Choosing Countertop Color: Is light right or does dark make a spark?

Choosing Countertop Color: Is light right or does dark make a spark?

September 02, 2014

Q: We’re trying to decide on a color for our new countertop. Is there a “rule of thumb” or standard way to determine whether we should go light or dark?

A: From selecting the material to deciding on a color, making decisions about your countertops can be tricky. It’s tough to narrow it down. And while a tried and true “method” for making this decision would be very helpful for homeowners, the fact is…it doesn’t exist. But fear not. You are not alone. We have some pointers for you. Just know that, in the end, it all comes down to your personal preference.

First things first…are you getting new cabinets? Have you decided on a color? If you’re placing your new tops over your old cabinets, then that’s already one decision you can check off the list. Either way, the color cabinetry you’re dealing with can go a long way in helping to steer you in the right direction.

Granite Waterfall Countertop

While there may be not steadfast rule for choosing a countertop color, combining light cabinets with dark countertops is a timeless look that always works. Photo via Houzz

Currently, the trend is to use lighter countertops with darker cabinets. This concept enhances the contrast between your tops and cabinets, but it also has its practical reasons too. Darker cabinets, such as those in a Cherry or Coffee finish, help disguise anything that you might splash or drip on the cabinet in between cleanings. And, by the very nature of the jobs they perform, you clean your countertops more often than your actual cabinets. So lighter tops, though they may highlight spills, will be cleaned with more frequency—usually multiple times a day.

Another element to consider is your flooring. You don’t want the countertop and flooring to be matchy-matchy, but you do want it to be in the same basic color family. If the floor and countertop don’t work together, there is danger of making the room feel too busy. You want the horizontal lines of your floor and countertop to harmonize while the vertical cabinet should provide some contrast.

A few extra tips:

• Lighter cabinet finishes, such as Honey, Maple, and White, paired with dark countertops creates a beautiful, timeless look that always works.

• While you may like bold color, remember that you can pull in dramatic shades with elements like backsplashes, window coverings, small appliances, and accessories. It’s okay to lean toward the neutral side when it comes to cabinets, floors, and countertops.

• Does your room have large windows with tons of natural light? If so, a dark countertop may be most appealing.

• Why not mix it up? If you have a center island, go with dark perimeter countertops and a light island top, or visa versa.

• A lighter colored countertop paired with light colored floor tile can yield a very welcoming, comfortable feel while a cream or light beige countertop can create an airy, beachy atmosphere.

• Both extremely dark and very light countertops can add a dramatic elegance to any kitchen or bath.

• Are you drawn to light colors? There’s your answer. Love the warmth of dark shades, then darker shades are for you.

The bottom line…selecting your countertop color is ultimately a matter of taste. Remember that you’re not likely going to want to swap it out too quickly. So give your choice careful consideration. There may be no steadfast rules, but be sure to take your time and consider your options. Review magazines and tear out photos of great kitchens or baths that appeal to you. You may also want to take a trip to a stone warehouse to see some slabs in person. You’ll do a lot of research online, but the colors will look very different in natural light, through your own eyes. Take the time to see them for yourself before making your final choice. Just go with what you’re drawn to. This will, ultimately, be the shade that best suits you. 


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