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erica_hagen0

Avoiding all white or too boring kitchen?

7 years ago

I'm embarking on a kitchen remodel and all the bits we like are white: like white quartz counters, like white cabinets and like white subway tile. All three together though, seems like too much and kinda dull. I am a color fan overall. Currently looking at ikea or other fairly cheap brands, and transitional style. Oh yeah also we love farmhouse sink which is white too!

maybe links to some kitchens that are not boring but use most of these elements? I would consider some color cabinets (maybe lower) but don't want to spend too much, or color tiles, or maybe butcher block. Just looking for inspiration. By the way I love modern, husband likes traditional, and my decor style is midcentury modern (though the house isn't).

Comments (62)

  • 7 years ago

    My kitchen is mostly white, but we painted the original (1926) Hoosier style cabinets and the walls blue (2 different shades of blue).




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  • 7 years ago

    Love that blue crl

  • 7 years ago

    Erica, I love the 3rd one u posted.


  • 7 years ago

    Smm so do I! In fact I'd copy it but lower cabinets in that shade may ruin the budget. Or look a little odd in our tiny galley. We will use a peninsula but hadn't planned on and are a bit wary of butcher block. So I'm not sure if we can achieve the look. I am planning to get those exact pendant lights though and subway rule with dark grout is on the table...

  • 7 years ago

    You can always incorporate the wood elements in decor/accessories if u don't want butcher block.


  • 7 years ago

    WHY do you like it? Is it is because it is what you see in upscale kitchens on this site? When did you start to like white on white? When you started to see it everywhere?

    You need to examine if you like a tend because it is a trend. Or if you liked it before it was trendy. Will you like it when it is hideously outdated and disparaged? If white on white kitchens are the next oak kitchens with hunter green counters, will you still love it?

  • 7 years ago

    The key to making an all white kitchen unique is having an element or two that is unexpected. Mamadadapaige knocks it out of the park with a triple threat of cool artwork, wallpaper and the bar stool color.



  • 7 years ago

    Green designs haha that's funny, if you were to look at my idea books maybe you'd catch on I mainly am afraid to use all white because it's a trend! Most of my favorite houzz pix are considered "eclectic". No, I just like each individual element a lot. It's the combination I'm afraid of exactly because I see it everywhere. Same reason I won't paint my interior light grey.

  • 7 years ago

    Considering whether it's worth the hassle to buy unfinished lower cabinet fronts from Scherr's, and paint them blue-gray. The pic I posted above being so far my favorite kitchen pic that seems realistic.

    I googled "Grimslov" which is the ikea front we'd use, and all kitchens popping up are super white and rather dull just as I feared. Although it's true you only need a little bit to make it interesting, I want to make sure if I'm shelling out for a new kitchen it feels unique!

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    I have a mostly white kitchen; Carrara marble, white cabinets, white backsplash tiles and bead board. I added color with the wall color, wood island top, my terra-cotta range and my dishes, cookbooks and other accessories.

    Erica M thanked Deck The Halls
  • 7 years ago

    I think you can see how unique these kitchens above are- not the professional photos from Houzz, but the phone shots from crl, Corie, and myself. All three have similar elements yet the kitchens look nothing alike.

  • 7 years ago

    Johnsoro you're right in just looking for what will be my unique thing.

  • 7 years ago

    What is your floor? I love all white kitchen. You can add color and texture with light fixtures, accessories, cook books, herbs, art, window treatments, etc.
    http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/2604241/warming-up-a-white-kitchen?n=27

  • 7 years ago

    There are dozens of "white" colors. I think the trick is to pick a white that has more interest than a standard bright white color

  • 7 years ago

    nosoccermom, I looked at that link. That's my issue, I find all those all-white pix in that thread to be a little too ... well not WOW enough for my taste I guess, they're kind of conservative perhaps though they are also lovely. If it were up to me I'd probably be using some yellow cabinets. but hubby isn't into that (like Ikea Ringhult). Gah - on second thought - I DO like the plain all-whites that use the shiny modern flat cabinets. So I may still just be pushing back against hubby's distaste for modern. Sigh. Maybe the issue is more about getting enough flashy modern, in a traditional home with traditional husband? That's why I've been checking out "transitional" looks...

  • 7 years ago

    This is sounding very familiar. I'm a color person. However, we remodeled with an eye for resale and affordability. What tends to work well for both resale and the readily available/cheap options is classic/boring stuff. We also went with IKEA, and they had only one or two door styles that didn't look out of place in our Spanish style home, so that really narrowed things way down.

    What I did to satisfy my need for the kitchen be more interesting was to add architectural interest (widened/arched a doorway), left a big blank area on the wall for some colorful artwork, and we haven't installed it yet, but we will be putting leaded glass in the glass cabinets.

    I'd still rather a yellow kitchen too, but I'd need a different house, different income, and a different husband.

    Erica M thanked Jillius
  • 7 years ago

    Jillius, yes indeed. However I don't care about resale really. Affordability I do, that's why we're thinking ikea. You're right though classic/boring.

  • PRO
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Most people's kitchens are small and cut-up - multiple door openings and windows. The more monochromatic, the nicer the kitchen looks - kind of hids all that choppiness. I don't think a white kitchen is ever going to look "dated" but some of the colored ones with bright tiles will before the AmEx bill is fully paid. As you say, there will be color in your dining room, so let your kitchen be "quieter" being all white. You can always liven it up with art, a rug, bright canisters - you name it.

    Erica M thanked Anglophilia
  • 7 years ago

    Thanks Anglophilia, indeed we're pretty chopped up in the kitchen indeed! And small (see pic above)! I think perhaps with colored subway tile or grey grout in white tile, plus pendant lights and splash of color elsewhere the impact may be more than I expect. At least backsplash is easier to change out later than counter or cabinet too.

  • 7 years ago

    A couple of things can tone down the totally white/sterile look. One is some uppers with glass. Whatever you put in those cabinets adds some color interest. If you add lighting in those cabinets, there's another layer of interest. Another is wall paint. Even though you won't see a lot of it depending on how much leftover wall you have, it can add a lot of interest. You don't have to go orange, but something you like.


  • 7 years ago

    Don't forget that the ceiling can be a color too, not just the walls. Some of my favorite inspirations pics had one color on the walls and a complimentary (not necessarily same) color on the ceiling. And, in fact, that is what I did and I love it.

    Grout doesn't have to be a shade of grey, either. Pale blue would be very pretty.

    Beware of trying to shoehorn a "modern" style into a traditional home. Even if I like the look in isolation, every home that I have seen where this was done just seems uncomfortably "off".

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Also, any color will pop even more.

    Some open shelves, glass uppers, hardware....





    Erica M thanked nosoccermom
  • 7 years ago

    I'm in process with my all white kitchen. White Ikea cabinets and mostly white quartz counters (getting installed tomorrow). Oh - and white sink. I'm going with a light blue subway tile backsplash to bring a splash of color, if I can find it. I don't want glass - and most of the blue subway I've seen is glass. Suzanne_sl can you tell me about the blue accent subway tile in your backsplash.

  • 7 years ago

    Ibonnie can you post pic? Am also thinking of blue tile.

  • 7 years ago

    Fireclay and Heath both have plenty of blue ceramic tile options. Daltile does too. I'm sure there are others out there. Have you looked at a tile shop? Even Home Depot can order tile that's not in stock.

  • 7 years ago

    Personally, I do like all white or wood and white; however, I think we're due for a major in fusion of some Southwest color. Not like 30 years ago when the only Southwest colors allowed were some kind of a light pastel, but true bright harsh beautiful ungrayed color… I really love the use of color but I love it when you can change it out easily. So I think having the cabinets and ceiling and floor and backsplash all in white and having your color in something that you can easily change (meaning it takes no more than one afternoon and doesn't require a significant cash infusion) is a really great idea.

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    You can try adding small pops of colour throughout the room, for example a bowl, hand towel or flowers.

    Erica M thanked Laqfoil Ltd.
  • 7 years ago

    nosoccermom where did you find that last pic you posted above, with the copper pendants and orange walls? I'd love to know the paint color.


    Erica M thanked mabeldingeldine
  • 7 years ago

    practigal, what would you change out then - paint on walls? I was thinking backsplash. what else besides accessories?

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I don't think of backsplash as something that is inexpensive and easy to change out.

    Accessories like curtains, accent rugs, vases, towels, stool/chair cushions, other accessories are things you can easily change out. And paint

    Erica M thanked smm5525
  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    re yellow. it's from "traditional home" magazine, but I can't find it. Pic itself was from http://www.thepeakoftreschic.com/2012/10/im-feeling-white-white-white.html

    However, I have a similar yellow in my hallway, which is BM Morning Sunshine, one darker than Lighthouse.

  • 7 years ago

    Jillius, thanks for the long post! You are right I'm exactly the same way. I kind of have my own personal color scheme and it does change year to year slightly but it's to the point that most of my clothes match each other since I pick from that scheme unconsciously. Indeed, I've been having the same dilemma in picking interior paint color for my house and I posted about that too and people argued a lot over it. I already know I won't do white walls. The main problem in my houses has been accommodating to things it came with - my prior rental had strange wall colors and I bought a lot of furniture/rugs etc trying to not clash with those walls since I couldn't paint them. Now in my own house I have a "blank slate" but the prior owners made choices I wouldn't have, and my natural preferred color scheme would require a lot of new stuff...it's complicated... Not to mention I need to avoid offending the hubby with certain choices, he has to also have some say. If he didn't I'd be going all out in the shiny modern kitchen category believe me.

    So, I'm not one to follow a trend or be shy about my preferences in decor, but I've also never spent this much money on home design. Anyways, I think I'm going to be ok doing bright/dark paint and/or backsplash. Part of the deal with going white is also affordability. I also won't re-accesorize once I get it right, I'll just keep adding to it most likely. I did have an apartment in which I did that and all in "my" colors, and I loved it, and I had painted the walls tiffany blue.


  • 7 years ago

    (Just to add on a rant: I wanted to have my entire house look like CB2 catalog. They do a lot of white with bright colors and light woods, and also midcentury modern which I love. BUT the past few catalogs have been HORRIBLE with dark neutrals and no color at all! What happened??? OK tangent rant over).


  • 7 years ago

    I'm not sure an all white kitchen is always the least expensive. Looking at your idea book, nothing in it is all white. Mostly wood and white mixed with wood or color. I'm talking about counters and cabinets.

    Erica M thanked smm5525
  • 7 years ago

    smm5525: yes I know. The way I got into the all white kitchen was by components...loving the white quartz, the white subway tiles, the white cabinets all individually. Our floor will be wood. Butcher block I know is cheaper, but we have a LOT of wood types all over our house right now so I thought to lessen the wood. The only thing I'm not as keen on to be honest is entirely white cabinets, but cabinets are also the most expensive to change and I've realized that painting them is not always an option given the materials used. Wood grain cabinets I don't typically like. Considered doing bottom cabinets in dark blue-gray but $$.

  • 7 years ago

    Thanks everyone for all your replies this is helping me figure out a lot of what I'm looking for!

    Since I keep going back to this photo, I'm wondering what's essential to achieve this look? Could I perhaps get it without the butcher block (have wood floors though) and without the lower cabinets painted (lot of work, or expense - ikea doesn't have this color), but maybe paint walls (above tile backsplash, and side kitchen walls) in that dark blue? That would actually be a lot of blue since two walls have nothing on them but doors. Would some butcher block really be key? what else might I be missing. Which bits are essential to it. Willing to buy the lights too.

    Sunset Park, Brooklyn Rowhouse · More Info

    And also fyi we're creating a kind of open wall that will look like this into the dining room, complete with moldings but not the wood bar top (so far...though we could sub in a butcher block wood for quartz just there, perhaps).


    Holland Kitchen · More Info

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    No u don't need the butcher block. Add wood bowls and accessories. Use the blue on the walls.

  • 7 years ago

    Post more pics of your kitchen. You can also add a wood door

  • 7 years ago

    Someone upthread has probably already said it, but "boring" is in the eye/heart/mind of the beholder. One person's boring is another's calm. But, you already knew that. :)

    The two blue/white kitchens just above with horizontal wood surfaces (counter and island) would be cold and depressing to me without the expanse of wood. So if those two kitchens appeal and inspire you, I wouldn't be too quick to dispense with the wood.

    I have a layered white kitchen with dark gray counters. At first it seemed shockingly stark to me until I took the protective covering off my red oak floor. I was flooded with joy and relief. Yes, this kitchen had promise!

    At first I added a red kettle. A few years later I tired of it and replaced it with a yellow one. For me, yellow accents (KitchenAid mixer) work for me.

  • 7 years ago

    Jillius is so wise.

    I have learned buy the things that I want in colors that I like and they all end up matching and I only grow tired of them after 20 or 30 years...

    (Erica M, I have only a 4" backsplash and so would definitely be changing paint color or swapping out decorative tile accessories)

  • 7 years ago

    You'd probably love this kitchen (which I also love):

    Kitchener · More Info

  • 7 years ago

    I'm in the final stages of completing a white kitchen. It does have soapstone countertops, so there is some contrast there. However, what brought it alive was that I jumped on the trend of laying down a colorful oriental rug--reds and blues mainly but many other colors as well. I then went with a few red accessories and boy does the room now pop! Like night and day in terms of color and warmth.

  • 7 years ago

    Blue is a very cold colour for me. I love your inspiration pic, but I find that it is the expansive butcher block island that warms up the space and makes it so inviting.

  • 7 years ago

    in light of comments re your kitchen may not end up like the inspiration photo, I'm posting more pix of current kitchen. Keep in mind the wall will open up and have a peninsula there with the dining room showing through, and, dining room wood trim may change in color to white but wood table stays.

    The dining room wall to right hand side here will be a half wall up to the top of the peninsula. Wall color and rug and such can be changed.



  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Bodbyn two-tone?

    Also, someone posted that Ringhult is 60% off. Maybe that convinces your husband. There's also a new darker flat front walnut.


    Or go two-tone with the new natural ash bottom cabinets.

  • 7 years ago

    Someone in another thread said to me that having a double-height peninsula (like with the bar top in photo above) is outdated and shouldn't be done in the first place. Just wanted to ask this thread if I should ignore that. Thx....

  • 7 years ago

    Thanks lily'smom. I'm not doing island as in, isolated block. More peninsula, attached on one end.

    I'm not actually doing a proper bar top that you could eat at like a breakfast bar, either, because our little dining room with its table is right behind that. It will be a smaller width though may hold a plate. Here's a neighbor's house which has a similar thing going on:


    kitchen · More Info

    You're right about being able to butcher block the whole peninsula if we got the island look -- but the more I think about it, the more that seems silly to do in wood with our big wood dining table right there already about three feet away.

    Good point about hiding a bit of kitchen mess. As well I thought, being able to use the peninsula for some appliances because the mini wall can have outlets.

    Well, although I'm not a trend follower I also don't want to avoid a trend just because the change seems too drastic. Sometimes asking people on houzz backfires because no matter what someone's going to say you're making the wrong choice :)

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I don't think it's been mentioned yet, but a big part of the appeal of an all-one-height peninsula (the biggest part, in my opinion) is that you then having a deeper counter to work on. I've got one 30" stretch of counter, and it's amaaaazing. I wish I had 30" or deeper counters everywhere in the kitchen. It's just so nice to be able to place something in front of you and still have ample room in front of it to work.

    I've never heard that a double-height peninsula is dated. And certainly not that what you're considering -- which is probably closer to a pass bar or a half wall -- is dated. It took me four seconds to find a bunch of examples of updated kitchens with that feature:

    The same search also turned up this shower, which has nothing to do with anything except that now I want it:

    I also don't think it's been mentioned that a key function of a raised bit behind the counter is containing water/liquids so they don't drip down back of your peninsula. If you don't have a sink on the peninsula, it's less of a concern, but usually you want a 36" deep counter or deeper if you're not going to have any sort of retaining wall behind a work counter. The extra depth makes it less likely something will end up spilling down the back. That said, our peninsula is only 26" deep (all one level), and I'm still very glad to have it even though we do get drips down the back sometimes. (We didn't have a lot of flexibility with our layout, so somewhat-better-yet-still-deeply-imperfect was as good as we were able to get it.)

    Erica M thanked Jillius