Light or dark kitchen cabinets?

In the very, very, very early stages of planning a kitchen remodel. I love dark cabinetry and furniture. Kitchen cabinets in our house are white, after we painted them shortly after moving in as they were puke green (no, not exaggerating). Our previous home, a condo in JC, also had white cabinets. Now we that we are planning on a remodel and doing the kitchen to our liking, I am torn between white and dark cabinets. I love dark woods and cabinetry. Most of the furniture, if not all, our house is very dark, think wenge or espresso. However, all I see is white cabinets everywhere. The options for dark cabinetry are also limited. So I am torn and wondering what your thoughts are on dark vs light cabinets.

This is what I had in mind initially (minus the subzero fridge... not in the budget).

I love that look & think it can be gorgeous with the right ingredients (as they have in the one you've shown).

Have you looked at finished kitchens in the kitchen forum on Garden Web? I haven't been there for a while, but I thought there were a lot of beautiful kitchens with dark cabinetry.

While there are a lot of white cabinets around, I don't think dark is out of style. It's just a little less common, but this may be because it doesn't work for all kitchen spaces. The one you've shown has nice dimensions and good light that really enhances this look.

We have dark cabinets similar to those in the first pic. I've had both light and dark and I prefer light. Dark, especially near a stove, shows smudges, grease, etc. I drive myself nuts trying to keep them grease free. We also have groves in them and the groves hold a bit of dust. Truly a PITA if you consider yourself a neat-nick.

If I could do it again, they'd be light.

Odd, I find myself constantly cleaning the white cabinets because I feel they show EVERYTHING!

And yes lighting is definitely an issue. Our kitchen faces south and has 2 windows so it actually has more light than most of the rest of the house such as the living room and dining room for example. It is of a nice size although not as big as the ones pictured. I guess I am concerned about going against the grain since we will eventually want to sell, but I do want a kitchen I love now, rather than one that I have to worry about "selling" in the future.

I looooooooove dark cabinets, but in our small-ish kitchen I went with white so the space didn't feel too closed in. It sounds like with your setup that might not be an issue.

Also, if you don't have immediate plans to sell, I would go with what you like. When we did our kitchen 3 years ago I kept it neutral because I thought we'd sell, and now we've settled in pretty comfortably and are not going anywhere for a while cheese Luckily I also like my kitchen, but I'm not sure if I would have made different choices just for me.

I also love the really dark cabinets, but our new kitchen has only one window (a double window over the sink) and is therefore not as bright as it could be. So I'm thinking light is the way to go for us. But I can't make up my mind. Of course, our new house is a colonial replica saltbox, so I'm trying to go with elements that hint at colonial style without being a slave to it. So I might actually try a color, rather than just white or ivory or espresso. I was at Lowe's last week looking at cabinets, and I was really drawn to the light sage greens and greys that show the grain.

We went with white because we have a small space but also because all the trim in our house is white, along with fairly substantial built-in cabinets in the dining room (which is open to the kitchen) so it just seemed better for everything to "go." But I love dark cabinets. Would you consider doing a "tuxedo" kitchen with white on top and dark below? I feel like that makes the space look so huge and airy, but it's pretty trendy (the trend may have already passed, actually!).

And even though we have to clean the white cabinets more, I'll never forget trying to clean the clean-looking oak cabinets in our rental apartment. Omg. I was disgusted. I'd kind of rather see what I'm dealing with!

afa said:

I'd kind of rather see what I'm dealing with!


This is my feeling about our off-white cabinets. Yes, I wipe them off a lot but at least I'm not letting a bunch of gunk build up because it's hard to see!

I have considered adding a white or light color island instead of a the matching color. DH has already nixed the tuxedo look. I will be lucky if I can get him to go with a different color island.

I don't know how I feel about the tuxedo look. I've seen many kitchens where the island is a different color, and usually like it, but black/white seems a bit too contrasty to me. But I might change my mind if I saw it!

I usually see the opposite to be honest (white cabinets and dark island). Some examples of the white island.

We have white cabinets too. I like the look but find it does show dirt more than the dark cabinets in my last kitchen.

We also have an island. We have the same white cabinets for the island and installed a cherry wood counter. I really like the change of materials and cherry is a very warm wood in my opinion.

We are doing white cabinets and dark grey island. Doing dark lowers and white uppers seems to be in now as well.

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We remodeled our kitchen less than 2 years ago and went with all black cabinets. I love the look, but am constantly cleaning. I think it all depends on the lighting, lots of windows and lights will make it bright and fresh. The before kitchen also had dark espresso cabinets and it was so gloomy, I hesitated to go darker. A few more windows and lighting made all the difference. I think it's very easy to decorate with dark cabinets as accent colors really pop, where as white and creams can compete. The trickiest part was the crown molding when transitioning to the next room. We solved that problem by removing one wall and making the adjoining room part of the kitchen and allowing for consistent crown molding. However, with all of that, we are remodeling our country house and I am leaning towards white-cream cabinets just to avoid the cleaning issue. I have not made a final decision as waiting on the design renderings.

As for the island, different color bottom cabinet or different color countertops seem to be in favor. I like the look, but fear it would become dated. In many kitchens, its age is revealed by the look, such as avocado green or lemon yellow from the 50's or 60's (aside from a retro renovation). I would choose something timeless (not different) if intending to sell in the near future. Otherwise, make your kitchen your own and enjoy it for years to come.

I like our white cabinets. I thought they fit best in a 1923 house.

I have dark cabinets in my condo, which has a super bright kitchen and they look fantastic there--but i could not imagine them in my WO home, which has a tiny and dim kitchen... like @hauscat, i like white better in our classic homes ...

Jealous my not small kitchen is not big enough for an island!

I love the look of dark lower cabinets and white uppers, with a light countertop.

I do not like a cook top on an island, very messy. I like tile floor instead of wood. Easier to clean.

No preference for light or dark cabinets. Both are nice. Like subway tile for back-splash, classic in older homes.

You might try dark and cream rather than white -- will be a softer effect.

mbmom said:

You might try dark and cream rather than white -- will be a softer effect.


I like that idea. But I have an additional tricky thing in our new kitchen, because we don't have an island... we have a large peninsula. The side of the peninsula that faces the dining area of the kitchen has bead board, which I really like, and I'm considering painting just that a lighter color, maybe the same color as the walls, so the bead board stands out. But I'm not sure.

My fantasy would involve cutting the peninsula out, turning it into an island and pivoting it 90 degrees, then taking the cabinets that used to be above the peninsula where it turned the corner and turning them into a floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinet. Not likely to happen, though. *sigh*

All really good points. The moulding is definitely something to consider since we are going to be opening the wall to the dinning room and I don't think it is a supporting wall so a beam will not be needed. Right now that room has white moulding the dentil kind, so it may be hard to connect the two. Our hour is 1947, hardly "classic". We don't have the fancy mouldings or details that most people have.

BTW, Hauscat, I think your cabinets are wonderful, although the countertop doesn't look quite right without a cat. smile

mlj said:

I do not like a cook top on an island, very messy. I like tile floor instead of wood. Easier to clean.

No preference for light or dark cabinets. Both are nice. Like subway tile for back-splash, classic in older homes.


Definitely tile. I love the look of wood but I don't think it is realistic in a kitchen. My boss just had to replace the wood near the sink at his "mansion". He ended up putting a "tile" insert so he does not need fix it again in the future. We have oak in the other rooms and we plan on staining it dark. If we were to try to match it it would be way too dark. So I am thinking light tile and light counter top. There is one granite that I am totally in love with but I don't know if it is in the budget.

http://www.houzz.com/photos/8836420/Bianco-Antico-Granite-Counter-Tops-albuquerque


hauscat said:

I like our white cabinets. I thought they fit best in a 1923 house.


Very nice...

I like wood floors in a kitchen (which our new house has) but agree it is not terribly practical. Love the idea of doing a tile insert near the sink to allow for splashing or spills. That's something to keep in mind, although it is then very hard under foot, which can be tough on the back if you spend a lot of time there, which I do. I think maybe I'm just better off with a mat to soften the hard floor and absorb spills.

PeggyC said:

I like wood floors in a kitchen (which our new house has) but agree it is not terribly practical. Love the idea of doing a tile insert near the sink to allow for splashing or spills. That's something to keep in mind, although it is then very hard under foot, which can be tough on the back if you spend a lot of time there, which I do. I think maybe I'm just better off with a mat to soften the hard floor and absorb spills.


I guess I am not one of those people. I use the dishwasher for almost everything except what does not fit LOL


In pictures 1 & 2 the Island appears to eat way to much space . Put two people in there preparing a meal and someone is going to get stabbed. We've had kitchens with and without islands . If it must be to create a eating space so be it , but I've always felt they look better than they are in everyday use. Dark cabinets need large space.

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