How to Make Black Appliances Work With White Cabinets

High contrast kitchens with black stainless steel appliances paired against bright white cabinets are trending right now. But this bold look also comes with some design challenges. While the dramatic color scheme makes a statement, the extreme contrast between dark and light can potentially make a kitchen feel cluttered or uncomfortably small if not balanced properly. So how do you successfully incorporate sleek, black appliances into a fresh white kitchen? With careful planning and the right supporting elements, black and white can live together in stylish harmony.

The key is counteracting all that contrast with strategic use of additional finishes. By incorporating wood tones, gray accents, and varied textures, you can prevent a jarring black and white kitchen from feeling too stark or uninviting. Read on for tips to thoughtfully blend black appliances into your white cabinet kitchen.

Consider the Pros and Cons of a Black and White Scheme

Before committing to the dark side, weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of combining black appliances with white cabinets.

black stainless steel appliances with white cabinets


  • Makes a bold, dramatic statement
  • Creates visual interest and depth
  • Feels sleek and modern


  • Can potentially create too much contrast
  • May make a small kitchen feel more cramped
  • Shows dirt, smudges, and fingerprints easily

Factor In Your Kitchen Size and Layout

A black and white kitchen works best in an open floor plan with plenty of space. The expansive look of an open concept kitchen nicely suits the bold contrast. Smaller, closed off kitchens run the risk of feeling too dark and cluttered with such high contrast finishes.

Similarly, a kitchen with plenty of windows and natural light can better support the drama of black and white. Darker kitchens may become too cave-like with the addition of black appliances. Consider how much existing light your space gets before taking the dark side plunge.

Choose the Right Countertops and Backsplash

To seamlessly blend those sleek black appliances into your white kitchen, pay close attention to your countertop and backsplash selection. Choosing materials and colors purposefully here makes all the difference.

Since white cabinets paired with white countertops increases contrast, opt for darker granite, quartz, or solid surface countertop options. Medium brown and gray hues work particularly well. Not only does a darker counter help the black appliances recede, it also adds warmth to balance the cool tones.

For the backsplash, avoid going too dark or too light. A stark white glass subway tile backsplash behind black appliances will create an extreme contrast. But a jet black splash would look equally jarring against bright white cabinets. Instead, consider a harmonious middle ground. Try a mid-tone mosaic tile in greys, browns and beiges. The multi-colored flecks will pop against the cabinets without competing with the appliances.

Select Your Cabinets and Hardware Thoughtfully

Shaker-style cabinets with their clean, simple lines pair nicely with the polished industrial look of black stainless steel appliances. The subtle door panels on Shaker cabinets add just enough interest without competing. Slab cabinet styles might create too much unbroken white space.

Hardware is another area to thoughtfully finesse your black and white balance. Tie in the black appliances with coordinating black hardware like knobs and pulls. Black window sash locks or hinges also subtly reflect the appliances. If you prefer silver hardware, opt for brushed nickel rather than chrome for a softer look that fits with white cabinets.

Use Flooring to Warm It Up

Since most kitchens contain a mix of cabinetry, appliances, and flooring, don’t forget about your floor as you put together your black and white scheme. Hardwood flooring or wood-look tile in natural brown hues adds warmth and texture. The rich wood tones complement the high-contrast combo.

For a slightly different but still harmonious look, consider gray wood-look tile or laminate flooring. The gray creates a transitional palette, integrating the black and white in a more contemporary way. Just make sure your gray floors don’t read too cool or blue, as that could clash with stainless appliances.

Incorporate Wood Elements and Decor

Beyond your choice of flooring, bringing additional wood elements into a black and white kitchen helps balance the look. Floating wood shelves mounted on the wall or wood stools around the island create natural texture against the appliance/cabinet contrast.

Wood cutting boards, utensil holders, and dining tables also inject warmth. Even small touches like rattan baskets, live edge wood trays, or framed dried botanicals made from wood slices add organic interest.

Go for Varied Textures and Materials

Think beyond just cabinet, flooring, and countertop materials to vary your textures even more. Add in a subway tile backsplash with grout lines to contrast against the cabinets’ smooth finish. Quartz countertops with ragged veining feel pleasantly organic.

Apron-front sinks have visual texture and appeal. Contrasting metal finishes like matte black faucets and brass light fixtures add dimension. Just don’t overdo the materials, or your kitchen may start to feel too busy.

Include Pops of Color

An all-black-and-white kitchen risks feeling cold or sterile. But mixing in pops of color breaks up the contrast in a fun way. Vibrant red mixer or toaster on the counter makes a cheerful statement. Add colorful art or wallpaper over the banquette. Use colorful dishes stacked on open shelves rather than plain white plates. Just be strategic with your color punches.

Play With Lighting

Proper lighting ensures your contrasting finishes look their best and your kitchen feels bright and lively. Use recessed can lights paired with under- and over-cabinet lighting. Position pendant lights to cast a warm glow over the island.

If possible, include windows and skylights to draw in abundant natural light. Sheer curtains diffuse sunlight while still allowing light through. When artificial and natural light work together, your black and white kitchen will feel well-illuminated.

Repeat Finishes Throughout the Space

While you don’t want your kitchen to feel monotonous, repeating some finishes creates a sense of cohesion. If you have a black stove and refrigerator, select a black microwave and dishwasher rather than mixing colors.

Echo backsplash tile colors in the powder room. Repetition builds continuity so the contrast feels intentional rather than random.

Stick to Two Tones

Once you’ve committed to black and white as your main colors, resist adding additional color shades. Sticking with a strictly two-tone palette keeps the look bold yet controlled.

If your dining area is part of the open kitchen plan, limit accent colors like artwork or rug tones to black, white, and neutral shades to maintain the streamlined color story.

At the end of the day, whether to pair bold black appliances with bright white cabinets comes down to personal preference and lifestyle needs. The high-contrast look definitely makes a dramatic statement, but it also requires careful coordination of materials and finishes to prevent your kitchen from feeling too jarring.

If you’re drawn to an eclectic yet elegant aesthetic, black and white could be the perfect match for your style. Just take the time to thoughtfully balance the finishes with warm metallics, varied textures, intentional lighting and touches of wood and color so your kitchen dazzles as a showstopping space you’ll love spending time in.

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