We used to think this kitchen trend was over, but these top designers will change your mind about decor
Black kitchen countertops are back, and making dramatic statements in the coolest kitchens around. Here is how to get them right
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Gone are the days of uniform, clinical white kitchens. The latest designs are all about embracing a grungy, dark kitchen countertop as opposed to bright and dazzling whites. But we know what a bold move committing to dark colors in the kitchen can be: choosing the right dark worktop can seem like an impossible task.
From natural lighting to countertop materials, there's a lot to consider before making the move to the dark side. And that's before you've even given any thought to the existing furnishings in your kitchen. But, if you're keen to keep on top of the latest in interior design, you'll be pleased to know that the decision will be a rewarding one.
'Worktops are an integral element of your kitchen design both practically, in terms of maintenance and wear, and aesthetically,' says Ben Burbidge, managing director of Kitchen Makers. 'Traditionally, customers have opted for lighter tones, however, we have been seeing an increasing demand for darker finishes.'
According to Ben, when it comes to dark counters in modern kitchens 'they offer a touch of understated luxury and are far more versatile than you imagine. They work well with ever popular grey finishes, natural wood and even white cabinets to create a smart monochromatic look'.
Why wave goodbye to white?
There's no denying that white kitchen counters are the done thing, but adding color or experimenting with darkness will help make your kitchen more convivial. 'Plain white, speckled and mirror chip worktops are becoming old hat,' says Mor. 'Marble motifs remain the primary trend but design savvy consumers are moving towards dark greys and blacks in matt finishes with bold textures and organic patterns.'
While well-executed white marble styled quartz worktops will always be a timeless default decision for kitchen styles, Caesarstone's head of design Mor Krisher claims introducing darker colors can make for a more elegant yet subtle kitchen. 'Consumers are now looking at alternative styles that have the subtlety and elegance they desire, and a look that’s different to the very basic whites that have flooded the market,' he says.
1. Make sure you get the nuances right
As a functional space, kitchens are too often overlooked when it comes to our interior design decisions. What's more, when we do give them the attention they deserve, we're likely to prioritise the more obvious details such as cabinetry and flooring.
According to Caesarstone (opens in new tab)'s head of design Mor Krisher however, our kitchen countertops ideas play a vital role in setting the tone of the rest of the kitchen, and dark colors shouldn't be underestimated. 'Contrary to what people often think, black or dark kitchens aren’t always sombre or austere,' he says. 'Dark colors can be bold and dramatic or warm and cosseting.'
He adds: 'They have within them so many different nuances, tones and tactility that give them different character. They can be basic or sophisticated, daring or elegant, industrial or classic, traditional or modern.'
2. Light the kitchen correctly
While experimenting with darker colors can be rewarding, it's important to think about the natural light within the space as this will have a huge impact on the overall look. 'Ask yourself: is it a dark and unlit area or is it flooded with natural light?' says Mor.
Lots of natural sunlight will bounce off a dark countertop, especially it has a glossy finish. Meanwhile, if you opt for a deep blue or grey, natural light will help compliment the pigments in the paint and appear slightly different depending on the time of day.
A dark kitchen worktop can work well in a kitchen with limited natural light, but without the right artificial lighting or other furnishings, it could feel too oppressive, particularly if used on a large island. Yet, you could choose to lean into this vibe to achieve a moody atmosphere with a cool, dark kitchen idea. 'When paired with soft or dimmable evening lighting, this will make the perfect space for entertaining,' says Mor.
3. Choose a durable material
Our kitchens see a lot. Heavy object, sharp knives, heat, and spillages are all inevitable in the culinary area of our homes. For this reason, your countertop will need be made of a hard and durable material.
Thankfully, in this day and age, we're spoilt for choice. 'Dark worktops are available in a variety of materials: laminate, wood, marble, quartz, porcelain and natural stone,' explains Mor. 'Generally, though, quartz and porcelain surfaces are considered to be at the vanguard, given their combination of style and technical properties.'
Not only are durable surfaces able to withstand continual contact with heavy and sharp objects to avoid cracks, dents and other marks, but they'll be simple to clean. As Mor adds: 'Both porcelain and quartz are perfect for kitchen worktops as they come in a wide range of styles, are easy to maintain and are also very robust.'
Don't dismiss the strength of wood either though. Dark wooden countertops can have a softer appearance while still proving sturdy and reliable.
4. Give thought to the finish
Not only are there a myriad of choice when it comes to the material of your countertop, but there are plenty of finishes to choose from, too. With dark countertops, these can be particularly striking.
Glossy countertops will always be a safe choice in a kitchen as they give off a clean and fresh look with their reflective properties, however matt countertops have been a growing trend in recent years due to their modern appeal alongside other black matt features, such as taps.
As Ben from Kitchen Markers (opens in new tab) explains, this is thanks to new and innovative engineered projects becoming more readily available: 'everything from smart matt-look countertops through to beautiful marble effect veining'.
5. Pair with existing furnishings
When considering which dark kitchen countertop works best in your kitchen, you can't sidestep your existing furnishings (unless you're redesigning your entire kitchen!).
Cabinetry, walls, floors and taps can all make a difference to the appearance of a dark worktop, for worse or for better. As Ben explains: 'The balance between the color of your cabinetry and the worktop can dramatically change the look and feel of the space, depending on your choice of material and color.'
If you want to go for a dramatic dark kitchen, think about softening the look with some natural materials. 'I'm a big fan of dark worktops paired with natural woods like oak or walnut,' says Mor.
You can use this trick to play with the perception of a space, too. Mor adds: 'Pairing a dark surface with lighter cabinetry or light-wooden flooring will help to keep the space feeling more open and neutral, which is helpful if your kitchen isn’t vast in size.'
On the other hand, some cooler materials can help to create an edgy, industrial vibe that looks daring and fresh. This sort of style works especially well in larger, more spacious kitchens. 'Metallic accents like brass, copper or steel taps and handles look wonderful paired with darker surfaces,' adds Mor.
Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.
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