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A Study in Contrasts

From black-interior windows to ebony-hued kitchen islands, New England designers are embracing contrast.

While we don’t see serene monochromatic spaces or white-on-white kitchens falling out of favor with New England designers and homeowners any time soon, we have noticed the increased use of color in recent months. In many cases, it isn’t something as subtle as introducing throw pillows or bed linens in the same color as the room’s overall décor. Permanent elements, such as kitchen cabinetry, islands and windows in saturated tones that are in sharp contrast to the wall color and flooring, are proving surprisingly popular.

According to Color Marketing Group’s vice president of PR and communications, “The black and white movement is coming back indeed and this was confirmed at Milan Design Week, adding primary colors to it or even orange. The Bauhaus direction, with inspirations from artists like Mondriaan, is inspiring for the homes of tomorrow.”

If contrasting colors are outside you or your client’s design comfort zone, consider giving the concept a test run before making the leap, especially if you are thinking of it for cabinetry and windows. Try adding the aforementioned throw pillows and linens to the room in contrasting colors, or painting an accent wall in an entranceway or powder room. This will give you a chance to live with the idea before committing to something that will likely be in your home for decades to come.

A high-quality window, such as those from the Marvin family of brands, is designed to last a lifetime. Opting for black-interior windows is a major decision, but their sleek appeal against a white wall, such as in this room, is undeniable. This works to outline the view of the bucolic backyard. The black metal support beams in the cathedral ceiling give the space a pulled together look.

While the concept of a kitchen island in a different color than the bulk of the cabinetry has become a design staple, it had typically been in a natural wood tone to give it the “piece of furniture” look. A more recent trend seems to be islands painted black or stained to a nearly-black ebony color.

Another trendy kitchen design look is light-colored flooring, such as the blonde wood floor, which offers a beautiful sense of contrast to the dark cabinetry and deep gray wall color.

With its unexpected blue ceiling, this kitchen on Cape Cod offers a sophisticated interpretation of “beach style.” The color also works to highlight the intricate millwork of the coffered ceiling.

If you’re considering contrast, test the waters with something that can be readily replaced and then dive in. This is one trend that shows all signs of staying power.