The new kitchen design mantra: Don’t be afraid of the dark

Dark colours and rich materials are creating moody new looks in kitchens, says Amelia Thorpe, as she picks out some bold designs.

‘Don’t be afraid of the dark’ seems to be the new mantra when it comes to kitchen design, certainly if the latest looks have anything to go by.

Whether you follow the trend forecasters or not, there’s no doubt that braver choices can transform a kitchen space, adding impact whatever the size of your room. Dark, moody hues and rich timbers can be used to add depth and excitement – even, dare we say it, a touch of glamour – to the blandest space or to live up to the drama of a spectacularly large one.

Tempting as it might be to think that pale colours will make a room feel lighter and more spacious, they can have the opposite effect, delivering little in the way of oomph or interest. In a room with very limited natural light, no amount of pale colour is going to bring back the illumination that just isn’t there.

Instead, a deep colour can pump up the personality, distracting from the lack of light or the small size of the space to focus attention on striking design. Of course, the choice of shade is yours, so colour has got to be one of the most effective ways of personalising your kitchen.

From a practical perspective, darker colours are less likely to show jammy fingerprints (and muddy paw prints) and cabinets can be repainted when you’re ready for a change. Wood offers similar opportunities for personalisation, thanks to the variety of timbers, veneers and finishes.

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And, given that this is a room that is often combined with a dining and living area, its natural characteristics will ensure your kitchen never lacks its share of welcoming warmth.

The quartered white-oak island and tall cabinet provides warm contrast against the clean white wall cabinets, ideal for a kitchen that segues into a welcoming dining space.

Refectory kitchen, from £80,000, Christopher Peacock (020–7100 4423;

Now that kitchens are living and dining — as well as cooking — spaces, mixed materials can be used to add personality and provide subtle definition of zones.

Brasserie kitchen in pickled oak, with bronze-framed handleless island painted in burgundy, from £45,000, Smallbone of Devizes (020–7589 5998;

An island painted in a darker colour accentuates its role as the focal point of a kitchen design, adding character and interest to a stone-coloured backdrop.

English kitchen with island painted in Marston & Langinger Fence Green, from £35,000, Martin Moore (0845 180 0015;

Furniture, walls, even the window frames are painted in the same dark green, adding depth and drama, an effect balanced by a preparation table painted a few shades lighter, with a white ceiling and light-oak and marble worktops.

Victorian Farmhouse kitchen painted in Army Camp Green, prices from £45,000, Plain English (020– 7486 2674;

In a large, light-filled room, deep colour adds definition and prevents the space looking insipid.

The Real Shaker Kitchen painted in Pantry Blue, from £12,000, deVOL (01509 261000;

Navy and white make a classic combination, the colour-block contrast of dark blue and fresh white both crisp and smart.

Suffolk kitchen handpainted in Navy, from £12,000, Neptune (01793 427427;

Tall, richly-coloured, solid walnut cabinets with Japanese inspired sliding screens in walnut veneer, highlight the lofty feel of this design.

Shan Gara kitchen, from £40,000, Mark Wilkinson Furniture (01380 850007;