There’s an emerging trend for dark kitchen designs right now, even though white kitchens remain perennially popular due to their neutral backdrop that goes with everything. Why? A dark stained, painted or lacquered kitchen design is cosy and comforting; it gives interiors a contemporary edge, whether period properties, new-builds, apartments and even country cottage retreats.
Before you choose your dark and dramatic kitchen design, have a good long think about deeper paint colour schemes and which shades work well in the room during different times of the day in both natural and artificial light. A high gloss finish can ‘bounce’ light around the room, which will help if the space is small and dark anyway.
Consider the appliances, worktops and flooring – do you want complementary dark tones or something lighter for contrast? Metallics such as rose gold, brass and copper work especially well in such spaces and are sure to bring a touch of bling to the space, too...
Redesigning your kitchen? You are also going to want to check out our ultimate guide to planning and designing a kitchen.
1. Create a central focus with a kitchen island
As much as you love the dark detail, introducing an element of different colour or material will break up an expanse of dark painted, lacquered or stained furniture.
Bert & May has launched a new range of bespoke kitchen concepts, which blend the beauty of raw materials with classic kitchen design. The Library and Forge collections shown here start from £25,000 and feature handmade, handpainted wooden cabinetry and refined metals with a lustrous patina that develops over time. Prices start from £25,000.
For more inspiration, check out our clever kitchen island design ideas.
2. Get the luxe look with glass tiles
Make a feature out of your kitchen splashback or go one step further and decorate the entire wall behind the cabinets with mirrored glass brick tiles for a kitchen that looks like it's stepped straight out of 1940s New York.
You can find similar tiles at Tiles Direct for £1.99 per 10cm x 20cm tile. Caple’s Metallic Anthracite kitchen shown here is a show-stopping high-gloss design with a combination of dark, brushed aluminium and gloss surfaces with prices starting from £6,200.
Find more gorgeous splashback ideas in our guide.
3. Keep it light and airy with open shelving
Dark coloured kitchens can make a room feel cramped and closed in if there’s limited natural light – or if it's a small kitchen you're designing. One way to prevent this is to use open shelving rather than wall cabinets, as this lets the space breathe and it’s a great way of displaying your favourite ceramics, glassware or cookery book collection.
Harvey Jones’ Original Kitchen costs from £18,000 and can be hand-painted in any colour as well as easily repainted in years to come if you fancy a change.
Find out how to paint kitchen cabinets in our step-by-step guide.
4. Use patterned flooring to jazz up a dark scheme
As much as dark kitchens look striking in themselves, adding patterned vinyl flooring really livens things up underfoot and can be changed more easily over time than the cabinetry itself.
Neisha Crosland’s Check vinyl floor tile in Slate from Harvey Maria is ideal for this style, as it combines a classic Victorian tiled look with a more contemporary colour combination and feel. It’s also easy to clean, too. Prices start from £44.80 per sq m.
We have loads more advice on how to choose kitchen flooring in our dedicated guide.
5. Mix it up with marble
The trend for dark and dramatic kitchen designs is really taking off right now, with all shades of blue, charcoal and grey being sought after in other rooms, too. If you want to keep it on the traditional side, consider combining your cabinetry with a marble or marble-effect worktop and splashback and choose a parquet wooden plank or tile for the floor.
This Grafton Shaker design in Hartforth Blue is from Life Kitchens and is shown with Strata Quartz worktops and splashback with prices from £25,000.
Find the best types of kitchen worktop for your new room in our guide.
6. Display your favourite collections
You can really personalise a kitchen, whatever its colour and tone, with all the finer details that belong to you and you alone.
In this scheme by deVOL for instance, Classic English cabinetry is shown off to great effect by installing reclaimed timber shelving above with glasses, ceramics and crockery within easy reach. Finish with a fake stag head and battered paperback collection and you’ve got the perfect ‘den’ feel with a lived-in look. Prices start from £25,000.
7. Match your walls to your appliances
In a break away from using dark coloured cabinetry, this scheme still has a dramatic feel but uses natural timber handless cabinet doors with vertical grain and panelled walls which are painted in a rich navy blue.
To anchor the look together, an Everhot 150 range cooker in Marine Blue, £9,775, gives the scheme balance and symmetry.
8. Reflect light with glossy wall tiles
Choosing reflective surfaces wherever possible helps to throw light around the kitchen, creating an illusion of light and space, even in the darkest design.
These Reflections Graphite glazed ceramic tiles from Gemini Tiles measure 15cm x 40cm and cost £29.99 per sq m. Perfect for splashbacks, feature walls and whole wall coverings.
If you want any more advice on how to choose kitchen tiles, we've got an article for that.
9. Combine industrial elements for an on-trend design
Whether you go for classic or contemporary cabinets, both styles suit the industrial style kitchen down to a tee.
In this scheme, which features Tom Howley’s Kavanagh range in Nightshade, one wall is left as exposed brickwork and it really works against the rich shade of the furniture. Throw in some pendant lighting, chunky appliances and touches of wood and stone and you have the ultimate eclectic mix. Kitchens start from £40,000.
10. Pick darker worktops and splashbacks
Another way to mix things up a little is to go a shade or two darker for worktops, splashbacks and the kitchen island unit, keeping the cabinetry itself a tad lighter. we gone into a load of depth about the best types of kitchen worktops and what materials work best, in our guide.
This Verde Bamboo Quartzite is from Gerald Culliford, with prices from £335 per sq m.
11. Paint cabinets in a darker shade
If you already have good quality timber carcasses and cabinet doors, you could consider giving them a refresh with a new paint colour.
These cupboards are finished with Benjamin Moore’s Char Brown 2137-20, which costs from £20.50 for 0.94L from the Regal Select Flat range. Add mirror and metallic accessories for a luxury finish.
Find out how to paint kitchen cabinets in our step-by-step guide.
12. Complete the look with black built-in appliances
Another great thing about dark kitchens is that they work wonderfully with the latest built-in black appliances.
Designed to give the space a sleek, seamless finish and ideal for open-plan kitchen diners, the Indesit Aria collection is the ideal choice. In black glass and stainless steel, prices start from £199.99 for the angled cooker hood. Add a few pops of colour with small appliances, ceramics and accessories.
13. Make it multifunctional
A huge kitchen island unit can be as multi-purpose as you like, with everything from storage and sink to built-in appliances, a space for eating, entertaining and preparing meals. Ideal for large, open-plan schemes, a richly dark island creates instant wow factor when you enter the room and can be complemented by matching fixtures and fittings.
InSinkErator’s J Shape 4N1 Touch tap finished in Velvet Black, priced £1,249.
If you thinking of adding a kitchen island, make sure you go and have of read of these clever kitchen island design ideas.
14. Choose curved cabinets for an ergonomic look
Soften a distinctly dark scheme with gently curved cabinetry such as Rational’s Onda handless design, which comes in a choice of colours including a lacquered black. Team with simple brushed steel pull handles and open shelving above for a clean, contemporary feel. Prices start from £12,000.
Fan of the curved kitchen? We put together a whole guide to designing a curved kitchen. You can thank us later.
15. Add texture with tile patterns
Make walls more interesting with something different to the traditional square or rectangular tile. Tile Mountain’s Hudson ceramic matt wall tiles are laid in a herringbone pattern in this kitchen for a great feature wall and splashback. In a black or grey finish, they cost £19.99 per sq m.
Discover how to choose the best kitchen tiles – and if you aren't blessed with a huge kitchen, find out how to choose the right size tiles for a small kitchen.