Your Kitchen Is a Large Investment! Don’t Let It Go Out of Style Quickly
Kitchen trends tend to ebb and flow, just like any other fleeting fad. Avocado cabinets, vinyl floor tiles, and dark wooden cabinet doors have all had their moments, yet you wouldn’t introduce any of them into a stylish modern kitchen.
If you’re designing a new kitchen for your home that you want to stand the test of time and not be dated within a couple of years, we recommend going back to basics and installing an all-white kitchen.
The perfect blank canvas, timeless style, and surprisingly easy to keep clean: These are some of the attributes of a white kitchen. Read on to discover more of its enduring appeal.
White on white, the only real color break in this kitchen is the countertop decor – and the bleached wood floor. The rest is white and subtle shades of light gray. Even the benches are white. But it works so well! (Photo courtesy Hanson Builders.)
Prior to the boom of mass consumerism after World War II, white kitchens were often the only choice available and were subsequently seen in almost every home. Enamelled steel was the material of choice for the surface finish of appliances like stoves and ice boxes, and that material came in white. Further, white was associated with cleanliness and sanitation, and was the obvious color for the space in a home where these attributes mattered the most.
Trends dipped in and out over the latter half of the 20th century, but white kitchens remained popular despite a staggering array of different options available. In the 1990s, Ikea introduced clean and simple Scandinavian style to the world, reinforcing the current trend for minimalism and planting the seed for an obsession with Danish and Swedish interiors, which is still growing in strength. White kitchens, which instantly evoke a Nordic aesthetic, were one of Ikea’s most popular styles. They struck a chord. For the last two decades, white – whether painted or pickled wood – has continued as the sure-fire fallback position in kitchen design and, though wood-toned and colorfully painted cabinets continue to circulate in and out of fashion on the periphery, will seem never to go out of style.
It's not difficult to imagine this white kitchen, with its clean lines and simple design, in a Scandinavavian style contemporary home. In actuality it is the lovely kitchen of a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Cottage style home plan and is as timeless as can be (House Plan #168-1128). Simply switching out simple things like the chairs, the lights, the cabinet handles, the colorful decor items – and perhaps even the faucet – will keep this kitchen looking stylish for many, many years.
Painted kitchen cabinets have been at the forefront of kitchen design for several years now. Each season, a new hue seems to be considered on trend with soft pastel blues and greens and varying shades of gray popping up throughout 2016. While these kitchens capture the imagination, they are likely to go out of fashion in a few years.
A current casualty of trendsetters, wooden cabinets are considered archaic, belonging in the homes of elderly relatives or old farmhouses. Even if this view spins and gains in popularity, it isn’t likely to stick, as wooden cabinets – especially those of dark wood – emit a distinctly old-fashioned aesthetic and tend to make kitchens feel darker and smaller.
White kitchens, by contrast, instantly brighten up a room and create the illusion of a larger space by reflecting the whole spectrum of light. White walls and white cabinets provide a blank canvas ready for your own personal touch. You can easily create a rustic farmhouse-style kitchen or a contemporary minimal kitchen with white cabinets; it all depends on your personal collection of accessories and choice of appliances.
Set in an open floor plan design, the white cabinets of this kitchen in a 3-bedrooom, 2-bath Acadian style home plan brighten the interior of the home and provide a focal point for visitors entering the house (House Plan #142-1155). Just altering a few elements like the brick backsplash, the wall color, and the high island chairs would change this kitchen from a homey country look to a sleek conttemporary appearance or sophisticated traditional feel.
If the thought of being surrounded by dazzling white sounds a bit too clinical for your preference, the easy solution is to add a mid-toned neutral wood worktop or laminate floor. This will instantly warm up your room, and again can easily be transformed into whichever style you prefer. Another simple way to add color, texture, and interest into an all-white kitchen is by introducing a selection of plants. Place trailing plants on high shelves and fresh herbs on the windowsill to complement the clean and fresh décor.
Alternatively, introduce color into a white kitchen by painting a feature wall or placing vibrantly hued appliances, accessories, or fancy tableware on worktops and open shelves. This is a great idea for those who aren’t planning on staying in their home for a long period of time, as prospective buyers could repaint a wall much more easily than replacing an entire kitchen.
Far from clinical, this white kitchen in a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Craftsman style home plan feels homey and inviting (House Plan #106-1274). Among other touches, the warm wood floor and stools, colorful flower arrangement on the island and rooster platter above the oven, and trailing houseplant in the corner soffit combine to give the kitchen family-friendly style.
Easy Everyday Care
Perhaps unexpectedly, white kitchens are actually easy to keep clean. All you need is a bottle of stain-removing or bleach-enchanced cleaner on hand, and spills and marks are easily cleaned up without having to worry about wood or paint colors fading. You’ll also find it much easier to touch up any marks on white walls, as you won’t have to worry about finding the exact shade of paint that you originally used. For this reason, they provide more longevity and durability than gray, pastel, or boldly hued kitchens.
This white kitchen in a 4-bedroom, 3-bath, 3-half-bath Luxury European style house plan – balanced with warm-toned tile floor, tile backsplash, and granite countertops – is easy to keep clean (Home Plan #134-1326). All of the surfaces wipe clean using a damp cloth. The floor, walls, and countertops – and even the enameled cabinets – resist permanent staining, and where the cabinets do become marred or chipped, the white enamel paint is easily matched.
Adaptable and Livable
So what are the negatives of white kitchens? The only downside that we can think of is that they may be considered cold and unwelcoming if you don’t take care to warm them up. A plain white kitchen in a small space is a great idea for making the room feel larger, but it can feel too harsh for a bigger room. All of the elements we previously mentioned (wood, plants, bits of accent color) can help to make a white kitchen feel cozier. Our advice would be to choose your preferred style (rustic, Scandinavian, traditional, contemporary, minimal, etc.) and add easily changeable details (appliances, accessories, tableware, plants, etc.) that accentuate this style.
Despite the bright white cabinets and backsplash in this kitchen, it is far from harsh feeling. The kitchen, which is in a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Traditional European style home plan, is softened by the wood floor and walk-in pantry door, as well as clever details like the red flowers, which match the red oven knobs, and the teal chairs, which complement the soffit (House Plan #168-1104). The picture and tall bottles above the range and the plant just visible on the rear countertop at right also break up the "whiteness" of the kitchen to create an enjoyable, livable space.
By embracing white kitchens, you have the possibility of adding value to your home, creating a more serene space to relax and cook in, and saving money in the long term by being able to easily maintain and clean your kitchen. Let us know your experience with a white kitchen in the comments section below!
Footnote: The top left photo in the lead image is of a white open-plan kitchen with an eating-bar peninsula, which appears in a 4-bedroom, 3-bath Colonial style home plan. For more information, see House Plan #109-1112.