20 Grey Kitchen ideas that have both style and sophistication

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

If you're looking for an alternative to standard white kitchen units, you can't go wrong with grey

Grey kitchen units transform a kitchen design, adding more character, individuality and timeless elegance

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Generally in the past, there may have been more of an all-or-nothing approach to colour in the kitchen – remember lime green and orange in New Zealand the 1970's (we do and still see them in homes today around Auckland)? Today’s palette is mostly more restrained, with grey kitchens proving a major hit. Tone is important too, even within the grey family warmer greys create a different feel from blue-based shades of slate.

When we choose an accent colour or a mixed palette for your grey kitchen, it’s usually wise to follow trend and trusted colour. Either select complementary colours, which are next to each other on a colour wheel, or contrasting shades from opposite sides of the wheel.

Contrasting colours can be energizing, while complementary colours are calming. Soft, pale greys tend to work well in smaller kitchens, but larger spaces may need some sections of bolder colour to prevent the scheme looking bland and all over the place. We like to mix pale greys with a deep navy, or even a shot of pink.

For a more subtle contrast, two different shades of the same calm colour will work better on cabinetry than three or four, which can look like a mistake. An island painted in a deeper or contrasting colour to that of the wall cabinets will make it a focal point in your grey kitchen.

Having the base cabinets in darker shades than wall cupboards help the design and prevent it looking top heavy.

For a stronger contrast, think light and dark, or two bold greys of the same ‘weight’ and balance. Too much heavy colour can make a room feel smaller, so you may want to balance things with a neutral floor and walls.

Elements of natural timber will add warmth to cooler grey kitchens, and equally a grey-white natural stone floor can cool down a fiery palette. As in nature, earthy browns, greys and sand colours blend harmoniously. Cool greys look good with stainless steel, and brightly coloured accents, such as small appliances, splashbacks and barstools, can help to lift the mood.

1. Go dark to add the dramatic effect.

For true drama, go for a really dark shade of grey. The charcoal vignette gives the open plan area a sophisticated, sexy air, disappearing when not wanted, while still being no-nonsense functional and capable of being put to hard work.

So there you have it. Proof that grey is one of the most stylish shades going, and can look great in any style of kitchen. Which look is your favourite from our pick of the best grey kitchen ideas?

2. Trim with timber

Temper all-grey units with a wood trim to give a nice clean, warm edge. Take it a step further by introducing matching wood wall cabinets. Give your scheme a cool, New Zealand vibe with the popular metro tiles.

3. A glossy grey with sky blue

Finding an accent colour to go with a mid grey like this can be tricky – but this teal works really well. An expanse of glass splashback mimics the glossy finish of the slab-style doors for a look that’s very clean, modern and practical in today's NZ home.

4. Add copper to warm up the grey

Copper is very trendy right now as it can make the perfect foil for a pale grey kitchen space, bringing out the pink hues and feminizing what could be a very austere space. Use it for lighting, pans, and – if your budget can stretch to one – a bronze or copper range cooker like this one.

5. Tiny wee kitchen? Pick a pale grey and add reflective surfaces

Dark grey units may have been too much in this small kitchenette, but a soft grey works well. The cabinetry is complemented by stainless-steel accessories including a sink, appliances and toe kicks, which also help to reflect light around the small space. It goes to show that grey doesn’t always have to mean gloomy.

6. Go with white on the walls

A deep grey base unit can make this kitchen feel very grown up. But to keep the scheme bright and airy, white units have been used above, and the walls painted in the same shade so that they blend in. A darker walnut timber works well with charcoal grey.

7. Throw in a splash of bright yellow

What brightens up a cloudy auckland day? A little bit of sunshine, of course! The same may happen in a deep grey kitchen – here, bold yellow Tolix-style stools and accessories inject energy and fun. Notice, too, how the interior door has been painted in a very dark grey to match the window frames, for a more cohesive look and finish.

8. Go with a French Grey for a rustic theme

A soothing green-grey, French grey takes its name from the shade heavily featured in French design and wallpapers from the 19th century. It’s as popular now as it was then thanks to its unique soothing quality, which makes it perfectly suited to relaxed rustic kitchens like this one.

9. Add grey shelving for a casual look

We love these smart grey units, but using them on the walls, too, might have been a step too far. Instead, a simple grey shelf makes for more casual – even rustic – storage that doesn’t make the room seem too dark. Marble worktops, a Belfast farm style sink and worktop to ceiling metro tiles in bright white really lighten the mood.

10. Smarten up a small kitchen with grey

In smaller spaces, some may worry that grey will prove an aggressive choice, especially darker shades, but this well ordered kitchen shows that doesn’t have to be the case. Using the same dark shade on the length ways run of cabinetry, sink area, toe kick, stool and lighting is a cohesive, eye-catching choice, and the pale shade of grey used throughout the rest of the scheme keeps the look airy.

11. Use layers of grey

Using various layers of grey shades to pick out individual elements of the room creates a cohesive feel in this kitchen. The walls and island are painted a dark, slate grey, the cabinetry is a softer shade, and darker flecks in the marble of the work surface and splash back prove to be an easy transition between the light and dark. Keeping the rest of the theme light keeps the room feeling light despite the abundance of dark grey.

12. Bring warmth with wood flooring and work surfaces

Grey has had a reputation for being a rather cool and clinical colour – but by mixing in some wood, we can create a positively warm and cozy look. A trick is to find the right shade, and mix in the right tone of timber. Here, almost purple-grey units have been teamed with a chunky pale oak worktop and knotted floorboards to harmonious effect. If you wanted something that worked with a darker, charcoal grey, you might try a deeper walnut.

13. Add a natural vibe with green

There’s not a lot of danger of this grey kitchen looking gloomy thanks to an injection of forest green. The splash back tiles are complemented by real-life greenery in the form of succulents and fresh herbs. Leather handles are a smart finishing touch that makes the off the shelf units look high end.

14. Go country with French grey and a mix of pastels

Grey is one of the most flexible colours for a kitchen. In charcoal, it can feel very modern, but opt for a French grey like this and you’re immediately transported to the Gallic countryside. Even if you do live in St Heliers.

If you’re going to introduce a few different colours in accessories, it’s best you keep to one single tone for the backdrop – so make sure the splash back, cabinets and flooring all match. Otherwise the overall effect will be less stylish and more of a shambles.

15. Dare to use pink as a backdrop to grey

This isn’t a look for the faint heart'd, but if you LOVE pink, it’s a winning combo. Rose copper handles and utensils, together with wooden furniture, help blend the cool of the grey with the warmth of the candy coloured walls.

16. Frame grey units with brass detail

The devil – they say – is in the detail. But, we find this subtle use of brass to edge these deep grey units positively heavenly. It’s a great way to bring extra glamour to existing cabinetry. Or to make new off the shelf furniture look a whole lot more expensive. Coordinating lighting ups the ante even further.

17. Say yes to shaker units

Want a kitchen that looks both sleek and stylish? Then bespoke shaker units could be just what you’re looking for. While handleless is all the rage, we think the subtle copper handles add the wow factor here. White metro tiles also help set off this striking look.

18. Embrace exposed brick for industrial look

Although exposed brick in most homes in Auckland would be a rare find, it can commonly be found in office buildings and businesses.

The trend for industrial style remains hugely popular. Grey is the perfect shade to help achieve the look, because it’s not too far removed from industrial steel. This contemporary look is characterized by raw materials like exposed brick, natural wood and metal. Paired with rich greys and urban style accessories like prominent metal pendants and matt black bar stools. The mix of dark grey tones and textures creates a sophisticated industrial finish.

19. Match your paint shades

Create a uniformed look by matching the paint colour on the walls to the chosen grey shade on the cabinets. This helps to seamlessly blend one into the other, helping to create the illusion of a bigger space. This is an especially useful technique in small galley kitchens. With paint matching services, and many kitchen fitters even making their own paint range this look has never been easier.

20. Incorporate a contrasting colour splash back

Add a punchy accent colour by way of a statement splash back. This can be tiled or glass, depending on the look you’re after. In the high gloss grey kitchen above a fabulous fuchsia pink splash back adds a vibrant hit of colour. The chosen accent colour is accentuated further by stark white walls as a contrast.

For a free kitchen benchtop consultation contact Benchtop Installers Auckland

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