JUNE
04
The White Kitchen
Susan Serra
The White Kitchen
Photo Credit: Susan Serra
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White kitchens seem to top everyone’s “Want” lists these days. Think white kitchens have been popular for a long time? You would be correct. However, more and more homeowners want white in their homes than ever before. There are dos and don’ts as well as pros and cons to designing and living with a white kitchen!

The classic combination of white, gray, and brown are lovely neutrals to design a kitchen around. Photo Credit: Susan Serra

WHY WHITE?

In the past 50 years, white has proven to be a timeless look. Whether designed in a traditional theme or a sleek, modern style, white works. White is an easy, neutral starting point from which to build a kitchen aesthetically.

Is white always the right answer? No. To determine if it’s for you, look at your home in a global way. Are many of your colors dark or otherwise grayed down in soft, smoky shades? If so, then a stark white kitchen may be a jarring, unbalanced design element in the context of your home. White window, door, and baseboard trim, white doors, and other white elements in your rooms or some combination of these design elements can be a great tie-in to a white kitchen.

Seeing white in context of other whites and soft grays clearly shows white’s undertones. Photo Credit: Susan Serra

WHICH WHITE?

Whites have undertones in them that are best seen when whites are held next to each other. The best way to see undertones of white is to compare it to a bright, clean, white. A designer, colorist, or paint store professional can help. Once you make that comparison, you will see whites lean toward yellow, blue, green, and other nuanced tints. Coordinate the white that will work with other products and materials in your home. Note, too, that a white which is several shades deeper than the brightest white can appear  bright white in the context of your home. When seen next to contrasting items in your home, even a “deep” white will pop.

Add a color pop to your kitchen for visual contrast and to tie in your home’s surrounding colors. Photo Credit: Susan Serra

CLEANING WHITE

Ah, yes, maintaining clean white cabinetry is always a challenge! Having raised three children in a white kitchen, I can promise you that white will show wear sooner than later. (Probably sooner than you’d think!) Kids just do what kids do, as do pets (and me too when I’m cooking wildly). Nicks, wear from cleaning, and dings will happen. Personally, I don’t like perfection—I like a look with a small layer of wear. It just looks more lived in to me, and I’m ok with that. If you can’t harbor the thought of any damage to your pristine white cabinetry, don’t do white!

Sleek white cabinetry with areas of texture add excitement and focus to the kitchen. Photo Credit: Susan Serra

Clean your cabinetry carefully with a soft, water-damp cloth, putting minimum pressure on the wood. Follow up with another soft cloth, this time dry.

DECORATING WITH WHITE

The good news: anything goes with white! Rich, textured wood countertops are a beautiful companion to white cabinetry as are wood floors. Add in color with the backsplash or accessory layers, but take your cues from your home to tie in colors. A kitchen in neutrals—white, brown, and shades of gray is one of the most sophisticated looks and plays up texture beautifully.

Dramatic sections of charcoal or black clearly delineate shapes and forms in the kitchen. Photo Credit: Susan Serra

Most importantly, look through many images of white kitchens to see which direction you want to take the kitchen—bold with contrast, soft and elegant, highly textured or sleek, or a fabulous eclectic mix. White as a foundation is not only easy to start from, but makes sense with its ability to add reflected light into the room, creating a spacious look. Would you like a white kitchen? How would you decorate it?

- Susan

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Leave Your Thoughts (6 Comments)

  1. Carolyn ·

    What Will a White kitchen Looks like With Stainless Appliances And
    Dark trim

  2. Choosey ·

    This is funny. I have always had a white kitchen and friends call it the “hospital kitchen”. Unbeknownst to them I consider that a compliment not an insult. I always tell them I want something I can see is clean. Have a strong dislike for those dark wood and granite kitchens that have replaced most kitchens now. And with granite you can’t see dirty spots so you have to run your hand along it to “feel” the dirty spot so I am told. Terrible! But of course something new would be the rage just like clothes styles change for the sake of selling more and more products we really don’t need.

  3. ann ·

    We too have a white kitchen. House was purchased in 2006 and the WHOLE house was white from the ceilings, walls and wall-to-wall white carpet..UGH! We are color people and since that time we have “recolored” our whole enterior but we opted to keep the white cabinents(they have no handles or knobs)BUT we opted to install Sulstone countertops. We choose a this particular product due to it’s wonderful colors and the priceing was less than the tradional Corian or Granite. We chose a gray base with “flects” of color plus for a pop we choose to have “silver specks” which reflect the lighting beautifully. To date, we still love the look, its is timeles.

  4. Ellen ·

    Too commercial looking examples – not one of those kitchens had a homey, comforting look. No place I would want to return to after a long day at work.

  5. Gayle ·

    really liked this article. Nice to see what is coming our way in home deco.

  6. Chuck ·

    I loved this piece. Quick question — if you’ve had a totally white kitchen for years (white countertops, cabinetry, and appliances) and you want a change (maybe 50% white), but nothing totally dramatic, what would you suggest? Just switching out the appliances for metallic replacements?