Pale-coloured and wood kitchens are understandably popular since they’re attractive, easy to live with and available in a huge range of styles, from traditional farmhouse to sleekly modern. But when planning your kitchen, it’s important to mix in elements that add an individual feel, and using black is a great way to do this. Like white, it goes with everything, and you can use as little or as much as you like. So when choosing features and fixtures for your kitchen, rather than automatically going for the standard white, stop and check out the black option too, as in the kitchens below.
Look to your lights. A large island is useful if you have the space, and how it’s lit can make a big difference. Instead of spotlights that would disappear into nothingness, these three black pendants illuminate the island beautifully and add character to the room. They also act as a border to zone off the kitchen of this open-plan space.
Had these pendants been white, they would hardly be visible against the wall. These black ones stand out and echo other black elements in the room, balancing the scheme.
Opt for black appliances. Most people have white or stainless steel fridges, so that’s what we expect to see. Do something different and choose a design in dramatic black to make a statement in a small space. Note how this refrigerator gives this compact room real personality, whereas a white version would’ve fallen into the background and made for a more ordinary setup. Some fridges, especially those with a retro vibe, are available in an array of bright colours, so if you like this look, do some research and check out the other options. You may be surprised by what you like.
Sit in style. Bar stools can offer just a dash of black if you’re wary of adding too much. These slim-legged examples echo the lighting cord above for a cohesive look, and their delicate shape doesn’t dominate the scheme since so much white is visible through and around them.
A great way to try black stools is to paint some old ones picked up cheaply secondhand. Spray paint is quick and hardwearing — just make sure you prepare properly (read the can for details) for a beautiful finish.
Use on a backsplash. The area behind a sink is a good place to introduce a bold element to a kitchen because it’s limited and won’t take over. This pale kitchen with handleless doors could support lots of different types of backsplashes, but this choice is all about opposites: black against white, texture against smooth. It’s strong and dramatic yet restrained. Use tiles to create this effect, or if you can’t quite commit to black, look at other contrasting materials, such as copper or antiqued glass.
Surprise with ornate accents. The overall feel of this kitchen is light and airy, with acres of glossy white punctuated with a striped wood. But look up — there, hanging from the ceiling, is a great design decision: a black chandelier. This contrasts with the rest of the room in both colour and style, and that’s why it’s successful. If you have a sleekly designed kitchen, the obvious choice is a sleek light. But go bold and black, and it stands its ground quietly, without being a distraction. Sometimes doing something unexpected is the best way.
Darken your seat covers. Re-covering stool or chair pads is an easy way to try the look. Buy some fabric (faux leather or water-resistant fabrics are ideal if you have young children and need to clean the seats regularly) and use a staple gun to attach it to the seat. Turn your stool or chair upside down to see if the seat can be unscrewed to make the process even easier. Start along one side, pull taut and staple the opposite side. Make folds at the corners and trim excess fabric close to the staples.
For a finish with pleats and tucks, as shown on the seats here, your best bet is going to an upholsterer unless you’re handy with a tack hammer and webbing stretcher.
Punctuate pure white. A completely white kitchen needs other colours to ground it and keep it from looking like the inside of a cloud. Add black and chrome in small amounts for a sparkly high-end finish that will always look neat — monochrome has timeless appeal. Group items together rather than dotting them about to achieve a defined look (rather than a Dalmatian one).
Focus on your cooking zone. In a kitchen with a pale colour palette like this, a dark, glossy range looks grown up, especially when it’s teamed with a matching hood. It becomes the focal point in the centre of a wall. Since doing this brings the eye to the area, be sure to have an attractive stove you want to highlight.
Do a double-colour whammy. A red stove adds a bright contrast in this pale kitchen, but it really needs the black accents too. Without the black, red and white (or, as here, off-white) can be an uncomfortable pairing, but slabs of glossy marble ground the scheme and stop it from looking garish.
If you live in a hard-water area, be aware that black marble like this needs to be polished regularly to keep it looking good; otherwise, it tends to develop a chalky scale that makes it appear dull.
Work the industrial vibe. Oversize matte-finish pendant lights help give a kitchen industrial style. Some have a metallic interior that hints at luxe, but mostly they exude a utilitarian vibe. This style of pendant with an enclosed shade projects all the light downward, rather than filling the area, so you’ll often need several for a practical work zone. Take a tip from this kitchen and place them in a row so that you can see what you’re doing.