Decor Disputes: Are White Kitchens Becoming Passe?

white carole lalli kitchen

The last few times I've posted makeovers of kitchens where the outcome is white, there's been an inordinate amount of comments pegging them as sterile, even likening them to operating rooms. If we'd been talking about white kitchens a few years back, I'm guessing the general consensus would have been that they're timeless. Now, who knows? Maybe they've fallen a bit out of favor because of their popularity. By that I mean, perhaps people aren't so surprised when they see a super-white kitchen 'after' these days. So this is my question: are white kitchens really becoming passe or is the audience of the white 'afters' (namely, us) becoming bored with what we're seeing?

Small Modern White Kitchen

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Anonymous on Mar 24, 2015:

It's 2015 now.. I agree w one of the posters. all white cabinets are too white, no personality, no sous chef would get inspired in a white kitchen or guests coming w full apetites.. You basically ask them to not spill anything. Just follow european design and you get why they never go all whites.. Most people follow trends blindly.. i would never buy all white kitchen.

Sakura on May 30, 2014:

White kitchens are indeed timeless... designing with different textures and accents are the way to go.   I stand by the fact that white kitchens will always be timeless with a high "wave-length" of aesthetics.  

Red Esquid on Mar 26, 2014:

Too many white kitchens are:

Too bright, cold, hard to keep clean ( wait a few years... ) looks like melamine, and passe.   I talked to a cabinetmaker yesterday - half of his output is white, and he had a shop full of white cabinets in process.   He doesn't like them, too.

All white is just totally boring - some white can be a fresh note.  mix it up! 

I'm remodeling, in a craftsman - ish - style, and will be using some creamy whites - travertine - next to the soft green of Costa Esmeralda granite and rose tones of natural cherry cabinets.  It WILL look dated - roughly 1910 ish, but softer, lighter.

Pat L. on Jun 18, 2013:

Nope.  Not passe'.  I will always have a white kitchen in my houses, no matter how many I buy.  Always have and always will.  There are infinite ways to make a kitchen look 'not stark' white.  I'm a fan.  White kitchens make me happy.

Mel on Sep 11, 2012:

I think White is becoming a bit passé because all the "modern" design looks have something that was previously old or colored turned white to bring it into the now. Except "now" was the last 5 years! I think it's beautifully to see all these elements become fresh again but if everyone is doing it then it's no longer unique or original so what is the point? As far as white kitchens my friend just had hers done it looks similar to the example in the picture. I think personally thats enough of that lets evolve and move the possibilities are endless!

Mel on Sep 11, 2012:

I think White is becoming a bit passé because all the "modern" design looks have something that was previously old or colored turned white to bring it into the now. Except "now" was the last 5 years! I think it's beautifully to see all these elements become fresh again but if everyone is doing it then it's no longer unique or original so what is the point? As far as white kitchens my friend just had hers done it looks similar to the example in the picture. I think personally thats enough of that lets evolve and move the possibilities are endless!

Barbara on Jul 05, 2012:

Ohhh, Linda, the maple floors, the pulls, the countertop; I think I would love your kitchen. And the contractor problem...sometimes I think they only want to do what is easy for them, not carinfpg if you will be dissatisfied every time you look at it. Barbara

Linda on Jul 05, 2012:

I'm new to your blog and will be returning! I just bought a new home in the Villages of Parkwood.   I currenltly have a small kitchen, but it has white cabinets (w/ a couple being glass to mimic our french doors throughout the house - can you believe I had to argue with the cabinet maker for them??). Our counter is black and our pulls are a nice metallic onyx and I think the light, but warm maple floor keeps it from being too stark. These are elements I love and want the same look again - just much larger w/ granite countertops and the tall, white tile backsplash!

barbara.munic on Jul 02, 2012:

I love white rooms:  just not stark white.  And, texture and contrast are musts.  I think counters or islands done in other colors or materials go a long way to calming the glare.  I love Melanie's idea of the white room as a blank palatte for switching out colors as the inspiration strikes.  If you just add some creative lighting, (which is what I consider the most important part of any redo) and plumbing fixtures with a warm finish, the with kitchen can look warm.  Contrasty, textured, layered with new and aged elements and good lighting.  Barbara @TwistGuild.gmail

Stephanie on Jul 02, 2012:

I actually really love white kitchens.  As long as they have a few hints of color, like in a rug or some sort of curtain or appliance.  I can see why people consider them to look too sterile, but I actually like the idea of preparing food in an incredibly clean area.  Yes, you have to keep it clean, but it's a kitchen... so really that should be routine anyway.  I have a white kitchen and I love it.  I to think of it like a blank canvas that I can rotate hints of color in and out.

DesigningMom on Jul 02, 2012:

I recently realized part of the reason I don't care for all white kitchens or any room in a home and it's not just because I love color. They're too blinding. My eyes are very light sensitive and walking into or viewing a white room online, is like when I take off my sleep mask on a sunny morning. It's shockingly bright and I have to close my eyes because it actually hurts my eyes. Basically they are uncomfortable for me to look at. It's as simple as that.

Whether they are in or out has nothing to do with it. And I agree to some extent that they'll never be completely out if they are in the right style home.

Brittany on Jul 01, 2012:

White kitchens are NOT that hard to clean if you clean the cabinet doors and backsplash every two or three week (like you should be doing anyway). That worked for my parent's white-on-white kitchen, and they had five kids!

My biggest beef with white kitchen makeovers is that the owners usually just paint everything white and call it a redo. How boring is that?

Shana on Jul 01, 2012:

Personally, I do not prefer the all white, as I find it seems to lack warmth. I also agree that they show stains and blemishes easier. But, really one of the reasons I get bored seeing all the makeovers with white is because it seems like it's the thing you see over and over. Some people do it because they really like the white, but sometimes it feels like people do the white because it's the easy thing to do (mainly thinking of painted cabinets).

I'd like to more creativity, something different - a mix of makeovers, different painting techniques, etc. I get tired of seeing yet another low cost makeover where someone paints their cabinets and Oh! Suprise - they're white! I remember on one DIY TV program, I saw them paint the cabinets a dark red, which both myself and the homeowner thought was iffy - until they added some kind of stain or paint of some kind over it to age it a little - it was an unusual makeover technique, but it looked really good! It was unique and different and definitely not white. I would also imagine that technique would cover up that "painted look" many cabinets would have if they were painted white. It would just be nice to see a little more variety of techniques for low cost makeovers for those of us who aren't big fans of the white kitchen. I'd also love to see some articles over how to make better use of the cabinet space you already have (reviews of those cabinet organizing inserts)? That's my two cents! And here, I was starting to think I was alone with my lack of enthusiasm for white kitchens..... :)

KeLLy aNN on Jun 30, 2012:

I prefer White in the bathroom, with decorative Black tiles.

Bright Arse Sunshine Tie a Yellow Ribbon color is the way to go in My kitchen, natural wood, and a combination of White and Clear dishes and bakeware.

charmander on Jun 29, 2012:

I think white kitchens look good in magazines - BUT - I wouldn't want to spend much time in one, just like I wouldn't want to spend much time in a completely white room.

It's a very sterile environment. And kitchens shouldn't be sterile - they are usually the "heart" of the house.  

Shawna on Jun 29, 2012:

Familiarity breeds contempt.  I think white kitchens will always be classic and always have fans.  I like some of them but could not live with one.  I need colour.  But I always admire kitchens like the ones in the top photo.

Melanie on Jun 29, 2012:

Do I care if it's on or off trend in the first place? No. I care about what I personally like.

White alone does not make a kitchen look sterile to me. It's a combination of the lines, textures, style, and color. Some white kitchens look warm and inviting; others look sterile. It's about way more than just the color. There's a lot of white in my kitchen (white tile wainscotting circa 1950 all the way around the room, w/ a black tile trim; white tile countertops w/ black tile trim; white cabinets), and I don't find it difficult to keep looking clean at all. Spills and stains are easily removed, and dust shows MUCH worse on the black tile than the white.


Keter on Jun 29, 2012:

I have never liked white kitchens.  They photograph beautifully, but white stains and yellows from UV and oxidation over time.  It makes no sense to put white in a room where stains and bright light and chemicals are constants.  They show every spot and would drive me bonkers.  I have had to live with white countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms of my house for over a decade and hate them - I will consider it a major victory when I get to the point where I can rip them out.  No amount of cleaning will remove 20 years of indelible stains, and every weekend there is the routine of putting down rags and drenching them with lime remover and letting it sit for an hour to bleach out the stains that have accumulated from normal use over the week.  I have a big pile of scrap granite (salvaged from where some granite company dumped their trimmings on another person's lot) that I will piece together with Ikea butcherblock countertop and epoxy resin to create my new countertops.  It will be unique, organic, stain-resistant and NOT WHITE.

E on Jun 29, 2012:

See, when I have a house I can decorate properly [darn rentals] I have a feeling I'll be using a lot of white/off white/beige/greige etc... because I like the idea of being able to change up the feeling of the room by changing the furniture and accessories, etc. If you've ever seen Young House Love's kitchen, I loooooove stuff like that.

Nicole on Jun 29, 2012:

I think mixed finishes are coming back in to fashion.  Metals, wood, glass, and of course stone and tile are being incorporated more and more.  The sterile feeling is definately starting to get to some people.  I personally love the mix of color, white marbles, metal and walnut.  When we redo our kitchen, it will be along those lines.

On the other hand, I don't think white will ever really go out of style, since they even used it in butler's pantries.

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