White kitchens will always be best sellers, won’t ever date, and the choice of white cabinetry provides a crisp, smart look for your new modern kitchen.
More expert advice: The best white paint – how to choose the right shade for your walls
Choosing a white kitchen could be the best decision you’ll ever make, kitchen-wise. White cabinetry is always a best-seller, and although white is sometimes considered to be a safe option where wall colour (or lack of it) is concerned, white cabinetry is a stylish and fashion-forward option.
For those who are maybe a little dubious about bright colours and exotic timbers, white kitchens can be accessorised with a host of colours, finishes and textures – check out our pick of the best kitchen tile decals. The usual design rules apply though, particularly where white is concerned. It’s generally acknowledged that a totally white colour scheme can look clinical, reminding us of an operating theatre rather than a warm, welcoming room that is the ‘heart of the home’.
Incorporate contrasting finishes, such as natural stone or hardwood flooring, which also have textural qualities to make glossy or matt white cabinetry all the more striking when sitting alongside. Many designers suggest timber, or timber-effect carcases, with just doors and door fronts in white, which is a very good compromise if you’re wary of a totally white scheme. Add colour with paint – choose from muted, subtle shades of grey, mauve and green for a white kitchen in a period home, or go for zingy orange, mustard and lime for a very contemporary look.
Stone is a beautiful option. Use it subtly to create an organic look and it will benefit from being at the centre of an all-white scheme. It’s an elegant and stunning choice for a kitchen. Look for distinct patterns and variations in tone for an entirely unique splashback or worktop. Stone is not cheap but, with its tactile charm, it’s a luxury investment that will stand the test of time.
Choose worktops in a glossy white finish for a look that’s totally on trend, but that will stand the test of time. A trio of pendants hanging above the island make a cool feature that helps to separate the kitchen from the dining area in this open-plan space. Three breakfast-bar stools mirror the number of pendants, too, keeping the look perfectly symmetrical, as well as perfectly matched colourwise.
Think about handleless cabinetry so surfaces are absolutely free of adornment, creating a bold and minimalist look. This elegantly simple design is enhanced with a white-on-white colour scheme. Plan wall and floor units in regimented banks for super-organised storage. Make the most of recessed LED lights for cupboards and shelving. Install them on the wall beneath the cabinetry, under the units themselves or even inside so finding ingredients is easy.
Make the most of a kitchen that opens directly out onto the garden with a table that is positioned in the perfect spot to take advantage of the vista. A neutral scheme works really well in a setting like this, as colour comes from the outdoors. Having said that, a combination of white and wood finishes, and a mix of seating styles create an eclectic look.
DWS chair from The Conran Shop
Use storage to its maximum capacity with ceiling-to-floor units and built-in appliances that will keep surfaces clear. Handle-free cabinets evokes a streamlined and clutter-free feel and the same material on all surfaces to increases the feeling of space. Design a modern white kitchen well so it will benefit from heaps of natural light.
Make the most of a big room with a huge island that’s packed with helpful storage. As well as spotlights, this kitchen has industrial-style pendants suspended on long cables. In a room with such a high ceiling, an all-white scheme could feel empty and stark, but the low-hung pendants break up the wide gap between the island unit and ceiling. Grey picture frames and a grey cupboard serve a similar purpose and add interest at the same time.
For a timeless look in the kitchen, go white country. Try to stick to white for everything – from accessories such as ceramics to fittings – and the room can still feel warm and welcoming as long as you include delicate details like fresh foliage, whitewashed floorboards and stainless-steel handles. A lovely look that proves that white doesn’t have to be modern.
Similar kitchen sink
Choose a large Belfast sink that slots sleekly underneath the worktop for traditional country style that will also give you plenty of space to wash dishes. A white kitchen benefits greatly from colourful accessories that add pops of colour. An open shelf painted white to go with your scheme will provide space for displaying pretty pots and those bits and bobs that deserve to be seen.
Make a feature of an engineered oak floor in an expansive room. In the kitchen area, different hardwearing flooring has been used. This is an effective trick for creating separate zones in an open-plan space. Meanwhile, wooden accents appear throughout, as the perfect complement to the flooring, and pastel-coloured pendants add a sense of fun to a grown-up scheme.
Olive and the Fox
Take advantage of a long space by filling it with a huge island unit that runs almost the entire length of the room. This kitchen could have been broken up into separate food preparation and dining areas, but the long lines of the layout are what make it striking and impressive. Dark-coloured units, a cool pendant and skylights flowing the length of the room also add to the grand appearance.
Consider how much natural daylight will flood into your kitchen when planning. Skylights in the ceiling of an extended space will make a room feel really airy and bright, while white walls and fittings will help to bounce light around. However, not everything needs to be white and there’s plenty of scope to add the odd colourful accessory.
The Conran Shop
Inject some personality into a white kitchen with just a couple of accent pieces in a bright colour. The yellow works really well here and warms up the look, but white is so versatile that any bold shade would, whether it’s a bright blue or a vibrant red. Stick to key items, so the look isn’t over the top.
Jazz up a white kitchen with monochrome accents, such as a black worktop and cookerhood. Here, the cowhide stools take centre stage, with their mix of black and white. What’s great is that there is natural variation in the seats that makes things more interesting than if each seat was identical. Choose a wooden floor to keep the look warm.
Similar bar stool
Rockett St George
Turn an ordinary white kitchen into something special with a magnificent marble splashback that will give your space standout style. This splashback is not only beautiful, but also practical, as it has been cleverly designed to seamlessly incorporate a narrow shelf that is used to display plates in pastel shades. It’s a great way to add colour above a splashback and brighten up a plain white wall.
Hang an eye-catching wallpaper and take a clinical-looking kitchen from drab to fab in an instant. If you’re considering choosing a striking design, keep the rest of the room scheme fairly pared back. Go for painted cabinetry in a chalky white palette and pale engineered stone worktops to keep it sleek and stylish. Choose white floating shelves to display transparent accessories so as not to distract from the star of the show.
Who said white kitchens aren’t practical for family life? This glistening space is designed to be multifunctional. Turn your island unit into a workhorse with full-functional appliances, pull-out storage and filtered water taps. Keep the space flexible with a table you can reposition – this one slides along the back wall. Make lighting a priority and incorporate a row of transparent pendants for task lighting over dining or working areas.
Design a streamlined kitchen by using materials in a continuous manner. A little decorative detail, such as the metallic copper finish on the inside of a pair of pendant lights, creates a white kitchen oozing with personality. If you can, break up a solid run of white by introducing visual texture and an element of light and shade with a richly veined marble-style worktop and splashback.
Not On The High Street
Make a conscious decision about what to display in your kitchen. Go for a combination of white floating shelves, mantel and units that will provide the perfect backdrop for showcasing accessories. White cabinetry is the clever choice for those who want a room that radiates style without dating quickly. Use it as a base on which to build and accessorise your own unique scheme.
Enhance the beauty of white by pairing it with natural colours, from wood to stone. Use natural look timber and stone flooring (whether it’s real, laminate or replica vinyl or ceramics) to create a warming counterpoint to shiny white cabinets. When thinking about accessories, opt for a more modern approach with a pale palette of chalky pastels to complement the darker floor.
Opting for white walls, worksurfaces and floors often looks ultra-cool, but you might find it’s too clinical. If in doubt, replace at least one feature with colour. White is the perfect backdrop for stronger accent colours or tones. Try vibrant orange banquette seating along one wall to create a zesty, citrus stripe. Here, sleek handleless cabinetry, finished in a deep grey hi-gloss lacquer, looks impressive.
For a timeless look in the kitchen, opt for simple painted cabinetry and kitchen island finished in a subtle white. Here, a display of pretty ceramic vases and an elegant chandelier completes the smart scheme.
Bespoke furniture by Mowlem & Co
Curved worktops and patterned tiles are a good way to soften the sharpness of an all-white kitchen and add interest to the scheme. Here, a wall of black and white mosaic tiles adds character without the need for colour.
Arka by Maistri at Cococucine
Create a shabby chic, vintage feel in a modern white kitchen with distressed painted floor boards, open brickwork and eclectic accessories.
Linear units by Harvey Jones
Add single-colour or colour-change LEDs to plinths, glazed units or open shelves, to create a sense of drama in a white kitchen. Here, rectangular units of varying heights and a statement stainless-steel extractor hood combine to create a structured, contemporary look.
Ibsen collection by Wren Kitchens
Pay homage to your building’s roots by making the most of original features. This white kitchen contrasts a plaster finish with whitewashed brick for an injection of industrial chic.
White units are the biggest selling ‘colour’ in the kitchen market. White schemes are easiest to tweak at a later date. This Shaker-style kitchen peninsula has smart cupboard storage and a handy breakfast bar. Modern artwork helps break up the pale scheme.
This open-plan kitchen has a skylight above the workspace and double bi-fold doors across the entire back wall. White walls, worksurfaces and floors can look ultra-cool but, if they feel too clinical, replace one or two elements with colour and texture, such as the oak flooring and furniture shown here.
Dramatise a white kitchen with opulent accessories, such as this crystal pendant light, for a look that oozes personality. Flooring will give a scheme depth and natural-look timber and stone (whether it’s real, laminate or replica vinyls or ceramics) creates a warming counterpoint to shiny white cabinets.
Add reflective insets and plinths to hand-painted cabinetry in an all-white kitchen to give the furniture the appearance of floating.
Macassar cabinetry by Smallbone of Devizes
Rustic timbers instantly add warmth to an all-white kitchen. This modern design sits comfortably within a characterful barn thanks to the strategic placing of the island, which incorporates old and new supporting pillars.
Avant White kitchen
Small can be functional as well as beautiful and, by using white, the most compact of kitchen schemes can gain in space. In this scheme, the sleek, all-white design contrasts with the exposed stone pillar, which adds interest and texture.
Callerton Valencia units in hi-gloss white
In this white scheme, the cook’s table has made a welcome return. It perfectly suits this light scheme, as it’s less heavy than a traditional island, and has an unfitted feel, which keeps the look clean and current.
A breakfast bar is the perfect way to transform a kitchen into a family and entertainment space. An all-white palette allows light to flood into this kitchen, keeping it modern and fresh. Bright bursts of green add personality to this gorgeous scheme.
You might not think that an all-white interior promotes laid-back, casual style, but this distressed, white-washed wood kitchen, with its well-used vintage furniture is ideal for cooking up a lazy Sunday roast. Relaxed dining in here? Yes, please.
The kitchen features freestanding reclaimed furniture – all painted in heritage whites to match the walls, ceiling and floor. Vintage accents complete this look – the pictures are framed tea labels and the fridge is a 50s original.
Far from being a bland option, white cabinetry is the clever choice for those who want a room that radiates style without dating quickly. It’s a great base on which to build and accessorise to create a unique scheme and no white kitchen is like another. Make a conscious decision about what to display in your kitchen. Here, sleek handleless cabinetry is paired with floating shelves to create a stylish display area with plenty of storage space. Practical pan drawers beneath the hob are super efficient.
A horseshoe-shaped island makes a dynamic kitchen station and a feature in its own right. Theatrical chefs will love its open centre point, and it’s practical too, with just a few steps between food prep, cooking and serving areas. Accent colour is injected via the green sofa and quirky accessories, linking the two spaces and adding vibrancy.
Opting for white walls, worksurfaces and floors often looks ultra-cool, but you might find it’s too clinical. If in doubt, replace at least one element with colour. Here, sleek handleless cabinetry, finished in a deep grey hi-gloss lacquer, looks impressive. Freestanding furniture isn’t the preserve of the country kitchen. Here full-height, stand-alone cupboards provide ample storage with clutter hidden behind the sleek oak doors. The low-level peninsula with stainless steel worktops gives a clean look.
Similar kitchen design
Monochrome designs are on-trend, stylish and functional. Flat-fronted, sleek furniture in a monochrome palette emphasises natural textures such as exposed brick. Here, unfitted, open shelving accentuates the height of the room, while one side of the island serves as both a breakfast bar and a work station.
Mix and match finishes and materials to achieve a subtle look. Combining soft, neutral shades with a finely grained timber works well. This contemporary kitchen sits seamlessly in the architecture thanks to the rounded cabinetry in a grey, oak-veneer finish. Well-considered curves help establish the flow of traffic in a space and can also be used to create a more intimate and socialable area, softening hard lines.
Grey is an unusual but distinctive choice for kitchen cabinetry, particularly when paired with white elsewhere in the scheme. Here, a wall of units is used as a room divider, shielding the living space beyond. A long island provides a double-galley layout placing everything within easy reach for the cook, while the soft grey, satin-matt finish suits each living zone.
Feeling inspired by these timeless white kitchens designs? The question is how will you use brilliant white in your own home; will you go all-out for high gloss modern or mix and match painted pieces for a more country feel?