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Five Ways to Warm up a White-on-White Modern Kitchen

By 07/14/2014September 2nd, 201816 Comments

Yellow Flowers

I know, you think I’m going to say yellow (since it’s my favourite colour), and yes, this colour will certainly warm up a white, modern kitchen, but actually here’s how you do it.

First, this kitchen was designed by my good friend Interior Designer Lee Stergios in North Vancouver, who specializes in kitchen design. At the end I’m going to show you his cozy apartment, but first, here is how you warm up a modern white kitchen:


BM OC-66 Snow White (Walls and High Gloss Cabinets)

Add some texture

Here, Lee created that with the silver penny tile backsplash which he repeated in the accessories.

silver penny tile

Use at least two different sizes of hardware

It always looks more custom when hardware has been thoughtfully chosen and installed.

I like the short contemporary pulls on the doors with long, almost full length drawer pulls. I talked about these very pulls in this post.


Include an interesting chandelier

Basic pendants would not have been as interesting as this contemporary, square chandelier which also picks up the silver accents in this kitchen.

View from French Doors

Use wood flooring instead of white tile

I was in a show home in New York about two years ago with white subway tile, white slab cabinets, white countertops and white floor tile.

That kitchen, did feel as cold as a laboratory.

And, just in case you’re thinking it’s because it was screaming white, I would have felt the same way if it was all cream. Nothing to do with the colour, it was more how flat everything looked given even the cabinets were flat.


Kitchen design by Innova Interior Design

Create a wall of windows with this much fabulous green right outside!

Modern Kitchen


Smith Firestone Associates

Here is another great example of how the view and the wood floors totally warm up this modern, white-on-white kitchen.

Modern White Kitchen

Via pinterest

I also like a well designed white, slab kitchen with a combination of wood (above).

I’m also showing you a peek of Lee’s apartment which has such a great, Ralph Lauren/gentleman’s club feel. I like the way he’s handled contrast using off-whites, blues and creams.

Vintage Luggage

A vintage piece of luggage with a blanket tucked inside, beside the fireplace.

 A truly inviting, colourful, entry with a place to sit.

Lee's Living Room

Here you can see a glimpse of the kitchen which Lee inherited. He re-configured the pantry wall that you can see, the white appliances are original. This kitchen will be renovated as well.

Leather Sofa

Walls BM 2128-30 Evening dove

Lee's Dining Room

I always like the way an animal print rug fills up a space visually and it’s great how it repeats the medium wood tones in the dining table.

Dining Room Bench

These two cabinets came from Lee’s previous apartment and normally they would not work in the context of a dining room vignette but with the creative addition of the x ottoman, bolsters and large square mirror, they’re perfect!

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Thanks Lee for sharing your home with us! xo Maria

Related posts:

Trend Alert: Is Navy the New Black?

Ask Maria: Will my White Kitchen be Cold?

My White Kitchen Inside Style at Home

If you would like help creating a palette for your home, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my webinar How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.


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  • tara dillard says:

    Mom had an all white kitchen ca. 1963, her choice.

    Lived on Galveston Bay with tons of natural tropical lite.

    Still my favorite kitchen ever. Even as a tiny girl, I knew that kitchen was HAPPY !!!!

    Counters only had the aluminum flour-coffee-tea-sugar containers, and a white cookie jar shaped like a carousel. The characters were colorful pastels. Done.

    Funny, yes? My memory of that all white kitchen is your famous word, ‘happy’.

    Her current kitchen is all white but not as much natural lite.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • Rita says:

    Over 40 years ago my dad (an Italian immigrant) wanted to have an all white kitchen because he said in Italy all upscale kitchens were white for aesthetics and showed cleanliness. My mother and I forcefully argued against doing so. Now every time I read your blog I am frequently reminded that “OMG, dad was right about that too!?!”

    Lastly Maria, how do you think the above color, Evening Dove 2128-30 would work against a large cognac colored sofa? I will also try “ladyfinger”as you once suggested.
    As always, appreciate your blog.

  • Tamara Gonzalez says:


    I have been following your blog for at least a year now and love it. I have a question I hope you might answer for me. I am getting ready to get rid of the last bit of orange oak wood in my house – the kitchen cabinets. When I had Sherwin Williams designer out to pick paint for the office and quest room, she suggested alabaster for my cabinets. The walls in that room are Pittsburgh toasted almond with all of the trim and doors already decorators white. Will it work to have two whites in an open floor plan? The counters will be black granite, and the hardware will be bronze.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Maria Killam says:

      I’m sorry I don’t have a Pittsburgh fan deck. They’ll work if you have enough contrast between the two.

    • Carol J says:

      Oh Tamara,
      I know it was just a typo, but I so love the idea of a quest room instead of a guest room. From now on my spare room will be my yoga room/quest room. Thanks for that!

  • Mary-Illinios says:

    Hi Maria,
    Thanks for all your suggestions on warming up a white kitchen. I think accessories go a long way. Things that are functional like canisters or crocks to hold cooking utensils. Colorful dishtowels.
    Your friend’s apartment is cute. I like the fact that he embraced the cozy factor with his choice of paint color. And you know I’m a fan of the cowhide.
    I wanted to let you know that I finally replaced my white appliances with stainless. I was surprised at how much darker my kitchen now feels.

    • Tamara Gonzalez says:

      I checked emai one last time as I was heading out to buy the paint while it is still on sale. I have been making myself crazy trying to be sure this is right since husband is not about to let it happen twice. Your reply is the final thumbs up.

      Again, thank you so much for your generosity!

    • KA says:

      I agree that it’s a very nicely designed place. Love that mirror and vignette. I think I have a very similar table.

      I do kitchens and it looks like the layout of a cobalt kitchen I did for a wonderful woman who was diagnosed with cancer about a year after we finished.

      If it were me, I would leave that cabinetry alone, see if I could get a conversion kit for the fridge to accept appliance panels or else get a fridge that does because the pantry wall reads as a cognac color, and I wouldn’t want the fridge to stand out in stainless, either. Then I would get a stainless OTR microwave and range and spend whatever was left on the budget on the counter if it needed to be changed and storage items for inside the cabinetry to get the best usage of the available space for HIS specific needs.

      It looks wonderful now–the only thing that I see on my phone is the fridge that, in my opinion, stands out. He may have something completely different in mind, LOL!

  • Mary says:

    Lee’s home is absolutely beautiful. I love the lamps on the two tables in the dining room, and the complementary lines of the pieces he selected.

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Well I like contrast, and so I had black quartz countertops installed with my white cabinets in my new home. However, I now wish I had gone with the marble-look quartz as the black shows ever speck and I am constantly cleaning it.
    To warm things up I painted the walls Wilmington Tan.
    Love that dining room area, quite unique!

  • Chere says:

    Lee! What a great job in an apartment !i love the cabinets and xbench vignette… Very clever! Many of us don’t live in large spaces ,myself included , difficult at least for me to style tiny postage stamp size spaces and do clever things with areas you cannot yet paint or renovate for various reasons or excuses . I love the wall color. The entry love the colors ! You’ve made your place look and feel homey ! Thanks for sharing Lee and Maria !

  • BillP says:

    Two examples of how rules can be broken and the result can still be a striking kitchen. A blingy backsplash and Lee’s natural wood cabinets. Lee’s cabinets look wonderful with the midcentury furniture. Stainless appliances would complement the silver elements in the dining room. Nice pictures.

  • sandyc says:

    Love your #1 suggestion for pops of color. It’s amazing that of the 400,048 images of modern white kitchen that came up on HOUZZ, there are so many photos of rooms done by designers that are cold and sterile while the next photo shows a similar room that’s full of life just because of the window looking out on greenery and/or that vase of colorful flowers or that bowl of lemons or limes – such an easy trick.

    Love the vignette in Lee’s entryway. Have seen that metal wall hanging before and a similar painting before but would never have thought to put them side by side. More colors than I want in my home, but it’s the creativity of the mix that inspires me. Same for the dining room vignette – not my colors, not my mix and way too busy for me personally, but again, the creativity is the inspiration. Thanks for the double dip today.

  • I agree that wood floors really warm up white kitchens!

  • Carol J says:

    I especially love Lee’s entryway, with the colorful ceramic wall hanging and the lovely painting. It looks like such a happy place.

  • Victoria says:

    Just now seeing Lee’s condo from the link you posted on a more recent post. Love his aesthetic and color choices. Would love to know about the painting in his entryway. I love it and would love to have one like it in my dining room!

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