What colours go with grey kitchen units? We have 9 bright ideas

By pairing it with a complementary shade, grey can be classic, calming – and anything but boring.

Has there ever been a time when grey kitchen units were out of fashion? Not in recent years, certainly. Because as far as kitchen design is concerned, outside of white, grey is as safe as it gets.

True, if not done right, there is always the possibility that grey can seem safe and even dull. And no one wants a cloudy day for a kitchen. But that’s where the right complementary colour can help.

Grey kitchenCredit: Piqu / Chris Snook

It’s all about balance. You choose grey kitchen cabinets when you want to build a classic and calming foundation. Any additional colours should honour this, but also make the scheme feel a bit more elevated and sophisticated. Reds, yellows and pinks can even add playfulness.

1. Black

Grey cabinets with black splashbacks look the business

John Lewis of HungerfordCredit: John Lewis of Hungerford

Want to bring elegance to your grey cabinetry? We think that this John Lewis of Hungerford kitchen is a great example of how to achieve just that. Its grey units in a matt finish complement the gloss black-painted splashback, lending a formal yet modern energy.

To add black to your grey kitchen, be mindful of your lighting. Rebecca Nokes, head of design and brand creative at John Lewis of Hungerford, has these tips: “Black works well with both classic and contemporary cabinetry styles and can create a truly dramatic kitchen scheme.

“Black works best in a large space with lots of natural light – so if you’re short on this, you’ll need to carefully consider your lighting.

“Finish with metallic hardware and complementary flooring such as a warm wood or cool stone to create a timeless, sophisticated scheme that won’t feel too dark.”

2. Sage green

Ideal for a soft and soothing country-style kitchen

Yellow London kitchenCredit: Yellow London

Worried grey kitchen units might be too austere? This kitchen by Yellow London shows that a grey kitchen can still give a nod to nature.

Here, sage green makes a quirky yet calming backdrop to traditional grey kitchen joinery.

Liv Wallers, co-founder of Yellow London, says: “We wanted to create a warm, welcoming family kitchen that has a sense of arrival and personality. The kitchen has fantastic natural light, which works beautifully with the light green walls and Wimborne white units.

“We chose a contrasting, impactful dark grey for the island to really root the space and create a focal point for the kitchen. Raising the island on legs to appear freestanding helps to ensure that the dark grey doesn’t feel too heavy.”

3. Copper

Toughen up formal greys with heavy metals

Credit: Roundhouse
Bespoke Roundhouse kitchen, prices from £30,000

Pairing grey kitchen units with copper is all about creating an exchange of energy that is rooted in earthiness. Copper has been a favourite metal accent in kitchens for hundreds of years, taking the form of everything from saucepans to taps.

The metallic element is now a staple for handles, splashbacks and worktops. It looks brilliant, whether its style is polished, weathered or worn, and copper has natural antimicrobial properties, making it perfect for the kitchen.

In this Roundhouse kitchen, copper is paired with mottled grey units to create a modern yet warm scheme.

Also, did you know you can easily add a touch of copper to your grey kitchen design using paint? Craig & Rose makes a copper-effect paint, as does Dulux.

4. White

White and grey kitchens are bright and inviting

A Roundhouse grey and white kitchenCredit: Roundhouse
Bespoke Roundhouse kitchen, prices from £30,000

A grey and white kitchen is the best of both worlds – the crisp timelessness of ever-popular white with the confident calm of grey.

Together, they have what it takes to squeeze a lot of décor juice out of an otherwise simple grey kitchen unit design.

In this bespoke design by Roundhouse, the idea of the staid grey kitchen is turned on its head with details such as an island featuring open shelving, adding to the kitchen’s inviting appeal. Tactility is also ramped up by warm, highly grained timber detailing.

This holistic approach to the décor scheme makes it convivial rather than overly formal.

5. Red

Add spice to a grey kitchen

Red and grey kitchenCredit: Valeria Lazareva

Ever added a dash of hot sauce to a simple dish and taken it to a whole new level? Thats what happens when you add red to grey kitchen units. They go from sedate to sizzling.

The impact is dramatic because the colours play to each others strengths. Your grey kitchen cabinets are perked up by reds intense fire and the red is made more digestible in an everyday space by greys calming effect.

And you dont only have the option of mixing blocks of plain red and grey by way of units or worktops. This kitchen by Valeria Lazareva showcases red by way of pattern.

We love the unexpected, intricate detailing of the marble-effect red splashback, paired with the Shaker-style grey kitchen units.

Want to give red and grey a try? Take a look at Cole & Son’s Villandry wallpaper design for a different take – in this case, a red toile motif.

6. Purple

A touch of regal purple elevates a grey kitchen

Purple Masterclass Hampton kitchenCredit: Masterclass Kitchens
Masterclass Kitchens, prices from £12,000

Mix regal purple with grey kitchen units and there is every chance you will end up with a drool-worthy room.

Versatile purple works well with grey as long as the colours are selected with care. The grey needs to have a warm base or lean towards the neutral family so that these colours are in harmony. Plum, aubergine and grape are ideal tones.

Cool greys might feel like an instinctive choice to brighten up a room but when paired with purple your kitchen might feel a bit cold and lacking in charm. A greige‘ – grey-beige or pebble grey – is preferable.

For the sophisticated and complex pairing, be sure to paint up some samples of your chosen colours in your kitchen space to see them in changing lights before making your final decision.

In their Hampton kitchen design, Masterclass Kitchen use their proprietary paint colours Farringdon Grey and Mulberry.

7. Yellow

Bring sunshine to grey kitchen units

deVOL Real Shaker kitchen in yellow and greyCredit: deVOL
The Real Shaker Kitchen by DeVOL, prices start from £12,000

Do you associate grey with cloudy skies? Part the décor clouds with yellow. This would seem to be the colour strategy adopted by DeVOL in this Shaker kitchen that is anything but traditional.

This feels like a case of colour opposites attract. The grey gently tones down the unbridled exuberance of the yellow and the yellow invites the grey to look on the sunny side.

But what about selecting the right grey to work with the right yellow?

Luckily, neutral grey works well with just about any shade. It is more a case of whether you are going for a bold or subtle look. Pair subtle greys with more subtle lemon yellows, or follow DeVOLs lead and pair richly pigmented hues, such as saffron and steel grey.

Here, deVol has used its proprietary paints Lead and Scullery Yellow.

8. Navy

Grey and dark blue are a classic pairing

Blue and grey kitchen by PiquCredit: Piqu / Chris Snook

It is almost impossible to go wrong with grey and navy blue. Along with beige, these two colours form the bedrock of subtle luxury. Pair them in a well-designed kitchen and you experience peak luxury – like a well-tailored suit.

Adrian Graves, owner and designer at Piqu, says: “Grey is a popular colour choice for kitchens and we often suggest using it as it is perfectly timeless and a neutral shade that works well with a variety of design styles.

“We introduced a two-tone look and the strong blue colour in this kitchen to add instant visual interest. It also provides a strong and bold colour contrast against the grey.”

A great way to incorporate dark blue in your predominantly grey kitchen is to use it to create a knock-out island. Keeping navy blue below your sight line will stop it from dominating the space, letting your kitchen retain the calm sensibilities we seek out with grey.

9. Blush pink

Grey and pink kitchens are gentle and inviting

Magnet Soho grey & pink kitchenCredit: Magnet
Magnet Soho kitchen – from £5,908

Grey and pink make a charming coupling. In fact, many warm greys actually have a pink base, which is probably why these two shades together look so flattering. On the other hand, cool greys usually have a yellow colour base so you might want to stick with warm coloured grey kitchen units to get it just right.

And don’t think that pink painted cabinetry is the only way to add pink to your grey kitchen scheme.

Appliances can be a great way to add the gentleness of pink to your grey kitchen. We like the Retro Electric Wall Oven in Pink Lemonade by The Big Chill.

Written by Joy Archer she/her