Does a kitchen table need to match the cabinets? The essential rules to follow

Discover what the professionals say about matching or mixing the kitchen table and cabinets

Kitchen with wood table and chairs, gray island and cabinets and wood floor
(Image credit: Blair Burton Interiors Photograph: Julie Soefer)

Matching items within an interior undoubtedly makes the process of designing easier. It’s a reliable way to create a design that’s cohesive.

But kitchen ideas can be bolder than that – and therefore reward you with a design that creates more visual interest within the room and a look that’s individual. What’s more, mixing rather than matching allows you to enjoy the beauty of different materials.

If you’re tempted by the idea of mixing rather than matching, there are still design rules to bear in mind for a great result and we’ve asked the experts to share them.

White Shaker kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Does a kitchen table need to match the cabinets?

A kitchen table doesn’t need to match the cabinets. ‘I like a table to contrast with the kitchen cabinets – in color and material,’ says Blair Burton of Austin, TX based Blair Burton Interiors

Of course, what you select should still complement the cabinets: but matching definitely doesn’t have to be the way to achieve this.

To pick the right table, these are the aspects you should focus on according to kitchen experts.

Think table color and material

converted coach house kitchen diner

(Image credit: Future / Penny Wincer)

While matching the kitchen table to the cabinets can create a great impression, it does mean you’ll miss the opportunity to make your room individual.

‘Kitchen tables are a great place to add personality to a space,’ says Erika Jayne, a DC designer, general contractor and the owner of Erika Jayne Design. ‘Kitchen tables should play nicely with the cabinetry finish, but there’s no need for an exact match.’

How to ensure what you choose is a complement to the cabinets? ‘With painted cabinetry, a wood table can provide a much needed boost of warmth and texture,’ says Erika Jayne. ‘For stained wood cabinetry, go for a metal, stone, or concrete table.’

But if you favor using wood for the table instead? ‘If a wood table is desired in a kitchen with stained cabinets, it may be appropriate to use this opportunity to introduce a contrasting stain (light cabinets, dark table) in order to keep the space balanced,’ she recommends.

An alternative to complete contrast is to match some of the details between cabinets and the kitchen table. For example, the legs of a wood table can be painted in the same color as the cabinets, or the top could be painted to match with the legs left in a wood finish.

Note that there are some things to beware of when mixing rather than matching the kitchen table to cabinets. A painted table should be a truly distinct color; a shade that’s close but not the same as the cabinets can simply look like a bad match.

Secondly, think details. A table with an ornate design can look great teamed with simple Shaker cabinetry, for example, but if both cabinets and table have an intricate and different design the result can be visual overload.

Pay attention to function

Choosing a kitchen table that doesn’t match the cabinets also allows you to focus on the practical aspects of your choice. 

‘When considering a kitchen table, you have to think about function and durability,’ says Blair Burton.

Bear in mind, too, that what you need from the kitchen table may well change over time. ‘While cabinetry is a design investment that should stand the test of time stylistically, tables offer more flexibility to replace as styles change and families’ needs grow,’ explains Erika Jayne.

‘The most important considerations are size (how many people do you need to seat?), extension capability (do you need an expanding table for the holidays?), and upkeep (is rustic wood the best fit for your family? or can you maintain a beautiful marble top?)’

What color should a kitchen table be?

A kitchen table can be a subtle color or a shade that pops. A white finish looks clean and bright and can be a good choice for a small kitchen as it will reflect the light and help make the room look spacious. Pastel shades can be cute for country kitchens or think yellow for a sunny and energetic atmosphere. Gray, meanwhile, is a versatile shade, and black is a classic pair for white cabinets.  

Think about the colors associated with various materials, too. There’s a full range of wood tones to consider, and the material can also be stained. A light-toned marble will reflect the light but can also add appealing detail with its veining, or there’s the gray of concrete, for example.

Does a dining table and buffet have to match?

A dining table and buffet can match but – just as with the kitchen table and cabinets – matching definitely isn’t the rule. 

‘Not matching the dining table and buffet is an option that will create a more modern look,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘And it allows you to track down secondhand pieces that will bring character to your home. But even a non-vintage buy can be painted in a different shade.’

‘Contrasting materials for dining table and buffet can also be successful, and creates far more interest than matching pieces.‘

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.