​Too stark? Try these white kitchen ideas

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
AR Design Studio- Abbots Way AR Design Studio Modern kitchen
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Many of us love white kitchens: they’re the epitome of pureness, freshness, and an elegant interior style. However, there is an issue with going very white for the heart of a home: they can become quite sterile-looking, not to mention that a lot of white kitchens can look the same—and who wants a culinary space identical to their neighbour’s?

Don’t get us wrong: we love white marble counters, a subtle white tile backsplash and a pale wooden floor (yes, there certainly are a myriad of white kitchen ideas), but opting for all of these can lead to a lack of visual interest. And if your kitchen (where you not only cook, but also dine, socialise, work, read, etc.) isn’t warm and inviting, then you may not want to spend a lot of time in there.

Don’t forget that the kitchen, like any other room in your home, needs to portray a piece of your personality, hence the visual interest we mentioned.

But before you renovate your white kitchen to turn it into a rainbow-covered space, let’s first look at easier, more subtle white kitchen ideas to give that all-white space some character. Professional kitchen planners swear by these tips. 

But first: what are the pros and cons of a white kitchen?

1. White kitchen ideas: The pros

• In terms of long-term planning, a white kitchen is both timeless and classic. It defies all trends, is versatile and goes with anything. 

• As one of the most popular neutral colours, white works for any kitchen style – from modern to rustic, from contemporary to vintage, etc.  

• A white kitchen looks crisp and clean, plus it’s easy on the eye. 

• Any colour you may want to add – from neutrals, to pastels, to bright hues – will make a big impact and stand out. 

•White is easy to update and accessorise. It provides more options in terms of tiles, appliances and décor with white cabinets than other colours.  

• White is a genius at making a space feel bigger and brighter. By using white on all of your surfaces (cabinet doors, countertops and walls), they will appear to blend or flow into one another with no distinct lines. 

• You can use various shades and textures of white to give your kitchen added character. And as white reflects light, the quality and texture of beautiful finishes (like marble) will stand out more.

2. White kitchen ideas: The cons

Urban Life Old America & Glass Edge Gloss White Urban Myth Built-in kitchens White
Urban Myth

Urban Life Old America & Glass Edge Gloss White

Urban Myth

• Too much white in a kitchen can sometimes make it feel cold and impersonal. You also run the risk of it looking boring and/or unfinished, or of it ‘isolating’ itself from surrounding rooms, especially in open-plan layouts. 

• A white kitchen requires regular maintenance, not to mention how quickly smudges, scratches or splashes from cooking show up on those white surfaces.  

• White finishes and surfaces also show their age. They tend to discolour over time (mainly due to exposure to direct sunlight) and accumulate grease and stains. Prolonged exposure to spills can cause permanent discolouration to worktops, which is why regular maintenance is cleaning is vital. It’s also recommended to seal any grout. 

• Watch out for too much ‘gloss’ on white cabinets – a bit of shine is fine, but if it starts to glare, you’ve gone too far!

3. White kitchen ideas: Get some decorative lighting

The Clapham Classic English Kitchen by deVOL deVOL Kitchens Country style kitchen
deVOL Kitchens

The Clapham Classic English Kitchen by deVOL

deVOL Kitchens

Luckily, there exists various white kitchen ideas that can incorporate elegance, fun and character into the space without eliminating the majority of those white hues (which are, after all, the main reason you opted for a white kitchen in the first place). 

The first is to get some fabulous lighting pieces, like beautiful pendants dangling above the island, or a stunning chandelier right in the middle of the kitchen – yes, chandeliers are most welcome in kitchens (if you have the headspace). 

Some statement lighting pieces (in stainless steel, copper, brass, or colours other than white) immediately draw the eye, yet they don’t overthrow your white kitchen completely.

4. White kitchen ideas: Bring in colourful accessories

Think coloured glass vases and canisters on open shelves, a collection of cookbooks, or even some colourful utensils hanging from hooks. This is the easiest, least permanent way to experiment. 

And don’t forget how much fun we can have with colours and patterns for those island stool cushions or upholstered dining table chairs, not to mention an area rug – place this where you tend to stand for very long (like in front of the sink) for some added softness and comfort. 

homify hint: Add one big, colourful backsplash. There’s nothing better than an all-white backdrop to highlight a vivacious backsplash.

5. White kitchen ideas: Look to your windows

Painted Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones Harvey Jones Kitchens Modern kitchen
Harvey Jones Kitchens

Painted Shaker kitchen by Harvey Jones

Harvey Jones Kitchens

Speaking of colourful fabrics, don’t overlook the ones hanging in front of your kitchen windows. Different types will allow you to control how much of the colour shows. You can pull Roman shades up or down depending on how much colour and pattern you want to invite in. 

For a space that visually flows, opt for same-hue colours for your window treatment and stool chairs (like crimson and cherry red). For a more striking touch-up, choose contrasting colours (such as sky blue and honey orange).

6. White kitchen ideas: Look at other materials

Laura Ashley Range Hehku Country style kitchen

Laura Ashley Range


For white kitchen ideas, we love the idea of pairing up those pale hues with natural tones, from wood to stone and concrete. Think about how dark-wood flooring or wooden stools around a breakfast nook will add a touch of warmth to your white kitchen. 

And don’t overlook stainless steel, a very popular add-on for modern, white kitchens. The shine of stainless steel appliances will break up the white-on-white scheme. 

And no one is stopping you from swopping out that white fridge for a brick-red one (how retro!) or adding in a midnight-blue stove.

7. White kitchen ideas: Add some greenery

AR Design Studio- Abbots Way AR Design Studio Modern kitchen
AR Design Studio

AR Design Studio- Abbots Way

AR Design Studio

Mother Nature is always welcome in a home, even in a space where one cooks and bakes. How about a vase with colourful flowers on that countertop? Or a few tiny potters with fresh foliage decorating your windowsill?

8. White kitchen ideas: Art is important

MR & MRS BLANK'S KITCHEN Diane Berry Kitchens Modern kitchen
Diane Berry Kitchens


Diane Berry Kitchens

Kitchens deserve art, too. But as very few kitchens present adequate wall space for a beautiful piece or two, our cooking spaces are neglected in terms of wall art. But there are other places to bring it in – the counter and even inside the cabinets, if it’s small.

We love the idea of putting a colourful art piece behind a collection of clear glasses, either on an open shelf or in a glass-door cabinet – quite the fun and unexpected spot! 

And speaking of adding some character and colour, let’s discover The best kitchen tiles for your backsplash.

What other white kitchen ideas can you think of to add fun and character to an all-white space?

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