How to Pair Black Kitchen Cabinets With Practically Anything
Even pink walls.
Updated Jan 13, 2023 1:10 AM
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First, matte charcoal appliances started replacing stainless steel ones. Then there was the resurgence of soapstone and moodier marbles as an alternative to the wildly popular (and rapidly depleting) Carrara. Sorry, white: All signs point to dark kitchens being the new gold standard. And there’s no better place to embrace the trend than with black kitchen cabinets.
Going dark doesn’t have to mean compromising on that coveted bright and airy feeling. Contrary to popular belief, the color can be cozy, interesting, crisp, and warm—all at once. Plus there are tons of benefits to dark cupboards. For one thing, they make everything around them instantly cooler, including dated details like laminate floor tile and granite countertops. They also go with pretty much anything. Once you’ve nailed the right paint swatch, it’s simply a matter of fine-tuning the details.
Pair It With Pink
Black and blush are an unlikely couple, but the latter (in this case, a romantic muted rose from Farrow & Ball called Sulking Room Pink) delivers a sense of playfulness to a more serious shade like black. The lone upper cabinet in the corner—the kind of place you’d designate for one-off tools like a turkey baster or waffle maker—adds to the whimsy.
Disguise Drab Counters
Julia and Chris Marcum weren’t fans of their dated granite countertops, but the design duo wasn’t about to rip them out and replace them either. Their solution? Paint the cabinets and paneled backsplash a chameleon green-gray (Thunderous by Sherwin-Williams) so the surface fades into the background rather than stand out.
Capitalize on Natural Light
The cupboards in this Ashland, Nebraska, home were originally going to be all white, but when designer Molly Kidd of Light and Dwell saw how much sunshine came through the windows, she swerved in the opposite direction and went with Benjamin Moore’s Onyx and unlacquered brass finishes.
Go Beyond Knobs
Intricate hardware will win you major points on black kitchen cabinets. By drawing on their traditional Shaker-style doors, Ohio-based renovators Catherine and Bryan Williamson opted for solid brass latches from Emtek in a French antique finish to keep the old-world vibe going.
Work in Small Doses
In actor Adrian Grenier’s Brooklyn brownstone, designer Estelle Bailey-Babenzien balanced the kitchen’s light wood cabinets with a to-the-ceiling black wood bar with an open shelf—plus a ladder on a track for reaching anything at the tippy-top.
Fake High Ceilings
Open shelving and dark lower cupboards work wonders in a small space. The darker hue—such as the jet black in this Brooklyn kitchen—acts as a grounding force, while the other draws the eye up, creating the illusion that the room is bigger than it really is.
Warm Things Up With Rugs and Art
Black kitchen cabinets can read as cold if you skimp on the decor. A colorful runner, original artwork, and a vintage mirror are a few ways to brighten up the room once the construction is said and done.
Create a Cohesive Layout
When turning this galley kitchen into an open-concept floor plan, Jessica Helgerson maximized the full length of the wall by adding built-in seating. Using the same inky hue on the base makes the bench look like a natural extension of the workspace.
Bring in Breezy Lighting
A space with dark cabinets and a matching countertop and backsplash sets a dramatic mood that’s perfect for dinners with friends or your significant other. (Psst: It’s also a great way to “hide” appliances in an eat-in kitchen.) To keep the monochrome scheme from sucking you into a black hole, be adventurous with your lighting choices—think: a Noguchi lantern or similar paper pendant lamp.
If you’re not one to hold back, embrace a tone-on-tone look, like in this kitchen from Studio Sven, which features dark countertops, cabinets, and walls. Venetian plaster adds texture to the space, while doors and trim (even ductwork) in the same shade give it a unified look.
Play With Varying Dark Hues
A dark charcoal can read black in the right light, and in comedy writer Laura Lane’s Brooklyn home, the hue mingles with black hardware and then fun finishes. “I’ve been really into copper and rose gold lately, and nothing looks better against that than black and dark gray,” says Lane.
Mix in Warm Woods
If you’re worried about your black kitchen cabinets appearing too cold, warm things up with wood like birch or white oak. Together with white walls, this color combo creates a bright, tailored look.