4 ways to mix and match materials in your kitchen for a designer look


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4 ways to mix and match materials in your kitchen for a designer look

By emily.bailey

Thursday, October 26, 2017

4 ways to mix and match materials in your kitchen for a designer look

Give your kitchen unexpected flavor by combining wood, stone, glass and more. Here’s how to get the mix right.



The kitchen is all about mixing and matching. Experienced chefs often love to break away from that ho-hum recipe mold and create something new with a dash of unexpected flavor. Achieving this in your kitchen design is possible in many ways. Here are some tips for combining materials to create a unique kitchen look that suits your individual taste.


An easy way to get started mixing materials is by using a statement material for the island and a simpler surface for countertops, like in this recent project in which two different quartz stones from Cambria on the island and counter are mixed. And don’t hesitate to contrast quartz against marble, granite or other stones.

The key to mixing surfaces is to use tones that relate (by sticking to either cool or warm families) and also to use strong contrast so the mismatch is clearly intentional and beautiful. Pick a material with a grain or variation, and then use one of the grain tones for the solid surface. Here the dark zinc on the islands matches the grain tone of the polished Calacatta gold marble.

These material combinations are often applied to white kitchens. The white keeps the mix from looking too wild, yet the contrast gives the minimalist palette extra life. Here we see a light Statuario marble island and darker Emperador marble counters.
Continuing a material theme with other surfaces helps tie everything together, such as using a marble-topped dining table (like the classic Saarinen style seen here) to pick up on a marble counter and backsplash.
You can also beautifully mix stone counters with butcher block. Take a cue from this room and use a demure, subtly patterned stone to avoid its fighting your wood grain.

Upper and lower cabinets

Another great way to mix in wood is to use a little on the lower cabinets (matching or lighter than the floor), and stick to the wall color on the uppers for a rich natural flair mixed with airiness. Dark gray or a punchy color also works well on lower cabinets (with light uppers) to keep the eye moving without the feeling being claustrophobic.


For more drama, apply a dark color to the uppers instead, but stick to neutrals. A calm gray like below won’t crowd you in as much as a very saturated color — save that for a few small accents.

You can also try breaking up dark cabinets with glass door fronts to reduce the dark surface area. On the other hand, darker cabinets also work well to frame the kitchen for a modern look, because they visually define where the kitchen starts and ends even if your floor plan is open.


For a traditional look, try applying a dark finish to the island so it stands out from the main cabinets as its own furniture statement.

Mixed metals magic

In modern and traditional spaces, copper is one of the hottest finishes of the year; it works best in small doses, like on a few pendants or hanging pots.


In general you shouldn’t be afraid to mix in a touch of a new, warm metal, like the brass pendants seen here, to add decadent contrast to stainless steel appliances or accents.

Matte black gunmetal also works wonders as a stunning counterpoint to shiny stainless steel.


Keep in mind, when mixing many materials and tones, it’s best to pick some themes to repeat to create a sense of harmony, such as using multiple shades of wood or sticking to only neutrals. When in doubt, wood, metal and glass make a classic trio.

One last idea

In this TIDG project, the same wallpaper used in the dining space was applied as a kitchen backsplash, layered under a glass panel. This unusual use of material connects the adjacent spaces and makes a unique statement that stands up to passing trends.

As long as you combine materials you love in a way that feels right to you, you’ll achieve a look you’ll love beyond the passing of trends. So go ahead and mix with confidence!
How are you mixing materials in your home? Share your photos with us on Facebook and Instagram.
This article first appeared on Houzz on September 17, 2014.


Yanic Simard | Houzz contributor

Principal designer at the award-winning Toronto Interior Design Group and it’s talented team of designers.