Most people believe that dark cabinets and a small kitchen are not a great mix. This is perfectly understandable, of course. Everybody knows that dark colours can dominate a space and make a room appear smaller. However, choose a light colour scheme and it will create an airy feel and even the illusion of space. Right? Well, yes, generally speaking, all of this is true. However, it would be a misconception to think that dark cabinets can never work in a small kitchen.

So, can you put dark cabinets in a small kitchen? Yes. Yes, you can!

Dark cabinets: small kitchen – You can make it work

The good news is, contrary to what you may have heard, dark cabinets can work in a smaller kitchen. However, there is a caveat. And it’s an important one. When you choose dark colours, you always run the risk of overpowering a space. The key is balance. You need to find ways to balance the dark colours with other colours and other elements of your kitchen design.

Dark cabinets – How to get the balance right

There are a few simple design principles that will ensure that you can keep the balance right, should you be considering moving to the dark side… in your kitchen, that is.

Dark cabinets will feel far less intrusive if they are used sparingly. For example, it can be really effective if you use dark cabinets along the lower section of the kitchen. If you contrast these by placing lighter coloured units at eye level, the effect is two-fold. The eye is naturally drawn to the lighter spaces and away from the dark cabinets. The overall effect is that the space actually looks more expansive. It’s a win-win situation.

Use contrasting colours with dark cabinets

Having established that the key to success with dark cabinets in a small kitchen is all about balance, let’s now look at some other ways of contrasting dark with light. Paired with dark cabinets, lighter coloured countertops work brilliantly. Not only do they offer the necessary contrast, the countertops will also reflect the light. Another option would be to incorporate glass tiles. This complements the light countertops and provides the perfect transition between dark and light in the kitchen.

Complement dark cabinets with open shelving

Another great way of achieving a perfect balance in the kitchen is to combine dark units with open shelving. This is a real design statement and also creates a sense of depth to the space. Open shelving has become more popular in recent years and is bang on trend right now. The fact that it has the effect of opening up the space is a real bonus.

Let light in and accentuate the dark

You shouldn’t be afraid of placing dark units in small kitchen. However, you should always be mindful that it is very much a balancing act getting it right. Of course, it never takes much to tip the scales one way or the other, so you need to make careful choices. Thinking of contrasts is one way of doing things. Another is with light. Essentially, if you are going to put dark units into a small space, you need to counteract that with plenty of light. That can be in the form of light-coloured units, but physical lighting is another way to distract attention away from the dark. This is where overhead or under-cabinet lights can come into their own. However, there are several other ways that you reflect light in the kitchen and create the illusion of extra space. For example, think of where you might be able to incorporate glass and mirrors into your kitchen design.

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Dare to go dark rather than white

White is always popular as a choice for cabinetry in the kitchen. In many ways, it’s the classic look for a kitchen. It can be elegant, it reflects the most light and makes any space feel bigger. It can be classic and traditional and modern and contemporary. It’s no surprise that white is still the go-to choice for many people in the kitchen, especially in small spaces. However, while white undoubtedly has those trusted qualities and offers versatility that is difficult to match, it can also be somewhat static. In terms of the way that light interacts with white, it lacks the subtleties that can be achieved with darker units in the kitchen.

This is because the colour of a dark unit will alter as the light in the room changes during the day. This adds a certain dynamic that isn’t possible with white. Even the darkest shade of all – black – can provide  both cool and warm undertones.

Now onto the business of making a room appear larger – another key reason why many people opt for a white kitchen. Of course, white does have this effect. But the truth is dark units can do exactly the same thing – albeit in slightly different way. Darks don’t reflect more light. They actually reflect less. As the light is absorbed, the dark units will be less clearly marked. This gives the illusion of more space.

Dramatic and dark, or bright and light?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to a choice. Do you want your kitchen to be light and bright, or dark and dramatic? If you want to create some ambience, dark units are definitely the way to go. For a small space to be both cosy and contemporary, darks create a snug feel that really can’t be beaten. If you are thoughtful and strategic in the way that you position lighting, you can even more atmosphere to the space

Are you looking for a sophisticated look for the kitchen – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – you’d be hard-pressed to beat the moody tones that dark cabinets bring. Contrasted with classic white walls or tiles or accentuated by cooling metallic accessories – your options are many and the results can be truly stunning.

Other great reasons to go to the dark side

A kitchen design can’t just be about the aesthetics. Yes, you want the kitchen to look fantastic. However, the practicalities are important too. At the end of the day, the kitchen is a working space. It’s a busy place and all kitchens receive their fair share of wear and tear. It’s simply inevitable in a busy family home. This can make a dark kitchen a wise choice. If you feel that your kitchen is likely to have to withstand spills and knocks, you might be glad you went to the dark side. This is for the simple fact that dark surfaces can be a lot more forgiving than lighter ones. Dark units won’t instantly show up and scuffs and marks the way light units will.

Highlight bold colours with dark tone

A lot is made of how dark units contrast brilliantly with bright whites, but darks work just as well with bold and vivid shades. Smart grey units can look absolutely stunning with accents of red or green. Last but not least, if you want to create a look of luxury in the kitchen, it’s hard to match the effect created when you pair dark tones with metallic finishes, such as brass and copper. If you’d like more advice about how to incorporate dark units into a small kitchen space, just get in touch with the Kitchen Warehouse team.