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Black Kitchen

March 3, 2017


I have always wanted black kitchen cabinets, and when I downsized into a dark townhouse, with very tall ceilings, I decided this was the time. It might sound counter intuitive to paint a dark space black, but here are the reasons I did it, how I did it and what went wrong doing it!


This was a 5 year old townhouse and it looked tired. The materials were mostly inexpensive, bland and out-of-date. The look was dark and uninspired. My budget was small, and I needed to make decisions that would give me the most bang for my buck. Black looks luxurious and expensive, especially when mixed with natural wood, creme, brushed brass and gold accents.  The existing cabinets were plentiful and in great shape.  BUT, they were golden oak.  With arched mouldings.  Yuckk!



Drama, contrast, texture and interest.  I used these four concepts to bring life to a boring space.

Drama came from the black painted cabinets.  Contrast was created between the light walls and black cabinets.  Texture arrived with the distressed hickory hardwood floors, marble island counter, marble tile backsplash and antique furniture.  Interest was added with modern light fixtures, hand-finished cabinet pulls, wood flooring, art and accessories.

I also used another winning formula to cure the blahs: using light, mid-tone and dark shades in the space.    The new wood floor was mid-tone, the walls and trim were painted light and the black cabinets were, of course, dark. 

What Went Wrong

When I find a new contractor I like to have them do something for me, before I recommend them to a client.  Sometimes, I learn that they do not live up to their promises, like the contractors I hired for the spraying later on.  Sometimes, in the case of the painter, a mistake is made that can be forgiven, especially when they attempt to correct it.

Initially, the painter used a semi gloss black latex industrial paint on the kitchen cabinets.  It did not cure properly and the finish was soft for weeks.  Next she used a semi gloss interior house paint.  Unfortunately, she didn’t sand off the first coats completely, and the new finish was never pristine.  I accepted it because she had worked so hard, and it looked miles better than the original oak finish.  I also knew that I would not be content to live with the arched doors for long.

After a few years, I decided to replace all of the arched, hollow entry doors to good quality, solid wood.  Now I would have beautiful three panel, shaker doors painted Cloud White with black handles.  It was time to replace my arched kitchen cabinet doors as well.

I found large, handsome, hand-finished handles that I just had to have.  They were expensive, but worth it.  And they looked fantastic on plain flat modern black doors.  I hired a new company to  spray finish and install the new doors.  They had never worked with black before, and despite their enthusiasm, they just couldn’t get the finish right.  They delivered and installed some of the doors many times, until finally my patience ran out and told them to get it right or go away!  Eventually, after at least 4 attempts at respraying, and one door needing to be replaced, I have a beautiful finished product.

I suffer, so my clients won’t!

About Adele Barrett

Adele Barrett is a consulting interior designer in Hamilton and Dundas. Over twenty years of conferences and continuing education classes keep Adele Barrett Interiors design practice both on trend and timelessly classic. She started collecting paint chips from the local lumber yard when she was 3 years old, and a seed was planted that grew into a career. Continue reading...