White cabs/black island- too trendy?

Niki FriedmanAugust 27, 2014

I'm looking to create a vintage industrial looking kitchen and debating whether or not to go with a black island vs off white like my uppers.

Here's my inspiration kitchen... It's not exactly right but the vibe is what I'm going for ...


Will a shiny black island show less dirt/scuff marks than white? Will it make the space look less serious and formal (would be a plus!). Is it a trendy look that will soon be outdated?

Thanks so much!

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Sophie Wheeler

Trendy, yes, very much so. Show dirt, yes, very much so. Formal, yes, very much so.

If you want industrial, think outside the box entirely. Use an old steel welder's table for an island that you clearcoat over the patina. Use outdoor stainless cabinets for the perimeter along with a freestanding industrial restaurant sink.

Get AWAY from mainstream entirely. Your inspiration does not remotely fit your description of what you say you want, other than the architecture of the old building itself. You won't ever be able to reproduce that. The cabinets filling the space are trendy pseudo-retro traditional.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:24AM
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Niki Friedman

Thanks Hollysprings. I guess what I'm looking for are industrial elements in a traditional kitchen. Lots of stainless, right angles, exposed hardware, subway tiles with dark grout, honed marble counters.

I think my intuition was right and I should go with a black island.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Inspiration pic - lots of great elements in this kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:30AM
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That is a great kitchen. I think as far as a "white" kitchen I like it best.
I will be going with very dark to black lowers. Possibly no uppers. Trendy or not. No resell planned here, so I can do what I want. ~big grin~

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Niki Friedman

Thanks Romy for posting the image!

We live in a white and brick cape cod style home so I think this type of kitchen fits well. We will prob stay in the home for the next 10-15 years but ultimately we are designing it for us- kid friendly and lots of storage. Love the idea of no uppers but unfortunately we need the storage.

Stay tuned- should be posting a layout next week. Will need lots of advice on that!!!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:38AM
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I think that kitchen looks really sharp! I love so many things about it - the tile to the ceiling (ok - the tiled range hood is weird), the built-in look of the cabinets, those light fixtures!!!

Don't worry about being too trendy or not - do what you love. Kitchens get update every 15-20 years anyway....

I LOVE hollysprings' suggestion of the welder's table or something else cool for the island - something open underneath would look utilitarian and visually open up the space a bit too (depending on how big your kitchen is, a black island can just end up feeling like 10lbs of crap in a 5lb sack - very heavy and imposing). Maybe a compromise?

Traditional Kitchen by Jamestown Architects & Building Designers Ellen McKenna Design

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:14AM
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I love that kitchen! I think it is trendy, too. But it's like buying clothes. Styles are always changing. You can always paint the island a different color in the future if you tire of the black. If you are worried about it showing dirt/scuffs you could go with a gray instead of black. A lot of cabinet lines are coming out with more gray options. Midtone colors show dirt less and a gray would feel more casual than black.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:57AM
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We did a black island with white perimeter cabs, and so far, I really like it. I tried to make the island cabinet finish as matte as possible to make it less formal and also to try to hide the dirt a bit more. My dark lowers and my white lowers get noticeably dirty at about the same rate.

We knocked down a wall between our kitchen and our den and I think the island does a great job of bridging the darker tones of the den with the lighter colors in the kitchen.

I think you won't be disappointed if that's what you decide to do! Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:06PM
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OP: The black island can always be painted, and trendy things that are inexpensively changed are excellent trends to follow, in my book!

hollysprings: I wish I had the right space to do an industrial kitchen like you describe!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:25PM
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As a caterer, I have worked in numerous kitchens and the ones I have nightmares about are fitted with shiny, pure black countertops. They are impossible to keep clean, they streak, they smear, so if you plan on doing any cooking in your kitchen I would go with a more matte finish. Essentially you have a mirrored, black surface.

Or do what one of my clients did and purchase a 6 or 8' stainless freestanding commercial kitchen prep table. There is storage underneath, one or two drawers and can be fitted with a pot rack. They are indestructible, easy to clean, can cut on them (not great for your knives..yes they do scratch).

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 12:50AM
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Niki Friedman

I was thinking that a shiny black island (with honed Denby counters and lots of shiny nickel hardware) would look less formal than a black matte island. Or maybe the shiny is more industrial (and it will match the shiny subway tile or whatever backsplash I end up going with)? That's sort of the vision in my head. I'm thinking that a shiny black finish will be easier to wipe clean than a matte one.

Great thoughts on the painting!!!! I bet I could completely change the look of the kitchen with the island color since I'm going with white almost everywhere else.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 7:13AM
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Niki Friedman

BakerJen- totally agree about blending the kitchen and family room. We have the same setup and we have a fireplace with a polished black granite surround and a dark brown leather sofa. I think the black island will really work- yay!!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 7:21AM
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I have a black island and I LOVE it! It is painted in a matte finish. I don't notice that it gets terribly dirty, and it is easy to wipe clean.
But what do I know? I also have shiny black granite counters on my perimter and I don't find them difficult to clean at all. I don't notice dust, dirt or smears.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 8:52AM
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I agree with hollysprings. White/black and white/gray is very trendy now, and I don't see the trend lasting. I always say, though, if you're planning to stay in the house and never sell, and you want purple cabinets, get purple cabinets.

If you're not selling, why would you care if it's trendy? Do what you want!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 9:00AM
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I did white perimeter cabinets and a black island in our last kitchen. We did butcher block countertops and cork floors, which warmed it up some. I guess that was 2007. We sold the place soon after (job necessitated an unexpected move). I loved that kitchen and the feedback on it while the house was on the market was very positive. I didn't know it was trendy--sometimes I think ignorance really is bliss. I guess if you get tired of it, you can always paint something a different color.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 2:25PM
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