Why White Kitchen Cabinets are The Right Choice

If you are paying attention at all, you probably know that painted kitchen cabinetry is where it’s at – particularly white kitchen cabinetry.  Wood finished cabinets date themselves quickly based on the undertone of the wood.  Because I frequently stage homes for sale in the Nashville area, I can tell you that dark cherry cabinets are so 1994.

subway tile, white cabinets, aga

 Kitchen Design by Susan Tully

White cabinetry is timeless and works for all kinds of styles – country, european, contemporary, modern.

white cabinets



You may be concerned that an all-white kitchen means no personality, no style, no design.  Well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Here are the top 5 ways The Decorologist personalizes the white kitchen (without making an expensive mistake you’ll regret in 3 years):

white kitchen cabinets



1) Bring in a signature color through wall paint.  Wall color is easily changed when you or a new owner wants a different look.  Not so easy to change out the cabinetry or trendy backsplash.

kitchen wall color, white cabinets, green walls



2) Make a statement with your island.  This is a great place to bring in texture, contrasting material, or an interesting color.  Again, not as difficult to change when and if you tire of it.

black island, white cabinets


3)  Let your lighting take center stage.  Make a bold choice in overhead lighting in the kitchen.  This is a great way to showcase your personality without making a “permanent” statement.


4)  Add personality with a free-standing piece of furniture, like a hutch or a breakfast table.  The most timeless and interesting kitchens are those with more than just built-in cabinetry.

kitchen furniture


5)  Add color inside your cabinets or in the back of a hutch.  Or add your color through accessories and wall art.

blue accents kitchen

So can you see why white kitchen cabinets are the right choice for your kitchen?  If you don’t want to make a costly mistake when remodeling your kitchen, contact The Decorologist for a Decoration and Color Consultation today.


  1. A oh Kristie! We have a clash of opinions. How can you be a designer and say that cherry cabinets are so 1994? Some of the most beautiful kitchen designs I’ve seen are with cabinetry that has color – even if it’s just a little. It’s how you design the rest of your kitchen that will make or break the design – or make it look dated. It’s the wall color, the appliances, the tile and the rest of the details in the kitchen that breath life into the potentially lifeless white cabinets.

    The problem with white cabinets is that most people do not have white wood in the rest of their home and it just looks odd to have a such a popping white room when the rest of your home is “warm and cozy”.

    • Hi Donna! Well, of course my perspective is influenced by my years of real estate staging. Kitchens sell homes, and they make or break a potential home sale. I have seen amazing homes sit for months and months because the kitchen feels too 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, etc. So unless you intend on spending the rest of your life in the same home, I believe it’s important (at least in this room) to make choices that will resonant “timeless” rather than “trendy.”

      Thank you for your comment, Donna, and for giving us another perspective to consider :)

  2. As a blogger when you take a stand with your aesthetic one way or another, you also set yourself up as an expert in that area. The planet beats a path to my door for consults because I say that white kitchens are the be all and the end all, so Donna, you love wood stained kitchens, be the guru on them and what goes with each colour stain and if people aren’t already beating a path to your door, they will.

    Awesome post Kristie and of course I agree with you 100% :)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks for sharing your opinion, Maria!


    • Maria, It’s not that I love stained cabinets it’s that I’m more concerned with the white kitchens matching and coordinating with the rest of the home. I’m more concerned with overall design rather than just the color of a cabinet. Why isn’t anyone getting this?

      • As a color consultant and a fine artist by training, I do agree with Donna on the overall design of the house instead of concentrating on staging just kitchen. Although I really really LOVE WHITE cabinet, it has to be put into the context of the overall design. — Julie

  3. Kristie, I TOTALLY agree with you! White kitchens are TIMELESS and you can make a white kitchen extremely warm and coxy! I only wish I had used white marble or the dark stained wood as my counter-top. I am getting tired of the same old granite colors. I am mad that I let that sales rep talk me out of it!! :)
    Happy Turkey DAY! Leif

  4. White and off-white kitchens are gorgeous. If I was in a cottage style house that’s definitely what I would want. But I do think it depends on the house and the location of the house or dwelling. Some contemporary styles just don’t work with white cabinets. I like both white and dark cabinets, depending on the type of house and the rest of the decor in the house.

  5. I have cherry cabinets and HATE them. The cherry has turned orange and even though the house was built in 2000 I absolutely can’t stand them. Painting the cabinets white is one of the first home improvements we will be making in 2012…right after we purchase a new stove which chose yesterday (Thanksgiving) as the day to break down. I’m with you and Maria 100% on this one Kristie!

  6. I hear you on the cherry cabinets – if we owned this home we would be painting them out! And I think for me I’d be heading down a blend of white and gray lane… but instead I decorate around them with things like fab bar stools ;-) Great post!

  7. I’ve had two white kitchens, one oak kitchen and one cherry kitchen. I’ve enjoyed the aesthetics of all of them for various reasons and have been frustrated with all them for other reasons. White kitchens are awesome, but only when they are pristine. There was nothing more frustrating for me than keeping my white kitchens LOOKING white and clean. Smudges, spills and grease are magnified in white kitchens. My gorgeous Cherry kitchen that I have now, seems to disguise these messes….however, DUST is the killer in a dark kitchen. I am planning to go grey with my next kitchen. I am less concerned about what is timeless (no such thing when it comes to kitchens if you ask me) as I am with functionality, counter space, storage, lighting, clutter, appliances, and ease of care.

    • Actually, Maureen has a really good point. No kitchen is timeless. The Realtor I work with for Staging says “any kitchen 10 years or older is seem as dated to a buyer”. It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you love it.

  8. I’m adoring the distressed green birdseye hutch… clicked on your source and it led me to a phone and internet company. Where can I see this?? :D

  9. I love the look of white kitchen cabinets but as Maureen posted, it’s tough keeping white cabinets clean. I have a dog and I think I’d probably have to wipe down or repaint areas of the lower cabinets.

    Kristie, what are your thoughts on painting the lower cabinets a darker color and keep the upper cabinets white? Maybe you’ll do a blog posting on this trend? Please.

  10. I totally love white kitchen cabinets! In fact… I will be adding molding/trim to my “old as God” cabinets and painting them a white wash. Also changing the hardware. Very excited about this project! Hope you had a good Thanksgiving Kristie! XoXo

  11. Greetings! Fantastic options for personalizing a white kitchen! It’s all about options and not being stuck with an expensive trend! My dear brother just remodeled his kitchen and his designer chose three different wood finishes…none of them white of course and olive green tiles from counter to ceiling! It looks great now, but what will we say 10 or 15 years from now?

  12. I have always been a fan of white kitchen cabinets. In our previous house we inherited cherry cabinets and I lived with them for almost ten loooong years! We had them painted white, and put on new doors which really helped to update the entire room. But, I have to say, that painting dark wood is very tricky. We had a professional do it, and for a few years all was fine. But even with my care, the paint DID start to chip on a few corners. Now, in our new house we were lucky to inherit white cabinets! And, they had been professionally spray painted so it is about as good as it gets. I love them. We went with gray and yellow (walls and ceiling) with touches of orange in the fabrics.
    I am a total fan of white! so thank you Kristie!

  13. Love love love! I am going white in my kitchen!

  14. I also think white cabinets instantly update a kitchen. I live in a rental with a kitchen without any bells and whistles! But I am so glad the homeowner painted the cabinetry white, which gave me a nice blank slate to add my own style to. I really think white gives you that option! Love your design sense!!!

  15. Hi Kristey, love your blog on white cabinet.We are going for white cabinet in our new home.I need your opinion with backsplash.We have crackeled subway tile for backspash.We have installed it in a brick pattern througout only behind the cooktop thought about using a bronze border and a herrigbone pattern in it.Should we go for pattern behind cooktop or continue the brick pattern throughout.The backspalsh.We have bronze light fixtures and faucets.And we have Bianco antico granite with rustic cherry islandc

    • Nelly Procee says:

      Hi there – I am faced with a dilema about our outdated blonde oak cabinets. So desperately want to paint them white but our floor, countertops and black splash are all very light tones of brown. Have been thinking we might be better of with Bittersweet chocolate by benjamin moore instead. Just to complement the tile back splash and countertops mainly. Will the white work with these nondescript colours. Love your blog!

      • Hi Nelly,
        I love Bittersweet Chocolate – it’s the color of the exterior trim of my house. It’s very dark, though, and will darken up your kitchen substantially. I think I’d go white/off-white if I were you, but if you don’t mind them “reading” as expresso wood cabinets, I’m sure it’ll be fine – go to Pinterest and search dark kitchen cabinets and see what you can find to better help you visualize. Good luck!

  16. Hi Kristie,

    I love your blog! What are your thoughts on off-white kitchens cabinets? I have Santa Cecilia granite and oil rubbed bronze fixtures in my kitchen but light cherry cabinets (YUCK!). I think off-white would blend better than stark white but I’m scared to make a decision. I would love to hear your opinion on a off white or antiqued white finish.


    • Jana,
      When I say “white” kitchen, I mean any range of “white” which definitely includes off-whites. Look for a shade of white that relates to your granite, if possible. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  17. What is your opinion on colored subway tile backsplashes with white cabinet kitchens? I just bought a house and would love to update it with white cabinets. I’m just not sure about the backsplash which would be more timeless – white subway tile or a green glass subway tile? I’m concerned the white tile will be too much white but I wonder if I’ll tire of the colored tile quickly. Thanks in advance for your thoughts! Love your blog!!

    • Deb,
      I actually really love green glass tiles with white cabinets. But honestly, they are not as timeless as white subway tile. If you love them and you’ve always loved green, I’m sure it would be fine. As for “too much white,” take a look at some of the white kitchens on my Kitchen pinboard. You can always change your wall color or accessories to freshen up a white kitchen. You might even consider painting your island a “color” – that’s something that would be less $$ and trouble to repaint a few years down the road if you tire of it. http://pinterest.com/thedecorologist/kitchen-design-products/

      • Thanks Krisitie, I was leaning in the direction of the white subway tiles and your response confirmed it!

  18. Where can I get my cabinet doors professionally spray painted in the Nashville area?

  19. Caren Flaten says:

    I have white cabinets with a white and gray glass tile backsplash. The countertops are black, gray, white, brown mottled Corian. I can’t afford to change that out. I am wondering about the trim? I just had a new window installed in the kitchen. It is white and the trim is birch. Will it look strange to have birch trim in a mostly white kitchen? I am wondering if I should change it out to all white? There will be trim around the two large doorways as well as the baseboard. Most of the white kitchens I see are all trimmed out in white so I am just wondering if it will look tacky to have birch trim with white cabinets and mostly white backsplash? What kind of real wood is white?

  20. Demytrik Woodfork says:

    Hi Kristie
    I am a student majoring in residental design and I Love love love your site. I am so glad I found it. I will be taking kitchen design this semester. Thanks so much for the info. Can’t wait to share with my class mates.

    Happy Holidays

  21. Please, please help us choose kitchen cabinets color/finish.  Our log house is medium to dark stained logs..kitchen walls are either stained log or sheet rock and there's one natrual brick wall.  Wood trim around windows and doors is stained same as logs.  We have two big stained beams in ceiling.  Can we do white cabinets or other painted color with stained wood windows and doors?  Our floor is large ceramic tiles in a soft offwhite/ creamy / beigey multi sponged effect. Any suggestion is deeply appreciated!!!  We are tearing out cabinets due to a water leak and need to replace this week!

  22. Great web site you have got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  23. What is you have oak trim througout your house?  I'm wanting to paint my oak cabinets white, update our appliance, backsplash and counter trops and also update our fireplace by refacing it and possibly chaning the oak mantle to white (this room opens up to the kitchen.)  Is it okay to do this if all of our doors, trim etc. is oak?

  24. Hi there!
    Lots of great comments here! We are moving to a new home and do want a white kitchen. The designer has suggested we go with MDF for our white kitchen rather than wood and painting. What are your thoughts? I’ve always associated MDR with ‘cheap’ but our designer has told us it’s common now in high end kitchens.


  25. Glenda Pippin says:

    I have a white kitchen and I HATE it. White kitchens only look good if you don’t use them and are able to keep them in absolute pristine condition. The kitchen is the only room in the house which us predominately white.

    The best cabinets I’ve had were cherry and they were so pretty. When we moved from that house the only thing I hated to leave was the kitchen.

  26. Is it Ok to remodel with off white cabinets and keep the stained woodwork and doors? Painted all the stained woodwork would be my choice but my husband does not agree.

  27. What is the best/most timeless hardware to go with white cabinets? Oil rubbed bronze? We’re currently painting the cabinets in our farmhouse and I need to make a decision on the hardware. Thanks, Jess

  28. This post make a great stand to justify white kitchen cabinets. And I’m inclined to agree. Although my inclination is purely based on my preference for white background.

  29. Hi Kristie,
    I love the look of white cabinets but I need them to be durable. The cabinet place I went to said a maple cabinet that’s been painted white will crack over time. He recommended the MDF but I just read your post that MDF can swell with water. If I go with the painted maple how do I keep it from cracking? Thanks

  30. Needed to post you one small note to be able to thank you very much over again for all the remarkable tips you have discussed in this post. This has been so unbelievably generous of people like you giving unhampered just what most of us might have marketed for an ebook to make some money on their own, particularly observing that you could have tried it in the event you wanted. All those recommendations in addition performed to turn into easy way to fully grasp that some of us have a comparable desire the same as mine to understand more and more with regard to this matter. I’m certain there are many more enjoyable occasions ahead for those who look at your blog.

  31. Pam Williams says:

    Hi, we are in the process of painting our kitchen cupboards and would like to know what color are the cabinets in first picture ? This is the picture of the cream cabinets white subway tiles and black counter. Thanks for the great site!

  32. My realtor advised me not to do white cabinets.

  33. Hi All,

    My realtor advised me not to do white cabinets for a house that we definitely sell within 5 years, probably three. Opinions? He says that the trend will pass and that we should keep our custom cherry cabs and exotic granite b/c it is a high end house and those things will appeal to our buyer pool more than something trendy. (Also, our area is heavily international so an “american” look might not play well.) I agree with him that our house looks like a “million bucks” but am otherwise conflicted. Would love some opinions…some say the white kitchen is here to stay (and I want to believe it b/c that is what I want) but then again EVERYTHING that was in style in the past has gone out of style now… Please give me your thoughts. This is primarily about being able to sell in a few years to upscale buyers (double doctor families, etc.)

    • Actually, I think that dark cherry cabinets and exotic granite is much more trendy than a timeless white kitchen. Yes, white kitchens are “on-trend,” but they are certainly not trendy. Dark cherry cabinets and taste-specific granite do appeal to a certain group of people, but that group is getting smaller and smaller (and older). Dark cherry cabinets became trendy back in the early 90’s, so most people under 45 think they are dated. On the other hand, I wouldn’t advise you to completely redo/replace your kitchen if you are really thinking you will be moving in 3-5 years. That’s a huge outlay of money, which would be fine if you planned on living there long enough to enjoy all the construction you will be going through.

      • Kristie, does off white work as well as white as far as being a classic?

        I have a friend who can get me a great buy on some ivory colored cabinets and I think they would fit well in my home. But they are almost the color of my bisque appliances (pale ivory) and I just wonder if they will work as well as white white as far as being a classic look?

        • Here is a pic of the cabinets Kristie. I am putting it in a separate email so you dont have to post a link to the company.

          My friend works here so we can get a deal. I think the white white is to modern for our home. The ivory is a little paler than what it appears in the picture. Do you think it would be a good classic?

          • Lee,
            Off-white will work well, but only if your trim molding is the same color (off-white). If you do white trim, your cabinets will read dirty, or at least more of a color like butter yellow (or whatever the undertone of the off-white is). Good luck with your kitchen!

          • Thanks for your answer Kristie. And for the huge tip on the trim!

            What color appliances would you put with the off white cabinets?
            For trim I was thinking of Dove White by BM.
            What about the ceiling color?

            So you feel the off white can be as classic as white white? I am thinking of this for resale also and Would hate to make such an expensive mistake….

          • While Dove White is technically an off-white, I still consider it a “white.” It reads white, just a warm white. Yes, it’s classic. I’d do stainless appliances, and the ceiling color depends on many things that I don’t have time to get into! Good luck :)

  34. youngbutoldenoughtoknow says:

    Many decorators and kitchen design stores are in the business of selling kitchens. They make their livelihood from coming up with new designs and new “must have woods and finishes” to create doubt and dissatisfaction in the minds of home owners. This is happening right now in 2013 because the industry did not do well after the housing bubble burst and went into a slump. This especially comes to bear when you have re-done your kitchen 5+ years ago and suddenly the “industry” tells you that the wood you picked is no longer desirable. But wait, you say! 5 years ago cherry very popular! Maybe I made the wrong choice. Oh no!

    Just pick what you like and enjoy it.

    I have antiques in my home and live in New England. A white kitchen would have looked sterile. The cherry kitchen I designed looks like its meant to be there.

    So pick what you like and don’t worry! Be happy.

  35. Hi i have a cream kitchen can I pick a white backsplash?? Thanks

  36. DanceDesign says:

    I love white kitchens! Doesn’t white go with everything? Of course, one has to be careful about the undertones, but isn’t that true for every color? Why can’t it be planned so that the white undertones match the wood in the rest of the house?

    I lived in a 1920’s rental with original white wooden cabinets and Ioved them – and you know that the furniture in the rest of the house in the 1920’s wasn’t white.

    Here are some pics of 1920’s-1930s kitchens:

    When I moved into my home in the 90’s I installed high-quality, solid-wood white cabinets that are still in great shape today. In fact, people think the cabinets are new. The style is what would be considered “transitional” – not ultra-modern, not traditional. I’m planning to install a new countertop and a backsplash (I never put one in because I couldn’t decide what to do – now I know!) but the cabinets are staying for sure.

    Thank you, Christie, for a great blog!

  37. Nancy L. says:

    I want to install white kitchen cabinets in my new kitchen. My husband doesn’t want them but will go with whatever I want since I am the cook and chief kitchen person. Folks keep saying white is too hard to keep clean. Help! I want to make a good choice. My kids are grown, no inside pets. My current house has medium cherry which I love here but want something new at our lake house.

    • Nancy,
      I can tell you, honestly, there is NOTHING difficult about keeping white cabinets clean. I just wipe them down with a warm wet cloth on occasion. Just because you can’t SEE the dirty on dark wood cabinets, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Without kids and pets – really, really no problem. Hope that helps give you the confidence you need!

  38. Hi Kristie. We, too, have medium-dark stained bannister, 6-panel doors and fireplace in open great room/hearth room & debating on new cabinetry to replace current medium-dark oak cabinetry. Our wall color is currently (and will remain) an off-white, so I am thinking I can get by with off-white kitchen cabinets. Do you agree? Like some others have mentioned, I’m concnrned about slapping an off-white kitchen in the middle of a room with a lot of stained trim, etc.

  39. Luisa Brillembourg says:

    Hi Kristie,
    I want to install white modern kitchen cabinets in my new kitchen. The floor is light off white. What do you think ?
    I want a very modern style.

    • The floor may look a bit dingy/dirty in comparison to the white cabinets. You could either choose an off-white that matches the floor or perhaps paint your bottom cabinets a different color to the upper white ones. That way you get some visual separation between the upper white cabinets and the floor. Maybe a warm gray on the bottom cabinets?

  40. Hi Christie, I love white kitchen. I am in the process of renovation my kitchen. I’ve picked “Could White” for the cabinet colour and brown stain for the island colour. I am thinking of using Ceaserstone “Motivo Lace” for the backsplash. It is very white. I am concerned that the whtie backsplash will make the cabinet look dirty. Your opinion is appreciated. My other options are: 1. change the cabinet collour to Vanilla Milkshake (green undertone), or 2. keep the Cloud white cabinet and change the backsplash to off white stone. Thank you very much for your advice! Rita

    • If you need to go with a whiter white for the cabinets, take a look at Chantilly Lace. Otherwise, I’d try to find a backsplash that will be similar in whiteness to Cloud White. Good luck!

  41. Great advice and lovely examples you have used. Personally I love white with a feature colour as in the white and lime green kitchen you have used in the post. It really adds a spark of modernism and personality. Mark.

  42. Kristin says:

    I am putting in a white kitchen and am going to have white appliances (stainless handles). Am trying to pick the white paint for the custom cabinets given the bright white appliances. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  43. Since we are getting ready to have our kitchen cabinets painted white, this has been interesting to read. We are having our cabinets painted by professionals who painted our woodwork/trim and new doors white about 8 yrs. ago. So we know they will do a great job. My question is the shelves. I’m thinking about not having them painted because I like the way my dishes, pots and pans, glasses etc. slide in and out with no friction or skidding. But if I don’t paint them, will it look tacky? I think if we paint the inside walls and have the contrasting shelves it will be fine, but have a few doubts. These are very nice, custom oak cabinets so the quality is there.

  44. I love the idea for white cabinets. I even planned to paint my own in white. I think that the picture with the white cabinets and the green walls is my favorite. Thanks a lot for sharing all of these designs. You helped me a lot to choose the right color for my cabinets!


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