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Will white cabinets look dated?

9 years ago

We are building and I've had my heart set on white cabinets, light granite counters, subway backsplash, some open shelving in wood with black industrial piping to hold them up. My husband likes all of that except argues with me that the white will be dated and that I'll hate it.

To me it's a very timeless look, neutral and can change with everything.


Thoughts??

Comments (63)

  • 9 years ago

    It's hard to imagine kitchens other than white, especially when you go on Houzz or GW.

    This topic comes up from time to time. We remodeled 6 years ago. White kitchen, subway tiles. I still see new kitchen going in with the same elements. I am in the northeast. If you go on real estate sites and put in million dollar and above homes, it is white, white and more white! Lots of marble counters too.

    Take the advise and go with what you like. Twenty years from now the next person will rip your kitchen out, or in my neighborhood, tear the entire house down.

    You say this is a new build. If you are planning on selling in the next few years, I would probably take into account what is happening in your region?neighborhood.

  • 9 years ago

    Just to echo (and add to) to the advice, go with what you love and what you can agree upon. I will add that if you intend to resell within 10 years you are usually better off if the style you choose relates to the style of the home, the prevailing local tastes and the adjoining decor in some way. However, of all the elements you picked, I think the black industrial piping will be the single element to date the first. That's a pretty specific look in a narrower time band of popularity, imho.


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  • 9 years ago

    Subway tiles were out for decades starting in the middle of the last century, and didn't pick up in popularity until this century. They were scoffed at, reviled, ridiculed, and thought only appropriate for subways and vintage bathrooms. Yes, even rectangles can go out of fashion. After that, 4 inch squares went out of fashion, and then 6 inch squares went out of fashion. Trends are remarkable things.

    If you are going for the farmhouse/industrial look (to me those are very different things), what about beadboard or shiplap (or tile that mimics the look)? Or stainless or galvanized steel?


  • 9 years ago

    No matter what you choose it will eventually look dated. White cabinets can be classic depending on the style, or they can look dated within a couple of years. Go with what you want & plan on changing it again in 10-15 years. That's the nature of the beast. Nothing is going to look "in style" forever.

  • 9 years ago

    Most likely, if you can find your dream kitchen on Houzz, it will looked dated in 10 years. The only kitchens that won't looked dated in 10 years are ones that look wildly unfashionable right now ;) . I've incorporated a number of trends in my new kitchen (stainless appliances, oversized brass pulls, grey tones, etc.) and I fully expect to want to refresh it in a decade.

    Even white cabinets change in terms of what version is fashionable - painted Shaker is a far cry from the white laminate with oak trim that looked so right in the 80s.

  • 9 years ago

    Oy, the white melamine with oak trim- We had those. I'm sure they'll come back eventually, but I sure will giggle when they do!

  • 9 years ago

    White will never be out of date. It may not be 'hot' but it will not be dated.

    The granite and backsplash will probably look dated, long before the white cabinets. This is NOT an attack on granite (LOL) but an observation after looking at vintage kitchens all month. Lots of white kitchens in almost every era :)


  • 9 years ago

    I agree with crl I like to put in a kitchen that suits the house, to my thinking that's the best attempt at timelessness. And I think it's largely driven by the cabinetry. In 2004, in our 1930 Tudor in Portland OR, for the major investment, the cabinets, we did carefully thought out customs with inset doors and drawers and just enough detail to give a nod to that era and architecture. Then all the current requisites, granite, stainless, bamboo floor etc., I could easily have lived with that for 30 years. Alas, 10 years later- new job and we have to relocate! The house sold in a day with the kitchen, still lovely, a major factor.

    Now we're in Calif. and starting a remodel (my 7th and last!) on our "dream" home built in 1984 with all the trappings of that era: vaulted ceilings, "contractor special" golden oak cabinets, tiled counters, and that drop ceiling with the fluorescent light box in the kitchen. Yikes! That's what say's 1980's era??? Everything goes except those solid wood oak cabinets built like a brick you know what, they'll get refinished with new doors, drawers, hinges, hardware, glides etc.

    Appliances, flooring, counter tops, tile, lighting, open shelving all that can be changed out easily. As for cabinets, doors and drawers can be changed out, hardware update. Do your white if you love it , paint it when you don't.

  • 9 years ago

    White kitchens have been around a long time. I think a white kitchen is as timeless as it can get, but - trends come and go, as the other posts have mentioned - door styles, counters, etc all will change. People who've done colored cabinets will find they date more quickly than white or stained woods, is my guess. I think oak will make a comeback too, although its out of fashion right now. And who knows, those tombstone doors will probably come around again too! As with any decorating trends, if you want to avoid the "dated" look, keeping things in neutral, conservative shades is probably wise. But on the other hand, I love a unique and colorful kitchen too. So - bottom line - get what you want and don't worry about it being dated, you can rest assured no matter what you do, eventually it will become dated to a certain extent anyway.


  • 9 years ago

    I think it is a very regional thing. I have had white kitchen cabinets of some form or other for 40 years and will have white kitchen cabinets for the next 40. I have never felt that I was out of style. And my backsplash is matte subway tiles. If at some point I feel the need to update I will change out the hardware, the window treatments and perhaps the faucets.


  • 9 years ago

    THANK YOU all so much for you input. I appreciate it greatly. I am thinking the white cabinets will win out for me, since I am the one cooking and cleaning in the kitchen all the time. As far as the two tone, I think that will look more dated in the future than just white. I will do a very basic simple door on the cabinets, nothing fancy, simple cup pulls and round knobs.


  • 9 years ago

    Not at all. I have white cabinetry and I deliberately chose this colour because it's timeless and classic. What can make whites look dated is the style of cabinetry. just keep it simple like simple. I prefer to use IKEA white cabinets believe it or not.. and it's so great looking. I tried to capture eh old 1930s look using subway tiles and also dark grey counters... I strongly suggest using it as a reference.


  • 9 years ago

    In 1987 we installed a white Ikea kitchen with "Fasett" fronts in our 1st house in Chicago. In all likelihood this was the first ever Ikea kitchen in the US, as my DH rented a Uhaul to pick it up in Toronto, where shortly before the 1st Ikea store in Canada had opened its doors:-)


    This 80s kitchen had white fronts, a couple of glass doors, light grey laminate counter, grey tile floor, light grey handles.

    I'm planning a new kitchen for our house now, guess what we're going to put in: white cabinets, grey quartz counters, grey tile floors, ss handles.


    Sorry, the pictures are fuzzy, as I "digitized" these old photos by taking pictures of them.



  • 9 years ago

    I agree with fitting the kitchen to the house, but I have green cabinets so what do I know? Well, I know that my vintage house can take a green cabinet and does it with pride. Use your gut, looking at the guts of your home, and decide what fits the space best. Add that "spice" that makes you really happy and you won't care in ten years when the Jones's look down their HGTV-watching noses at you.

  • 9 years ago

    1929Spanish - it is so good to have you back!


  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Those white (more commonly, almond) laminate cabs with oak trim never looked right, they were ugly then and ugly now. But they were not the only option in the 80s, just one of the more popular ones. Even then you could get classic white kitchens.

    Wow, just look at Pippabean's kitchen pics above. It's hard to believe that this kitchen dates to 1987! Doesn't look dated to me at all now, and that's after almost 30 years. Even the laminate counter in grey looks good.

    I've always had white kitchens, always will.

  • 9 years ago

    That Ikea kitchen looks very nice and not dated.
    gwlake- " 10 years ago you couldn't sell a house with white cabinets when everyone was high on the hog." Huh? My parents remodeled a kitchen around then with white shaker cabinets, carrera, farmhouse sink and white subway tile and my mom had tons of magazine clippings of that exact look.

  • 9 years ago

    It's not the color as much as the materials. White done right always works.

  • 9 years ago

    One of the reasons I chose white (or almost-cream) in 2007 was because I remembered liking the kitchen in "Father of the Bride" back in 1991! I figured if I still liked a kitchen 16 years later, it must be timeless.



  • 9 years ago

    the reason I like white is because of the movie Practical Magic.

  • 9 years ago

    I'll be honest. I don't like white kitchens, or painted cabinets in general. Every white kitchen I've ever seen IRL was in a low income neighborhood and was probably put in in the 20s or 30s.


    That being said, the white cabs, marble counters, subway back splash that is ALWAYS on Houzz and GW do NOT make me think low income or 1920s. They are, in fact, very lovely. Just not my style at all.


    If I were to be house shopping and I saw a white kitchen, I WOULD think twice about purchasing it.


    The kitchen pippabean posted looks extremely dated to me (I truly mean no offense Pippa), the screen grab from Father of the Bride doesn't look AS dated but I still wouldn't like it.


    Bottom line is, it truly is a combination of regional and personal tastes.


    Is your finished home going to be so overpriced for the area that any future potential buyers will be driven off by the possibility of a remodel or will it be in the right price point that future potential buyers could easily purchase the home AND remodel the kitchen to their liking?


    Also, as others pointed out, the kitchen should match the architectural style of the home. Are you building a stucco Mediterranean/Spanish style home? If so, a white kitchen will NOT match that at all.


    Just some points to think about.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Texas_Gem, these are pictures from the 70s, all with dark cabinets (I couldn't find any dark kitchen pics from the 80s). The kitchens were pretty typical of the time, I found the pictures on the web. I did not pick the worst of them and two of these were probably considered high end at the time. It seems to me that Pippabean's starter house white/grey Ikea kitchen compares very favorably to them, don't you think?

  • 9 years ago

    I think they all look equally dated but I would take the second or third kitchen you posted over the white one any day.

    There is no such thing as a timeless kitchen. They will all look dated eventually, making it white doesn't somehow allow it to avoid aging.

  • 9 years ago

    IMO it's not completely the color but the shape. Take the cathedral shape '90s/2000s cabinets have and make them white. You'll get an "eew!" out of a lot of buyers despite the color.

    Just do what you like.


  • 9 years ago

    My kitchen resembles the second photo in the top 2015 article. if you want to have an undated and classic kitchen, keep things clean line.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lol, the first and third kitchens in that 2015 article look dated to me because of the routed arched doors. Pippabean's old Ikea kitchen just looks european. New appliances, floor tile, and maybe a butcherblock counter would make it look up to date.
    To illustrate my point I just went to kitchen photos on houzz, filtered for London and flat panel doors, and this is literally the first kitchen that appears: (and I wrote the bit about the butcherblock before I searched for a photo :D )

    Bartholomew Rd · More Info

    Edit: Now I have a strong urge to go watch Father of the Bride for the first time in 20 years ;)

  • 9 years ago

    I followed the clickbait and agree with fishcow. I saw the cathedral doors and instantly got a '90s flashback!

    The white thing IMO is such a regional and personal taste issue. Because of where/when I grew up I'm not personally a fan but cabinets that look like wood probably bring back the same thoughts from other people. If it's golden oak I'd agree with them.

  • 9 years ago

    I agree with a whole lot of people when I say, It's not that white (or stained wood) will look "dated" in years to come -- it's the whole combination of details that surround your color choice.

    If you go "whole hog 2015" -- white Shaker cabinets, white subway tile, white marble (or black stone) counter tops, pendant lighting in metal or clear glass, tall industrial faucet, everything with a gray undertone -- yeah, your kitchen's going to scream 2015 in a few years. On the other hand, if you go with white cabinets, and you ignore those other hot-spot trends, you'll probably be happier with your kitchen longer.

    Remember, too, to "go conservative" on the things that're hard to change (cabinets being #1on that list) and skimp on the things that you can realistically alter if you tire of them in future years (lighting, for example, isn't terribly expensive to switch).

  • 9 years ago

    Agreed with so many of you. Our house is our dream home that we intend on staying in forever. The area is very rural and lots of 5+ acres homes in the area. So, I am building it for me. I like the shaker style cabinets, clean lines and simple. I actually picked an antique brass pot filler, just b/c I like it. Others may think I'm crazy.

  • 9 years ago

    White kitchens are timeless! As long as you stick to clean lines, shaker or a modified shaker style, you are good for a looong time! We chose a modified shaker for our house being built, in a creamy white, a creamy with grey veining quartz countertop (TCE4005 by TCE Stone). We are planning on putting a mix of beadboard (behind the coffee station, etc) and a creamy white subway tile. Black hardware is going on the cabinets. I've loved this look for over 10 years, and I still chose all these things for my new kitchen. I don't think I will tire of it at all :) My husband will be building me a large 4x8 foot island with turned legs and open shelves on the ends, which I will probably paint in a black and distress back to show some wood and put a butcher block countertop.

  • 9 years ago

    Ugg, I just realized that my kitchen remodel is going to scream 2015: white subway tile, soapstone counters, Karbon faucet, stainless steel appliances. Heck I'm even going to have medium toned hardwood floors and a wall sconce, which I'm sure are 2015 trends as well.

    Maybe it's a good thing I'm keeping my slab front white washed pine cabinets since they scream 1980s. :-)

  • 9 years ago

    I'm having medium toned hardwood floors too haha but that's something I've wanted for 8 years. We have exotic walnut now and I swore I'd never have dark floors again (with two white himalayan cats lol)

  • 9 years ago

    I'm pretty sure mine is going to scream 2012 if that makes you feel any better.

  • 9 years ago

    I love white cabinets in a kitchen. More than dated, I worry about them being smudged with fingerprints and grungy over the years.

    My only concern with white cabinets is that I hear more and more about them being made of lower grade wood products. In general, I think cheap components are going to be dated. Quality will last.

  • 9 years ago

    Handmethathammer- you know I think you may have just touched on why I don't like painted cabinets.


    As I've already mentioned, the only ones I've seen IRL were in old, low income houses, aka poorly built and/or badly maintained so my mind already associates it with cheap.


    Add to that the fact that my grandfather and father were/are both woodworkers. Some of my favorite things I own are the pedestal turned candy dish my grandfather made, the bed my father made me when I was a teenager, the dresser made by my father before I was even born that has been passed down to me and my curio cabinet that my father built me.


    Basically I was brought up with the idea that the only reason you would ever put paint on solid wood is to cover up deficiencies. Paint is for cheaply made things with lower grade material. No one (in my family at least) would ever DREAM of covering walnut, oak, cherry, etc with paint.

    This is so ingrained in me that I am really torn about painting the trim in my house.

    I prefer bright, richly colored walls with white trim but all the trim in my house is solid oak and I feel like it is a waste and a shame to put paint on that. I would rather buy the cheap mdf trim and casing and paint it then to cover a good solid wood product with paint.


    Not logical at all but it is my internal thought process.

  • 9 years ago

    Some of the classiest kitchens highlighted in magazines like AD 20 years ago where white shaker style kitchens with either black or marble countertops and wood floors.It is always a timeless look.

    I have always loved shaker doors and have always hated with a passion raised panel. That's me. Almost 30 years ago when I moved into my first home I wanted shaker doors but at the time I was too poor to afford them. Instead I got IKEA white panel doors. Our walls already had white subway tile on them since the house had been built in 1928. (They were original!) We did a dark laminate countertop and pretty pulls. I loved that small kitchen.

    After only having white cabinets for 25 years, I put in shaker style cherry cabinets. I love them but for our new build will be doing white shaker cabinets for the perimeter and a cherry island. Why? Because I realize that I picked the cherry partly as a rebellion after so many years of white cabinets. But this time instead of hand painted white cabinets or IKEA flat panel, I'm getting exactly what I want in whatever white color I choose.

  • 9 years ago

    @ Texas_Gem - I read your post without reading who wrote it and was thinking "me too! I bet they also live in Texas!" Sure enough...

    (I lived in the hill country as a kid btw)

  • 9 years ago

    Shaker doors are pretty classic, when I watch old movies, I notice the kitchens and these seem to be white shaker cabinets or glass doors. So this is a look that has been around a long time and probably will continue to be so. That said, I chose raised panel doors for my remodel. Our last kitchen had a kind of shaker style door (not exactly shaker, but had the flat panel and molding around it) I had always wanted raised panel doors, felt they looked richer and just loved the look. So, I got them and didn't care about what the latest trend is. My husband didn't want white, he grew up in an older home with old (not nice) white painted cabinets so he preferred a stained look. We chose a light stain, (here again, not today's trend) but I like a light bright kitchen and we are happy with it. As far as resale goes, you cannot predict what the trend in kitchens will be in say, 10 yrs. So, you might as well get what you like, unless you are looking at selling within the next 2 yrs or so.

  • 9 years ago

    There seems to be a common thread here... we tend to want what we didn't have previously in a kitchen. So, those who grew up with white painted cabinets switch to stained wood. And after having a kitchen with stained wood cabinets for a couple decades, we want to switch to painted white cabinets.

  • 9 years ago

    I personally love white. Super clean and if the rest of your kitchen is done with classic touches, I don't think it will look dated. I'd go for your idea. Sounds beautiful.

  • 9 years ago

    We got white painted cabinets in our first home (8 years ago) and I've always loved them. The only thing I'm changing is going from stark white to a creamy white because they yellowed in spots and it shows up more with a stark white. I also grew up with oak kitchens that my mom always painted in white haha so I guess I'm the opposite.

  • 9 years ago

    Texas_Gem, while I love painted kitchens, I totally agree with you that good wood should never be painted. But some of us don't start with good wood with preserving. Then paint can do wonders.

  • 9 years ago

    Anytime a thread like this comes up, It's good to reference the old "One True Kitchen" (OTK) threads here on the site (and the associated references to Christopher Peacock and scullery kitchens). And of course, there is the kitchen in Something's Gotta Give, which is now 12 years old:

    SGG Kitchen on Hooked on Houses (see site for more photos)

    I've noticed that white kitchens of this sort are more rare in the newer suburban builds here in Northern California but are very commonplace in the new mid to high end renovations and flips of older homes. And this probably is somewhat a reflection of the style of the home -- as people noted, the OTK looks way out of place in a faux Tuscan mcMansion.

  • 9 years ago

    I'm not sure how much you can avoid things looking dated. We went with white frameless cabinetry (being installed now actually!). At first I reeaaaaallllllyyyyy had my heart set on inset cabinets but now I am so glad we went with frameless because my aesthetic has changed so much in the 3 years we've been doing this reno and we just lean more modern now. Anyhoo, I do think there is a difference between something looking dated and something not necessarily being on current trend. The look you describe seems fairly timeless (to me) and also on current trend but as others have said go with what you love.

  • 9 years ago

    Timelessness has a broad spectrum, a weathered and well used old farm kitchen can have as much aesthetic appeal as a slick new showcase design. Johnny Grey does what might be called timeless kitchens. Though they're definitely not for everyone, they would be hard to assign an era. And some of his concepts of the "unfitted kitchen", or adding charm through antiques or special furnishing go a long way towards making the space timeless (hooray for your pot filler Bridget!) and more importantly a place where you and your family feel comfortable, welcomed. As you said, you will be the one spending the most time in your kitchen, forget about all the fickle trappings of trends and fashion, think carefully about what suits the space and then make it truly beautiful to your own eye.

  • 9 years ago

    @ Texas_Gem I felt the same way! I grew up with a Dad who sold unfinished furniture and was taught the same thing about wood. Hence my adversion to white cabinets. I never really put two and two together! But it all makes sense now. My house would probably sell for more if I put in the white kitchen back in 2011 when I did it, but I would hate it and guess what, I still live there!

    You have to go with what you love. And yes, keep it simple. I have shaker Alder cabs in Cherry glaze and love them still 4 years later. I also still love my subway style back splash. The granite I would love to chuck but I was talked into that by my husband. You also can't have it all and sometimes have to compromise if you have to share your taste with a mate! LOL

  • 9 years ago

    I've been lurking here for a while now and having a great time hearing about everyone's thoughts and seeing what products are available, trends, etc. I'm hoping to make some changes to my 16 yr old kitchen soon, so this site has been invaluable. I thought I would weigh in on white cabinets.

    My first thought was to change my white cabinets. I am a complete lover of all fine wood. When we built this house I was sure I was heading for the shaker cherry or maple kitchen of my dreams. Before moving I went through all my old magazines and ripped out any picture that caught my fancy. When I sorted them all out, every single kitchen picture I ripped out was white! I was shocked. It had never in a million years occurred to me to install a white kitchen, but I went with what I obviously must have subconsciously liked most! However, we knew we would be having kids, dog, etc.....so when it came to the kitchen we went with non-wood, but very sturdy white cabinets that I can scrub all I want. They are not cheesy, apartment-like cabinets. We also went with a medium wood tone laminate flooring. I'm not a huge fan of anything non-wood. Folks think we're crazy with our cedar siding, huge cedar picket fence, wood decks, etc....because of the upkeep. It was a bit painful to not install wood cabinets and floor but overall they have worked out great for the reasons above. Scrub them clean and they look "real enough".

    I've changed cabinet hardware twice since then and it's amazing how much just a hardware change can actually change the look of a kitchen to keep it more up to date. I can't even begin to talk about my laminate counters which I thought were a good idea at the time, but oh, what a mistake! We did a solid color......and I mean....color!

    Ultimately, I decided to keep my non-wood, white cabinets because I think I can live with them for another 15 years. We'll change counters, backsplash, sink, wall color, and finally install a wood floor.

    During the next 15 years I'll probably go through another couple changes of hardware, or maybe even backsplash which will help keep it all up to date. And who knows.....maybe years from now if there's ever another kitchen remodel in my future I'll go for the wood. For now I have the shaker cherry bedroom of my dreams. Must have beautiful wood!



  • 9 years ago


    I can't figure out what made this photo go sideways.. Anyway, this is my white Ikea kitchen. I don't fear it would looke dated anytime soon - perhaps in 15-20 years. but by then I would have changed it already. This is a twist of a classic 1930s style kitchen. Even the subway tiles which I love and I grew up in a 1930s home, are beveled. My bathroom has simliar tiles and similar effect.

    In my opinion, get the kitchen you'd like to have now and don't fear that it will become dated. Everything does get dated, even old wood. In fact, I find the wood cabinetry looks dated faster.. but that's my opinion. Every 10 years or so, another trend will come up.. don't fear it...



  • 7 years ago

    Love it

  • 7 years ago

    I'm lucky to have the original plans for my 1927 four square home. In my kitchen remodel, I based the cabinets on the long gone originals - shaker insert cabinets to match the dining and front room original built-ins. My kitchen faces east so I get the morning sun. I installed white cabinets to brighten the afternoon. The odd thing was, I couldn't seem to find the right "white" for the cabinets. I later realized, all the white cabinets I remember from my childhood were smoke stained because more people smoked cigarettes. My new kitchen is now 14 years old and the white has beautifully mellowed out. White shaker insert cabinets, subway tiles, gray Corian countertops and gray hex tile floor. My kitchen is in "tune" with the style of the house and after 14 years, I wouldn't change a thing.

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