Black is the new white for kitchens

Kitchens are going over to the dark side. Feel the fear and do it anyway, says Patricia McGinnis


When Patricia McGinnis, cofounder of cool Belfast home shop Maven, moved into her ground-floor apartment it had a perfectly good and well-functioning kitchen by the German brand Siematic.

It was small, the units didn’t offer much storage and, more importantly for for McGinnis, it didn’t make a statement in the way she wanted it to. She wanted something less utilitarian; something with personality.

The kitchen is set in a dual-aspect room. “I wanted the kitchen to look and feel like another piece of furniture in the room, rather than simply being functional.”

So she chose to go dark. “From an interior designer’s point of view it looks quite fresh and also feels brave. It has a warming atmosphere, and is the most under-rated neutral, a perfect foil for colour; colour really bounces off a black background.” She has installed a bright orange lounge chair in one corner so that it really comes alive.


It is funny that we are all so afraid of it given that we wear so much black, she notes. “People are still scared of using it in their homes, yet their wardrobes are full of it.”

Black slices through everything, she says. “It is also peaceful and calm to live with.”

This is helped by the fact that all her appliances are hidden behind tall pantry units, keeping the Dekton countertops free of clutter. Isolation switches for the fridge, hob and oven are also hidden from view here.

Dekton is a composite material that comes in a lot of colours. It has a tactile, unhoned feel that also looks modern. In this shade its slate-like finish doesn’t appear to attract as much dust as the polished black granite counters that were so fashionable at the turn of the century. It is also used on the splashback. She left a 3cm shadowgap between the counter and the top of the counter doors to give the design subtle but strong horizontal lines. Terry Design created the kitchen and it includes a matching black sink.

The units were painted Farrow & Ball Pitch Black and the black handles were sourced from Buster and Punch, who also supplied the black sockets.

By installing units and cupboards that rise to the ceiling she increased the volume of storage by 50 per cent. A deeper than average counter, 74cm instead of the standard 50cm or 51cm, also serves as a breakfast bar.


She’s also eschewed task lighting in favour of a few judiciously positioned table lamps, including one on the floating powder-coated steel shelves that also house plants supplied by her cousin Caitlin McGinniss, who runs Best Buds Belfast, a cool floral studio.

A small niche, with spot lighting, and framed in white oak, to match the timber floor by Trunk Flooring, is another place to add some individuality.

In the dining area, pale oak Ercol carvers sit by black Muuto Nerd chairs, the space lightened by a rectangular table by Charles Rennie Mackintosh that has a dark base with teak legs. Her parents bought it in Manchester years ago.

Charcoal-grey upholstered sofas and grey rugs further complement the kitchen and make it a fully functioning part of the room.

“For years now we’ve embraced grey in all its shades and discovered how easy it complements a home, be it period or contemporary. Black is the new grey and an easy step from dark charcoal and anthracite. It is the last forgotten neutral. Give it a go, but be sure to go all in,” she says.;