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Scott McGillivray Debates the Pros and Cons of Going Light and Dark in Your Kitchen

Scott McGillivray Debates the Pros and Cons of Going Light and Dark in Your Kitchen

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.


The most controversial topic on my social media is always the debate between light and dark kitchens. Personally, I love a white kitchen. I think they’re clean, bright and fresh looking. However, recently, I’ve had a lot of fun with dark grey and dark blue kitchens. I’ve used them in a number of renovations, and I’ve loved the results. Since this continues to be such a hot topic of conversation, I thought I would share my thoughts on some of the pros and cons of each.

Light Kitchens: Pros

• Light kitchens have a bright and airy feeling that makes them look bigger than they really are.
• White, and other really light kitchens, are timeless and trend-proof. Unless your style is really extreme, they’ll always feel fresh and never dated.
• Light kitchens are more flexible than dark kitchens, as you’ve got more variety when it comes to paint, countertops and backsplashes. This is because white and light neutrals work with everything.
• Light colours make it easier to highlight special items such as artwork, special appliances, and hardware.
• Light kitchens are the best when it comes to the resale value of your home. Time and time again, white kitchens prove to be more popular with homebuyers.

Light Kitchens: Cons

• Light kitchens tend to show dirt, grease and smudges more than dark kitchens.
• Pairing light colours with other light colours can be tricky when matching counters with paint with cabinets. For instance, one white can make another white look yellow.
• Some people find that all white kitchens look too sterile.


Related: These Drool-Worthy Kitchens Make a Case for Colourful Cabinets.

Dark Kitchens: Pros

• Dark kitchens are often considered to be more dramatic and sophisticated than light kitchens.
• Dark kitchens don’t show as much dirt and grime as light kitchens, so you might spend less time cleaning.
• Dark kitchens are perceived as being warmer and friendlier than light kitchens.
• Dark kitchens tend to have a bit more personality, and make more of a statement than light kitchens.

Dark Kitchens: Cons

• Dark kitchens are trendier and will look dated faster than white kitchens.
• They tend to make rooms look smaller, which doesn’t help your return on investment.
• Because they’re darker they can’t rely on natural light as much, and they require a more robust lighting scheme than light kitchens.

The Best of Both Worlds

If you can’t decide which one you like best, why not try both? Lately I’ve been playing around with two-tone cabinetry. I either do dark lower cabinets with light upper cabinets, or light cabinets with a dark island. I really like the effect of each look. The key, in my opinion, is to make sure you’re using the darker colour on the bottom so that you create a grounding effect. It adds weight to the bottom of the space while creating an airier feeling up top.

Related: 10 Design Features That Will Boost Your Creativity in the Kitchen.

When all is said and done, it comes down to personal preference and two-tone cabinetry is probably my favourite way to design kitchen cabinetry. My own kitchen is quite large, and while we wanted to make sure it was light and bright, we felt that adding some darker kitchen islands would help to create some visual weight. We were happy with the results when it was built, and we haven’t gotten tired of it yet!

Images Courtesy of HGTV Canada


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