Interior Design on Your Own Time

Black and White Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Posted on: September 29, 2009

We all know that few things in this world are actually black and white. A product is never priced exactly as marked (because it often has tax or tips or shipping attached). A job description is never as ideal as it sounds (perhaps because they didn’t mention that your ‘corner office’ is actually a converted stock closet with no windows or ventilation), and decorating your home is never as simple as picking what you want (probably because of budgetary restrictions, an overwhelming number of choices or limited space, among other things). Still, when it comes to black and white decorating, few color combinations can be quite as eye-catching as this dramatic duo. Although the last time that having a black and white kitchen was ‘all the rage’ was in the late 1980s or early ’90s, there are still many cutting edge interior designers that are using this stark color scheme. The reason is simple- black and white kitchens provide a unique visual appeal that adds a bit of something ‘extra’ to every kitchen. One reason is the white, which often provides a hint of cleanliness- even if the kitchen is messy (which homeowner wouldn’t want that?!). The black, on the other hand, is a great way to hide dirt, especially when it’s used as an accent in the floor tiles or on the countertops (again, which homeowner wouldn’t want to disguise the grime?).

Not sure how to implement a black and white kitchen design without regressing back into the ’80s? Don’t be afraid- be excited about the many ways to create a fantastic black and white kitchen. Here are some ways to get started:

– Start off slowly by choosing black and white “kitchen art” to hang on your kitchen walls. Choose 2 black and white prints, framed either in only glass or in subtle black frames, and hang them on your current wall. Even if they don’t match your current décor, you’ll begin to see how easy it is to fall in love with black and white kitchen accents.

– Go with granite countertops. Few countertops are as sleek and interesting as granite whose pattern is unpredictable and unique. There are dozens of granite options that integrate black or white with other colors, and choosing one of these is a great way to play up your black and white kitchen theme without going overboard. One of my personal favorites is black granite with a hint of silver or gold flecks, both of which happen to look fantastic with white cabinetry. Black countertops are great at hiding dirt and dust, and look wonderful with stainless steel sinks and faucets.

– Choose floor tiles that are ‘in the middle’. One of the hardest parts of black and white decorating is choosing a floor tile that will look great without being difficult to clean. I recommend choosing something that is gray, or even a neutral wood floor (or faux wood tiles), which can look very modern in a kitchen. Choosing floor tiles that are “too white” will show dirt too easily, and the same can be said for tiles that are “too dark.” A marbleized ceramic or porcelain may solve your problem, but don’t hesitate to take home some samples and let them sit on your floor for a few days to see how you like the look and feel (and the way they show dirt).

– Add a delicate black accent with black cabinet hardware. There are many (many!) different types of black cabinet hardware that can look wonderful in a black and white kitchen. While I recommend steering clear of plastic (way too cheap and cheesy), there are plenty of zinc, brass or alloy designs available that will be both bold and sophisticated. In addition, black nickel provides one of the most elegant high-gloss black finishes on the market today. One of my personal favorites is flat black cup pulls. I just love the shape and the slightly grizzly surface.

– Use stainless steel appliances and accents whenever possible to keep it current. Nothing shouts ‘overkill’ more than a kitchen that has black or white appliances, countertops, sinks, floors, cabinet hardware, window shades, and wall hangings. Instead, temper the look with stainless steel or other colors (think cherry red towels, green wall hangings or other interesting accents).

When considering a black and white kitchen (or any type of black and white decorating), the most important thing is to use moderation which will prevent things from getting out of hand. Although we’re all familiar with black and white rooms that are completely out of style, it is entirely possible to create a black and white space that won’t go out of style. Instead of being scared, be adventurous- you’ll be glad that you were!


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