Is Our Love Affair with the White Kitchen Over?

This is a guest post from interior designer Sharon L. Sherman. It first appeared on her blog.

Horizontal Island and Hood

Cream cabinetry creates a warm atmosphere in a kitchen. Photo: Mike Van Tassell

A friend recently sent me a New York Times article that referenced a rebellion against the white kitchen revolution. She asked if designers were writing white kitchen eulogies.

Don’t get me wrong, I love white kitchens and have designed many over the years – long before the latest craze. White has been around for multiple design shifts. It’s always a clean, fresh look for a cozy coastal getaway place or a quick freshen up for an old kitchen until it can be remodeled. White is a great way to ground wood accents or a dramatic wall color.

Non-White Kitchen with Blue Paint

A mix of light and dark colors adds interest to a room. And remember that negative space gives your eyes a place to rest as you look around a room, even in a kitchen. Photo: Christopher Delaney, Design NJ August/September 2019.

All Good Things Come to an End

Why does it seem that the insatiable taste for white is starting to fade? Overexposure. Too much of anything is never a good thing. The television world of design seemed to only show white, white and whiter. It was even Benjamin Moore’s color of the year in 2016. As its popularity grew, it seemed no one could get enough of the white trend. But if you follow trends you know they are just that – trends.

We needed something else to get our creative juices flowing again, something to be excited about in the home design area. We started looking to the world around us. So many people are worried about the state of the world and the future. This stark reality started a yen for color and all of the emotions that color can bring to our home.

Non-White Kitchen with Gray Paint

Cabinets were refinished in “Kendall Charcoal” by Benjamin Moore. Concrete countertops—light gray on the island and a walnut-look along the perimeter—work in the classic neutral scheme. Photo: Melissa Mellor, Design NJ February/March 2019, Designer: Kara Vacca, Architect: Rosario S. Mannino, AIA, LEED AP, Location: Rutherford, NJ.

Colors From Nature

As we design our homes, there is a strong desire for a connection to nature. Softer shades of green, blue and pink bring a whole new dynamic to a space (can you picture a beautiful Caribbean beach?). In addition, there is definitely a shift towards environmental concerns for the items we use in our homes. Companies on every part of the cost spectrum are moving to eco-friendly materials for cabinets and their manufacturing. Reclaimed wood has found its way back into the mainstream.   Pretty wood grains in soft natural finishes bring warmth to a kitchen.

Sage Green Verhogg Kitchen

Sage green cabinetry is accessorized by backsplash tile in metallic tones.

Staying Power

Of course, not everyone can remodel with every swing of the trend pendulum. To break up an existing white kitchen, consider new hardware. Bringing in some color with knobs and pulls is like adding jewelry to your clothing. If you like to “do it yourself,” try painting a cabinet or two. In January, I wrote, “Which Paint Colors are Trending” about the new color palette from Sherwin-Williams. Chalk Paint inspiration is everywhere on Pinterest. Find a look you like and go for it.

Non-White Kitchen with Wood Finish Cabinets

Gleaming cabinetry and surfaces add panache to the kitchen in a home where the owners entertain frequently. Photo: Ben Winkler, Design NJ October/November 2019, Designer Judi Schwarz, Associate ASID, IIDA, Location Essex County, NJ.

Beyond Cabinets and Walls

Small appliances are definitely joining the color bandwagon. Smeg offers an assortment of practical yet stunning small appliances to brighten up your kitchen. In addition, opportunity abounds in the world of tile for the backsplash. Here is the perfect way to stretch your color wings and drop in some color relief without breaking the bank. Decorative accessories like colorful containers can be functional and colorful. So go ahead and dip your toe into a dab of color and give that white kitchen a color update.

So is our love affair with white kitchens really over? Maybe not. As with any good relationship it is always evolving.

Sharon L. Sherman ASID CID CKD is a designer and Reiki Master located in New Jersey. Her award-winning designs and editorial comments have been featured in Design NJ, Woman’s Day, Country Decorating, Family Circle, 201 Magazine, The Best of Bergen, Savvy Living, The Record, The Star Ledger, Bergen Magazine and Aspire as well as several books. Her blog, “Tips for the Trade,” has appeared in digital form on She has also appeared on HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation and episodes of House Smarts with Lou Manfredini.