The dark side: Embracing the black and navy kitchen trend
PUBLISHED: 08:46 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 24 April 2019
Black is very much back in Britain’s trendiest kitchens, as Richard Burton discovered
These are dark days for kitchens. The room we've traditionally filled with so-called white goods have suddenly become a focal point for all things black.
Dark worktops, dark cabinets, dark tiles; one or all seem to be in there making design statements, even if it's in the form of small fine-lined additions to add a touch of refinement to a neutral scheme.
I've heard the new wave of dark referred to variously as adding refinement or mystery or even luxury or 'designer'. Whatever the adjective, designers, architects and developers seem to have gone over to the dark side lately.
I know they normally say it's the wives who are sold on the kitchen when viewing but my living/eating space ticked the impact box for both of us when we opened the door to find all that black oak and granite rising from endless light tiles.
That was before they came properly established as the new big thing; at about the time moody greys and classic whites were still on all the brochure covers.
Since then they have crept in slowly, finally establishing a foothold at the beginning of last year like all those cars that have been rolling off production lines in the past years in 'safe' shades of grey or silver.
Even the appliances have started to move away from the unadventurous whites and stainless steels. Just look at the BlackLine collection from AEG's Mastery range to get an idea.
“Dark kitchens are certainly at the forefront of design currently, and I think it's a trend set to continue. It's about pushing the boundaries, doing something bold and different,” said St Albans-based interiors expert Natalie Roukin.
“I love it! Darker shades give a sense of luxury and drama like no other, but if you want to create this in your own home, it needs to be implemented through textures, especially when working in one colour palette.”
She advises: “Natural light is important for this design to work effectively. Already dark spaces can have the perception of becoming smaller, so it's about balancing darker and lighter shades which allows your eyes to move around the room, so that not everything blends into one.
“And it's best to limit yourself to three distinct textures so that the space doesn't become too busy. Restraint is key. Black wood-veneered kitchen units, with a black stone worktop against light-coloured walls and ceiling mouldings would provide the balance between dark and light whilst also emphasising the kitchen work area as the focal point, which is currently the hub of the home for most families.”
Interestingly, the upscale retailer Tom Howley recently reported a sharp increase in orders of black kitchens, and Rotpunkt noted an increase in searches for black and dark colours were up 93 per cent in one six-month period.
Even more interestingly, I saw a comment from the UK head of operations for the latter who predicted: “2019 interior colour trends will embrace the darker colour palette, showing fewer primary colours and a greater emphasis on black which is contrasted by rich coffee browns, shades of grey, taupe and biscuit beige.” Why was that interesting? His name was Matt.
Some of the big kitchen fairs have been showcasing lots of similarly dark colours such as navy or deep teal.
I've seen a lot of new product releases with the likes of inky backsplashes and built-in appliances, incorporating black safety glass and design elements made of brushed and dark anodised stainless steel.
Whether you prefer obsidian, jet, or ebony, black is being pushed like never before as a way to take your cooking space to a seriously sleek level. This brooding tone will also obscure any accidental spills and scuff marks, which make it a huge selling point.
Bosch used the influential IFA appliance fair in Berlin last year to launch its latest series of built-in appliances called “accent line carbon black”, saying it wanted to pursue the growing desires of its customers “for creative reduction”. They were completely black, including the controls. And they weren't the only ones. Grundig, Siemens and La Sommeliere were doing similar.
The Kent-based bespoke supplier Stoneham used their trends blog for 2019 to announce “Black is Back”, noting the growing trend for “dark, mysterious colours.
“Emerging from its heyday back in the eighties, black offers a sharp contrast to kitchens devoid of colour and also adds an elegance to a space that no other shade can,” it read.
“Oozing luxury and sophistication, a black kitchen conjures images of boutique hotels and chic industrial design. All-encompassing or selectively chosen for accents, black can be easily utilised on walls, splashbacks, cabinetry, countertops, as well as adopted in appliances or lighting.
“A black Aga range cooker, for example, can create a dramatic centrepiece for a country style kitchen, complemented perfectly with dark mahogany furniture.”
And apparently, if we don't rate black, the one colour we mustn't underestimate is navy. The Shaker Kitchen Company notes: “We have noticed an increase in darker and more vibrant colours in the kitchen, but it's navy that continues to remain popular.
“Its versatility means it's a colour that can adapt to both modern and traditional surroundings.”
Developments in design and an increased focus on sustainability mean the demand for quality environmentally friendly furniture remains strong, which means durable materials and designs will continue to grow in popularity.
Ikea have long been championing environmentally-friendly living but have recently been urging their customers to go bold, quoting what they call 'bold sustainability' as a trend that celebrates striking interiors, highlighting how sustainable living can still allow for personal expression with standout designs that use recycled or reclaimed materials.
“For those looking to make a bigger statement, the bold black Kungsbacka kitchen range is the perfect focal point and is also made from recycled wood and covered with a plastic foil made using recycled PET bottles, reducing waste and giving plastic a new use in the home,” said Clotilde Passalacqua, the company's interior design leader for the UK and Ireland.
And there was me thinking everything that came out of Sweden was blonde.
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