Upper Lower versus Inner Outer

October 25, 2012

I was chatting with a friend the other day about her kitchen.  She very much wants to paint most of the honey tone wood cabinets white to freshen the space, but wants a touch of charcoal too to go with her black and white granite countertops.  Her kitchen is a basic U shape design with three walls of wood cabinetry, open on one side to a family room, with an island in the middle. 

I’ve been watching kitchen trends for years and one that I’m noticing more and more is the two tone painted cabinet design where instead of the surround being one color and the island the second color, the current trend is to paint the upper cabinetry one color and the lower cabinetry another. 

u shape kitchen plan

And so my friend and I are having what I call the “upper lower versus inner outer” debate.  Should she paint just the island a charcoal color or the lower surround cabinets instead?

Here’s a look at the “Upper Lower” two color painted cabinet style:

blue lower white upper two tone cabinets

The Kitchn


green lower white upper cabinets bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


gray and white cabinets houseandhome

House and Home


mark burstyn kitchen

Mark Burstyn


white upper gray lower kitchen cabinets



lower gray upper white cabinets

Apartment Therapy


life in grace turq and white kitchen

Life in Grace


Versus the “Inner Outer” painted cabinetry mix:

white surround blue island bhg

Better Homes & Gardens



white surround black island trad home

Traditional Home


wood island white surround aaron leitz

Aaron Leitz

gray island white surround cabinets bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


white surround citrine island bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


It’s a tough decision!  Which style of two tone paint do you prefer in kitchens, the Upper Lower or the Inner Outer? 



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