Going to the Dark Side: Kitchens

Houstonian Lisa Epley used a mirrored backsplash and Calcutta Gold countertops to balance out the darkness of her cabinets. You can see the rest of her fabulous home in my post, The House of Mirrors.

I have been keeping a file of black kitchens since I first saw the kitchen in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Hamptons House in House & Garden a couple of summers ago. I remember thinking that I really liked the look, but being on the fence about it. It seems like darker kitchens are starting to gain in popularity now that some people are growing tired of white kitchens (I for one, have not). However, I do think that a lot of the black kitchens I have seen look pretty fabulous. I can’t help but feel a little nervous about it, though. Not only does it take moxie to own a black kitchen, you really have to consider how black cabinets will affect the overall space. It is imperative to have an abundance of natural light from windows to counteract the darkness of the cabinets. What do you all think? Is this something you could envision in your own home?

This kitchen has all of the basics: a nice layout, fantastic cabinetry, hardware, and appliances. However, it feels a bit sterile. I would change the pendants over the island and infuse some color into the space, but overall it does feel bright. Unfortunately, I must have saved this photo in a frenzy and do not know the source. Any ideas?

Gwyneth Paltrow’s black Hamptons kitchen as featured in House & Garden

This cool kitchen is from Farmhouse Modern.

This kitchen by Betsy Burnham features an interesting backsplash.

Kelly Wearstler’s glamorous take on the black kitchen features black cabinets, black countertops, and a black backsplash.

This image comes from Alkemie and features shiny black cabinets for a more modern approach. The crystal chandelier keeps the space from looking too stark and gives it a hint of glamour. I love the industrial faucet!

This image is from Shelter. This kitchen must be in Europe or New York because it is so tiny! Despite its size, it is very stylish and organized. Check out the cool display with the glasses and bottles of Pellegrino.

Windsor Smith’s kitchens are a favorite amongst bloggers. She frequently opts for a dining table in the middle instead of an island, as you can see here. This kitchen features black cabinets, walls, and mouldings against Carrara marble. Does the pot rack make anyone else feel anxious? I am so OCD!
This cool kitchen was featured in House Beautiful. The flooring is very cool, but I would have preferred Carrara marble instead of black on the island.
Erinn Valencich designed this lovely black kitchen. I love that she infused it with color! Notice the turquoise backsplash and flooring.

Angie Hranowsky’s gorgeous kitchen feels very bright despite the use of dark cabinetry. Aside from the abundance of natural light in the room, she opted to use only lower cabinets, and chose Calcutta Gold marble for the island and reflective stainless steel countertops for the rest of the kitchen. I love the Mother of Pearl backsplash tiles and lucite stools! All of these elements make the space look vibrant and keep it from feeling cumbersome.
Lindsey and Kristin Buckingham’s kitchen features cabinets painted with Benjamin Moore’s “Night Shade”. The kitchen has the same bohemian vibe as the rest of their home.

I really do wonder if going to the dark side is better if done gradually. Is it best to start off with a nice shade of grey and eventually make it to black, or should one just dive right in? I think I am still partial to white kitchens and would probably do grey before black. This home is from a post I did on this house entitled, “The Lovely Bones”.
The builder opted for a greyish-green hue on the cabinets with a dark wood island.

The gold hardware in this kitchen by Katy Elliott gives the space such a glam 1970s feel, don’t you think? I really like the color of the cabinets.
This kitchen is from Things That Inspire. I believe it was from a real estate listing in Atlanta. I love the library style ladder along the back wall! The owners of this home opted for a blue-grey hue for their massive island.

I am in love with this kitchen by Baden and Baden. The paint color, the counters, the shelving, faucet, appliances, and abundance of storage…perfection!
So what are your thoughts on black kitchens? Do you think they will be the next hot thing (i.e. today’s white kitchen with carrara countertops, stainless appliances, and scoop hardware)? I do think that they will increase in popularity, but believe that if the masses do decide to move away from white kitchens, they will probably gravitate towards grey rather than black. Personally, I do think that white can be timeless if done tastefully and grey kitchens are usually quite lovely. I think the black kitchens would require meticulous planning because one misstep could lead to a design disaster. I think it takes a lot of gusto to do it but when done correctly, the result can be fabulous!

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. Those pics are all gorgeous, but I just don’t think I could do a dark kitchen in my own house. I like kitchens that are light and airy, a “happy place” for when I first wake up in the morning. As impractical as they probably are, I dream of a kitchen with white Carrara countertops one day, and shiny silver fixtures/ hardware.

  2. LOVE these kitchens… and you’ve captured a few that I’ll save and show to a potential client interested in going black in her kitchen. Thanks!
    Victoria: EdinDesign Interiors @ DesignTies

  3. I adore white kitchens, but did mine last year in a very soft grey. I love it. The black ones you’ve shown are gorgeous (esp. Angie Hranowsky’s), but I think black could feel dark and depressing if you don’t have tons of natural light.

  4. Matters of Style, I agree with you. As soon as we do something about our hideous countertops, I plan to paint our cabinets white. I already have the hardware that I want and luckily, our house came with stainless appliances, so our only big expense will be the new counters.

    DesignTies, I am so glad you found some good images to show your client!

    Tarheel, you are so right! There really is a fine line. I don’t think there is much of a grey area with black kitchens. They either look fabulous or dark and depressing.

  5. I think it depends on your perspective. I’m already so scared of my kitchen that an all-white industrial kitchen would give me a panic attack! LOL. A Dramatic black kitchen along the lines of the Kelly Wearstler design…Me-YEOW. I want to make a chocolate Souffle in that kitchen!

  6. love love LOVE all of these kitchens- I have a serious crush on black cabinets. My fav is the one from Shelter, the city kitchen, I would die to live there.

    Awesome post!

  7. I think Gweneth’s kitchen is bigger than my apartment… but what a lovely place to sleep! I think the saving grace in the truly dark kitchens are the white chandeliers that brighten the room and draw your eye above the black.

  8. Oh I love them all!!
    I have been debating on what I want to do for my kitchen (since its very outdated) and I was looking into black. I love black! I just did our downstairs bathroom walls black and ended up doing the cabinets black too!
    Thanks for sharing such awesome kitchens!!!

  9. Not sure I could go black – certainly not super-bold a la Wearstler. That Farmhouse Modern version is rather desirable, though…
    I think I’m with you – leaning grayish-green these days. Oh…I LOVES me a good kitchen post – well done!

  10. I love the idea of black cabinetry. I’m a dark color girl, though. The idea of a white kitchen would drive me bananas. I’m just not that good enough of a housekeeper to tackle a white kitchen. I would love to do cabinets that looked like individual furniture pieces with turned legs. I also really like the brushed nickel scoop hardware. The “70s glam” gold hardware makes me want to gag. I hate brass/gold hardware with a passion.

  11. interesting post! I’ve been in the mood for darker, moodier rooms lately, so I like them. would definitely need lots of natural light though. all of these rooms are lit by professional photographers, so I wonder what they look like in real life.

  12. Love your blog and I am not sure if I have ever commented before. I designed a kitchen once with black cabinetry on the bottom and cream on the top cabinets. It was very pretty. We had concrete counter tops but I would have loved Cararra marble. I think with lots of natural light black can be just beautiful!

  13. All of these kitchens were absolutely gorgeous. You did a fabulous job on your post. I had never seen a black kitchen until a friend of mine built a new home about 6 years ago and had her kitchen cabinets painted black. At the time, I thought she had lost her ever loving mind but whow what a surprise when she took me through her home. It was fantastic and I’m not pulling anyone’s leg on this one and she had plain wood floors in the kitchen also.

    Since that tour, I’ve dreamed of having a black kitchen but just have not had the moxie to move forward with it. You are not kidding … it certainly takes guts. Most probably my venture would be over into the grey arena or painting the bottom cabinets black with the top cabinets painted cream and having lots of glass fronts with cararra marble counter tops and white subway tile/backsplash.

    A very enjoyable post.

  14. Hi Paloma!
    I’m with you- I love black cabinets! I am just waiting for the right client to propose black cabinets to! And I have loved those kitchens too! Thanks for a great compilation of kitchens!

    Take Care!
    Zuniga Interiors

  15. This is a fabulous post. Here, we do not use black in kitchens at all so it’s extremely rare if anyone has done so. Probably because of the climate. But the ones you have shown are lovely. I particularly like the one by Alkemie and the first one with a mirror backsplash.

  16. My husband would most certainly go for a dark kitchen, as that is mostly all he wears!

    When we build one day, I am sure we will incorporate black cabinets; however, I love the dark cabinets either on top or bottom, not both. I love the shiny cabinets!!

  17. My recently renovated butler’s pantry was inspired by Kelly Wearstler’s kitchen, and I love it. I don’t think I could do an entire kitchen in black, though – that is a bold statement, and I think I would get tired of it after a while. I always recommend white or light shades in the kitchen. I don’t think you can go wrong. Thanks for the wonderful photos!

  18. A few years ago I stained the cabinets in my kitchen black (in the house we have yet to put on the market…) and it is funny because when we go home now, I am always struck all over again by how much I love them. That said, I also love white and grey kitchens, so I have no idea what I will want to do with our next house! That decision is surely a little ways off still, so I suppose I have time to think on it.

  19. I absolutely adore black kitchens–so sleek and sophisticated, yet simple! And so easy to totally change the look just by swapping in colorful accents (a la Erinn Valencich–who rocks, BTW). Beautiful post!