Home Decor

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and white

Decorator Julia Black's galley kitchen gets a crisp black and white makeover that combines practicality with pizzazz
By Christy Wright
How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and white

Photo, Sian Richards.

smooth operator (Home SIP pg 53)

Plan ahead

Make the most of a galley kitchen. “There isn’t a lot of space here,” says Julia, “so we thought carefully about how we’d manoeuvre in it. I advise actually practising a walk-through of cooking, eating a meal and cleaning up. You want everything within easy reach, and there’s no such thing as over-planning.”

Couples with young children usually like practical rooms with light, easy-to-clean neutral colours.

“I gravitate toward black and white,” says homeowner, decorator and stylist Julia Black. She and her husband, Andrew — who have a two-year-old daughter, Quinn, a boxer named Parker and a baby on the way — are clearly an exception. “Dark floors and cabinets can show more dust and dirt,” admits Julia, “so if you are the type of person who gets stressed out by this, avoid black as best you can.” Inclined more to positivity than to stressing, Julia sees black as a great motivator. “We wanted to be aware of dog hair and dust, so we could stay on top of cleaning and keep the place spic and span.”

Their new 150-square-foot kitchen certainly is that, and a far cry from its previous state: a space with no dishwasher, no storage and 1920s-era cabinetry. It demanded a complete demo and rebuild, a big project for any family. “It is always a challenge,” says Julia, “but one I quite love. You have to dance around with different millwork, furniture, finishes and accessories to get the best balanced result. And with another kid on the way, I’d say the dance continues, just to a different tune.”

Photography, Sian Richards

Black cabinetry

If something unexpected appeals, follow your instinct. "I immediately fell in love with the charcoal finish of this recycled-veneer cabinetry, and so I used that as the starting point for the kitchen," says Julia.

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and whiteBlack cabinetry

Get personal

"I decorated the kitchen like any room in the house," says Julia. "I love texture, so I added frame artwork, sculptural accents, ceramics and flowers throughout the space. I'm just such a sucker for fresh flowers in the kitchen!"

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and whiteGet personal

Functional floor plan

“The wine storage and shelf above it were an opportunity to break up all of the closed cabinetry. We’re not big wine people, but it’s nice to have stock for unexpected guests, and I love the way the bottles look when so neatly stored,” says Julia.

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and whiteBuilt-in beauty

Built-in beauty

A streamlined galley kitchen maximizes cabinet space in this urban house and even allows for a pint-sized eating nook.

"A galley kitchen was the only option for our home – it allows for an open walkway through the first floor and keeps the view to the backyard open as well."

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and whiteBuilt-in beauty

Multi-purpose nook

Small but effective, this peninsula provides a spot for casual meals, a buffet surface and an entertainment area. “It’s great when we entertain and use it as a bar or food station. Also, I’m a bit of a TV junkie and can’t live without one in the kitchen. This small, white-framed style blends in nicely and is on a retractable arm, so it can be angled for easy viewing.”

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and whiteMulti-purpose nook

Classic contrast

Julia chose white engineered-stone countertops and continued the same material up the wall as a backsplash, as a counterpoint to the black cabinetry. "It has a clean, modern feel, yet it's still bold and creates tension against the black."

How to decorate a galley kitchen in black and whiteClassic contrast


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.