Kitchens have come a long way in terms of design and decor over the years. One trend that has gained popularity recently is the use of darker colors and tones to create a moody, dramatic effect. But how dark is too dark for a kitchen? Here is an in-depth look at the dark kitchen trend and how far you can take it.

The Rise of the Dark Kitchen

In the past, kitchens tended to feature light and bright colors like white, beige and light blue. The goal was to make the space appear clean, airy and spacious. However, in recent years, bold dark hues like charcoal, black, navy and forest green have become sought-after in kitchen design.

This shift towards the dark side is attributed to a few factors:

  • Influence of modern and contemporary design – These styles embrace moody, dramatic elements rather than clean and minimalist looks.
  • Desire for warmth and coziness – Darker colors can make a kitchen feel more intimate and cocooning.
  • On-trend color schemes – Deep hues like emerald green and black metal finishes are fashionable right now.
  • Practicality – Darker cabinets hide dirt better than light ones.

So if you’re looking to give your kitchen a stylish facelift, embracing the dark side may be the way to go.

How Dark Can You Go?

When executing the dark kitchen trend, there are a few guidelines to follow. You want the space to feel intimate yet still functional.

Cabinets and Islands

Dark stained wood or painted cabinets in hues like black, charcoal, navy or forest green work beautifully. Matte and satin finishes are better than high-gloss, which could feel too loud and flashy.

Try using darker lowers with slightly lighter uppers for balance. For example, pair black lower cabinets with navy blue or greenish-gray upper ones.

For islands, a very dark stain or paint color can feel too heavy. Opt for a medium tone instead, like grayish-blue. Also consider incorporating architectural elements like a stone or marble countertop to break up all that dark cabinetry.

Walls and Ceilings

To prevent your kitchen from feeling like a cave, keep walls and ceilings light. Crisp white is the classic choice, but you could also use very light gray or beige.

If you want to paint one wall as an accent,deep sage green or navy blue work well. Just keep the other walls/ceilings neutral.


Wood-look tile or vinyl plank flooring looks gorgeous with dark kitchen cabinets. The warm, natural tone provides balance.

Deep-hued engineered hardwood or porcelain tile floors are also stunning options. Just make sure it’s not too matchy-matchy with your cabinets.

For a contemporary vibe, try concrete-style flooring in gray or black. Glossy finishes reflect light, keeping things from looking too somber.

Lighting and Decor

Proper lighting is crucial for keeping a dark kitchen feeling bright enough. LED recessed cans are ideal for providing plentiful ambient light.

Pendant lamps over islands or glass-fronted cabinets also help illuminate surfaces and display items. Task lighting under cabinets ensures you have visibility when prepping meals.

Mirrors and reflective metals (like chrome fixtures or stainless appliances) also “bounce” light around. Finally, decorative elements like fresh flowers, fruits, and plants add brightness.

Dark Kitchen Inspiration

To help envision the moody, dramatic effect a dark kitchen can create, here are some inspiring examples:

Dark green cabinets with marble countertop

Emerald green lower cabinets paired with glossy white uppers and marble countertops. [Image via HGTV]

Black and white kitchen

A black and white kitchen with checkerboard floor tile. [Image via Pinterest]

Navy blue kitchen island

A navy island grounds this white kitchen. [Image via Pinterest]

Tips for a Dark Kitchen That Works

When executing your moody kitchen design, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use a combination of dark and light elements for balance. Don’t make everything 100% dark.
  • Incorporate reflective surfaces like marble, glossy tile and mirrored cabinets to add depth and light.
  • Properly illuminate the space with ample ambient, task and decorative lighting.
  • Choose lower-contrast pairings like black and charcoal or navy and emerald to prevent too harsh of a look.
  • Ground the space with wood elements like open shelving, trim or flooring.
  • Blend dark lower cabinets with lighter uppers for a layered, visually interesting look.

How Dark is Too Dark?

While the dark kitchen trend is hot, there are a few precautions to take so your space doesn’t end up looking like a dungeon. Here are a few don’ts:

  • Don’t paint EVERY surface black or charcoal. Keep walls, ceiling and backsplash light.
  • Don’t use dark cabinetry on top and bottom. Opt for lighter uppers to prevent heaviness.
  • Don’t neglect lighting. Make sure the space is well-illuminated with layers of light sources.
  • Don’t choose a dark flooring color that exactly matches your cabinets. Some contrast is important.
  • Don’t use glossy cabinet finishes, as they can feel loud and flashy. Satin or matte paint absorbs light better.

So in summary, the best dark kitchens artfully blend a variety of depths and colors while leveraging good lighting and finishes. With the right balance, your dark, dramatic kitchen can feel welcoming rather than overwhelming. Just take care not overdo it!

Frequently Asked Questions

How dark should cabinets be in a dark kitchen?

Aim for rich, saturated hues like black, charcoal, navy or forest green. Stay away from anything too light and washed-out. Dark stains also work beautifully on wood cabinetry.

What color walls go with dark kitchen cabinets?

Crisp white walls look best with dark cabinetry to prevent a cave-like feeling. Soft beige or very light gray can also work well.

What backsplash is best for a dark kitchen?

White or off-white subway tile is a popular backsplash choice. It keeps things light and bright. Boldly patterned or veined marble, colorful glass tile, or industrial metal backsplashes also pair nicely with dark cabinetry.

Should I get dark floors with dark kitchen cabinets?

It really depends on the exact shades. Complementary colors like deep brown flooring with emerald cabinets can look rich. But matching black floors and black cabinets might feel too dark and monotonous. Aim for dark pairings with enough contrast.

Is a dark kitchen depressing?

It doesn’t have to be! Ample lighting, reflective surfaces, lighter wall/floor colors, and pops of greenery or color prevent a dark kitchen from feeling too somber. Proper balance and decor make a dramatic, moody kitchen inviting.


The dark kitchen trend opens up bold, dramatic possibilities for your home. By embracing black, charcoal, navy and emerald hues, you can cultivate a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Just take care not to go overboard with the darkness. Follow the guidelines and tips outlined here, and you can achieve a stylishly moody look that still feels functional and bright. With the right decorative touches, your dark kitchen can feel warm, welcoming and still sufficiently light-filled. Harness the power of the dark side and give your kitchen a breathtaking makeover. Just don’t choose colors so dark that you can hardly see! Ultimately, balance and blending darker and lighter tones artfully is key.