Classic black and white is a tried and trusted colour combination that has endless appeal, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular colour choices for kitchens. Black and white kitchen ideas can lend themselves to most settings, from traditional and country-style kitchen-diners, to edgy industrial kitchens or more modern, contemporary set-ups.
When it comes to black and white kitchen ideas, if you go for an entirely monochrome scheme, make one shade dominant rather than giving each equal prominence. A predominantly white kitchen colour scheme with accents of black can look chic and modern, but don’t overlook the elegance of a dark scheme with white used as the secondary colour.
Black and white kitchen ideas
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A monochrome scheme can be quite bold, so will usually benefit from some form of texture and a mix of finishes to prevent it from feeling too stark. Mix gloss and matt surfaces, opaque and dense, to build up layers, add extra interest and soften any harshness.
Bringing in accent colours is another way of adding interest to a black and white kitchen. Whether you opt for bright primaries and bold tones to make a monochrome palette pop, or calm neutrals and muted pastels to add softness. Monochrome also works well with all tones of timber, natural stone and luxe marble.
1. Create balance with equal helpings of black and white
While black kitchen cabinets might be overpowering in a small kitchen, in an open-plan space, there is enough surrounding white wall space to balance out the effect.
Finish is a key consideration when deciding on kitchen cabinets. A high-shine gloss finish on white cabinetry works well in most kitchens, making the space feel bigger and brighter. But a black gloss finish used over a large area can have the reverse effect and feel quite dated, so is best avoided.
Opt for matt black door fronts or textured wood finishes in ebony, which feel tactile and look warmer than a black high-gloss finish. Counter black cabinets with natural surfaces, from marble and stone worktops to natural timber flooring.
2. Go for gold with a statement feature
Stylewise, it’s hard to go wrong with a classic, all-white kitchen idea, but introducing black into the mix can take it up another level. The addition of a black marble-topped island adds wow to a simple white kitchen and gives the space a striking focal point.
The mix of old and new is key here, with sleek, white cabinetry in contrast to the vintage island with its aged black paintwork. Gold accent details help pull the scheme together too, from old gold-finish drawer pulls and cabinet handles to polished gold bar stools and a stunning vintage brass cooker hood.
3. Lighten the look with a run of glazed cabinets
Make black the grounding force in an open-plan kitchen with all-black cabinets along one wall teamed with a central island. Dark tones can help to draw in a room and make it feel cosier, which is great for larger spaces or open-plan layouts that can sometime feel a bit too open and lofty.
Counter dark cabinet doors by introducing a row of glass-fronted display units on the upper level. Painting the insides white will lighten the look and draw the eye upwards so that the kitchen feels less top-heavy. White interiors will also create a brighter backdrop for items on display.
4. Use black as an accent in a country kitchen
Black and white kitchen ideas can veer towards the more modern, monochrome look. But there’s no reason why you can’t use this classic colour combination in more of a rustic setting too.
Warm shades of white, ivory and off-white suit a country setting perfectly and feel less-harsh than solid black, especially in low-ceilinged spaces and rooms without much natural light. Team warm white kitchen cabinets with black granite worktops to add definition and edge. Worktops offer an easy way to add colour to an all-white kitchen.
Working in natural tones will also bring more colour and warmth to a black and white scheme. Introduce timber accents on worktops and trims or try country-style flagstones to add colour underfoot.
5. Make a standout floor the star
When it comes to cabinetry, white is often the colour of choice in a small kitchen as it will reflect light, make walls recede and increase the sense of space. But don’t rule black out of the equation completely when it comes to small kitchen ideas.
Making the floor the focal point is a trick that can make small kitchens feel bigger and more spacious too. Geometric floor tiles are a chic way of bringing black and white into a scheme and a small-scale, all-over pattern will create the illusion of depth in a small kitchen or tight space and make it feel larger than it actually is.
6. Mix it up with black, white and naturals
Give an off-white kitchen added focus by introducing black as an accent colour. Pepper your scheme with accessories, from black dinnerware and serving dishes to kitchen textiles and storage baskets. Then work in warm naturals and tactile textures to add softness, from wooden chopping boards and baskets to copper pans, rustic ceramics and glassware.
Add a playful touch by painting a chalkboard panel above a splash back. It’ll make a bold backdrop for a decorative display of kitchenware plus a handy spot for the family to chalk up reminders.
7. Fashion a retro vibe with playful patterns
Black and white schemes can feel flat and lifeless without any kind of pattern, texture or colour to bring relief. Tiles offer the perfect opportunity for introducing a splash of pattern into a plain kitchen, whether as a splash back, tiled floor or both.
Mixing the size and scale of patterns is a tried and trusted trick that designers often use, contrasting a large-scale pattern with a small, all-over design to play with scale. A larger format tile as a splash back looks striking teamed with simple white kitchen units. And replacing wall units with a long run of shelving allows the design to be shown off to full effect
8. Go halves with a black and white kitchen
There’s no doubt that wall units do have their uses (in terms of storage and hiding away clutter), but losing cupboards in favour of open shelving is a great way of making a small kitchen feel more spacious.
Black base units with plenty of white wall space above creates more of a balanced scheme that will make a small kitchen feel lighter and brighter. And having a curated collection of kitchenware on display will give the space more character than wall to wall units.
Bring warmth to a black and white scheme by bringing in rustic elements, from exposed brickwork on a chimney breast, to weathered timber shelving, woodgrain worktops and antique-style patterned floor tiles.
9. Double up with a two tone kitchen
Black kitchen or white? If you can’t decide between the two, then compromise with a two tone kitchen. The latest kitchen trend lets you incorporate bolder tones with calmer shades, so you can enjoy the benefits of both.
Two tone kitchen ideas can mean a half-and-half split, with one colour on base units and a second on wall units. Or dividing the kitchen up into distinct blocks of colour is another way of achieving the two-tone look. Try it with a freestanding island in a matt black finish against white units or consider a bank of black floor-to-ceiling cabinets as an accent feature in an all-white scheme.
Marble work surfaces and back splashes are a stylish way of marrying up a black and white scheme, with a luxurious dark-veined surface that ties in both colours.
10. Perk up plain cabinets with powder pink
Worried that a black and white kitchen might look too clinical? Introducing a contrast colour into the mix is the perfect way of getting around this. Avoid bright primary shades which can feel too stark and instead go for chalky pastels or muted neutrals to add a softer look.
Reserve your accent colour for a statement piece. Highlight a central kitchen island by choosing a perky shade of powder pink or pick out the paintwork on a display cabinet in a rosy hue. Kitchen stools are another way of working in an accent colour, whether lacquered, painted or upholstered in your chosen shade.
What colours go with a black and white kitchen?
Black and white can be classed as neutrals, so pretty much any other colour will work with them. But in a kitchen, it really depends on the look you’re trying to create.
Bright primary colours, like red, yellow and blue are a bold choice in a kitchen and can feel quite stark, so use these colours sparingly and in a contemporary setting for best results.
Muted shades sit well with black and white, whether that’s soft greens, duck egg, chalky pinks and mellow mustard, as do true neutrals such as taupe, beige, mushroom and shades of grey.
How do you soften a black and white kitchen?
One of the downsides of a black and white kitchen is that they can feel a bit cold and clinical if not done carefully. One of the ways around this is to bring in a mix of textures and tactile materials that will soften the harshness.
Natural materials will help to soften a black and white kitchen visually, used on work tops, splash backs, tiles, flooring and accessories. Think weathered timber and blonde woods, marble, granite and quartz work tops in warming tones or kitchen flooring in rustic flag stones, slate or tactile wood-effect vinyl.
If you're going for an entirely black-and-white scheme, make one shade dominant rather than giving each equal prominence. A predominantly white scheme has fresh appeal, but don't overlook the elegance of a dark scheme with hints of white.
Alternatively stick to accessories for a softer finish. Monochrome works with all tones of timber, as well as greys and pure shades, such as emerald green.
Matching shades of white across different surfaces can be tricky. For example, a wallpaper with a white background may look more like cream next to a white table, so try to keep them apart, using black accessories as punctuation.
A monochrome scheme can be bold and will usually benefit from some texture and a mix of surface finishes. Gloss and matt, opaque and dense build up layers to add extra interest and soften any harshness.
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Thea Babington-Stitt is the Assistant Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for nearly 10 years.
She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.
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