We can't believe how passe this is, either.

Now Your Kitchen Can Match the Food You Burned

Megan McArdle is a Bloomberg View columnist. She wrote for the Daily Beast, Newsweek, the Atlantic and the Economist and founded the blog Asymmetrical Information. She is the author of "“The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success.”
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The Wall Street Journal reports that black kitchens are on the rise. Why black? I'm reading between the lines here, but the consensus of designers seems to be that "all the other colors were taken." Glowing natural wood has been done. Bright primary colors? HGTV seems to have cycled through all of them over the last decade. White? Every 30-something family in every detergent commercial seems to be glowing in a dazzling white kitchen mysteriously unmarred by the cherubic toddlers dashing around its oversized island. What's left is black, color of death, funerals and, apparently, Cameron Diaz's kitchen floor.

Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in New York City in the 1980s can tell you where all this is going: It is going to Mom telling Dad that she doesn't care what they have to sell, she cannot live with that dated mess of a kitchen for one more minute.

If you're sick of scrubbing splashes off your white cabinets, just wait until your surfaces are all a gleaming stream of ebony, showing every spill, every puff of flour, every speck of dust -- to ghastly effect. The merest puddle of water will leave a ghostly cloud of minerals on your midnight granite counter, and every flat surface will quickly become a fingerprint collection facility that rivals the FBI's. Eventually you will have a sponge manufacturer on retainer and earnest conversations about whether you couldn't convert the hall closet into a bedroom for a full-time maid.

You will also quickly notice that it's a bit ... dark. Guests may compliment you on how chic and modern and stunning it all is, but they don't have to brave the gloom in the grisly light of morning. There's nothing like trying to make yourself a smoothie while your reflection leers back from the dark half-world of your glossy enamel cabinets.

The last time black cabinets were in vogue, in my formative years, all of these disadvantages rapidly became obvious, and black kitchens fell out of fashion as quickly and thoroughly as they had come in. So as soon as you walked into an apartment and saw all that black enamel, you could practically pinpoint the month of the renovation. As "fashion forward" rapidly downshifted into "Pity they can't afford to do something about that eyesore," people became frantic to get rid of the stuff. You can walk into probably millions of kitchens in the greater New York City area and still find the pebbly white melamine that was fashionable around the time of the Great Glossy Black Craze of 1985. But the black is practically a collector's item, because most of it was ripped out scant years after it was put in.

Truly, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But it's hard to see why, in this case. "People don't like dark, enclosed spaces" is not the kind of insight that should require a trained archivist to ferret out.

I suspect the answer is that the kitchen design cycle is just moving too fast these days. We always had design magazines, of course, but now we have whole cable channels devoted, 24/7, to pushing new trends. Unfortunately, there are just so many new forms that "box to put your food in" and "counters to rest stuff on" can take. And as the cycle compresses, the last time that something was in is still a fresh memory, rather than a nostalgic glow.

And if you must have the latest thing, I suppose, then you should go ahead and put in a black kitchen. Just remember to lay in some antidepressants and enough money for another remodel at the same time.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Megan McArdle at mmcardle3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net