Serene and inviting, pale neutral kitchens take steps beyond white in a few subtle ways.
Pale neutral kitchens are done in light muted colors that often defy description. In discussing the mellow kitchen she designed for a house in California [top], the great Barbara Barry explained to House Beautiful magazine that the kitchen had been bright white but she felt it needed a change. Perhaps she found it glaring, which all white kitchens can be. To refine the look, Ms. Barry picked “a shadowy color, one you can’t quite describe. It instantly made the room warmer and more intimate,” she said. It takes a keen eye to make a tone-on-tone kitchen work with white marble but tweaking the cabinet color from white to a pale neutral makes for a very sophisticated result. Farrow & Ball’s Light Gray, a stone-colored taupe, is the color of record for the kitchen. That photographs here as mushroom. Two unique additional features of note are glass doors on the upper cabinets treated like boudoir passage doors — with gathered fabric to block the view inside. The cabinets also have unusually high baseboards that raise the bottoms well above the normal toekick. The owner may be extremely tall à la Julia Child, with cabinets about the usual 36-inch height. Or, the raised base may simply be designed to give them a lighter look and easier access with less bending.
Benjamin Moore’s A la Mode looks to be a close match to the cabinet color as it is rendered in the photo.
A similar symphony of off-white white, Carrara gray marble and mushroom-hue wood is given a Hollywood Regency twist to an Alabama kitchen by Andrew Brown. A pair of monolithic natural wood-grained chest-on-chest cabinets frame the sink window over cream-colored base cabinets. Marble is used for counters, backsplash and island top. There, a natural wood cross buck supports a deep counter top covering a brighter white island cabinet which is finished on all sides. I don’t know what anyone was thinking with the dark Roman shade over the sink — Barbara Barry got that right.
Across the kitchen, a large Wolf is tucked into a range niche lined with marble. A monumental stainless slab conceals the vent hood is with a minimalistic twist — a stunning way to finish an area that is too often awkward in kitchens. Note the color contrast between the drawers of the island cabinet and pair of cream-colored drawers flanking the range.
Benjamin Moore’s Silver Satin approximates the cream color of the walls and base cabinets.
Very muted green also can be a valid pale neutral. How that looks is clear in this expansive kitchen where cabinets dominate and the floor coordinates. White marble counters on the sink wall, and a pair of butcher blocks inset on the island interrupt the soothing aloe aura, but not very much.
Benjamin Moore’s Saybrook Sage has the same understated green of these cabinets.
It’s not well know that very pale greens are highly mutable and can color shift as the light changes. This view of the sink wall captures that quality perfectly — which is rather rare. While the cabinets are green, they appear taupe because the green has a brown undertone. Of course the surprise here is the natural wood on the dining side of the island. Based on the other side, I didn’t see that coming. Did you?
(Source: House Beautiful, Andrew Brown Interiors, Baden Baden)
You also might like Nordic Color Kitchens, Crossbuck Kitchens, and Tone-on-Tone Kitchen.
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