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Come to the Dark Side

“Do you think this will be too dark?” “I don’t want it to be too dark”, “I want something nice and light”, “I want to brighten up the space”, “I’m afraid this will make it too dark in there”.

Inevitably, some variation of this phrase comes out of every client’s mouth during the design process. People tend to be nervous about floors that are too dark, countertops that are too dark, cabinets that are too dark, wall paint that is too dark, etc., etc. in both kitchens and bathrooms.

But what is “too dark”? Certainly a lot of the kitchens that we tear out feel heavy- stained wood cabinets, usually a variation of a tan/brown countertops (or even DARK green, like my house had before remodeling), and sometimes dark flooring. Low ceilings, overhead soffits, tightly closed-in spaces, and a lack of proper lighting in many of these older kitchens don’t help the situation.

Folks often tend to have “brightening the space” as an important goal; so during many remodels, clients will be tearing out a wall (or two) to create a more open floorplan or even moving the kitchen to a different room altogether. Sometimes windows are added, and LOTS of new, bright, updated lighting.

So the question is: once you’ve done some (or all) of this, how light does everything else really need to be?? If you’re drawn to black and rich browns like I am, it can be hard to know how far to take it without ending up “too dark”.

My answer is that if you love dark colors, GO FOR IT!! Just don’t overdo it.

Sure, most spaces can’t pull off black cabinets with black countertops; but some can! So don’t be afraid to have one (or more) dark-colored feature in the room:

  • If you have light cabinets, chances are good that the contrast of a dark countertop will look very sharp without making the room look dark at all.

  • A dark floor and countertop with light cabinets is also an eye-catcher- just make sure to paint the walls a bright color, and have plenty of lighting!

  • Dark base cabinets paired with light wall cabinets (or floating shelves) can bring in the depth of dark color without being overwhelming.

The key is all about balance. I hope that as black continues to grow as a popular choice, people will become less afraid of using dark elements in their remodeling projects. Dark colors tend to add SO much character, interest, uniqueness and depth when someone is brave enough to utilize them!

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