Should kitchen countertops be light or dark? Designers explain the pros and cons

The Pros of Light Countertops

Light countertops like white, beige, or light grey quartz or marble can make a kitchen feel airy and spacious. Here are some of the benefits of using light countertops in your kitchen design:

Brighten Up a Dark Space

If your kitchen doesn’t get much natural light, light countertops can help reflect what light is available and make the space feel more open. This can compensate for a lack of windows or make a small, dark kitchen feel brighter.

Create a Clean, Modern Look

Crisp white or light grey countertops have a very sleek, contemporary vibe. Paired with glossy cabinets and modern appliances, light countertops help create a minimalist aesthetic. This light and bright style is very on-trend right now.

Make Small Kitchens Appear Larger

Light colors have the ability to visually expand a space, making it feel more open and airy. If you have a compact, galley-style kitchen, light countertops can lend the illusion of more square footage. The reflective qualities emphasize the horizontal space.

Easy to Keep Clean

Light solid surface materials like quartz are non-porous, making them very stain-resistant. They hide crumbs and spills better than darker materials. You won’t have to worry as much about red wine or tomato sauce leaving permanent marks.

Go With Any Style

While they tend to suit modern designs, light countertops can also fit into traditional cottage-style or farmhouse kitchens. Crisp white quartz countertops with a beautiful veining pattern offer timeless versatility.

The Pros of Dark Countertops

On the flip side, dark countertops like black, charcoal, or deep blue granite, soapstone, or quartz also have many advantages that make them a popular choice.

Create Drama and Contrast

Dark countertops make a bold statement and are an easy way to add drama to your kitchen. Paired with light cabinets and walls, they create appealing visual contrast. Dark natural stone countertops also have beautiful veining that grabs the eye.

Disguise Stains and Scratches

The downside of light countertops is that they show every little imperfection, stain, or scratch. Darker materials do a much better job of hiding normal wear-and-tear. You won’t notice fingerprints or water spots on a dark surface.

Give a Cohesive Look

If your kitchen cabinets are a darker wood tone, choosing dark countertops will give you a more streamlined, cohesive look. The countertops will seamlessly blend in rather than starkly contrasting.

Offer Vintage Appeal

While light countertops read more modern, dark countertops often give a kitchen an antique or Old World cottage feel. Dark soapstone or natural slate can look fitting in traditional homes.

Increased Durability

Darker natural stone materials like granite tend to be harder and more impervious to scratching, chipping, or cracking than lighter quartz. They hold up very well to heavy usage.

Key Factors to Consider

When choosing between light and dark countertops, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Your cabinet color: Look at whether light or dark counters will complement or contrast your cabinets more aesthetically.
  • Overall kitchen style: Dark countertops suit antique or traditional spaces, while light counters have a more contemporary vibe.
  • Natural light: Dark counters can feel too dark and cavelike if the kitchen lacks much natural sunlight coming in.
  • Size of space: In small, windowless kitchens, light counters will make the space feel more expansive and bright.
  • Cooking habits: Avid home chefs may prefer darker counters that can better disguise frequent spills and stains from cooking.
  • Budget: Dark natural stone costs more than light engineered quartz or laminate. Factor durability into the investment.

Should kitchen countertops be light or dark? Designers explain the pros and cons.

When it comes to choosing between light and dark countertops, there really is no universally “right” or “wrong” option. The choice comes down to aesthetic preference and lifestyle factors. As you can see, both light and dark counters have their pros and cons.

Ultimately, interior designers say you can’t go wrong selecting a countertop color that you find beautiful and that fits the overall look you want for your kitchen. Just be sure to consider the practical factors as well so that your countertops can stand up to years of cooking and cleaning.

With the right countertop design and material choice for your needs, you’re sure to enjoy a beautiful, functional kitchen you’ll love spending time in. Let the pros and cons guide you, but choose the option that speaks to your personal style. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable, inspired, and at home in this important space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing Light or Dark Countertops

Still undecided on which direction to go for your kitchen remodel or redesign? Here are answers to some common questions on the light versus dark countertop debate:

Are light or dark countertops more popular right now?

It depends on the look you prefer, but interior designers say white and light grey kitchens are still very on-trend and in demand. However, darker tones like black and navy blue are rising in popularity for a more dramatic effect.

Do light or dark countertops increase resale value more?

Most real estate experts agree that light neutral countertops appeal to a wider range of buyers. Very dark dramatic finishes can be more polarizing. But a recently remodeled kitchen in good shape generally adds value no matter the finish.

Over time, do light or dark counters show wear and tear more?

Light counters show dust, fingerprints, water spots, and scratches much more readily than darker surfaces. But lighter materials like quartz are less prone to staining. Dark natural stone is more durable for knicks and cuts.

What is the most durable light or dark countertop material?

Quartz is the most durable lightweight material, while granite is one of the toughest dark natural stones. Both stand up well to heavy usage. Laminate is the most budget-friendly option.

Should I match my cabinets and countertops or use contrast?

Either approach can look great. Matching provides a streamlined custom built-in look, while contrast adds visual interest. Just ensure very dark cabinets and counters aren’t overwhelming in a small space with little natural light.


The choice between light or dark countertops involves both aesthetic considerations like your overall kitchen style, as well as practical factors such as natural light and durability needs. Many designers suggest looking at countertop samples in your home to get a feel for each option in the space.

While light countertops create a bright, airy, and modern look, dark countertops offer drama and a vintage charm. As long as you understand and weigh the pros and cons relative to your goals, you can choose the perfect countertops to match your lifestyle and design vision. Just be sure to select quality materials that will hold up for years to come.