What color countertop is best for a kitchen? Here's what kitchen experts had to say

Kitchen experts share their advice on the best colors and latest looks for kitchen countertops

What color countertop is best for a kitchen?
(Image credit: The Real Shaker Kitchen by deVOL / photography by Our Food Stories)

What color countertop is best for a kitchen may not be the first question that comes to mind when designing a kitchen, but it is important to consider as it will have an impact on the look and feel of the space.

Alongside layout and cabinet choice, working out what are the best countertops for a kitchen is one of the key decisions to make when designing a kitchen. A hardworking element which is in constant use, a kitchen countertop needs to be durable as well as easy to clean and maintain, so material choice should be the deciding factor. However, it also needs to look great, too, and what color you chose will play a big part in this.

From light natural stone, quartz and composite materials, to warm wood, dark slate and granite, there's a wealth of materials and colors to choose from, all of which come with benefits and drawbacks.

With so many options available, deciding on the right kitchen color ideas for a countertop can be daunting, so to help guide you we asked the experts for their advice and have gathered an array of design choices to inspire.

What color countertop is best for a kitchen? 

There are no strict rules on what color countertop is best for a kitchen, ultimately it comes down to personal preference as well as the look you're trying to achieve.

However, there are a number of factors which may have an impact on what countertop is right for your space, from the material and kitchen cabinet colors you choose, to the size and light levels in the room, so it is worth taking these into account when making a decision. Here's what the kitchen designers had to say:

'Color schemes are so important, and it’s a matter of intense personal taste. It’s also worth bearing in mind the space in which the kitchen is going; is it a dark and unlit area or is it flooded with natural light,' says Caesarstone’s head of design, Mor Krisher.

'Natural yet sophisticated, lighter colors such as beiges, greys and whites promise to bring a serene and calm feel to a kitchen. Utterly timeless, these hues pair beautifully with other colors and can make a quiet statement on their own through subtle detailing,' adds Mor Krisher.

'If you’re opting for a contemporary design, you may choose a high-polished, reflective surface in white to compliment. Whereas if you prefer a timeless traditional look, a rustic wooden countertop, or natural stone would be an ideal choice,' suggests Al Bruce, founder of Olive & Barr.

For Kit Kemp, light worktops are the way to go. 'I prefer lighter worktops, because dark ones make me feel miserable. And a light surface sets off colorful crockery,' says the renowned interior designer.

Black kitchen units with light caeserstone wroktops

(Image credit: Caeserstone)

While light countertops are popular among the designers, there's definitely a place for dark countertops and we're seeing more and more of them as homeowners grow in color confidence. 

'Black worktops look great against lighter wooden cabinetry alongside metal accents of brass and steel. They have within them so many different nuances, tones and tactility that give them different character. They can be basic or sophisticated, daring or elegant, industrial or classic, traditional or modern,' says Mor Krisher.

'I like black or grey because they hide a lot of the everyday wear and tear on a kitchen,' adds Evelyn-Pierce Smith of the Washington, D.C.-based firm, Evelyn-Pierce Studio Studio.

For Adrian Bergman, designer manager at British Standard by Plain English, what countertop is best, 'completely depends on personal taste the style of the room.' For a rustic look he suggests opting for wood as it is, 'tactile in nature and brings instant warmth to a kitchen.' Alternatively, 'if you’re on the fence then perhaps a mix of materials may work, the island is a great place to introduce a different finish,' he adds.

To help inspire your project we've shared a host of stylish countertop color ideas below along with handy tips from the experts.

1. Keep spaces feeling bright with a white countertop

White kitchen with a blue island by Tom Howley

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Opting for a white countertops, whether they be laminate, composite or a very light natural stone like marble is a popular choice as they are guaranteed to brighten up any kitchen. 'As your work surface takes up a considerable amount of space in the kitchen, it’s always a good idea to choose a light reflective material,' advises Tom Howley, director of the eponymous kitchen company.

White and light natural stone countertops, reflect light and work well in smaller kitchens to create a feeling of space. Dark worktops, for example, oak or black quartz add depth and contrast to cabinetry,' says Al Bruce, founder, Olive & Barr.

As well as being a good way to maximise the feeling of light and space in a small kitchen, white countertops are also popular for other reasons. Kendra Nash, interior designer and founder of Nash Design Group suggests to go 'white and bright so your food really pops. Since I'm married to a chef, he always says you don't want anything distracting from your food. It's also why many top restaurants serve their food in white plate ware.'

2. Choose light tones with texture to bring subtle interest

white kitchen with white island, marble worktops and window seat

(Image credit: Future/ Paul Raeside)

Light countertops with a subtle grain or texture such as natural stone, porcelain or quartz are growing in popularity say the experts. While plain white worktops will keep spaces bright, opting for grey, beige or off-white designs and veined kitchen countertops will bring extra depth and interest.

'We are big fans of veined worktops because it is so versatile. Think white worktops with faint marble-like veins adding intrigue or larger veins that makes the worktop a piece of art. The veins can be different colors, particularly deep reds, browns and even gold are stunning elements to a kitchen worktop and adds a lovely bit of extra detail in the design,' says William Durrant, owner Herringbone Kitchens

3. Make a statement with dark countertops

Somerton kitchen in Baltic Green, Kitchen Makers

(Image credit: Kitchen Makers)

According to kitchen designers, dark countertops are growing in popularity with those looking for a sophisticated and dramatic look.

'Traditionally, customers have opted for lighter tones, however, over the last few years we have been seeing an increasing demand for darker finishes. They offer a touch of understated luxury and are far more versatile than you imagine, working well with ever popular grey finishes, natural wood and even white cabinets to create a smart monochromatic look,' says Ben Burdidge, managing director of Kitchen Makers

'Black granite was a staple in the nineties and it still has a certain understated luxury especially when honed, so we are delighted to see it returning to many customers' kitchens,' adds Helen Parker, deVOL's creative director. 

'Honed black granite uses the same material as the polished black but, due to the finish, a greater degree of color variation can be expected and some worktops may have more visible crystals.'

4. Mix light and dark countertops

Olive and Barr Shaker kitchen with a mix of dark and light countertops

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

If you can't decide which color countertop is best for a kitchen, why not combine two different designs? In this kitchen by Olive & Barr the homeowner selected contrasting countertops of Bianco Eclipse Quartz for the island and Black Pearl Honed Granite for the base cabinetry to create a playful contrast in this black and white kitchen

5. Let texture take the lead

Rustic style kitchen with limewashed walls and painted cabinetry

(Image credit: Our Food Stories)

While color is an important aspect of design to consider, according to kitchen designers it's interesting materials and textures which are taking the lead over color when it comes to creating kitchens with wow-factor.

'The kitchen trend for cabinetry is veering towards lighter and brighter, with a focus on lots of natural materials and textured finishes. We are going to see luxurious simplicity, pared back with an emphasis on quality craftmanship,' says Craig Matson, MD, Roundhouse. 'We have also seen white composite worktops fading into the past as the more exciting materials that complement a cabinet color, work better.'

The potential of worktop material to make a statement is clearly demonstrated in this project by deVOL, in which texture is put centre stage. Over the island a copper worktop brings glamor and warmth while the veined marble on the units has beautiful decorative appeal. 

'Copper is shiny and has an incredibly fluid, ever changing patina, it looks rare and precious and turns out to have amazing antibacterial properties which now makes it even more desirable,' says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL.

6. Embrace the warmth of wood

Classic shaker kitchen in brown by Devol

(Image credit: Devol Classic Shaker kitchen)

If you're looking to bring warmth to a kitchen you can't go wrong with earthy colors or the honeyed tones of a wood countertop. While wood does require maintenance, it's well worth the effort suggests Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL. 

'Wood is a beautiful option – tactile and strong, each piece is different and so it seems to have a character which always makes a room feel more honest. I have never understood the worry with wood, for me it is warm and tactile, it is easy to keep supple and nourished with a little regular care and in return it gives you an ever changing patina that gets better and better over time.'

'Choosing a worktop that incorporates earthy tones and textures will instantly create a cozy environment that links you with the natural world,' adds Mor Krisher of Caesarstone.

7. Create an industrial look with cool grey concrete

Kitchen trends 2021

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

Grey is a timeless and versatile color choice for a countertop. For those after an industrial look grey polished concrete worktops are becoming increasingly popular. To get the appearance of concrete with additional practical benefits consider a concrete-inspired design suggests Caesarstone’s head of design, Mor Krisher.  

'As the trends for industrial designs and authentic, raw materials show no signs of slowing down, concrete-inspired designs continue to be some of the most innovative and daring of all worktops.

'Our Rugged Concrete from the Metropolitan Collection captures this urban feel by accentuating the look and feel of real concrete with deep grey tones and unique imperfections. 

'For a softer take on the industrial look, Cloudburst Concrete is the perfect option, light grey in color and adorned with a white cloud-like patina, this surface is the perfect choice for a nod to the urban look whilst keeping your worktop light in color,' adds Mor Krisher.

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is a contributor to Homes & Gardens. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.