Sunday 26 January 2020

Six steps to achieving a 'tuxedo kitchen'

Dressing up a 'tuxedo kitchen' is easy with these six simple steps

Neptune kitchen
Neptune kitchen
Amara pendant
Copper pots from M&S.
Next Lavender chenille rug
Harvey Norman candle
Connemara tea towel from Superfolk.
See China choices at Ariel House.

Emily Westbrooks

Ever heard of a tuxedo kitchen? It's a kitchen with presses that are light on top and dark on the bottom. It's a classic combination of spacious and airy above the counters, and gravitas below. A tuxedo kitchen allows for little ones to leave fingerprints on dark cabinets within their reach, while keeping those white upper cabinets pristine.

Beyond the obvious dark lower and light upper presses or open shelving, a tuxedo kitchen needs a few elements. To look really sharp, you'll need great lighting, preferably over an expansive island, accessories that pop on open shelves, and a few graphic tea towels. Here's how to put it together.

Colour Choice

For those bottom presses, you have a range of dark options: shades of dark navy, deep charcoal or coal black with a slight sheen. Pair the dark presses with brass drawer pulls.

Buy it: Neptune Suffolk kitchen, from €12,500, for Irish stockists

Carpet Ride

Next Lavender chenille rug

The one drawback to a tuxedo kitchen is that it can come off as too stark without a little texture to soften it up. Choosing a rug with a little patina and a cosier tone will keep the kitchen from looking severe. Overdyed Persian rugs are popular and add a thin, soft layer under your feet while you're cooking away.

Buy it: Lavender chenille rug from Next, from €72

Open It Up

Copper pots from M&S.

Once you've sorted the bottom cabinets, it's time to plan the top. Whether you're opting for open shelves, upper presses or a combination of the two, you'll want to keep the light and airy vibe. Opt for a cool shade of white for cabinets with the tiniest blue tone, especially if you've chosen charcoal or navy for the lower presses. Wooden or white open shelves work best, and a row of hooks just below can provide extra storage space for your prettiest pots and pans.

Buy it: Range of copper pots, from €20 at Marks & Spencer

Perfect Pendants

Amara pendant

With upper white cabinets or open shelving, pendant lights really have a chance to shine. Choose lighting that won't clutter up all that bright, open space. Glass or metallic pendants are a great option. We love this slightly cloudy glass pendant lamp with trendy brass accents from online retailer Amara.

Buy it: Lute pendant lamp, €370 with free shipping at Amara,

Ace the Accessories

Harvey Norman candle

If you opt for open shelving, or even a combination of open shelving and white presses, you'll have an opportunity to show off some of your prettiest accessories. One of the tried and true styling tricks is to fill open shelves with all your white plates, mugs and bowls. Then pepper in statement pieces with pops of colour or shiny metallics. It keeps your open shelves from looking too busy and showcases your best bits. Jugs and bowls add visual interest and break up stacks of plates - and they're useful as well, holding flowers or fruit within easy reach.

Buy it: Copper bowl candle, €10 at Harvey Norman,

Get Graphic

Graphic tea towels are a great way to add instant interest to a tuxedo kitchen. It's always smart to have tea towels that are for function and a few for decoration. We'd have a hard time wiping the counters with these gorgeous Connemara-inspired tea towels from Irish designers Gearoid Muldowney and Jo Anne Butler of Superfolk.

Buy it: Connemara tea towel, €20 from Superfolk, visit for stockists

China choice

See China choices at Ariel House.

Choosing dinner plates can be a tricky business as there are endless options. Ariel House hotel in Dublin's Ballsbridge has a sweet collection for their afternoon tea, so we asked manager Deirdre McDonald for her tips on making that tough choice.

She suggests first outlining your goals for the china. For example, for the hotel's afternoon tea, she needed china that would look vintage without being old and chipped, appeal to each generation at a family celebration, and could be fancy but not formal.

Second, do your research. "With these considerations in mind and after many internet searches and shopping trips, we carefully chose a selection of patterns to achieve the fancy but informal factor."

See their china choices at Ariel House, 50-54 Lansdowne Rd, Dublin 4 or download their free e-book Afternoon Tea at

Weekend Magazine

Editors Choice

Also in Life