Venturing to the Dark Side of Cabinets
The color black may not be synonymous with an upbeat room design, but designers say black cabinets can create a dramatic look in your kitchen.
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Coco Chanel pronounced the "little black dress" indispensable, so what might that particular color do for a kitchen? Black cabinets are new on the kitchen design radar. Whether you use it only on a center island or for all the cabinetry, it can make your kitchen a design standout.
"I believe every room should have at least a little splash of black somewhere. It's a great accent color as well as a great backdrop to other elements in the room; it makes them pop," says Susan Klimala of the Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn, Ill.
That splash can be solid paint — such as Pratt and Lambert's Graphite — a black stain, or a rub-through finish, which shows flashes of wood, a la the shabby chic look.
However you achieve it, black cabinetry enhances any kitchen style, be it rustic, traditional or modern, says Jennifer Gilmer of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Chevy Chase, Md., who is using black cabinetry in her own contemporary Asian-style kitchen. And although it's been an option in contemporary kitchens for a while — especially in European cabinetry, says Jennifer — it's now showing up in all styles. It's a flashback of sorts for more traditional designs.
"In Victorian times, they used dark woods, like walnut, cherry or mahogany, and stained them almost black," Jennifer says. Couple those with a creamy granite or marble countertop, and you've got the perfect period look.
Susan envisions a more modern take: "frameless black cabinetry with reeded glass inserts, stainless-steel appliances, art glass pendants and a mosaic glass-tile backsplash." The color black lets the cabinetry lines speak out and is a backdrop for the other elements in the room, says Susan. And, she notes, there's nothing like a black background to make metal panel inserts, such as chicken wire or mesh, stand out.
Black cabinetry can be a backdrop or a focal point like an island, a single wall or even interspersed with other colored or wood-finish cabinetry.
"Black is a great accent and grounding tool for the eye. In a traditional-style kitchen, a big black island or unfitted piece of cabinetry with a black rub-through finish would act as an elegant counterpoint to the other cabinetry within the space, perhaps distressed cherry, or even crisp white," says Susan.
Flat-panel cabinet doors are covered with wallpaper and distressed-wood molding for a French country look.