Timeless, Classic and Always Elegant: White Kitchens

intuitive decor May 07, 2020

As an Intuitive Interior Decorator, I talk about trends for interior decor, current ones and future trends too! It's fun and exciting to talk about new color palettes and decor that will change the energy of your home.

But... it's also important to talk about grounding, the stabilizing energy that creates the foundation of the home. In our homes, some things should be built to last, to keep consistency in the home and make it functional. These things should be designed to work hard, handle a lot of pressure and be functional. If we can create this in the home, we are off to a great start and if we can build it where it is not just functional, but also aesthetically pleasing, then we've hit a home run!

The two rooms that need to stand up well to heavy usage are bathrooms and the kitchen.  The two room that show their age the quickest are, you guessed it, the bathroom and the kitchen!

Want to guess the age of a home? Check out the tile choice in the bathroom, is it pink or what I'll call mid century green?  Dated brass on the glass doors and corner tubs introduce the 80s, and granite brings us into the year 2000.

It's the same with kitchens, from linoleum floors and bright colors of the 50s and 60s, to the knotty pine wood cabinets of the 70s, kitchens moved from classic to a rainbow of colors in the cabinets, floors, wallpaper, formica countertops, and even appliance choices.

In the 80s, while this decade feels modern and excessive, kitchens returned back to a classic white style with a focus on task lighting and clean spaces with white cabinets and countertops.  You can spot an 80s kitchen in a home today as the cabinets have a smooth laminate look and many didn't have pulls, but rather indentations in the cabinet doors to open then. Many 80's kitchens also hid the fluorescent lighting behind complex ceiling panels.

Kitchens have continued to evolve with better features over time, but if you want to see the age of the kitchen, look at the cabinets, (both colors and style) and the tile used for the floor and backsplash.  Kitchens from the 90s have the lighter oak and then later into the year 2000, we see the dark wood cabinets become a trend for kitchens. The dark wood cabinets are probably my least favorite style for a kitchen. I love dark wood, when used in the right space, a library or a formal room, but in the kitchen, unless you have a wall of windows and spectacular lighting, dark wood cabinets, just make the kitchen feel dark and that's just not the mood you want in a kitchen, nor is it useful.

When I speak to clients about changing their kitchen cabinets from dark wood, I always recommend going to white cabinets. Some home owners argue with me about this point, saying they like the dark wood because it hides the mess in their kitchen. They explain about spaghetti spatters and oils and that the dark wood hides these splatters. My response is always the same.... which is, Don't you want to have a clean kitchen? Wouldn't you like to see where oil and sauce are on your cabinets so you can clean them properly? Why would you want to keep this potentially unsanitary and pest enticing food source on your cabinets?

I then go on to explain how dark wood absorbs the light in the room and makes it more challenging to see what you are cooking and see around the kitchen in general. If there's any space where you want to see everything, it should be the kitchen.  Look at commercial kitchens for example, you'll see that they are brightly lit and usually white.

Finally I explain, if you are spending the money to upgrade your kitchen, wouldn't you like to choose a color that won't look dated in ten years time, which is about the time period that it takes for trends to change.  White kitchens stand the test of time against all colors for longevity and classic appeal.

Let's look at a kitchen cabinet makeover I did here to show the difference. 

In this kitchen, the cabinets were only a couple of years old. The previous homeowners liked wood color cabinets and picked a wood look that was very orange. Even though they had spent a lot of money on these custom cabinets, the orange color of the wood immediately dated the kitchen and made it look ten years older than it was.  As well, their choice of granite further contributed to the cabinets looking orange and it made the granite look spottier and dirty.

 The previous owners spent a lot of money on this kitchen, only to have everything now glow orange in the room, including the granite countertops.

The easiest and least expensive way to update this kitchen was to change the cabinet color. It was decided that changing the granite countertops as well would be wasteful as they were of a very good quality and went up the wall to include the backsplash. The cabinets themselves had a beautiful design and so I had a company remove the cabinet doors and take them to their warehouse where they dipped them in a hardcoat paint. The company also sent their painters out to the home to paint the surfaces of the cabinets while the cabinet doors were drying in their warehouse.

Here's a photo of the change.

The white cabinets brighten the kitchen and make it inviting, light and contemporary.  Now the only hint that this upgrade was done a few years back are the granite countertops, which are now going out of style and being replaced by Quartz countertops.

If you're looking to update your kitchen, here are my recommendations:

1. Go with a classic white cabinet in the kitchen. If you want to add color and interest, use decorative pulls on the cabinets.

2. Subway tiles are still timeless and elegant as a kitchen backsplash. Had the kitchen shown here not had the granite continuing up the back wall as a backsplash, I would have used white subway tile here to create a timeless and elegant look for this room.  It's classic and if you want to put your unique style on subway tile, just change the pattern direction, go vertical, or basket weave or tilt at an angle.  Some designs are changing up subway tile by using a darker grout with the white tile, but I'm not a fan of that choice. The darker grout will soon be another trend that has come and gone and again you've lost that timeless appeal, instead it becomes remember back in 2019 when dark grout colors were used against tile.   Besides that, do you really want GROUT to be the first thing the eye is drawn to when people enter your kitchen? Kitchen renovations are expensive and the look should feel warm, welcoming and flowing, not hmmm, look at that grout color.  The eye is drawn to pattern and dark grout draws the attention to the subway tile. The feel should be blended and cohesive, not jarring, so I recommend going with a grout that matches the color of the white tile.  A bold grout choice also limits the colors you can use to add decor to the kitchen, especially on the countertops, while a classic white tile can be a wonderful backdrop to a myriad of color choices for decor.

3. Lighting is everything in the kitchen, so make it the number one decision in your overall plan. Really, lighting is everything in every room, it makes or breaks the mood in each room.

4. Quartz is the new trend for countertops and granite is going out. Granite required more care, including sealing and polishing. Quartz does not and it's more impact resistance, though you still have to be careful not to place hot items directly on it.  Butcher block is still a trend for people who are holding on to the rustic look, but that trend is fading soon as well as the Industrial Concrete countertop, that created a minimalist vibe, but is not warm and welcoming, which many people want to recreate in their kitchens now.  Some people are returning to Laminate for easy care, as it's budget friendly and available in many colors and patterns.  Marble is a luxurious look, but isn't a workhorse in the kitchen as it's very prone to scratching, so perhaps better used in other parts of the home.

5. New Trend Alert: Black kitchen cabinets are a new trend. If you've read this far, you know I'm not a fan of this trend, back to the dark wood reference not helping with cleanliness or task lighting. I could tell you the story about the homeowners who didn't see the ant problem in their kitchen, as the ants blended in with the dark wood cabinets and countertops. It was only when one of the homeowners was resting her arms on the countertops and the ants crawled onto her arms that they realized the extent of the problem. Unless you have a very large kitchen that has an entire wall of windows and fantastic lighting sources in every part of your kitchen, you're going to find that this trend closes in your kitchen, darkens it and makes it feel heavy.  I'm all for the classic black and white look, consider a bold black and white wallpaper in the kitchen to offset the kitchen cabinets or a black and white patterned or checkered tile floor.

Here's an Example. This is a kitchen I designed back in 2009 with white cabinets, white countertops and a black and white checkered floor. I also used lots of black accents, decor on the countertops, black plant stand and a black iron table in the eat in kitchen.

In another year, this look is going to be right on trend and this kitchen will look even more on trend than it did over a decade ago. That's classic, timeless appeal! 

The picture quality is fuzzy as I didn't even have a great phone back then to take photos, but you get the idea.  Notice my use of a big clock, like the clocks that are on trend now a decade later, as well as the fruit display and colors. 

As an Intuitive Interior Decorator, this is part of what I see intuitively, future trends and how to create them now so not only are you stylish now, but you will continue to be for the years to come!

I know, I'm the girl who loves color, but to fully enjoy the energy of color, we also need a firm foundation that is grounded and stable so that the energy can flow around the home.  This is pretty much true of everything in life, not just our homes.

Want to redesign your life and your home from the inside out?  Contact me for an Intuitive Interior Decor session.


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