Cooking With Color: The Way to Use White in the Kitchen

As much as I am drawn to boldly colorful kitchens, I also have a soft spot for the contrary: the white kitchen. But you can’t just specify white for all the materials, finishes and fixtures and take it a day. Comparable to a slim-fitting white gown or a set of white jeans that are skinny, white is not the most forgiving colour — if something is white, we tend to notice little details about it, like the grade of the texture or material. This is because white reflects light — unlike darker hues, which tend to absorb light. So while I’d use bold, vivid colour to distract the eye from lower-quality or less-interesting materials, I would use white to accentuate higher-quality or superbly produced materials, letting them take centre stage.

Also keep in mind that a lot of white on your kitchen can feel cold, sterile and unwelcoming. You will see that most of the kitchens below, while predominantly white, also often add natural wood in some way — typically in the form of flooring or furniture, which adds warmth, charm and character. White makes the perfect backdrop for dashes of colour. Or, for a relaxing and tranquil space, add other mild neutrals, such as colors of beige, tan and gray.

Permit these 11 exquisite white kitchens, together with some of my favorite white paints, inspire you.

Wm. F. Holland/Architect

This beautiful kitchen in colors of white, gray and wood tones is a lovely example of the way to work with white at a kitchen. There is quite a little glossy stainless steel, but it’s balanced out nicely by the farm table — using its rich patina — and the wood floors.

Matthew Bolt Graphic Design

The exposed wood pole and beams along with the intriguing pendants across the peninsula add character and charm to this modern white kitchen.

Melissa Lenox Design

I love this wood floor, but it needed to compete with wood-toned cabinetry, it could start to look busy. It is a clean white kitchen having just the right amount of charming bits: the island pendants, the glass-front upper cabinet doors and the lightly textured backsplash tile.

My ideal kitchen would have a link to the outdoors and abundant natural light trickling in through walls of windows. But for a lot of reasons, this situation is often not possible. The best way to fake it’s to go with a monochromatic white palette and also good artificial lighting. This kitchen seems to acquire natural light in an adjoining wall or space, but even though it didn’t, it would nevertheless feel light and bright and open due to the abundant use of white and light-reflecting stainless steel.


Here is another space lacking windows on the main kitchen partitions, but because of the white walls, cabinets and countertops it feels airy and open.

Loop Design

For people who want to exhibit colorful artwork or collectibles in their kitchen — such as these turquoise dishes — a white kitchen offers the perfect backdrop. Think of it like a gallery space, in which the objets d’art are on screen and get your entire attention.

Sabal Homes

I love the stools and pendants within this kitchen. The white walls and cabinets act as a blank canvas, allowing the intriguing furnishings and fixtures to really stick out.

House of Bohn

White is also a fantastic color choice at a kitchen if you’re fortunate enough to have a tantalizing view out your windows. With opinions like these, you do not want your attention diverted by extreme colours or occupied patterns and textures on the interior. Additionally, white works well to rip black out; we tend to prefer darker colours set lower to the floor, with lighter hues going up the wall and on the ceiling.

Alex Maguire Photography

This kitchen illustrates how white works well as a supportive colour to high-quality materials and craftsmanship details. Colorful walls and cabinetry will distract from each one of the gorgeous marble.

McKinney Photography

White also works to open up a kitchen, which makes it seem bigger and more spacious than it actually is.

Abbey Construction Company, Inc..

And if you’re blessed with a large, expansive kitchen, you can use white to tie together other areas of the house which are open to it to get a seamless feel.

Jennifer Ott Design

Most paint companies possess a “pure white” or “ultrawhite” paint, which will give you a very crisp and clean look from the kitchen. But you can also go with a color of white which has a tiny bit of yellow, brown or gray, which will warm up or cool down the white and also include a little life to it.

Notice: The gaps from the paint swatch appearances will vary depending upon your screen, but this can give you a beginning point in the paint shop. As always, make sure you paint a large test area and examine it through the day and week, using artificial and natural lighting, prior to making a final decision.

White paint chooses to get the kitchen (from left to right):

1. Marshmallow SW7001, by Sherwin-Williams
2. Swiss Coffee OC-45, by Benjamin Moore
3. Sauterne OW-6-1, by Mythic Paint
4. Bistro White 7006-4, by Valspar

Tell us Are you a lover of white kitchens? Or do you prefer cooking with more color?

More: Read thousands of white kitchens by style

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