How can you not love navy blue when the deep shade beckons visions of calm ocean waters, freshly picked berries, and the night sky? The hue’s universal appeal makes it the perfect choice for kitchen cabinets. While it gets a nautical rap, when paired with eye-catching metals and modern appliances (not anchors and oars), navy can visually awaken a mundane space. Plus, there’s plenty of opportunities to personalize, as the color plays well with everything from classic subway tile to butcher block. Read on for nine ideas for making the cool neutral your own.

Focus on the Heart of the Room

Photography Courtesy of Studio McGee

It only takes a hint to freshen up an all-white space. To infuse this bright coastal kitchen with charm, Studio McGee swathed just the island cabinets in Blue Note by Benjamin Moore. The gathering spot feels all the more important now thanks to its distinguished color. 

Get Edgy With Your Appliance Choices

When have you ever felt awed by a stainless steel refrigerator? Australian designer Sibella Court’s daring decision to go with a jet-black Smeg fridge and range paid off in her moody space. Court describes her palette as “subtle but stormy,” and she accentuated the drama of the scheme with an eclectic array of materials, like zinc, rope, and cane.  


Top It Off With Graphic Stone

Gentleman’s Gray by Benjamin Moore, the shade Black Lacquer Design founder Caitlin Murray used for these cabinets, is the paint swatch equivalent of a wise British man in a top hat. So to make the traditional hue feel contemporary, Murray paired it with a dramatic slab of marble with thick white veins. 

Create the Illusion of Height

Smart paint choices is all it takes to fake high ceilings. In this case, Emily Henderson used dark lowers to ground the small space and coated the uppers and ceiling beams in white for that coveted airy feel. 

Have Fun With Floor Tile

Continuing the hardwood floors from the adjacent room into the kitchen would have been the easy choice for Susan and Ben Work. Instead, the designers cut the transition off with funky cement tiles. The little slivers of color in the hexagons pick up on the Hague Blue cabinets and the greenish veins in the marble backsplash. 

Play Up Wood Tones

If you’re not into the drama that black counters bring to a navy kitchen, add warmth with a butcher block surface. Jessica and Tyler Mares of Renovate 108 bought the slab for their bar nook for less than $200 at IKEA. 


Lean In to Graphite Undertones

Athena Calderone of EyeSwoon chose a bluish black hue from Farrow & Ball for her New York City townhouse kitchen and paired it with nonshiny honed marble for an ultra-matte finish. 

Go Big on Hardware

Photography by Jessica Antola

The only things louder than Gillian Schwartz’s peacock-hued cabinets are the oversize knobs—actually coat hooks—on the doors. The move was inspired by furniture designer Faye Toogood’s home. 

Add Artful Details

You don’t have to do anything special with the cabinets themselves to make the dark hue feel interesting. Sarah Wittenbraker layered square panels on the side of her island, and now the structure doubles as sculpture. 

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