How to design a stylish all-white kitchen

Colour ideas

Although they might be plain, all-white kitchens are anything but boring. Simple and sophisticated, this timeless kitchen design works in all styles – from cottage to contemporary.

This guide explains why white kitchen decor doesn't have to be bland, with advice on creating a stylish all-white kitchen.

Why choose a white kitchen?

The social and psychological meanings of the colour white vary across the world. In parts of Asia, white is associated with death, so is to be avoided in the home. However, in Europe and parts of the Americas, white has a very different meaning; it's connected with purity, making it a colour in interior design that instantly makes a room feel clean, airy, and tranquil.

White is a colour that demands maintenance, as pure white can look scruffy if neglected. For some, this means that white is only used in accents, around the window and door frames, or on accessories such as vases and plates.

For those willing to keep their kitchen clean and tidy daily, using white as the central colour in a kitchen will make the room appear to be larger and brighter. White reflects light, so even in the darkest kitchens, the light source will bounce around the room.

Why choose a white kitchen?

How to choose the right shade of white

Ultra-modern kitchens benefit from using bright white across units, flooring, and walls, to create a sophisticated atmosphere. If you like modern design schemes but want to keep your kitchen feeling homely, the trick is to use different shades of white.

Despite being the foundation of most paint colours, white is one of the most versatile and varying colours in interior design. Mixed with all sorts of different tones, white can range from creamy-brown to pearly-blue and ashy-grey, which can achieve warm or cold atmospheres respectively.

In any white kitchen design, you should use different shades across different textures, including the walls, floors, units, worktops, and accessories. Examples of different shades of white include:

  • Off white is slightly less pure and bright than white
  • Regency white has a clear and pure cream tone
  • Antique white has a slightly creamy-rose hue
  • China white is known as having a grey-beige look
  • Bone white is a greyish tone

When it comes to creating your all-white kitchen, choose a selection of different but complementary shades across the room; or discover more about different kitchen colour scheme ideas.

Pairing white with other colours

For some, an all-white kitchen is a bit too much, and so you may wish to add other colours to the design. The beauty of white is that it's completely versatile and matches with virtually everything on the colour wheel. Depending on the effect you're looking to achieve, there are endless options.

With so many white kitchen ideas to choose from, consider adding blue to create a cool finish that almost feels nautical. Grey has a similarly cooling effect, and is ideal for anyone looking for a sophisticated finish in their kitchen.

On the other end of the scale, sage green will create a kitchen that feels more country-cottage. Reds will also warm the room, and create a sense of playfulness.

Pairing white with other colours

Matt or gloss finish?

Matt may be a traditional finish in the kitchen, but unless you choose very traditional shaker style cabinets, you can still create a modern kitchen design scheme with the finish. White bounces light across the room and so matt white units won't appear dull, even in a dark kitchen.

Gloss is the more modern finish of choice, and for those looking to create a really bright, open-feeling space, the finish will make the room appear far larger and lighter.

When it comes to white kitchens, the choice is ultimately down to personal preference, between matt and high gloss kitchens, as white is such a bright, modern and versatile colour that works with any finish.

Matt or gloss finish?

How to accessorise your all-white kitchen

Now that you’ve decided which shade and finish of white to decorate your kitchen, it’s time to discover how you can accessorise it.

Incorporate colour with accessories

Keeping the design interesting – rather than simply stark white – is all in the detail.

You can transform the look of your white kitchen decor instantly with colourful accessories – soft furnishings, appliances and utensils. But remember; keep their style clean and minimal. Too much colour could sacrifice the visual serenity.

Have fun with furniture – adding texture and injecting just the right amount of colour and warmth.

As fashion trends change, soft furnishings are much easier to update or replace than kitchen cabinets. A safe and stylish option, an all-white kitchen will last for decades.

Create contrast with worktops

To break up white cabinetry, install a kitchen worktop in a contrasting colour.

Timeless natural wooden worktops will bring warmth to the room and complement an all-white kitchen – particularly if the external door and flooring is made from the same wood.

Granite worktops will add a touch of luxury; glass worktops, although not the most functional, will work with a contemporary kitchen; while the chef's choice, stainless steel, will be most practical.

Add ambience with lighting

Add ambience with lighting

White kitchen designs have longevity – they suit most tastes, but can lack individual style. To put your own stamp on the room, install kitchen lighting that will make a fashion statement.

Always try to let in as much natural light into your kitchen as possible, but create drama with over-scaled or low-hanging pendant lights. Well placed lighting will add ambiance, especially for kitchens that include a dining area.

A chic finishing touch with white flooring

Kitchen flooring needs to be practical and hardwearing – but that doesn't mean it has to be dull.

White kitchen floor tiles will instantly brighten the room; and they come in different shapes and sizes to suit any style of kitchen. Plus, tiles are easy to clean and maintain no matter their colour.

A white, or very light, floor to match your all-white kitchen decor will give the room a chic finishing touch.

Complement an all-white kitchen with wall colour

Complement an all-white kitchen with wall colour

If you want to add colour to your all-white kitchen, paint an accent wall in a bold shade, or use tiles or a kitchen splashback in a markedly different colour. All you need is one striking shade to bring the room to life – from sultry black to sunshine yellow.

Feature walls aren't just for bedrooms and living rooms – it's a simple design choice to make colour stand out in any room – and it can be easy to change back should your love affair with the palette come to an end.

Let your personality shine through

Let your personality shine through

While an all-white kitchen embraces stripped-back simplicity; your personality should still shine through.

If you're an avid cook, incorporate shelves into your kitchen design to store your recipe books; think about where you'll locate your wine rack; and find a home for those everyday herbs and spices you'll need close to hand.

A kitchen's primary purpose is to be functional – it's the hub of the family home – so don't think you have to focus too much on style. You can keep it practical and personal.

While other colour schemes and styles certainly have their appeal, with so many all-white kitchen ideas, it’s become one of the most popular choices. Thanks to its simplistic design, it's a timeless style that's here to stay. To see how you can transform your kitchen into a sleek and sophisticated white space, book an appointment to visit your nearest showroom, or try our online kitchen planner .