Today, the white kitchen — often amusingly referred to as “the one true kitchen” — has been copied to death. Apart from light fixtures or other details, it’s often difficult to tell white kitchens from one another. In concept, they are very lovely but the look has become formulaic. The all-white kitchen [top] is typical of the genre as it has milk-color Shaker style cabinets with Victorian brackets and feet, and upper cabinets with glass doors. Another hallmark is the white subway tile backsplash that blends in.
Here’s one that looks very similar. (There are many more). It, too, has a standard-issue stainless steel ‘pro” style range with an awning hood above. Those who don’t mind maintenance opt for Carrara or calacatta d’oro marble counters, especially on the island. That’s where stools are placed for seating with cargo pendant lights overhead. But all these elements define a trendy kitchen — ca. 2010. That’s when I wrote my All White Kitchens — Trend Over post, outlining ways to update the look. Here are more ideas to bring things up to date.
Muted Range Color. Previously, I suggested red or another bold range color. But a soft color, like this powder blue Falcon range (a UK brand that’s part of the Aga group), shows well in a white kitchen without dominating. A muted, or soft color, in almost any hue will look somewhat neutral.
Do Something Different with the Island. I’m not fond of huge, blocky “barrier” islands that are only useful from one side. Instead, my preference is a workbench island, open all around, with a handy pot shelf below. The red Grazzi Kitchen Island from John Boos has a cherry top. The bright color is also a statement-maker.
Use An Antique Piece to Add Character. A Canadian couple, who built this all white kitchen in their Vancouver, B.C. Craftsman home, chose an antique workbench instead of a built-in island. The irregularity of the top plus the patina of age warm up the kitchen and give it a sense of history as well. The industrial-style stools from Wisteria are a nice choice that helps preserve the casual look.
Color Band the Base Cabinets. Introducing a neutral color on all the base (lower) cabinets creates a horizon line in a kitchen. Yes, it creates a two-tone kitchen instead of an all white one. But it preserves the all white look on top while the secondary color adds sophistication since since all the color is below the sight line.
Use Color on the Island. With a medium-dark hue on the base of this island and medium-dark metal pendant lights above, the focus is drawn to the center of the kitchen which makes the island more inviting. Even a hue as neutral as blue-gray adds individuality and makes the kitchen memorable.
Call Attention to the Floor. A kitchen floor can function like a carpet in a room when color, pattern or texture is introduced. In this South Carolina guest house kitchen, designer Melissa Ervin painted the floor in the bright color of a golf-course lawn. That cranks up the personality. Stop and think: would this look as charming if the floor were plain wood? In the Blue Floor Kitchen, a robin’s egg epoxy paint was used with equally stunning effect.
Consider a Patterned Tile Floor. Bistro floors sometimes have borders and always have an eye-catching repeated pattern. One drawback to ceramic tile is that it can become slippery when wet. A notable exception is a bistro tile floor because it’s composed of small hexagonal tiles. Since tiles like these are 1-inch diameter, they have a good deal of traction in addition to great style. I love this floor.
Carpet with Vinyl or Linoleum Tile. This is not your mother’s vinyl. Inlay Floors, in Los Angeles, designed this high-end, three-color optical pattern using Congoleum Vinyl Composition tile for the home of a West coast art dealer. It’s a knockout that functions like a wall-to-wall kitchen carpet.
Use Patterned Tile on the Backsplash. Patterned tile, in a sunny gold and orange colorway, adds warmth and personality to a kitchen in Spain without making it look too Mediterranean — how ironic!
Tile an Entire Wall for Texture. The New York home of First Dibs founder Michael Bruno is an all-white kitchen with a large Wolf range. While white subway tile was chosen, but instead of being confined to the backsplash it covers the entire range wall and niche — floor to ceiling. Ventilation for the stove is concealed in the wall and the niche is finished with a marble lintel. This is as unusual as it is stately. Bruno found the contemporary table in an Antwerp warehouse and uses it in place of an island.
(Source: Robert Stiles Architecture, Papyrus Home Design, pinterest, better homes & gardens, Melissa Ervin, Design Sponge at Home, Inlay Floors, El Meuble, Wall St. Journal)
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