Bright white kitchen cabinets have become so ubiquitous that they’re on par with subway tile. But if warmth is what you crave, the stark shade might not be your best option. Instead may we suggest its less cool (undertone-wise!) relative? Tinged with hints of gray or yellow, off-white gets a shabby-chic reputation, but don’t let its patina fool you: The shade can look contemporary when paired with the perfect backsplash, countertop, and lighting. Funky metals like copper and super-blond woods are a step in the right direction when it comes to putting an edgy spin on off-white kitchen cabinets, as you’ll see in these spaces.
Incorporate (Subtle) Texture
Fluted cabinetry, like in photographer Thayer Gowdy’s Ojai, California, kitchen, isn’t just chic—it gives an off-white hue some depth for light and shadow to interact with. The look doesn’t have to bust your budget either—designer Hubert Zandberg got the effect with inexpensive MDF and some spray paint.
Coat Every Surface
Faced with designing a windowless basement utility space, London pro Sarah Brown knew she needed to bring in some warmth. The hue Paper 1 by Paint & Paper Library, a creamy off-white, did the trick. “We used it everywhere—on the mixed-width paneling, the lower cabinets, and the taller cupboards—to make the space feel bigger,” she says.
Pare Down to Natural Materials
Wood has a way of making this color look organic. Take Rachel Craven’s kitchen, where the off-white cabinets plays nicely with light butcher block counters. To keep it from feeling too yellow, the open shelves are stocked with a collection of dark wood, woven, and terracotta bowls.
Make Brass the Focal Point
Brass picks up on off-white’s ecru undertones, so embrace it beyond the hardware. In this Jessica Helgerson–designed space, a pendulum-like light over the island instantly modernizes the traditional cupboards and milky subway backsplash.
Lay Down a Graphic Rug
Ornate decor can make off-white feel dated fast, especially if your home has old bones. The Peruvian frazada rug from Intiearth that At Land owner Melissa Lauprete laid down in her space boasts a straightforward yet eye-catching pattern.
Put the “Fun” in “Functional”
There’s nothing bland about Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee when you’ve got a dose of color nearby. Studio McGee opted for a light gray–blue Lacanche range for this remodel. While a splurge, the appliance provides a focal point for the room.
Cool It Off With Copper
Drawing inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche in Paris, Commune Design channeled the outdoors in this Santa Monica home with a color palette made up of cooler tones. In the kitchen that comes in the form of a reflective sheet of copper, which runs up the backsplash and onto the range hood—a handsome addition to the creamy cabinet fronts.
Pepper in Touches of Cobalt
Skewing toward a dusty gray, Sunny Shokrae’s kitchen cabinets could easily read as faded and boring, but the photographer played off its cooler ways by bringing in pops of blue (peep the vases, cookware, and dishes). These small moments give it personality, she says: “The kitchen can be a chaotic place, so feeling zen in it is necessary.”
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