White Cabinets: They Really Do Go With Everything

Although some kitchen designers say that no one's asking for white cabinets, don't tell that to Linda Merrill. The owner of Chameleon Interiors in Duxbury, Mass., Merrill writes a blog with a feature called 'Get That Look,' which examines the interiors seen in movies. One of the first films she featured was "Something's Gotta Give," starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Most of the film was set in the Hamptons house of Keaton's character. "That white kitchen is one of the most popular requests I get," Merrill says. "People e-mail me or call me with the minutest questions about it."

According to Merrill, one of the attractions of white cabinets is that they work with so many architectural styles — from traditional to cottage to contemporary. They open a room to an infinite range of color schemes. "White is a simple color," she says. "The kitchen is really a backdrop you can then accessorize. I've seen people add a lot of color."

White cabinets work with traditional to cottage to contemporary styles

Michelle Burnette, a designer in Marietta, Ga., specializes in kitchens for classic Georgian architecture — symmetrical brick houses with graceful white columns. Burnette does "a whole bunch of white cabinets that are inset" to replicate the look of historic homes. She also uses glazed white cabinetry for Tuscan old world and Mediterranean-style kitchens.

marble cream kitchen

Glazes are a great way to give white cabinets a more "lived-in type of look," says Steve Salazar, a certified kitchen designer with Sea Pointe Construction in Irvine, Calif. The right glaze gives the paint a hint of darker color, some depth, "and a little forgiveness so you don't see every fingerprint, smudge, ding and dent."

White cabinets also work well with wood floors. Stained wood cabinets are hard to use with wood floors, Salazar says. It's tough to match the stains, and he doesn't like mixing woods vertically and horizontally. Merrill agrees, saying that a dark wood floor with white cabinets is a "showstopper look."

Showstopper kitchen

Another place where white cabinets offer flexibility is hardware. Merrill says that while satin nickel and oil-rubbed bronze door hardware look particularly good, white cabinets can accommodate nearly any style or material. "I've seen beautiful blown-glass drawer pulls. They really sparkle in a way that they won't on stained wood cabinets. I've also seen funkier things — people taking old flatware and bending it. That could be fun."

satin nickel and oil-rubbed kitchen