Dark-Toned Kitchen? (New Construction)

archv6625September 28, 2013

I'm in the final stages of selecting finishes for my kitchen and I'm strongly considering going relatively dark - Natural Black walnut cabinets and floors, Blue pearl granite, black appliances, and fairly light walls. THe island countertop will be edge grain maple.

I very much enjoy the look in mock-ups, but would like to see/hear if anyone has gone this dark in a kitchen.

Thanks for the thoughts!

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I think it will depend on how much natural light you get.

I was drooling over all sorts of walnut cabinets on Houzz. When I got a walnut sample, and a sample of rift swan oak in my kitchen, the walnut was too dark for me. We have very little natural light in our current kitchen, and couldn't add more during the remodel. I ended up getting my walnut fix by using it as a contrasting accent for my shelves trim etc.

When I apologized for being fickle, my designer said that what you see in a professional photograph won't always work for somebody in real life.

Walnut is a beautiful wood, and there are some great recent reveals on here. I think Thedork is working on a walnut kitchen right now.

BTW - you might want to reconsider your cook top on the island, all sorts of safety and venting issues with that type of configuration.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:05AM
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I think this is going to depend a lot on the lighting in your kitchen, both natural and electrical. The problem with dark cabs, floor, perimeter counters is that it sucks up all the available light and you can't see what you're doing - as in cutting off your finger while you cut up the onions. You don't want to have to turn on all the lights just to work in the middle of the day. Generally, people who choose dark elements (we have dark, but not black, cabs and black DW and stove), usually choose lighter elements to balance the light. Having a big skylight helps.

I suggest that you look through online photos, particularly the ones on GW. Houzz is good, but many of the photos are professionally done, so everything looks great. GW photos are pretty much DIY with point and shoot cameras and cell phones, which actually gives you a better idea of what a particular kitchen looks like ;-).

Here is a link that might be useful: Finished Kitchens

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You'll have a LOT of extra expense for the additional lighting that will be required. And for the trips to the emergency room that that completely unsafe and unsocial cooktop will give your family. There's a much better kitchen design available than that!

Like this. With all of the lighting on dimmers.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:30AM
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Thanks for the thoughts!

There are 2 large windows above the sink and a 6 foot sliding glass door that both receive significant afternoon sun, so we do have plenty of natural light.

We've received many similar comments about the island cooktop - and I guess we just have unusual taste. After living with a cooktop in the island (and growing up in one for that matter as well), I couldn't imagine having it anywhere else. Its a huge convenience (to us) to be able to cook from both sides of the cooktop. We're going to use a glass hood (and about a bottle of windex a week) to keep it fairly open. As far as safety, its rare that there are children in the house and we're cautious to keep handles pointed towards the center of the stove when possible.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Natural light doesn't work after dark. Or in winter. You've got to plan the artificial light NOW in the construction phase.

And most local codes won't allow an island cooktop without some form of safety zone behind it. You could do an island cooking zone in this space much more safely if you wanted to, but the problem of the much greater expense for ventilation would still exist.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:05PM
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In my last house I had similar light, and I went with stained Cherry cabinets, natural cherry flooring, and a combo of Uba Tuba granite on the island and white composite countertops on the perimeter, and I loved it and it was gorgeous.
I also had the cooktop in the island. I know that GW's tend not to like it, but I never had kids in the house, and it was fine.
If you've got enough light, it's a beautiful, warm and inviting look.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:08PM
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There is no national code requirement for a buffer zone of counter behind an island cooktop, but many locals recommend 9".

If you want this layout, I would plan on the 9" or maybe 12". It still allows you to cook from a secondary position behind but creates a buffer zone.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:22PM
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I think the cooktop will be fine, but I would want some seating. Maybe something like this?

From [Kitchen plans](https://picasaweb.google.com/113704953485102437421/KitchenPlans02?authuser=0&feat=embedwebsite)

You still have a very nice baking area and the fridge is closer to the cooktop, so less walking in your primary work triangle.

Also, what do you plan to use for a backsplash? Have you considered a lighter floor? I think the dark wood and blue granite will be beautiful together, but too many dark (or light) surfaces and you lose your contrast.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 2:24PM
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As i said, I don't have any problem with the island cooktop...and cooking from both sides is probably a nice option.

However, if you do decide to enlarge the island and add some stools...it would still fit in the plan. Just another option :)

From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 3:23PM
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I'm certainly not opposed to adding 12" to the back of the island - in fact that's a good idea. I do appreciate the other comments, but otherwise the layout is going to remain as is.

Marji - thanks for the comments about the color. Natural cherry (not brazillian) is actually the other color we were considering for the floor or the cabinets. Do you think a cherry cabinets with the walnut floor would work better than walnut on walnut? Cherry floor with walnut cabinets?

Lavendar_Lass, as I mentioned,we have considered cherry flooring as well. We were planning to leave the backsplash relatively plain, just a 4-6" band of granite.

As far as lighting, we were considering 2 tracks of 5 lights each on either side of the island, 4 lights in the hood, task lighting above the sink, under counters and 6 cans in the breakfast area, so I think we'll be lit ok.

Thanks again for all of the knowledge that was shared.

This post was edited by archv6625 on Sat, Sep 28, 13 at 16:44

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 4:41PM
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We went fairly dark also and have been told our kitchen is warm and inviting. Cherry cognac cupboards and soapstone counters with a lighter backsplash. Were very happy with it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 4:44PM
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I've never had a kitchen of dark finishes, but one of my favorites ever of the ones I've visited was a totally interior kitchen in a nice old house: no windows, completely paneled in fine wood, ceiling too, to match the cabinets. It was not an inexpensive kitchen, and being in it made me think of a jewel box, rich. But not dark -- it was the kitchen of someone who enjoyed cooking and very serviceable. I don't recall noticing the ambient light level at all, only the wonderful richness and warmth, so obviously it was well and properly lit.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:24AM
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I love my dark cabinets! Maple stained Java. It does get some light from the sliding door, but only direct light in the morning. This I believe was taken early afternoon during construction. I haven't posted a completed reveal yet, but hopefully soon.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 10:59AM
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With the lights. Both pics are a little darker than real life, the iPad doesn't handle bright spots too well.

When you add the UCL it is perfect!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 11:03AM
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I also have dark cabinets. I love them. I didn't have to put in tons of overhead lighting. The room faces south, so only afternoon light. I find it warm and inviting.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I went with espresso cabinets but balanced them with light counters and floors. I did install a lot of lighting though, probably some overkill in there. I had white pantry cabinets put into the mudroom so that balances things some.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 5:51AM
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