Should You Choose White Kitchen Cabinets? It Depends.

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Should You Choose White Kitchen Cabinets? It Depends.

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Blindingly bright, airy, white-on-white kitchens have saturated Pinterest, Houzz, HGTV … they are everywhere! If I didn’t know better, I might think white was the only color cabinets came in.

Custom home by Heritage Custom Homes. Interior Design by Erin Hansen for Christine Andrew of Hello Fashion via Style Me Pretty. Shelf styled by Studio McGee. Photo by Lucy Call. Pinterest Pin created by Jane at Home

Of course, that’s not true. We know white isn’t our only option. I have tons of great color inspiration for cabinetry on my Colorful Kitchen Cabinetry Pinterest board and also talk about the bold color trends on the blog, but I can absolutely understand why white is the runaway winner for 2020 top kitchen trends.

Design and Photo Credit: Bedrosians Tile & Stone. Pinterest Pin by Curated Interior

I mean, these are painfully gorgeous kitchens! The FOMO here is real strong, y’all.

But does this undeniable beauty mean white is the right choice for your own kitchen?

Well, it depends.

You might be thinking, but Amy, it’s white! White is so simple. White is white is white, right? White goes with everything and everything goes with white! What’s there to think about?

This homeowner learned the hard way that white can be deceptively tricky to get right. I don’t want that to happen to you, so read on to see if you are destined for white kitchen bliss or if you might be happier just admiring someone else’s!

Design and Photo Credit: designström

Is White Cabinetry Trendy?

Kitchen remodels have jaw dropping price tags and require the patience of a saint to get through; the 10,000 decisions that have to be made, the mess that refuses to be contained no matter how many sheets of plastic get draped around the room, and the overall disruption to our lives (take out again?) means ‘let’s just do it and see how we feel about it’ isn’t exactly the most appealing proposal.

Interior Design and Photos by Nesting With Grace. Click to see before and after photos of her charming white kitchen reveal!

I think it’s pretty understandable that we would want to get it right on the first go-around, which can make white seem like a fail-safe choice.

Because what if I select a color I love right now, thinking I’m being fun and modern and unique, but then I get tired of it in a year or two? What if it ends up clashing with the flooring? Will it lock me into using the same color scheme forever? Or what if it falls out of trend and now my kitchen looks dated before it’s 5th birthday? 

These are very valid concerns and it’s just part of what is driving the current white kitchen trend.

So to answer the question … definitely, yes. White cabinetry is trendy.

There’s a compounding effect going on right now because as white continues to trend up, up, and up, people are opting to install white cabinetry so their home will appeal to buyers who are demanding the trend, which means white pushes even further down the trend timeline and we see even more of it on design shows and blogs.

It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

Interior Design by Philip Mitchell. Photo by Annie Schlechter for Veranda. Pinterest Pin by Sincerely Marie Designs

But, White Cabinetry Is Also Timeless

White cabinets are 110%, no doubt about it, a French Braid sort of trendy. The popularity ebbs and the popularity flows. We are undeniably riding on a white cabinetry high right now, but the fact that it’s currently trending, and trending hard, doesn’t make it any less of a classic. 

White will never go out of style.

Interior Design by unknown. Pinterest Pin by Dianne Decor

White is a chameleon color (I know you just sang a line of Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon. Don’t lie.) It complements every style, can be dressed up or down, and white cabinets can be custom matched to your tastes and personality with relatively simple adjustments like installing rain glass inset panels, mixing in wood tones or color on adjacent cabinetry, or including layered crown molding. 

Adjust the undertone in your shade of white and you completely change the mood. 

White cabinetry gives you the opportunity to frame and highlight a stunning countertop or backsplash, install hardware that makes a statement (and is easier to change when you tire of making that statement), or bring attention to new linens or unique appliances like your favorite pink SMEG retro coffee maker.

Interior Design by The Vintage Rug Shop. Click the link to read about her experience and what she would do differently!

Some White Cabinet Woes To Consider

You didn’t think that picking out white cabinetry would be hassle free, did you? Of course you didn’t! 

It can bend your brain and challenge your patience as much as any color or wood tone would … maybe even more! 

One thing to really think about is how interested you are in picking dust out of tiny crevices or constantly scrubbing the cooking grease that sticks to the hardest-to-reach locales, and don’t forget about the spaghetti sauce splashes and smudgy little (or big) fingers that just have to touch every cabinet door looking for the salt that’s already on the table. 

For others, it’s exactly that kind of dirt/grease/smudge visibility that makes white cabinetry so appealing! 

The Little Details Make or Break White

There’s one very common issue that a lot of people don’t even think about. If you’re a details person like me, it could drive you to the very edge of sanity. 

The seams. 

Depending on how fussy the style is, you might experience some very noticeable seams in your cabinets as the wood naturally expands and contracts

I noticed this happening on our previous RTA (Ready-To-Assemble) dark wood cabinets with inset paneled doors when I got up close, but the gaps disappeared when I stopped looking for them. 

The seams are definitely more noticeable on our current custom built light maple cabinets, but they don’t stand out to the point that it bothers me more than a little. It does bother me a little, but not more than that. 

White does risk showing those gaps more, so if you absolutely hate the idea of being able to see seams in your white cabinetry, choosing a solid door profile, having them professionally installed, and investing in custom cabinetry will help alleviate some, but not all, of the problem. 

Which Brings Us to Our Next Concern – Dents and Dings

We had white cabinets in a previous apartment, and while there were some significant benefits to white (the kitchen was a U-shape at the far end of the apartment with no windows in sight of it, so the white cabinets and light countertop really helped minimize the ‘hole in the wall’ feeling), there was one small corner where the laminate had been torn off. 

It was a really small corner of missing laminate. No bigger than a quarter. 

You want to know what happened? 

My eye was drawn to that corner, again and again. It stood out like a black dog in the snow and made the whole kitchen feel dingy. 

We ended up taping a little white piece of paper over it. Yep, we really did that. And it really did help! 

If you use your kitchen at all, you will find yourself with dents, dings, scrapes, and scratches that you have no idea how they happened and white cabinetry will make sure you notice those little suckers every time you walk in. 

Poor quality paint finishes can start to wear off, chip away, turn yellow, or grab onto dirt over time, making your entire kitchen feel blah and destroying the value of your investment.

Quality really matters when it comes to white. Go with the highest quality cabinet your budget will allow. It pays off in the long term and you will be much happier with the result.

Extra Special Bonus! 

It’s November while I’m writing this, which makes me think of Christmas. White cabinets make a great backdrop to Christmas decor!

Holiday Decor by Golden Boys and Me

Did You Decide White Cabinets Might Not Be For You?

You can have your cake and eat it, too! Check out this one-of-a-kind kitchen built in a 100-year-old Chicago home from builder s.o.f.t. homes as presented by Decoholic.

The cabinetry is not white, but if you were to ask me what color this kitchen was, I would say it is a white kitchen.

So don’t lock yourself into this idea that white cabinets are the only choice for a light and bright kitchen. There are a multitude of creative ways to achieve your vision, reflect your personality, and still appeal to those future buyers!

Before You Go, Check Out Some of My Favorite Links …

The Decorologist – Why White Kitchen Cabinets Are The Right Choice

Maria Killam – Why White Kitchen Cabinets Make the Most Timeless Kitchen

Architectural Digest – Why You Can’t Go Wrong With White Kitchen Cabinets

Jane at Home – Beautiful and Inspiring Kitchen Design Ideas from Pinterest

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