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Does Your All-White Kitchen Feel Bland? This May Be the Missing Ingredient

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Your all-white kitchen may need a little flavoring, a dash of spice.

Many people have — and love — an all-white kitchen. “All white-kitchens with stainless steel appliances became all the rage about five years ago and are still the way to go,” says Wendy Alper, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s Realty Rye office. “It’s most consistent in popularity over time and keeps on coming back because it’s a neutral background and not too personal, so everyone can see themselves living with one.”

But what do you do to make your all-white kitchen a stand out? Like a tasty dish that is missing something, the white kitchen may need a little flavoring, a dash of spice. One simple solution is to add punches of color in relatively inexpensive ways that can be easily undone.

Photo courtesy of Annie Selke Companies

Think of the white kitchen as the little black dress or jeans and a white tee of the home. If it has good bones — quality wood cabinetry and high-end finishes and not, say, Formica — it won’t go out of style easily. And like a workhorse piece in your wardrobe, it can be dressed up or down; it’s all in the accessories. Just about any color pairs well with white — so choose one used throughout the rest of your house or something new that appeals to you, like a sunny yellow or fresh orange.

This contemporary kitchen was designed by architect Eva Bouhassira from Hastings on Hudson NY, with Tom Vecchio, Senior Designer at Bilotta Kitchens | Photo by Peter Krupenye

For the last five years, blue has been a popular kitchen accent color, says designer Lyn Peterson of Mamaroneck. And now? “Early adopters are going with a fashion-forward emerald green,” she says. “It’s having a huge moment.” Hint: Plants make it easy to go green in the kitchen.

Want to just dip your toes into the accent color trend? Peterson suggests painting just the wood base of your island a soft color like a pinkish gray. It certainly costs less than painting all of your cabinets while still making a powerful impact. “It’s a trend with legs,” Peterson promises.

Hue Hacks

A little color can go a long way toward warming up the heart of the home. Try these easy ways to add contrast to an all-white kitchen.

• Accessories like wall art, flowering plants, colored glassware, pottery, chair pads, window treatments, kitchen textiles (check out Marimekko), etc. lend fun pops of color. Peterson loves the brightly colored striped runners by Dash & Albert — “They’re playful and emphatic” — and those by Surya and Loloi.


Photo courtesy of Crate & Barrel

• Don’t forget something as seemingly simple as hardware, says senior designer Tom Vecchio of Bilotta Kitchens in Westchester and Manhattan. “Knobs can really be the jewel on the cabinet and add both color and texture,” he says.

• Paint or wallpaper an eating alcove, butler’s pantry, or other small area within the larger space with an accent hue, or introduce upholstered stools around an island or benches with upholstered seating in a breakfast nook.


Photo courtesy of Cuisinart

• Bring color to the backsplash behind a sink or range. Colored tile in a relatively small space makes a big impact but is not expensive, and it can be replaced easily. Vecchio not only added a textured periwinkle tile behind the sink in one kitchen, but he also created a two-sided waterfall island top in deep blue “It’s easily replaceable, as it’s literally two sides,” he says.

• Focus on  lighting. Colored fixtures are like dazzling gemstones against all that white. Bilotta Kitchens designer Fabrice Garson has added a pop of cobalt blue in whimsical light fixtures above an island in an otherwise all-white kitchen.


Photo courtesy of Dualit

• Use ancillary appliances to inject fun hues. Keep all major appliances white and stainless steel, but have fun with the new colors now increasingly offered by everyday brands for smaller ones. Peterson loves the pink Dualit toaster, the robin’s-egg blue toaster by Magic Chef, the red Cuisinart coffee maker, and the blue KitchenAid blender.