Why You Should Consider Navy For Your Kitchen

Classic white? Passé. Soft gray? So last year. The latest wave in kitchen color schemes is deep and dark with a dash of glam.

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When it comes to kitchens, tastemakers are gravitating toward navy. This rich hue infuses a space with attitude but is also very blendable, mixing easily with different countertops, backsplashes and flooring types. In other words, it plays nice.

“It’s very timeless,” says Amy Carman, who owns an eponymous design firm based in Wauwatosa. “And it weathers design trends very well. It’s a strong color, but we also consider it a neutral color. You get the crispness but you’re going with a deeper color.”

For a Shorewood home’s new kitchen – the first project in a whole-house makeover – navy blue is the dominant hue. It’s on all the cabinetry, paired with brass hardware, and carries over into the dining area’s drawers and glass-front cabinets. “Navy blue holds its own against finishes, and hardware really pops off the finish in a beautiful way,” Carman says.

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Space was “borrowed” from the dining room to expand the footprint while also adding a mudroom just off the kitchen. Bistro-like woven chairs at the island complement its Calacatta quartzite countertops – a more durable alternative to Italian marble, says Carman – and glass orb pendant lighting above. To withstand a kitchen’s drops and spills without skimping on style, a printed area runner acts in the vein of a Persian rug.

A 40-inch range was installed and a beverage center born out of a pantry closet, with refrigerated drawers below the espresso machine, was built into a Calacatta quartzite insert. Playing off the home’s Tudor and Colonial qualities, leaded-glass windows and tongue-and-groove oak flooring were added. The mantra “brighten it up, lighten it up” guided each choice.

“[Navy blue] is a fun jumping off point,” says Carman, adding that the color can morph into a nautical, pinstriped vibe or an eclectic nod to your favorite vacation destination abroad.

How to Pull Off the Look

Photo by Ryan Hainey

Mix it with whites

“We went with all white [for the range hood] to keep it light,” says Carman, “but white paneling or countertops can also work.”

Incorporate Brass

Not just as drawer pulls. Consider light fixtures and tabletop accessories (framed photos or art, rims on decorative bowls, and statement pieces like hurricane lanterns). “[Brass] becomes a kind of jewelry against the navy blue,” says Carman.

Introduce Patterns

“Navy is a great base that allows you to layer it with patterns,” says Carman, including temporary or seasonal pieces, such as serving trays, tableware or servingware.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s October issue.

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A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine), FoodRepublic.com, CNN.com and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.