Nothing in home design is as enticing—or agonizing—as imagining and executing a dream kitchen. Do you choose a white-on-white scheme, which is as classic as a perfectly flaky, buttery croissant? Or is it time for a little more flavor—the aesthetic equivalent of a sticky-sweet Greek baklava, perhaps, or Spanish churros dipped in rich chocolate? To whet your appetite, take a look at these five decadent kitchens, all cooked up to perfection in Colorado.

1. Black & Light

White-oak floors from Arrigoni Woods provide a serene anchor for the black-on-black cookspace, where a GE Monogram fridge and dishwasher are tucked behind cabinetry panels for an uncluttered look. Photo by Jess Blackwell, styling by styling by Hygge Life

You might not expect a data engineer to design—brilliantly—her own kitchen, but that’s exactly what Emily Hagedorn did for her newly built home in Vail. “I basically spent all of my free time on this project for a year and a half—I taught myself SketchUp, learned about interior design, all of it,” she says. Emily’s husband, Brad, who owns real estate development firm ArcWest Properties, worked alongside architects at TAB Associates to execute her vision. And that vision was…black. “It was sort of an agonizing decision—kitchens are so expensive, you don’t want to make a mistake,” Emily says. But the dark hue was calling to her. “A white-on-white kitchen is beautiful and timeless, but I was just kind of sick of it—I felt like every kitchen I saw on Pinterest looked the same.” Here, moody ebony cabinets by German company Bauformat—available through Christopher’s Kitchen & Bath Denver—paired with soapstone waterfall-edge counters set an inky tone to rival Vail’s night sky, while brass finishes on a Brizo faucet and Schoolhouse pendant lights add warmth. “It just felt like the kitchen needed a pop of contrast, and I didn’t want to go too glam,” Emily says. “Silver would have been too cold.” Spoken like a true, newly minted design pro.

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Buster & Punch T-Bar in Brass, $81
The easiest way to warm up dark cabinets is with brass pulls; the diamond-cut pattern is the perfect added detail.

2. Bon Appétit

Julia Child herself couldn’t have dreamt up a Francophile kitchen as spot-on as this Sunnyside cookspace—part of a spec home designed and developed by Wolff House. It’s a feast for the eyes, from the stained white-oak floors to the brass fixtures—made all the lovelier when the sun streams in. Hand-brushed taupe cabinets from Kitchen Craft have a classic, French feel and were selected to “add depth to the space,” says Kassi Pelley, managing partner of the company and co-owner alongside Aaron Koski. For more textural interest, the design team layered shiplap walls with pine-wood floating shelves, custom-made and hand-distressed by builder HGC Design. “I didn’t want it to seem like every farmhouse kitchen—we know those are so popular, but we wanted it to stand out,” Pelley says—or, in other words, to give it a certain je ne sais quoi.

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Build with Ferguson Delta Trinsic Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Magnetic Docking Spray Head, $446
Investing in the design details you use every day—like this gorgeous and high-performance faucet—elevates your experience in the kitchen.

3. A New View

A Thala gray limestone
island with waterfall edges complements the Lumiere leathered-quartzite backsplash (both finishes are from the Stone Collection). Photo by Justin Martin

You’ve heard of the secret garden. This is the kitchen of secrets. Designed by Boss Architecture and interior designer Jessica Doran and built by Montare Builders in Denver’s new Estates on Cedar Avenue neighborhood, this home’s cookspace is full of surprises—including an elevator and a pantry you’d never know are hidden behind a wall of vertical white-oak boards in various sizes. “The texture of the wood allowed us to conceal the edges of the doors,” says Boss Architecture principal Kevin Stephenson of this architectural sleight of hand. The Sub-Zero fridge is also camouflaged—by sleek Vonmod cabinetry—and the range’s vent hood, wrapped in Lumiere leathered quartzite, blends into the backsplash. Tucking away all that functionality lets the eye-catching elements shine, such as the live-edge table hewn of local Siberian elm by Ezra-David Darnell, and a linear pendant light from Brooklyn, New York’s AlexAllen Studio that illuminates the entire length of the waterfall-edge island. “We wanted it to feel sort of exotic and foreign in a way that evokes a sense of travel and being out of your normal environment,” says Boss Architecture principal Christopher Davis. Globe-trotting from your kitchen? That’s always a delicious idea.

Photo by Justin Martin

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Shades of Light Modern Balance Beam LED Linear Chandelier, $366
A single, sculptural fixture in a contemporary kitchen makes a big impact while emphasizing the space’s sleek lines.

4. History Lesson

“Vertical tile gives the illusion of added height in the space,” designer
Eli Hariton says. Floating wood shelves in one corner keep frequently used dishware within easy reach. The appliances are by GE Café. Photo by Jess Blackwell

TVL Creative had an uncommon objective when revamping a cramped, circa-1910 West Highland bungalow’s kitchen: Make it unbalanced. “Everything is very asymmetrical, and an asymmetrical kitchen is unique,” says lead designer Eli Hariton. Before the TVL team set foot on the property, the 11-foot-by-9-foot cookspace was so teensy, “you had to actually shimmy sideways between the back cabinets to get into the laundry room,” Hariton says. To update the place for the modern era, the team knocked down walls, which gave them room for the kitchen of the client’s dreams, complete with a coffee nook and a waterfall-edge island ideal for post-pandemic cocktail hours. “We used Ikea’s butcher-block counters, which were great because they cost only a fraction of what we budgeted for countertops,” Hariton says. That left room for a handsome detail: brass rod inlays in the butcher block that give the island an artful feel. Paired with a trio of brass orb pendant lights, the charming choice is a nod to history that’s right at home in this century-old house. “We kept a lot of the old ventilation covers; they’re really ornate and, like the butcher block, gave a certain level of historical integrity,” Hariton says. Proof positive that a dash of the past makes perfect.

Photo by Jess Blackwell

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TileBar Cadenza Downpour 2 x 9 Clay Tile, from $12.95 per square foot
With a textural finish like that of exposed brick, this tile has a charming, industrial look reminiscent of subway tile—but with more character.

5. Easy Like Sunday Morning

“We chose a clean, contemporary alpine palette,” designer Margaret Selzer says. “White oak has character, especially when paired with darker stained white oak on the cabinets.” Photo by Draper White

“When you’re on vacation, everything needs to be easy,” says designer Margaret Selzer of River and Lime. So, in this newly constructed Telluride penthouse—a getaway for its owners—hard-wearing finishes reign, from the practically bulletproof Caesarstone counters to the raw steel vent hood. “What we’ve found is that especially in mountain locations, [homeowners] don’t want the fussiness of marble, so we select materials that are beautiful but also really easy for people to maintain,” Selzer says. Still, the designer opted for plenty of unforgettable details, including a custom-built white-oak table and a chandelier made by Jonathan Browning Studios. “We kept the palette really clean and pretty, because outside, the view is a spectacular [panorama] over the box canyon,” she says. “How do you create this beautiful urban mountain residence that doesn’t distract from the multimillion-dollar view out your window?” She answered her own question by keeping to earthy hues.

Photo by Draper White

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Design Within Reach Betwixt Stool, $945
Everyone who bellies up to your bar (or island) wants a stool with a comfortable seat and a back—so choose a handsome, versatile option like this one.