One of the most surprising trends I’m starting to see in both kitchen and bathroom design is a renewed affection for white. White walls, white tile, white cabinets – from whitewash to porcelain subway tiles, white has not only been given new life, but has seen a massive surge in popularity. This trend makes perfect sense alongside a design culture that heavily favors wide, open, clutter-free spaces, but a white on white decor isn’t without its perils. After all, it’s a fine line between white looking bright and clean and looking blank, bland, and sterile. So, here are a few smart ways to soften and warm up the white to make it work for your kitchen.
The very most important thing you can do in a white on white kitchen is keep it from looking too cold. While sky blues and slate greys can be lovely (and even look great), it’s important to have at least one warm, sunny touch that brings out the cheery aspect of your white decor. My favorite way to do this is simple: with light wood, laminate, or wood tile flooring. A natural wood tone lends a homey quality to a white kitchen, and can make it feel more comfortable. For double the impact, consider adding a few pieces of wood accent furniture, or opting for light wood counter tops instead of granite.
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One of the biggest dangers of opting for a white on white kitchen is that it will simply look washed out. As with any monochromatic color scheme, too much of one color can be a little overwhelming, and can make the whole decor blur together. With white in particular, that can make your kitchen look bland and empty or even unfinished. To combat this, make sure your kitchen isn’t just white. Pops of bold color like a decorative accent chair, colorful kitchen range, or even fresh greenery or fruit look especially vivid and bright against all that white, and can create enough visual interest to carry the eye favorably through the kitchen.
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Perhaps my favorite thing about a white on white kitchen is that small differences in pattern show up beautifully. Because white reflects light well (especially glossy porcelain tile), it shows off fine detail incredibly well. Pairing white subway tile in a traditional pattern with an inset of the same tile in a herringbone pattern above your kitchen range creates an elegantly accented backsplash. Using a darker grout or even a very small trim tile can help the pattern stand out more, but even a thin white grout line will show up beautifully. Patterned white tile combined with 1/3 beadboard, whitewashed plank walls, or even simply decorative cabinet fronts can add back some of the visual appeal lost by excluding color.
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Similarly, adding texture is a great way to give a white kitchen a little more personality. While a weather-worn look isn’t for everyone, a slightly distressed white finish on your cabinetry can be incredibly charming. Exposed wood beams or reclaimed wood floors are another way to add a rich, tactile experience to a white kitchen, while aged antique drawer pulls or even lighting fixtures are an easy way to give a sparse white kitchen a rustic, old farmhouse style.
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For a more formal look, try pairing white cabinets and wall tile with black granite counter tops, deep gray slate flooring, or very dark stained wood. Where pastel greens, blues, and yellows add a soft, springy touch to a white kitchen, deep grays, blacks, and dark navy blues create a much more sophisticated and modern appearance. This can emphasize some of the cooler aspects of a white kitchen (which can be good or bad!), for a look that’s more elegant than homey, with a slightly modern edge. Soften it up with fresh greenery or make it even more bold with a few pops of bright primary colors.
What do you think of these white kitchens? Do you see them as homey and elegant, or do you prefer a little more color in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments!