10 Ways to Go Dark in a Contemporary Kitchen

Installing a kitchen with a dark finish is a commitment—more so than a pale design you can easily repaint later or dress up with different colored accessories. But there are gentle ways to embrace the dark kitchen look. Check out these 10 options to see how you can incorporate the color scheme in a variety of ways.

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Roundhouse open plan kitchens

Sprinkle in bright hues. This kitchen works in dark and light with shots of bold color for a modern take that still manages to look fresh and breezy. The vibrant bar stools, bold print, green foliage and accessories elevate the look. The room configuration is also key: this one is open, with lots of natural light from roof windows, plus the owners have opted for just one ultra-dark wall and kept the floor relatively pale. A stainless steel countertop bounces light around the room to great effect.

Roundhouse contemporary kitchens

Try flipping the colors. If inky cabinets are a step too far for you, or out of your budget right now, update your kitchen by simply painting one wall in a darker shade and adding a few accessories, like these bar stools. Again, color helps break up the scheme, with the pale blue accessories looking gorgeous against this charcoal wall.

Victorian Terrace

Choose warmer darks. If you’re concerned about a dark kitchen feeling too cold, try purple instead of the typical gray or navy. This dark aubergine color—especially combined with the gleaming copper backsplash and wooden sideboard—gives the kitchen a sense of warmth. Any dark paint that veers more toward red than blue will help you achieve this look. Seek out almost-blacks with a hint of red, or browse a deepest ruby, a slightly browner burgundy or some dark berry colors.

Industrial Chic

Dare to darken up high. The conventional way to add in some dark cabinets is to paint base units in a rich shade and stick to light colors on top so the room feels grounded and balanced. However, these blue-black wall cabinets work well because the color is echoed in other areas of the room, such as in the low-slung mid-century armchair and pendant lamps.

Kitchens: The Bovingdon

Balance for a smart look. Create balance in your moody kitchen with a single wall and the floor in a rich, dark color—anything from a gray like this (Dark Lead Colour by Little Greene), to navy or deep green—and the ceiling and other walls in white. To keep the look on the lighter side, you can paint the kitchen island in a color somewhere between the light and dark shades to add a subtle ombré effect.

Clarendon Road

Don’t discount it in a galley. You may think this look can only work in a large, open-plan room and that it would be foolish to try in a narrow kitchen, but this slim example proves that, as long as there’s plenty of light, the effect can be anything but gloomy. Creating a glass wall helps, but you also could just consider adding a skylight or a larger window in your kitchen renovation.

Luxury penthouse on The Strand by Peek Architecture

Make it sophisticated. Tip a charcoal kitchen over to the glamorous side by adding lots of warm metals, like the worktop and backsplash here, and choosing luxury finishes, such as marble and parquet flooring. You can nod to this scheme on a smaller scale with a coat of paint and brass or copper accessories or small fittings, such as cabinet handles.

Concrete & Vintage Oak

Give minimal a twist. If you’re really taken with a minimal look, it doesn’t necessarily have to be plain and white. In black, a pared-back aesthetic can have a tougher edge. As with any minimal kitchen design, going handleless will visually declutter the space, and including enough smart, closed storage to give everything its place will keep surfaces clear. This mixture of vintage oak and dark concrete cabinets, with a hot-rolled steel countertop, makes for an even stronger style statement.

Hambalt Road

Just opt for an island. If all that black is scaring you, try a dark blue just on the island instead, and soften things further with a few traditional touches. Tongue-and-groove paneling, nautical brass pendants and vintage-look industrial seating, all seen here, are just some ideas for adding a little homey, eclectic character. Also, look at old enamel signage and vintage dishware.

Kitchen space optimization

Update just your cabinets. You could have darker kitchen cabinets installed and leave the rest of the room as is. It’s also easy, if time-consuming, to paint your existing pale kitchen cabinets a darker shade if you’d like to save some pennies.