It’s true that we’ve officially marked our shift away from all-white kitchens by declaring sage green as the It color to try this year, but don’t think we forgot about all our paint-averse decorators out there. We know major hits of color aren’t everyone’s thing—maybe raw tones from nature are more your speed. So hear us out as we make an additional case for dark brown kitchen cabinets. 

Before you let your mind go straight to builder-grade condos that may or may not also feature things like black granite counters and laminate floors, wait until we show you some ultra-chic kitchens that give the house flipper’s favorite move a modern spin. From mahogany to rosewood, these seven spaces are a solid second choice to our sage green obsession. 

The Non-Rustic Walnut

When faced with a “move-in-ready white box,” designer Becky Shea brought character into her client’s New York City apartment with lots of walnut, but she didn’t go overboard with the red-tinged wood. She balanced out the organic with stainless steel handles for an old-meets-new look. 

The Quiet Backdrop

To give a lot more depth and texture to their wood kitchens, Henrybuilt uses an aerospace-industry finishing system to bring out the variations in the tones, making it “exponentially more durable over time,” suggests the company. Against a sea of white (peep the counters, backsplash, and pendants), those little nuances really stand out. 

The Rustic Trifecta

While a smooth mahogany or walnut screams “modern,” reclaimed wood doors with stripey grooves add story. These fronts have been coated with DeVol’s Inky Blue Black tint and, to further bring out the texture, the company chose a concrete counter and exposed original stone for the backsplash. 

The Brass Beauty

Burnished brass drawer handles and shelf brackets bring out the golden-hued veins in the natural walnut doors in this pantry, designed by Regan Baker for the 2020 San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Like the wood, the metal and the matte-yet-luminous honed-marble countertops only get better with age. 

The Neon Hit

French designer Camille Hermand played off the trippy vibes of these grainy wood cabinets by painting only the edge of the open shelf electric yellow. A touch of color like this says you know how to have fun while still appreciating the beauty of things in their natural state. 

The Botanical Hack

Photography by Belle Morizio; Styling by Kate Berry

So what do you do if you already have dark brown cabinets but they’re not the wood you would have gone with? Take a page out of Domino executive creative director Kate Berry’s book and draw the eye away with a botanical wallpaper. She applied the treatment to MDF panels and then sealed it with glass panels so it’s splatter-resistant. 

The Sky’s the Limit

Vaulted ceilings make dark brown kitchen cabinets, well, way less dark. Try to flood your space with as much sunlight as you can. But if that’s not an option, consider see-through island pendant lamps (like these glass globe ones) that don’t cut off any of your sight lines. 

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