White Kitchens

I read a few different blogs by established Designers, but one is sticking with me even a few days later.  She posted a picture of a recent kitchen she did, proclaiming it ‘timeless’ and will never go out of style.  Admittedly, it’s a lovely kitchen; white cabinets, gray subway tile, noteworthy pendants, stainless appliances, and gold cabinet pulls.  About the third comment in was a women calling her bluff.  (What?!)  She did mention that she was not a designer, but for me, that made her message all the more powerful.  She asked if, since she feels like she is seeing these kitchens EVERYWHERE, if maybe they are over done.  Ouch.  Overdone?  Harsh!

White kitchens came on the scene several years ago, after we all got sick of looking at kitchen after kitchen with dark granite counter tops.  The old rule of thumb was, stack like an Oreo, dark floors, light cabinets, dark counters.  It made sense, contrast always provides visual interest (although not always GOOD visual interest 😉 )  You were seeing at least a few natural wood cabinets, injecting that organic feel that most people associate with warmth and home.

But then marble hit really hard for a few years.  People started embracing a reduction in contrast, turning towards exclusively painted cabinetry.  You saw the brushed metals coming in, fitting closely with the stainless appliances.  That made sense as well.  Stark white and shiny metal conjures up images of hospitals, not kitchens, so designers beautifully created kitchens that were clean and crisp, never stark or sterile.

But that blog post was still sitting with me…where are we TODAY?  Recently I was asked to advise a friend redoing her own kitchen.  She is going white. So the question has to be asked…is this a mistake? Given the cost and inconvenience of a kitchen reno, is it ill-advised to go with ‘white kitchen’? In looking at example after example, I can say with relative certainty, the answer is NO! Go for it!

Here’s why…the pendulum has centered.  What we have learned from the organic feel of wood and granite kitchens is that they don’t have to be super ornate.  Simplify the doors, lighten up the room, but keep some of the coziness.  What we learned from the other extreme was that crisp, clean feel is energizing, but we miss some of the contrast.  So today, we actually decorate our kitchens.  We like the blank canvas of white, but we bring in other elements as well, be they wood or color, to round out the space. I admit, finding examples of kitchens with all white cabinets, light counter tops, and light backsplashes took a little digging, but let’s have a look at what I found:

This one incorporated wood beams in the ceiling:

This one has my new favorite look, the stacked wood bread paddles!  Point is, what’s on the counter top is what is driving the feel of the kitchen.

Another one finished to add warmth, I love it!

This one has perfectly used windows:

This one has the most current answer…the countertops have nice contast:

This last one is part of the uber-popular modern farmhouse look.  I love it!  Take note of the open shelving in natural wood, the swing arm lighting, the mixed metal finishes and the shiplap…

Published by Kate Scheck

Interior Design Student

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