Kick plates are one of those overlooked design elements that you don’t really notice until you think about them. Set between the cabinets and the floor, the kick plate is the transitional piece of molding that covers the gap between the bottom of the cabinets and the floor. Because most floors are not even, but counters and cabinets should be, shims are used to level the cabinets. To hide the shims, kick plates are used to give the cabinets a finished look.
Kick plates are most often matched to the cabinet fronts. Sometimes you will see kick plates that continue the stone or wood floor, making them blend in more with the flooring. Keeping the kick plates the same color and material as the cabinets makes them blend in more and grounds the cabinets. Having a lighter kick plate can give the illusion that the cabinets are floating. Deciding on the kick plate color and material should be done at the time the cabinets are ordered. Most non-custom cabinetry comes with a matching kick plate.
In the kitchen picture here, the kick plate is a great combination to match the lighter cabinets and the grey flooring. The shadow from the cabinets helps blend the kick plate into the cabinets, as well as the floor. This look works because the cabinets and kitchen design is more contemporary. In a more traditional kitchen more likely than not the kick plate would be the same color and wood as the cabinets.
Some kitchens even have vacuums set into the kick plate. This is a nice feature for sweeping the floors as no dust pan is needed. Just sweep the dust and dirt towards the vacuum panel and it will be sucked away.