Black or white kitchen???

ssteinSeptember 12, 2012

So we are in the process of building our house and we needed to pick out kitchen cabinets, countertops and yesterday :-) Unfortunately, I am still completely torn between two drastically different looks - white and dark (almost espresso) cabinets. I am drawn to both looks when I see them in pictures. The only constants that I know are that I want dark handscraped hard wood floors and some light shade of grey paint for the walls. I'm not opposed to two toned kitchens, but struggle with having two different countertops, which is usually what I see. I'd love any opinions and pics you can offer! I'm driving my husband, builder and myself crazy at this point because I cannot make a decision about this - I clearly am not the ideal home builder, I should have bought :-) Thanks!

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We are also in the process of building a new home.

I picked out 'java' perimeter cabinets, and an 'antique white' island. I really liked the off white cabs, but it is a semi-transparent stain on maple cabinets. The builders door sample didn't look very good, but it looked nice on a sample kitchen they had. In order to get a solid painted white, we would have had to move up 4 levels in cabinets. So long story short, in order to keep the white, we limited it to only the island . That way if it doesn't turn out good, it's only limited to one area instead of the entire kitchen.

The counters are a whole different saga. We are fighting for Bianco Antico, which will look very nice with those color choices. The floor is hardwood, coffee bean stain color.

If funds were unlimited, I would have upgraded the cabinets more than we did. is a wonderful source for pictures, you should check it out.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 2:34PM
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None of these are exactly what you're describing, but maybe they'll help a little :)

From [Kitchen plans]( From [Kitchen plans]( From [Kitchen plans]( From [Kitchen plans]( From [Kitchen plans](

And Fishies' original inspiration kitchen...

From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Oh can I relate! I am also building a modest house and I have gone from walnut color stain to white so many times it is making me physically ill and losing sleep. " Right now" I am thinking a pearl colored painted cabinets, with ORB pulls, laminate counters in a granite looking brown, cream, black and silver, SS appliances and hickory flooring with a gunstocks stain. Although I know sage is not in the trend anymore, I think my limited wall space will be painted that color. I saw some inexpensive glass tile in HD that seemed to go well with everything...providing it is still in stock 3-4 months from now when I am ready for it. But who knows, in that time, I might be back to the dark cabinets!

If you happen to remember "Tinker's last kitchen" , I thought it was absolutely drop dead beautiful, but now she is going white and I keep thinking of her saying she always felt like she was going into a cave in her dark kitchen, so that is my reasoning for going light.

Good luck and I will be anxious to see what you decide.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 3:57PM
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in deciding between light and dark, can you answer a few questions....
How much natural light is available in the kitchen? Lots of windows? South facing? Skylights?
What style is the rest of the house? Some styles may lend towards one tone or another? Period influences?
Is the space big/small? How high are the ceilings? How much lighting?
Do you have lots of wood elsewhere, other than the floors? big credenzas, dining room tables, built ins, other furniture? What do they 'fit' with best?
Do you like a cozy feel, clean, modern, etc..
Write out the answers to these questions and see if they point to one option or another?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 5:48PM
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See if you can find the Sweeby Test. This is a test to direct you in choices that you need to make when doing a kitchen. It's by one of our GW members.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:09PM
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In addition to Caspian's questions, I would also ask if it's possible to go "topless" with no (or few) upper cabinets. I think all black is hard to pull off--without a lot of lighting, or in a small or low-ceiling space, it runs the risk of being oppressive. I think a large kitchen, with lots of natural light light, and/or where you can do minimal uppers, will work with black. Otherwise I think you should lean toward white (or two-toned with white uppers)--

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:41PM
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The natural light situation was brought up here and it had never occurred to me, either til then. We're taking down a wall now because of it, but if we couldn't, I'd have definitely had to lighten up the cabinets, etc.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 12:26AM
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Well, I wish I had the answer, but all I can do is offer company with the indecision. And...a previous thread I posted musing about two-toned kitchens. I have a small house without a ton of light and short ceilings. I'm contemplating a two-toned kitchen, with white on top. I think it works best when the counter is continuous and flows with the uppers (white/light).

I don't think I'm going with an island, given my small space, but if I did, I think I'd do the dark wood island to contrast with the white perimeter option. I do think that looks rather great.

Anywhere, here's the thread, for your enjoyment.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2 Toned Kitchens

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:19PM
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Black kitchens may look good in pictures, I am not that impressed with them IRL. The kitchens often look dark or drab when you see them, IMHO. Black kitchens seem to work best when the architecture is modern and there is LOTS of light and the walls are light. In order to have black in the kitchen, you need to offset it lots of bright white, ie the popularity of black and white kitchens....

One more thing: stained dark wood cabinets have a completely different feel to natural walnut cabinets. The colors are similar but the visible impact that the walnut grains have in your kitchen is completely different from stained look. Natural walnut cabinets may cost you 2 to 3x stained maple when all else is equal. Walnut is expensive and they look it.

Having said that I do not like dark cozy looking houses. Some people really thrive in those. IMHO, if you want a darker cozy feeling house, you do not want black. you want dark stained wood kitchens. They are not the same. You also want alot of beefy dark stained wood trim, windows, and doors to go with that. These are very expensive houses to build since stain grade trim detail is considerably more expensive than painted MDF trim.

No matter what you do, you do need to see them IRL to see what works and what does not. Go to lots of realtor open houses in your area. Pay attention to what you like you what you don't. Pay attention to how light impacts the design choices. Light is something you have ABSOLUTELY no control over in your own house unless you are willing to spend ALOT of money; ie extra windows, cut down large trees, take out the neighbors second story etc.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:39PM
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