The number-one thing that separates sterile white kitchen cabinets from supreme white kitchen cabinets? Attention to detail. Millwork and hardware are crucial elements, of course, but it’s the paint color that can really make or break the look. Not unlike blues, greens, and blacks, there’s a whole spectrum of whites out there, ranging from warmer yellow tones to cooler shades with hints of griege.
The question of which is the best white is an age-old debate, mainly because a hue can look one way in a room with tons of natural light and another in a space with fewer windows. On a mission to narrow down our seemingly infinite options, we pinpointed our favorite white kitchens and asked the designers behind each of the spaces to reveal the shade they used. The seven winners:
Kevin Greenberg, founding principal at design studio Space Exploration, prioritizes contrast, even if the juxtaposition is barely noticeable. He opted for Benjamin Moore’s classic Decorator’s White in a flat finish for the walls of this New York City loft, then offset the lower cabinets in this darker gray-beige. His secret to making a streamlined kitchen feel considered: “Don’t forget the little things, like the finish and location of your outlets, or appliances that are as handsome as they are functional.”
If Shannon Wilkins is ever between two paint colors, the tiebreaker is always white. Her logic: It sets the stage for cohesion. In this A-frame cabin in Big Bear Lake, California, for instance, the designer coordinated the airy hue she used on the cabinets with the walls and the floors.
A few pros we talked to consider this timeless swatch their go-to, including Ashley Clark of Shop Skout, who used it in her own Newport Beach, California, kitchen. “It’s a tiny bit warm, without any yellow,” she shares. When Mandy Cheng covered the cabinets in this Manhattan Beach retreat, she contrasted it with the brand’s moody charcoal color, Soot, on the island.
If you’re still wondering why everyone and their mother love a white kitchen, travel photographer and designer Kara Rosenlund sums it up simply: “It bounces so much light around, allowing the space to feel larger, but it also brightens your mood.” Her space is the definition of uplifting, with a large cutting board hanging on the wall and vintage paintings casually leaning on the counter.
This hue might be a part of the company’s Classics Collection, but Liz Hoekzema took a very contemporary approach in this Grand Rapids, Michigan, home by pairing it with a soft shade of millennial pink.
As far as off-whites go, this creamy option reigns supreme. Shea McGee used the warm color on the cabinets and the walls in this space, opting for equally airy bleached white oak for the kitchen door and island base.
Holli Rodrigues was torn between this swatch and the brand’s Simply White when she was designing this European-inspired kitchen. The determining factor? This one offered balance; it’s not too stark, not too warm. No wonder she calls it the “perfect bright white.”
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