If you are tired of renovating kitchens, then you need to read this post. If you want to design the most classic and timeless kitchen (that you won’t regret) choose white kitchen cabinets.
My favourite kitchen is white. White kitchen cabinets offer the most timeless look and the one you’d least tire of over the years.
In the hundred’s of homes that I have been in over the last ten years, the obvious giveaway on the age of the home is always the kitchen. And usually it’s the colour of the wood cabinets that defines it even faster.
- If I walk into a kitchen that has dark brown cabinets, I know it was installed in the last 10 years.
- If it’s an orangy, ginger coloured, shaker style cabinet, I know that it was installed in the late 90’s early 2000.
- If the cabinets are oak (keep reading), well you get the picture!
One of the worst mistakes is when a homeowner installs an 80’s kitchen (for example) in a turn-of-the-century character home. Especially those white melamine cabinets with the strip of oak on the bottom of each door. Please consider the era of your home when you are designing your kitchen!!
White Kitchen Cabinets with Wood Floors
The most beautiful kitchen renovation in a 1905 home that I have ever seen was designed by Susan Dossetter and Andrew Skurman and featured in House Beautiful magazine. If you have a house circa 1905, this is the kitchen that should be in it!
The antique oak cabinet, originally made for a French store, is perfect for a collector. Susan Dossetter found the reproduction Windsor chairs in Nantucket and had the table made to work with the chairs and the cabinet. The floor is hand-rubbed wide-plank red oak.
Love the combination of glass knobs, chrome faucets and pulls. See this post for more advice on hardware.The countertop is made of two 3/4 inch slabs of Calacatta Oro marble glued together, for extra thickness, then topped with a third layer in the back.Are you installing Carrara? Better download my eBook on choosing whites to get it right.
The vintage French towel racks, which Susan Dossetter added to the antique baker’s table, are hung with vintage towels that she has collected over the years. The baker’s table came with a new sycamore top. Vintage and new cake plates hold treats for the children.
Archive beveled tile provides a clean backdrop for the La Cornue Chateau range, made to order in burnished stainless steel and brass. The floor surrounding the range is covered with hexagon tiles.
The cast-plaster motif on the ceiling is from Decorator’s Supply. The hood over the range was part of the original kitchen. Quilted steel insulation panels, covering the Sub-Zero refrigerator, should be available at any sheet metal shop. The antique butcher block by the island is on casters, so it can go anywhere it’s needed. Pot racks from Williams-Sonoma were powder-coated in white.
80s Oak Kitchen Cabinet Makeover
Here is a photo of a typical oak kitchen mostly installed in this era of kitchens.
When I am standing in a kitchen that looks very much like this one, and I recommend that this kitchen be painted white or cream–as soon as the words out of my mouth–the wife’s face lights up and the husband looks horrified at the prospect of painting THE WOOD!
I’m not sure why most men have this reaction (okay I’ve figured it out, and here’s the post–written after this one) but it’s pretty common.
Men usually come around once they understand that it’s not about the wood, it’s about the fact that it’s dated. And to be clear, I don’t advocate painting ALL WOOD, just kitchens in this era.
So for those of you with this kitchen, reading this right now, there’s really just one thing you need to know: This kitchen IS NEVER COMING BACK. So the only way to extend the life of it is to prime it, paint it, and install new hardware. Period. End of conversation.
Trying to decide if you can paint your kitchen cabinets? Don’t miss this post: Third Rule of Design: Expensive does not equal timeless
Here’s a ‘before’ picture of a kitchen I did for a client in West Vancouver with another designer, Jan Romanuk back in 2005. This client moved in with the cabinets already painted but you could still see the grain of the wood through the paint colour. They also wanted the cabinets above the peninsula removed, new lighting, flooring, colours, etc:
Here’s the after photo with 3 more coats of Dulux Ivory Fresco, 30YY 81/123 or OC-92 or Cloverdale 7980 with all the updates.
How to Choose the Right White for Your Kitchen Cabinets
Now that I’ve been talking about colour on this blog for 7 years, I would NOT specify white kitchen cabinets this yellow again (see above). Especially because the granite countertops are pink beige.
Instead, I would suggest the white I specified for this kitchen (below) which you’ll find in my White is Complicated: A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White.
You can see that the countertops are very similar to the first kitchen, however the white kitchen cabinets here are actually a greige, not a white or cream at all. Get my White is Complicated eBook here.
If you have granite countertops, here are a few must-reads:
- Will a white kitchen work with my existing granite?
- How to update 90s granite (and make it disappear)
- Which Backsplash Tile goes with Granite?
More Lovely White Kitchens
I love kitchens with glass uppers like this one:
Bobbie Burgers kitchen fromHouse & Home
A post on white kitchen’s would not be complete without the famous, most copied, kitchen from Something’s Gotta Give!
This following image is from ‘Maine Home & Design Magazine’ and is a good copy of the movie kitchen:
Should you choose a gray for your kitchen (below)? Read this post to help you decide..
Need help choosing the right white? My White is Complicated: A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White eBook will help you get your whites right for your cabinets, trim, ceilings, and walls. This eBook also includes my Bonus book of Whites which will take the guesswork out of your decisions.
You’ll need them both if you have an entire house of whites and neutrals/colours to choose, get them here.
If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.
The only way to choose the right colour every time is to combine my system of understanding undertones with the most indispensable colour tool available. You can purchase your own set of my curated large colour board collections here.
For more advice on planning your kitchen read;
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