Black-and-white kitchen can still be interesting

Posted1/7/2018 6:00 AM
  • In this black-and-white kitchen design, a sophisticated midcentury globe pendant light serves as a focal point.

    In this black-and-white kitchen design, a sophisticated midcentury globe pendant light serves as a focal point. Courtesy of DelightFULL

Get rid of your formal dining room as a sly way to gain an extra space. This is an idea that has gained in popularity over the last decade as busier and busier lifestyles have shifted entertainment patterns in homes across the country.

Recently, I consulted for a penthouse condo high above a Major League Baseball park, and my client said goodbye to her 10-by-12-foot dining room. It was converted into a comfortable reading area with a built-in bar and a view that was to die for! Dining now happens at the long kitchen counter with a place for six.

What can be a sticking point is the fear that eating "in" the kitchen at a counter would feel just a little too casual. Yet in reality, it all depends on how you design such situations, and it is possible to achieve a satisfactory balance in mood so that you won't feel that you are compromising too much.

There are a variety of design choices you can make that will lift your entire kitchen from feeling utilitarian to feeling more glamorous and special.

Specifically, we are talking about the selection of cabinetry style and finish, the countertop surface and the style of appliances. This holds true for a high-rise condo or a small bungalow on a tree-lined street.

Here in this photo we are treated to a black-and-white design with a sophisticated midcentury globe pendant as a focal point. The simple spherical light fixture is handmade out of steel and hangs like a modern jewel in the kitchen. There is a distinctly minimalist aura to this room, yet it communicates that it is also a dressy space.

How does this occur when there is such a simple color scheme?

Note that a light-gray glaze pools elegantly in the cabinet face detail. Gray repeats softly in the texture of the soffit and corner-column faux finish. Use of a column as a design element is, in and of itself, a more formal choice.

If you want a more formal selection of oven and cooktop, think about black glass that is perfect when paired with high-gloss marble countertops. Notice that the extreme reflection of the appliances, the marble and the pendant light are balanced against the soft matte texture of the cabinets and the natural wood floor. In this situation, glossy cabinets would throw the entire room into appearing much too cold and slick. The simple sheer fabric window curtains and gray side panels introduce both counterpoints and softness to the room that is sleek enough.

Sometimes when considering an eat-in kitchen island like this one or a part of a peninsula, you can lower the counter height to the standard dining table height of 30 inches. By designing that way, you will have a standard dining height that makes sitting for a leisurely meal all the more comfortable.

In cases where there might be a galley kitchen with space at one end of the room for a table, consider either a gateleg design that can be pushed up against the wall or a drop-leaf style that could conserve space on a day-to-day basis.

Check out the Apartment Therapy website for a review of the top 15 gateleg and drop-leaf tables. No longer are these super-practical designs only found as antique tables or vintage furniture.

In studio apartments or micro-units, think about a drop-leaf table that is attached to the wall, much like one incorporated in a motor home or a boat.

• Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at

© 2017, Creators Syndicate

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