Article by: Jo Leevers

Freestanding cupboards, mix-and-match colors, contrasting textures, individual drawer pulls — kitchens can be as creative as their owners. If sleek, clean-cut units don’t get you excited, take inspiration from these nine ways to get a more varied look in the kitchen.

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1. Mix cabinet styles. This kitchen’s cabinets are all the same trendy gray, but they sidestep predictable symmetry because two pieces are different styles. They work together, but their drawers have different depths and storage options. A rail for pots and pans creates more variety.

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2. Feature a key piece. To keep things interesting in a kitchen with matching cabinets, add a standout storage unit. It could be a plate rack or a bright or weathered dresser. It will break up the rigidity of a single-finish kitchen and let your personality shine through.

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3. Work in an island. For impact in a large kitchen, an island needs to be a “hero” piece that can carry the space. This weathered central island doesn’t conform to any norms. Along with the industrial storage on wheels, it adds just the right amount of character.

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4. Try an urban loft style. A strong dose of industrial style livens up this slim kitchen. Wood, metal, gray paint and ceramic surfaces mix easily, thanks to similar tones. Then there are the contrasts: Bare bricks are mirrored by glossy metro tiles, waist-level units by a taller cabinet. Matching kitchen pieces in this space could have looked too uniform; these look freed up and innovative.

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5. Go two-tone. A blend of two shades — palest green and natural bare timber — brings a breath of fresh air to this kitchen. Tongue and groove cabinets and two types of handles are extra custom twists.

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6. Compare and contrast. A creative kitchen doesn’t have to be off-the-charts unusual. Simply combining two tones, two surfaces and two heights does the job. Carefully crafted finishes give the space a quality feel.

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7. Cast it in monochromes. The dark-on-light color scheme here adds visual interest, and the contrast of raw, waxy timber and smooth marble creates a look that’s unique.

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8. Add your own handles. This kitchen works its magic with off-the-shelf Ikea units with tactile leather handles. They handles are eye catching and pleasant to hold — significant, when you consider how often they’ll be used. Open shelving on top combines with a stainless steel countertop that wouldn’t be out of place in a chef’s kitchen.

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9. Pare it back. This converted industrial warehouse is a dramatic space, so the designer wisely didn’t try to make the kitchen steal the show. Zinc-colored doors inside pale frames, metallic tones and a pared-back 1960s vibe for the furnishings help this kitchen work in its setting — proof that statements don’t always have to be shouts.

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