which is close to a cornflower blue. Appliances are black, cabinets are white, and flooring is gray. I know that one of your suggestions for countertops with black appliances and white cabinets is butcher block. What shade of stain would you use for the butcher block? Oak, walnut, ??? and what would be a good backsplash for that? Thank you for your help!!

    1. Post
  6. Hi Kylie! Thanks so much for the article!

    I have all black appliances, and a light/medium gray countertop. Currently my cabinets are oak and I have no backsplash. I was thinking about painting the cabinets white as I want it to feel as bright as possible, and maybe using a blue/green tile for a burst of color for the backsplash. Do you think this would look nice or still too high contrast? Any ideas?

    Thanks so much!!

    1. Post
  7. Hi Kylie!
    I have light grey cabinets along the perimeter and a dark grey island with Black stainless appliances. What would you suggest for a countertop throughout. Thanks!

    1. Post
  8. I so want to paint my kitchen cabinets but can’t decide on color. I have black appliances and a medium brown countertops. It has like a fall leaf kind of look in brown tones. My cabinets presently are that dated medium oak color. Please help.

  9. I am building and I having problems with choosing between light French gray and Zircon SW paint. The whole back of my house is N facing not a lot of windows . Only a French door in Great room, and 1 window east side in dining room. All open space kitchen dining and great room. No kitchen windows as it sits on wall of garage. I won’t have a lot of sunlight. Cabinets are off white a hint of gray, flooring is a pergo grayish with some browns and blacks, counter that divides great room and kitchen will be a white with specks if blacks n beige . So I need some color yet not too much to darken the areas. Zircon seems to be a true gray not too much undertones come out but I also love light French gray. Any thoughts ?

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