Dark & Dramatic

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When it comes to making a statement piece, this kitchen stands out in overall style and presentation with its bold and inventive ambiance.

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photography by Matt Kocourek

When the owner of this southern Johnson County home decided it was time to give his kitchen a new look, he took a deep dive into the sanctuary of modern aesthetics. This transition was a far cry from the previous palette of honey oak cabinetry and builder grade appointments that provided the space with more of an ordinary vibe instead of its newly updated eye-catching motif. 

The homeowner worked in partnership with Jill Painter, CKD and owner of Bella Kitchens, to overhaul the kitchen as part of an entire first floor remodeling endeavor. While Painter only slightly adjusted the footprint of the space, she did completely gut it in order to assemble the subsequent pieces and elements into the noteworthy design it is today.  



“We took out all the old moldings and details but kept the main L-shaped island with sink and left the pantry and cooktop where they were,” noted Painter, who did elevate the pantry a bit for an upgraded visual statement.

While the charcoal-colored cabinets represent a dramatic pivot from the previous lighter colored space, the integration of these opened the door to a more modern and contemporary stage.  

“The homeowner was open to going bold throughout the space and up the walls,” said Painter, who described the darker cabinet color as softer and more deeply rich and interesting than just black. To complement the appealing drama of the darker color scheme, Painter integrated lighter Cambria quartz countertops with grey veining.

“I encouraged the client toward the bold veining for the countertops to balance the cabinet color,” noted Painter. “We also installed a thicker countertop on the island. I think it is a great statement and really holds its own in the space.”



The flooring, previously a narrow red oak, was replaced with brighter, white oak, which lightens and modernizes the kitchen and partners well with the cabinets and darker colors.

Another eye-catching element in this kitchen is the 3-dimensional metal backsplash, which is a diamond-shaped mosaic and presents like a relief metal tile. Painter placed this behind the wine and coffee bar and used it to accent the tequila bar. Lighting underneath the floating shelves in the tequila bar adds a perfect layer of drama, as do the backlit shelves by the coffee bar. In each space, the thoughtfully placed lighting gives personality and style to the respective areas. The bar areas also have quartz countertops appointed with a charcoal color in a matte finish to coordinate with the metallic finish of the backsplash.

Other highlights include linear pulls on all the cabinetry, all new black stainless appliances and range hood, and a countertop with floating shelves and additional storage beneath that wraps around the corner of the kitchen.  



Additionally, the island is home to deep drawers on one side and full height doors on the other side. This is ideal for additional and convenient storage. The black stainless faucet and dark quartz sink in the L-shaped counter ties in well with the black stainless hardware and appliances throughout the kitchen.

A walk-in pantry blends seamlessly alongside a cabinet pantry with roll-out shelves. Painter’s attention to detail necessary to create this symmetrical section, including the molding at the bottom that lines up with the adjacent cabinetry, results in a subtle but stunning visual.

The modern aesthetic in this kitchen shines with its frameless cabinet construction, square edge doors, square furniture base molding, and clean, straight lines throughout. It truly is a work of art.



“It was a great project to do, as I don’t design dark kitchens very often,” expressed Painter. “I definitely had fun with it. People are branching out more now in this regard, adding more color and/or contrast. Plus, the home has enough windows in the back of the house, which is right next to the kitchen, so the light flowing through those doesn’t make the kitchen feel dark or closed in.”  

With a variety of intriguing design appointments, it may seem like a monumental task to harmoniously blend them together. However, Painter is a natural at piecing together the key players to create a veritable masterpiece.  

“This particular kitchen remodel shows how many different elements can be successfully tied together,” reflected Painter.


Project by Bella Kitchens

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