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How to brighten a kitchen and still use dark colors

See how skylights bring out the best in this black-and-blue kitchen.

While the all-white kitchen has gained popularity, many homeowners want to bring dark colors into the space where they not only cook, but gather with family and entertain friends. Intense, saturated colors can create a cozy, intimate feeling, but they can also make the kitchen feel dark and closed-in.

Vivian Mize, a Charlotte, N.C., homeowner renovating the kitchen in her midcentury modern home, found a solution to this problem: add skylights.

The rise of foodie culture has made the kitchen the hub of the home. And for Mize cooking is part of who she is, so she wanted to design a new kitchen that would allow her to cook grand meals for her family of five.

Love her look? Here's a mood board of her inspiration:

Kitchen mood board blue black skylights

Open up segmented spaces

First, she decided to knock down some walls. The house was built in 1965, an era that favored segmented rooms and small windows. The original kitchen was very small and a neighboring room had been used as a den. Check out the dated kitchen below.

Kitchen wood floors dated decor

Her contractor knocked down the wall between these two rooms to create one, long kitchen/dining room space. They also raised the flat ceiling to be a vaulted ceiling, giving the room a sense of openness.

“The challenge was how to create a cohesive space with such an elongated and narrow space,” Mize said. “We had to figure out how to unify the spaces, so we decided to go up and when we went up we knew we wanted to skylights.”

With a covered porch on one side and the living room on the other side, the space was in desperate need of natural light to show off the deep hues Mize planned to use.

Create a cozy feeling with color

Mize went with a dark color palette: Prussian blue and black with gold accents.

Stained black wood cabinets offset the blue tile with black grout backsplash. Cabinet and drawer hardware is brushed brass and other gold tone accents can be found on the pendant lights and the sink water fixture.

Blonde wood flooring, white quartz countertops and a ceiling painted white brighten the kitchen with a light counterpunch to the darker colors.

Adding skylights to bring out bold colors

Mize incorporated three VELUX No Leak Solar Powered Fresh Air Skylights into her design to brighten the new kitchen: one over the sink (replacing an old acrylic bubble skylight) and one each over the island and dining table. The bright, natural light from the skylights makes the bold colors pop, while the lighter colors found on the floor, counters and ceiling amplify the light in a way that contributes to the airy ambiance.

Blue black kitchen skylights with shades

“The light from above makes having dark colors possible,” she said. “I get the coziness of the dark colors, but I get the openness and the light quality from the skylights. So, I really get the best of both worlds.”

The skylights have gold light filtering shades to connect with the gold accents below. The shades also allow Mize to control the light.

There’s no reason to be afraid of bold, dark colors in the kitchen. With natural light from above, these colors can feel cozy and open at the same time.

Learn more about using skylights with shades to enhance your interior decor by scheduling a virtual consultation today!

Next: 10 Reasons to add skylights to your home in 2023

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