White kitchen cabinets are a common style of modern kitchen. Bringing a luxe look with a gleaming sheen, the combination of white countertops and cabinets brings a smart and contemporary feel to the space.
A common combination with white kitchen cabinets is a similarly light floor, with white oak or light-stained wood creating a calming, minimalist space, but designers are also bringing dark floors into white kitchens. The color combination brings a bit of drama and depth to an all-white space and stops a white kitchen feeling flat or sterile. I've spoken to the kitchen designers to find out whether dark floors should be avoided with white kitchen cabinets, or whether it's the look to try for the ultimate modern kitchen.
Do white kitchen cabinets work with dark floors?
So do white kitchen cabinets work with dark floors? Most designers like the look because of the contrast and depth the combination brings to the space. 'White cabinets absolutely go with a dark floor - the contrast in values makes the space pop,' says Vrinda Khanna of Khanna Schultz Architecture and Design.
In this space designed by Marie Flanigan, the kitchen flooring creates real depth and character. 'A great way to keep a kitchen light, bright and welcoming, is to complement a light palette with depth and character. If your cabinets are white, change up your flooring, countertops, and accent pieces to include additional color and textures,' says Marie.
Another reason that dark flooring with white kitchen cabinets works is that it can also help warp the space to feel bigger than it is, says Karina Marshall of San Francisco-based Blaine Marchitects + Marshall Interiors. 'We love the contrast of white kitchens on dark floors,' she says. 'The optical illusion that occurs is that the space appears more open and taller.' In this sense, the dark kitchen floor, and white kitchen cabinet combination might actually be a great idea for a small kitchen.
What type of dark flooring works with white kitchen cabinets?
For Chad Murphy of Brooklyn-based SOON Architecture Studio, dark floors in the kitchen should be a certain material for the look to really work. 'Polished concrete or stained wood provides a background and helps the white surfaces really pop.' For Chad, it's about creating that contrast that feels luxe. 'I believe that varying textures and sheens of adjacent white finishes work well.'
'White cabinetry pairs very well with a dark floor, as long as the floor has depth and tactility,' says Jacob Bek of JBA Collective. 'Wood kitchen flooring with a low-level matte sheen or natural honed stone works well,' he says. 'We would not recommend glossy finishes or a monochromatic dark black.'
Other options for your dark flooring could be a dark terracotta tile, known for its warmth and sun-baked aesthetic. This might help bring a warm feel to the space - especially useful in a kitchen that faces north and gets little sun.
What dark color flooring should I try in the kitchen?
Think about the color and tone you pick too, as not all work against a white kitchen cabinet. 'We avoid pure black floors because that becomes too graphic. Charcoal greys and saturated browns make a better choice,' says Jacob.
Luki Anderson of Studio Officina Architecture also agrees that going for a very dark black creates a contrast that is too strong. 'A dark floor with bright white cabinets is usually too much of a visual contrast.' Instead, Luki advises balancing the space out with other textures and colors like natural wood to make it less weighty. Accent colors can also be a great way to break up the monotone scheme. The best accent colors for white kitchens include bright red appliances, or cooler-toned greens and blues that you can introduce through kitchen backsplash.
What are the drawbacks of dark floors against white cabinets?
One of the main benefits of the white cabinet, dark flooring combination is that it brings so much light into the space, which is a practical necessity in this kind of space where you need all the light you can get for the functional needs of the kitchen. A drawback, however, with this abundance of light in the space is that dirt and dust show up even more on darker floors, meaning you might end up cleaning your dark floor more frequently.
'I generally lean towards a mid-tone or slightly lighter tone floor in a kitchen, because it will hide dirt and spills so much better,' says Luki. 'Dark floors tend to show dust and dirt very quickly and easily.'
To avoid this, go for kitchen flooring with some kind of veining or grain, as this will be the most forgiving, and preferably larger format to avoid unnecessary grout lines that add to the need for lots of cleaning.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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