Discover a Welcoming Side to the Dark Side

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While all white kitchens may take the lead for classic kitchen designs, coloring outside the lines in black is an inspiring option.

Story by Ann Butenas      |      Photos by Matt Kocourek

When it comes to stunning kitchen designs, you’d be surprised how going to the dark side can be a phenomenal choice. While it might not cater to everyone’s taste, there is no denying it has a strong voice of its own, and when working with an experienced designer who can offer a variety of fun and simple ways to introduce black to your kitchen palette, you may just discover a dramatic style choice that demands to take center stage in your home. Besides, just as it does with any wardrobe, black lends itself well to nearly every style, making everything look good.

Among the many secrets of making a black kitchen do its job well include proper lighting, including both natural and artificial light. Additionally, accents are critical to the success of a black kitchen, such as the stunning natural Platinum quartzite countertop material; bold graphic wallpaper; and an eye-catching light fixture above the larger island. This cozy and intimate kitchen has a flair for unique presentation and definitely steals the show in kitchen designs. Overseen by Sue Shinneman, CKD, Owner and Designer with Kitchen Studio: Kansas City, this particular project ended up stealing her heart.

“This design job has definitely been one of my favorites,” Shinneman expressed, noting she worked closely with designer Kurt Knapstein of Knapstein Design, who originally brought this project to Shinneman. “He had a significant vision for the design elements in this project and was incredibly influential in the overall outcome of the project. Kurt is known for creating unique design spaces for each client and he did not disappoint with this one.”

Located in Prairie Village, Kansas, this kitchen enjoyed its transformation last year and was created to make the kitchen appear larger. One of the first things called for was to have the laundry room and back closet removed to create additional space. From there, the entire footprint of the kitchen was rearranged.

“The wall where the range is currently located is where the laundry room used to be,” noted Shinneman. “We moved the laundry room closer to the master bedroom in what was formerly a closet space.”

To be fair, the existing cabinets in this kitchen were previously been painted black prior to Shinneman coming on board, as the homeowner simply loved the color. Through the overall updated design, however, Shinneman and Knapstein added new and vibrant life to those cabinets.

Featuring two islands, this kitchen has plenty of storage space for the couple residing here, and the thoughtful design caters to the homeowners’ love of cooking together. Ample storage space can be found throughout the kitchen in the cleverest of ways. The cabinets adjacent to the window house all of the dishes on top with a food pantry on the bottom. To cater to the couple’s love of entertaining, a built-in china hutch with back lighting contains all the glassware and platters. The eye-catching walnut interior of the piece picks up the natural Peruvian Walnut countertop contiguous to the second island, which serves as a perfect gathering spot. There is plenty of room for everything and everyone in this gorgeous heartbeat of the home.

Because they like to buy most food fresh and didn’t require much in terms of freezer space, the homeowners opted for two column-like refrigerators that rest on either side of the range.

“There is a small freezer drawer in island closest to the range,” indicated Shinneman, who also had a prep sink installed in the island for ease of preparing meals.

The homeowners opted for all new appliances and enjoy preparing meals with their Sub-Zero/Wolf products, all of which add perfect contrast to the black theme. To add to the dramatic flair of this space, Knapstein had a mirror installed directly behind the range, allowing for a decided Feng Shui effect.

“If you are cooking at the range with your back to the kitchen, you can still be involved with what is happening in the room by looking in the mirror,” noted Shinneman.


  • Kitchen Designer: Kitchen Studio: Kansas City
  • Cabinetry: Crystal Cabinetworks Inc.
  • Stone Countertops: Dimensional Stoneworks
  • Wood Countertop: Grothouse Lumber
  • Appliances: Subzero/Wolf
  • Plumbing: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
  • Lighting: Knapstein Design
  • Wallpaper: Knapstein Design
  • Contractor: ReTouch

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