Home décor is always changing. And, often, that’s a good thing! After all, you wouldn’t want that shiny metallic wallpaper from the 70s on your kitchen walls these days or that orange shag carpet on your floors. Bet you would cringe at avocado-colored appliances, too!
Some trends come and then disappear. Thank goodness! But some trends come and stick around while others arrive, disappear, and then come back. White cabinets are one of those trends that were popular decades ago and then arrived on the scene again…but with a definite update.
White cabinets of yesterday
White cabinets, you might remember if you’re old enough, were hugely popular in the 50s and 60s. At that time, they were usually made of metal. Often, they’d be accompanied by wallpaper with kitchen prints (remember that paper with pots and pans and aprons printed on it?) and by a Formica-topped kitchen table, probably with red chairs. We still see that style in 50s-inspired restaurants and diners.
Go back even further and you’ll find that – in the 20s and 30s – white was the only color cabinet made by most manufacturers. The theory is that it signified health and sanitation, and because the world had just gone through a horrendous war and a worldwide flu epidemic that killed hundreds of thousands, that symbolization was important.
And though white cabinets largely disappeared in the last few decades of the 20th century and were considered passé, when they returned about 20 years ago, it seemed they were destined to stay.
Why are white cabinets timeless?
Though times have changed, as have kitchen designs, white cabinets seem to have withstood the test of time. There are countless reasons why homeowners choose white and the trend extends to kitchens at all price levels and sizes, too. White cabinets continue to top the list of most popular kitchen cabinet colors, says the National Kitchen and Bath Association, referring to its annual survey on décor trends.
- White is the most marketable color – If you’ve been house shopping, you’ve probably been paying a lot of attention to the kitchens. After all, if you need to do a remodel, that can be one of the most expensive projects you’ll undertake. But most people who walk in a house and see a clean, pristine white kitchen don’t cringe. It may not be their cabinet color of choice but, in general, it’s the most agreeable color and the most marketable, say real estate experts. It truly has a universal appeal and, if you’re a potential buyer, it’s easy to imagine that your personal things would go well with a white kitchen since just about anything matches white.
- White can accommodate any style – When shopping for kitchen cabinets, you’ll notice that a variety of styles are available in white. Traditional, rustic, farmhouse chic, contemporary, super modern, and sleek, with raised panel doors, flat panels, handleless – you’ll find all of these styles available in white. That’s because white has become a standard color for just about every manufacturer, so white cabinets are plentiful because the manufacturers know they won’t be stuck with an overabundance of cabinets in that color, given their popularity. They just fly off the shelves!
- White cabinets make small kitchens look big – As the brightest color in the spectrum, white reflects plenty of light, so it tricks the eye into thinking that small kitchens are bigger than they actually are. And if you carefully choose wall colors and other accessories, you’ll make the room look even larger.
- White makes you happy – Sounds silly, huh? But research shows that people feel lighter and more cheerful when surrounded by bright or white hues as opposed to dark woods and other more somber colors. If you have a kitchen with little natural light, which can seem dismal, white cabinets will help make the room look more light and bright as well.
- White cabinets provide you with a blank slate – Literally, you can do anything with a white kitchen! Even if your favorite color is purple, you can make it work with white. Seriously, just about any color or pattern will go with white, so you can let your imagination soar when choosing countertops, floors, lighting fixtures, wall art, and a host of other accessories. And when you need a change, you won’t have to fiddle with the timeless white cabinets. You can just repaint the walls and change the décor and you’ve got a whole new look!
- You can even go with all white! – While most people add at least a little color or texture to their white kitchen, some homeowners love the idea of going with an all-white kitchen. And that’s fine! There are many choices of white countertops and flooring available, and even white appliances are making a comeback. If you like that airy and spacious, clean, and pristine totally white look, go for it! As we said, it’s easy to make changes later when you’ve got white cabinets as the centerpiece of your kitchen.
Mixing other finishes with white cabinets
As we’ve already said, white cabinets are super versatile because you can combine them with just about anything for a look that’s very unique.
A favorite for those looking for perhaps a more country or rustic look is to add some wood finishes in light browns/tan to their white kitchen, usually something still on the neutral side of the color wheel but not white. One popular choice is the butcher block. Traditional butcher block and white are a perfect mix and each complements the other. You don’t need to use butcher block for all your countertops but it would look great on your island. Or you can just purchase a butcher block table if you have an eating area in your kitchen. Wood floors also look great with white cabinets. They take down the shine a little if it seems too bright but it also gives the kitchen a little bit of a rustic look, which is perfect if that’s the design aesthetic you’re going for.
Or how about stainless steel? Many people choose stainless steel appliances for their white kitchen. While you won’t achieve a particularly cozy look with stainless steel, you WILL pull off a more contemporary feel. Also, if you like the idea of adding stainless steel to the mix but don’t want to do stainless steel appliances, simply look for some industrial-looking touches like a steel pot rack, metal pendant lighting, or even a few stainless steel stools around the island.
The glass might also be a good texture to combine with your white cabinets. You’ll still maintain that clean, bright look but you’ll add a spark of interest. If you don’t mind visitors seeing what’s in your cabinets, consider glass doors on some of them, probably just your upper cabinets. To add real interest, make sure that what’s inside those glass-front cabinets has some color. So, maybe consider buying a nice brightly colored set of Fiestaware plates to display or some particularly interesting glassware or bowls.
How about off-white cabinets?
If you’re not totally sold on bright white cabinets for your kitchen remodel project, you might be interested in knowing that “off-white” cabinets are still trendy as well though perhaps not as readily available as white-white.
Off-white tends to have a little bit of a yellow tinge in the color, which means that mixing it with certain other colors might not be desirable, i.e. grey-hued countertops won’t mesh with off-white. But these cabinets look great with orange, yellow, red, blue, green, and most woods and are also available in many styles.
What are the disadvantages of white cabinets?
Most designers say that it’ll be a long time before white cabinets exit the market, so you won’t have to worry about them going out of style anytime soon, leaving you with a kitchen that might be a detriment if you want to sell your house in the next 5 years or so.
The only real drawback is that white cabinets do show dirt and grime more than cabinets of other colors or wood tones. If you’ve got little ones with frequent sticky, dirty fingers, you might find that you’re not ready for white cabinets yet. But that’s okay. Since they’ll still be in style 10 years from now, it won’t be too late to have your dream white kitchen even if you have to wait until they grow up a little!
So, in general, you simply need to be super diligent about keeping your white cabinets clean. Look for tips from your cabinet manufacturer as to the best way to do this and advise on what kind of products to use that will keep your cabinets looking new without ruining the finish.
Need help finding the perfect white cabinets for your kitchen remodeling Coto de caza? Simply call the experts at Mr. Cabinet Care for advice or to schedule a consultation.
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