How can I Make my White Kitchen Look Better? 8 Ideas to Dress Up Plainer Cabinets

These 8 ways are all great methods to give your all-white kitchen a little personality boost

A white kitchen with stainless steel, marble and wood
(Image credit: Julian Wass. Design: Khanna Schultz Architecture and Design DPC)

An all-white kitchen has undeniable charm. The classic all-white look has long been relied on by designers and homeowners to deliver a clean and minimal aesthetic, and there is something luxe about the look. 'An all-white kitchen looks great,' says Vrinda Khanna of Khanna Schultz Architecture and Design in Brooklyn. 'An 'all-white' approach - cabinets, counters, backsplash, floors - can be compelling as a pure abstraction, and is a wonderful vessel for sunlight.'

But there is no doubt that the all-white look runs the risk of feeling a little flat, clinical and even one-dimensional. Making the kitchen look better is all about breaking up the space and layering the room. Whether it's decor or material, there are so many clever techniques to make the space feel more lived-in and even cozy. To give you a couple of ideas for how to make the most of your all-white modern kitchen, we've spoken to the kitchen experts.

1. Add texture to your cabinets

A white kitchen with mahogany framed cabinets

(Image credit: Jean Bai. Design: Karine Marshall Interiors)

If you're committed to the all-white look, the way to bring a more two-dimensional feel to the room is through texture. Wall paneling and Shaker-style kitchen cabinets are two great ways to bring a bit of depth and keep your all-white kitchen from looking too flat, with raised areas casting shadows.

'The best way to make a white kitchen look better is always to add texture,' says Karine Marshall of San Francisco-based Blaine Architects + Marshall Interiors. 'One way to add texture to a white kitchen is using a fluted or tambour door or drawer fronts.' Fluting is having a moment, as designers realize the warmth the fluting can bring to a space. Used in the kitchen, it can feel a little more tactile.

Additionally, white cabinets can be dressed up by wrapping them in an accent frame. 'We wrapped a frame around our white kitchen cabinets in this kitchen, with mahogany wood trim placed on all sides of the white upper cabinets (above),' says Karine.

2. Warm the space with wood

A white kitchen warmed up with a wooden shelf

(Image credit: District Cabinets. Design: Cedar Architecture)

White kitchens tend to feel a little cold, so consider how you might visually warm up the space. One of the best ways to do this is through the addition of wood accents or even wooden kitchen cabinets. 'The elegance of a white kitchen design comes from its materiality and texture,' says Jacob Bek of JBA Collective.

'You want the space to feel fresh, bright, and clean, without coming off as sterile or lacking depth and to achieve this quality, natural materials, executed with fine detailed craftsmanship, are key,' he says.

'For a white kitchen, we think that bringing in wood tones is the most effective thing to do to make it feel warmer,' agrees Deborah Buelow of Cedar Architecture, who designed the above kitchen. 'You could introduce a warm-toned wood floor, wood accent shelves, or even wood trim around windows and doors.'

3. Opt for metallic hardware

A white kitchen with silver hardware

(Image credit: Mike Van Tassel. Design: OAD Interiors)

Bring a bit of shine to your white cabinets by adding hardware. Often considered to be the jewelry of a room, the hardware is the finishing touch, but it can make such a difference, especially in an all-white kitchen that needs a bit of TLC. Current kitchen trends for hardware include polished nickel and brushed bronze to help make your kitchen look more expensive, and consider a knurled texture for that added tactile look and feel. Buster
+ Punch
do fantastic work with solid metals and their handles are worth checking out if you're in the market for some high-end metallic hardware.

Also consider the size, aesthetic, and length of your handles too. 'Instead of using typical contrasting metal pulls, we will often do custom wood pulls painted in the same white as the cabinet that runs the entire length of a door or drawer to make simple white cabinets look more sophisticated and bespoke,' says Karine.

4. Mix materials

A white kitchen with wood, marble and stainless steel elements

(Image credit: Julian Wass. Design: Khanna Schultz Architecture and Design DPC)

Another sure way to bring a bit more personality to your all-white kitchen is to bring in other interesting materials for that luxe, layered look. In the case of this kitchen, the white is offset with figured Danby marble, brushed stainless steel, and wood.

Your kitchen island is a great space to introduce alternative natural materials. Another great option is to wrap your stone counter up onto the kitchen backsplash. 'Marble always looks timeless and are super easy to keep clean,' says Luki Anderson of Brooklyn-based Studio Officina Architecture. 'Carrara is a great choice for this, and usually more affordable compared with other natural stones. A more expensive and adventurous stone with dramatic veining can do most of the design work for you also - if it's within your budget.'

For a more affordable option, stainless steel is a great kitchen feature. It's sleek, easy-to-clean, cheap to get hold of, and easy to affix to the wall. The result is an industrial finish that will help break your white kitchen up.

5. Warm the space by opting for off-white

An off-white kitchen in Farrow & Ball's Shaded White

(Image credit: Nick Glimenakis. Design: The Brownstone Boys)

If you're really finding your all-white kitchen a little bit too dazzling, one way to make it look better is to give it a new lick of paint and pick a more trending and calming off-white, instead of a clean, crisp white. 'A bright white like Benjamin Moore's Super White always looks great,' says Luki, 'but if you are interested in an off-white, make sure you understand the underlying colors within the white you choose.

Colors can really vary according to time of day and type of lighting, so you want to look at your white color samples at all times of the day and with the correct color temperature you intend to use for your kitchen lighting. 'Then make sure that the white of your cabinets works well with the white of your walls - don't pair a grey-white cabinet finish with a more cream-white wall paint, for instance.'

This cream-colored kitchen, designed by The Brownstone Boys is a perfect example of an off-white. The design duo selected Farrow & Ball's Shaded White to work with the natural light to create a space that feels more warming than a traditional bright white choice would.

6. Add depth with dark flooring

A white kitchen with dark flooring

(Image credit: Scott Norsworth. Design: Reflect Architecture)

Bring a little drama and depth to your all-white kitchen by going for a completely contrasting tone for the kitchen flooring. While your first thought in your white kitchen might be to go for something light like a white oak floorboard, a dark kitchen floor can feel contemporary and cool.

When working with an all-white kitchen, dark flooring can add depth and help draw the eye around the room, breaking up the space around the cabinets and island. What's more, it can help create an optical illusion so that the space feels bigger, particularly useful in small kitchens. If you can't face redoing the kitchen flooring from scratch, the simple addition of a colored runner can help create that contrasting effect.

7. Bring greenery to the space

Accent your kitchen by breaking up the all-white palette with a touch of greenery. There has been a growing trend for kitchen island centerpieces that sit at the edge of the island, acting as a focal point and almost a work of art. Try colorful bouquets, a dramatic bunch of dried flowers, or large plant - simple additions that help bring the space back to nature.

Think about the pots and vases you use to display your greenery too. 'To ensure that a white kitchen doesn't become too monotonous, I like to add interesting details like indoor plants in terracotta pots,' says Chad Murphy of SOON Architecture Studio.

8. Bring a cheery aesthetic with colorful appliances

An all-white kitchen with red accessories

(Image credit: Nick Sargent. Design: Harper Design + Build)

Sometimes, the best addition to an all-white kitchen is a simple color accent. Appliances are a great way to introduce character and personality without having to rethink your kitchen design.

This can be as simple and as little as a color pop Le Creuset saucepan paired with a bright Galanz retro style kettle and toaster combination, or as dominating as a brightly colored Smeg fridge or Kucht oven to add a beautiful focal point to the kitchen. This space designed by Harper Design + Build is the perfect example, and the few simple yet colorful accessories go a long way to make the space feel warm and welcoming.

3 buys to make your white kitchen look better

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.