Regardless of whether black is considered a mix of all colors, as in a subtractive color mixing, or the absence of any color, as in the light spectrum, its bold hue doesn’t always play well with others, especially when used in mass quantity. So when Stephanie Holmes’ client approached her with an inspiration photo featuring black cabinetry combined with dark-colored brick, the Oneonta, NY designer and owner of The Working Kitchen knew she had to conduct a balancing act so all of the elements could shine in this new-construction kitchen in nearby Milford.
“I have worked with this family for years,” says Holmes. “This is our fourth project together, and she always knows what she wants. In this kitchen, it is black and brick combined with white to bring rustic elegance to the space.”
‘Dark’ elements of the kitchen – which was installed by VSH Contractors – include custom Wood-Mode cabinets sheathed with a rich heirloom black finish and espresso glaze, which were then distressed. Traditional-style doors and drawers are accented with brass hardware from House of Antique Hardware, adding to the space’s historical undertones. Brass is repeated at each sink – both stainless steel models from Elkay – with antique brass faucets from Whitehaus Collections’ Vintage collection. “Brass has been coming back for a while,” says Holmes. “But the homeowner has been using it all along, not just because it’s a trend. She likes its classic, timeless appeal, and now there are so many more choices.”
A ‘freestanding’ island, with its foundation of black cabinetry, anchors the kitchen, while in the adjacent dining room, two towers of hutch-style cabinets – connected to each other by a window seat topped with black walnut from Craft Art – echo the banks of kitchen cabinetry.
The backsplash is crafted from handmade brick veneer that matches full-size brick used on a woodstove in the living room into which the kitchen opens. A faux chimney, faced in brick veneer, eases the transition between dark and light walls. “It adds some depth and makes the design work better,” she says.
‘Light’ elements include just about everything else in the open-concept kitchen/dining/living room area. “We needed to keep everything else light,” she says.
An abundance of natural light flowing into the space from three windows above the main sink takes the lead. “I love this entire wall – with the tall countertop cabinets flanking the windows,” she says. “When you walk into the space, you immediately see that wall of windows with the white and contrasting black. It’s a great view!”
These countertop cabinets also add additional ‘weight’ to balance the adjoining wall that includes an integrated 36″ Thermador refrigerator and 48″ range, which is highlighted by a custom ventilation hood and Best insert.
“There are a lot of appliances in a small space, so it was tricky to incorporate them all while keeping everything balanced,” she says, drawing particular attention to the black exterior. “The refrigerator was a big block of black as well as the hood. I felt we needed the ‘weight’ of the cabinets on the sink wall to provide balance. We experimented with traditional wall cabinets, but it felt like they were hanging in the middle of nowhere, so we brought them down to the counter to give them some mass and balance everything that was going on with the adjoining wall.”
Holmes topped the dark cabinetry with contrasting gleaming white Silestone Lyra countertops from Cosentino. “Black absorbs so much light,” she says. “The countertops help keep everything light because they bounce light from the windows. She also entertains, and while she likes the look of marble, she didn’t want the upkeep and maintenance associated with it.”
White tongue-and-groove paneling sheathes the walls throughout the entire first floor. “There is a lot of white, so it can handle all of the black cabinets,” she notes.
European larch wood covers the floor. “Its warm, golden brown color keeps the space from feeling too heavy,” she concludes.