Kitchen Cabinetry Design Trends: Multifamily Developers Turn To Black As A New Neutral

Kitchen Cabinetry Design Trends: Multifamily Developers Turn To Black As A New Neutral

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to compare kitchen cabinet design trends to fashion – again. It’s funny how there’s such a strong correlation, or maybe it’s just my passion for fashion rising to the surface. In any case, as with fashion, trends are cyclical, and when they return, there’s frequently a timely update to the style. 

Cabinet color is no different. And, black as a cabinet color is back – in a chic, simple way. But before we talk about how it’s being used now, let’s look at the evolution. In the early 2000s, black was popular but not on its own; often, it was used over another color to achieve a distressed appearance with the underlying color peeking through. It was a very specific look and more popular in single-family homes than in multifamily, which at the time favored maple shaker-style cabinetry. Black has also commonly been associated with the classic bachelor pad and other designs considered to be more “masculine.”

Today, black has replaced white as the preferred neutral color in kitchens. In apartments, we’re installing cabinetry that features a soft- to super-matte black finish that absorbs the light. This is sometimes carried over to integrated appliances, or set off using stainless steel. The result of this softer treatment? A rich, modern look whose texture resembles cashmere. 

The appeal of black cabinetry – especially in a rental community – is that it works with most design styles without being trendy. Residents can easily introduce color using accessories, or stick with a more neutral palette to maintain a contemporary, streamlined aesthetic. The choice of hardware, backsplash, molding and flooring also plays an important role in rounding out the look and ensuring it isn’t too dark or dramatic.

Because of its versatility, black cabinetry is popular among renters of all ages and across gender lines. For millennials, it puts a new spin on the stark white kitchens they grew up with. Empty nesters, who may be downsizing to an apartment from the family home, appreciate the elegance black cabinets offer coupled with the bold difference in style.  

Black cabinetry has also become a more practical offering for developers thanks to new product lines that promote durability. Many of these styles are made from thermally-fused laminate (TFL), making them easy to clean and maintain. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, TFL has been widely adopted as a high-quality, lower-cost material that often makes the implementation of high-end design visions possible in multifamily projects. 

And, black isn’t limited to kitchens. It’s a color that’s being carried throughout units and common areas of multifamily developments as well. The next most common place to see black used as a neutral color is on the windows, creating a picture-frame effect with the dark trim color. This draws inspiration from industrial design, which, as I shared in my last blog post, is the most popular style in the country.

While black is the new white sounds rather cliché, when it comes to multifamily kitchens, it’s the real deal. Gone are the days of all-white kitchens in favor of a new neutral that accomplishes the same objectives of a sleek design, adaptable style and timeless appeal.

Jane Kelly
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