Decorating a White or Gray Kitchen with Black Appliances
While stainless steel is undoubtedly the most popular appliance finish for a kitchen, black takes a close second and white…well that’s a whole different topic.
Today we’re going to focus on black appliances and how to coordinate them into a kitchen with white or gray cabinets. So whether you are thinking of buying black appliances or trying to update your kitchen with existing ones, these tips will get you on the right track!
Black Appliances and White Cabinets
Soooo…awkward silence. While there is the very…very…odd exception, black appliances and white cabinets don’t mix. Why?
- It’s a high contrast look. There is a time and place for high contrast and the ‘place’ is not in between appliances and cabinets
- It can make your kitchen look smaller. While a high contrast look can be more dramatic and ‘interesting’, it can also make a space look smaller and more cluttered
Learn more about high and low contrast via this small bathroom article
BTW, I know that some of these images don’t show black appliances. I rely 100% on my edesign clients for their photos, so I can only use what I have! I’ve done my best to at least reference good COLOURS to explore for your cabinets!
How to Make Black Appliances and White Cabinets Work Together
Because right now you might be thinking, ‘Dammit, I REALLY wanted to paint my cabinets white but I have black appliances!’ Here’s how to make it work…
Use a Medium or Dark Colored Countertop
A medium or dark coloured countertop will give your appliances something ‘visual’ to grab on to that is a similar depth. While it’s still a high contrast look, it helps soften the blow. See how it looks in this beautiful kitchen on BHG.
While the backsplash doesn’t need to be completely black or intensely dark, a darker backsplash, when paired with darker countertops will lower the contrast level in your kitchen, leaving the cabinets as the only ‘light’ feature. You could then choose a lighter paint colour for your walls to transition the cabinets. This would make for a nicely balanced palette.
Alternatively, as shown above, you could do a few things:
- Paint the upper cabinets white
- Paint the lower cabinets gray
- Use a white subway tile backsplash that blends with the cabinets, leaving the countertops and cabinets to coordinate with the black appliances.
The Painted Island
While I don’t think this ‘fixes’ the whole issue, I can say that it is better than nothing if you are totally hell-bent on painting your kitchen cabinets white and you have black appliances. DFW did a great job with their white cabinets, black island and black appliances. The medium-toned wood flooring shown also helps lower the contrast level.
Similar to SW Gauntlet Gray
In the above photo, notice the dark countertop and dark gray painted island – these features would help white cabinets integrate with black appliances.
Summary and Tips
- Black appliances need something else dark coloured to grab on to – ideally, this would be the countertop
- You can do a dark countertop with a white/light backsplash (ie. white subway tile or marble). You can’t do a dark backsplash with light countertops if you’re going for this look
- Consider a lighter, low contrast paint colour on your walls to help transition the impact of the white cabinets, since the countertop/backsplash will visually belong to the appliances
- A medium or dark toned floor will look better than a light floor
- Related article: The Best White Paint Colours for Cabinets and Trim
Read more: The 3 Best White Paint Colours for Cabinets
Black Appliances and Painted Gray Cabinets
Black appliances look great with painted gray cabinets. Wanna know why?
- Gray is the lighter version of black, so naturally, they look good together
- When you use a darker gray/charcoal you are creating a low contrast palette, making a space look more seamless and larger.
These dark gray cabinets (Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray) are super low contrast with the black appliances. The multi-toned, but dark neutral countertop was also a great choice as it combined the lighter tones of the wall with the darker tones of the cabinets/appliances.
And Chelsea Gray was a beautiful shade of gray for these cabinets. Because the kitchen is a bit smaller, this shade keeps the space looking proportional to itself and low contrast with the walls and backsplash.
Why it Works
- Without the black countertops, Formica’s Mineral Jet, things might have been too high contrast for the black appliances to make sense. The black countertops were the PERFECT choice for this kitchen
- There is a beautiful blend of light, medium and dark tones
- The backsplash has a range of tones from light/medium/dark – paying homage to the wall colour, cabinets and appliances
Shown here: BM Amherst Gray
Shown above, BM Amherst Gray is a beautiful colour to coordinate with black appliances. Again, I know it’s shown with stainless steel, but I just don’t have enough of my client’s images using black appliances!
HOWEVER…with black appliances you would HAVE to have a dark countertop for the above palette to work with black appliances, the white countertop would be too high contrast.
LONG STORY SHORT, no matter what you do – you need to have dark countertops if you want to have black
appliances with white or gray countertops!
Summary and Tips
- Black appliances suit gray cabinets that are medium-toned or darker. If you choose a light gray paint colour, you may want to refer to the suggestions in the white cabinet section of this blog post
- Try to find a countertop that is either dark or a mix of light/medium/dark tones that CONTAIN gray. If you choose a busier countertop, keep the backsplash more simple
- Consider a backsplash with a variety of tones in it, which will naturally tie into the cabinets/appliances, just keep in mind if you have a busier backsplash you should choose a simpler countertop
- With gray cabinets, you can choose dark or light cabinet hardware, depending on your tastes and the style needs of your kitchen
So there you have it my friends, I hope you found the inspiration you were looking for!
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