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Bright white cabinetry in the kitchen has become so ubiquitous that it’s on par with the ever-present subway tile. But if warmth is what you crave, a stark shade might not be your best bet. Instead may we suggest its less cool (undertone-wise!) relative? Off-white has a shabby-chic reputation, but it can skew more modern when paired with the perfect backsplash, countertop, or lighting. Funky metals like copper and superblond 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.

Mix and Match

Mallory Fletchall of Reserve Home didn’t want her kitchen to look like, as she says, “a white modern box,” so she opted for a softer shade of white in her Brooklyn apartment to coordinate with her vintage-style fridge. The cream-colored kitchen was brought together by pairing IKEA Sektion frames with semi-custom fronts from Nieu to infuse more personality and coziness into the area.

Think Beyond Paint

Although a fresh coat could have easily covered the glossy cupboards that designer Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein couldn’t stand, wrapping them in off-white vinyl turned out to be more affordable. And with the addition of oversize wood knobs, a peachy backsplash, and scalloped shelves, the builder-grade surfaces earned a more on-trend look.  

Play With Patterns

Sara Charlesworth, a content creator in Salt Lake City, gave her husband’s dated childhood home a remix with eggshell-colored walls and cabinetry separated by marble. On the hardwood floors, the hue makes another appearance, partnered with burgundy for a checkerboard paint job that brings it all together.

Incorporate (Subtle) Texture

Photography and Design by Thayer Gowdy

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

Photography by Chris Snook

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 play 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 

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

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.”

In the market for white paint? Browse these Domino-approved faves:
Best white paint colors

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