I have been designing Kitchens for more than 25 years.

Last week while searching images on my computer of my past Kitchen projects, I started to see a trend.

White Kitchens were popping up again and again!

This got me thinking

What makes the white Kitchen classic?

Using just Kitchens that I have designed I decided to explore the Classic White Kitchen.

Simple Traditional

This simple traditional white Kitchen design became a signature look for my design and manufacturing firm in the early 2000s.

I chose it to be photographed for a marketing campaign because I knew its classic design would not easily date, and I would be able to get great value from those pictures.

My instincts were correct and I still include images from this kitchen in my content development.

Multiple features make this a classic, including:

  • White painted cabinetry throughout
  • Recessed 5-piece door & drawer fronts
  • Turned posts
  • Mullion glass doors
  • Custom wood hood
  • Simple arched valances
  • Dark countertops
  • Pewter hardware
  • Hardwood oak flooring
  • White subway tile
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Traditional styled faucets

None of these classic elements date this Kitchen and the quality products still has it being enjoyed by the family.

French Country

This was one of the first White Kitchens I designed and it happened to be for my parents.

They were building a home in the country in the mid nineties and mom wanted a blue & white Kitchen with a nod to the French Country décor style.

Mullion glass doors, apothecary drawers, fluted columns, arched open shelves and crown moulding all added to the classic design.

I could see updating this 25 year old kitchen with new counters, backsplash, appliances and plumbing fixtures for another 25 years worth of service!

Modern Classic

This white Kitchen was part of a major renovation to an 80’s home with the design brief of Modern Classic.

The support posts in the middle of the room presented a challenge but surrounding them with white cabinetry helped to make them disappear.

To give this classic white kitchen a modern look, decorative lead glass doors top the upper cabinets and polished nickel hardware adorns the doors & drawers.

Marble accent counters and backsplash add a traditional note to the contemporary black granite main countertops.

All of these elements combined to make this Kitchen a true classic and hard to stamp a date on.

Budget Beauty

When this client asked me to design her a kitchen on a budget, white cabinetry was a logical choice.

I specified the perimeter cabinets in a classic white shaker style and included a stained wood island to match the existing wood French doors and the new cork flooring.

To maximize her budget, classic low cost details such as simple lead glass doors, bead board end panels, standard crown moulding and two open shelves in the corner were specified.

This classic white Kitchen was installed more than 15 years ago and a simple countertop upgrade would make it the perfect trendy Farmhouse Modern space.

White & Wood

This white Kitchen was the result of a remodel to lighten a custom home’s dark interior.

The original design of the home featured mahogany wood for floors, doors, trim and ceiling details.

Choosing a classic white raised panel cabinet for the cabinetry and then using mahogany as an accent allowed the new Kitchen to blend with the rest of the home.

Once again, classic white was the perfect choice for this Kitchen remodel.

Classic Traditional

Traditional inset cabinetry was not a cabinet construction readily available in the area that I practiced as a Kitchen Designer, but it was the perfect choice for this home.

After finding a local custom shop that could produce this look, the design was developed as a true classic traditional Kitchen.

Multiple traditional and inset elements were specified to produce this classic traditional look.

  • Glass doors with bead board backs
  • Furniture kick
  • Pilasters & columns
  • Stacked and layered crown moulding
  • Beaded inset and door panel detail
  • Paneled appliances

The final product produced the perfect Kitchen for this large traditional home.

Classic White Details

My trip down memory lane highlighted details I turn to when designing Classic White Kitchens.

Below are examples of a few of them.

Custom Hoods

A custom hood painted white is iconic and will always work with in the Classic White Kitchen.

Elements and details like arches, keystones, panel moulding, crown moulding, shiplap and bead board can bring a one-of-a-kind look to your Kitchen design.

Unique Islands

When working with white cabinetry in Kitchen design, there needs to be details on the island to give it substance.

A good way to do this is with corner posts.

Depending on the overall décor style of the kitchen, these can be square, tapered, turned, hand carved, or treated with applied mouldings.

The back of the island is another area that needs to be detailed. No flat panels please!

Choose paneling, bead board, shiplap, door panels, appliques, open shelving or cabinets with doors to accomplish this needed detail.

Glass Doors & Display Cabinets

White Kitchens are perfect for including display areas.

The white background will highlight almost anything your client collects or wants to display.

When detailing display cabinets pick up on the décor style of the room and go for it!

A True Classic

Seeing the variety of white Kitchens I had in my image library proved to me that they really are true classics.

What I learned was that it is all in the details.

Details are what make White Kitchens Classic.

Without the details, a white Kitchen can fall flat.

I would love to hear how you design your White Classic Kitchens. Leave me a comment below with the details!

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Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

2 Comments on “What Makes A White Kitchen Classic?

  1. Jan,
    With this article’s examples, you have demonstrated exactly what makes a white kitchen “classic”. It is definitely the details that will make the space presentable for decades. Visit any historic or colonial home and what do you see? A lot of white paint!

    It is the details of the style of the space, plus what you pair the white with that makes it successful.

    Thank you for such a timely article!

    • Thanks Duane!
      It is true that just because a kitchen is white doesn’t mean it is a classic. Those details are essential!

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