Kitchen Design

Black Is the New Neutral Your Kitchen’s Been Waiting For

Start small, or go all-in—here are 7 ways to make those dark hues sing.

May 20, 2020
Photo by Aimée Mazzenga

Back in January, we asked some of our favorite tastemakers to predict this year’s biggest kitchen cabinetry trends. Designer Aly Velji, in particular, sang the praises of a dramatic option: black cabinetry. “Paired with brass accents and natural materials like marbles, they really do make such a gorgeous statement,” he told us.

Today we are following up with Aly, a few other designers and several homeowners who have flooded their kitchens with not only black cabinets but black walls and accessories as well. How do they keep the color from overwhelming the space? Are black cabinets hard to keep clean? Scroll down for a little real talk and some tips on how to pull off the look in your own cooking space.


Start Small

Photo by Joel Klassen

Going for the all-black look can feel daunting and irreversible. Aly Velji, designer of the kitchen above, suggests painting your island first to see if you’re really going to like the rich look. If you aren’t feeling it, you only have an island to repaint as opposed to an entire room.


Lighten it Up (Literally)

Photo by Jessica Alexander

Designer Nina Freudenberger installed a black kitchen in her own Malibu, CA home before applying it to her clients’ spaces so she would know how to make it work. She found that black kitchens offer the perfect backdrop for statement lighting, so go over the top! “Nothing looks more beautiful,” she says.


Paint Finish Matters

Photo by JAMIE GENS

Blogger Miranda Schroeder’s biggest tip for those looking to take the plunge into a black kitchen is to remember “the shinier the (paint finish), the deeper color black you will get.” Also, the more matte your finish, the harder your walls and/or cabinets will be to keep clean. Something between eggshell and high gloss will be much easier to wipe down and touch up.


Play with Texture

Photo by AIMÉE MAZZENGA

Redecorating the kitchen in her 1800s-era Chicago apartment taught Aimee Wertepny to use multiple textures, from rugs to greenery, within a monochromatic space to give it both depth and visual interest.


Don’t Forget the Sparkle

Photo by JOEL KLASSEN

Many people assume splashing a space in a darker color will immediately make it feel small, but all of the homeowners and designers we spoke to disagree. They say black walls and cabinets add depth to any room. They recommend accessorizing your black kitchen with shiny hardware and lighting as well as pops of bright colors to break up the abyss.


Add Wood for Warmth

Photo by MICHELLE WEIR

Annika Rowson, director of Rowson Kitchens, says an easy way to keep your all-black kitchen from feeling too stark is to add in warm wood tones like the timber bar she installed in the kitchen below.


Hardware Is King

Photo by Simon Devitt

Some homeowners and designers highly recommend avoiding handle-free hardware. Having handles or knobs will keep your cabinets free from fingerprints. If a fingerprint or some grime does find its way onto your cabinets, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe it clean then a dry one to remove the excess water.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“That said, I have about 30 linear feet of solid black honed granite counters in my kitchen, along with a 32+ square foot slightly asymmetrical island topped with the same honed granite, which I find quite elegant . . . . but be warned: Honed granite in black is high maintenance, as every little drop of water or anything else, and every little crumb can easily be seen. I imagine that quartz or composite counters in black would be the same. ;o)”
— AntoniaJames
Comment

Black kitchen—would you? Tell us in the comments below!

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Caroline Nothwanger
    Caroline Nothwanger
  • icharmeat
    icharmeat
  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
  • Garrett Fleming
    Garrett Fleming
Comment
Garrett Fleming

Written by: Garrett Fleming

Interiors Editor & Art Director

5 Comments

Caroline N. May 27, 2020
I would not have a black kitchen. it would be like walking into a cave--you have to turn on every light in the place to see your hand in front of your face. It's also terrible to keep clean as every single speck of dust or crumb will show at once. Our (north-facing) kitchen had dark wood cabinets and a dark floor and gold-flecked white countertops and was terribly dark until we painted the upper cabinets white. The lowers are getting painted this week. Black is fine as small accents or part of a backsplash, but not as the major part of a kitchen--unless of course it's only for show and you never actually go in there.
 
icharmeat May 26, 2020
BOOO! Absolute rubbish. Black makes a nice accent color or, in the correct layout, a stunning minor color but there is so much that must be right to make it work. It is rare as hen's teeth that black can be a dominant color in any kitchen that wasn't planned for it that will be properly used.
 
Author Comment
Garrett F. May 27, 2020
I think black makes a NICE accent and a STUNNING minor color, too. Glad we are on the same page. :)
 
AntoniaJames May 20, 2020
The black cabinets shown, especially the upper cabinets, seem too heavy. That said, I have about 30 linear feet of solid black honed granite counters in my kitchen, along with a 32+ square foot slightly asymmetrical island topped with the same honed granite, which I find quite elegant . . . . but be warned: Honed granite in black is high maintenance, as every little drop of water or anything else, and every little crumb can easily be seen. I imagine that quartz or composite counters in black would be the same. ;o)
 
Author Comment
Garrett F. May 27, 2020
Hi Antonia,

I like the black uppers! It’s like looking into outer space. What do you suggest as an alternative?