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Winning whites
Bright and airy kitchens have universal appeal


January 2014

This Brookfield kitchen remodel by Refined Renovations, Wauwatosa, features custom cabinetry by Louis Anthony Custom Cabinetry. The countertops are Costa Esmeralda Extra granite and a Vetrazzo recycled glass countertop. The project was featured on last yearís Milwaukee/NARI Tour of Remodeled Homes.

When it comes to home design, white is always popular among homeowners. Itís a color that never really goes out of style, yet easily lends itself to reinvention.

Thatís what makes white a good choice for kitchen makeovers. Whether you favor contemporary or traditional design, white has a classic appeal that seems to defy time.

Russ Waters of Wisconsin Kitchen Mart has been designing white kitchens for clients for 30 years. He estimates that half of the kitchens he designed last year were white.

"People want white kitchens," he says simply.

So whatís behind the white kitchenís enduring appeal?

Waters says people seeking to refresh this key gathering spot in their homes often complain the existing space is tired and dingy-looking. In that regard, white is an attractive choice because itís clean and fresh.

"People are drawn to white because itís bright and cheery. It makes them happy," says Waters. "Thereís definitely an emotional factor involved."

Matt Retzak, a project designer with Bartelt-Filo, says white kitchens have been consistent requests from clients during his 11 years in the industry. "The kitchen is a room where a lot of time is spent so people want it to feel clean and airy," he says.

Beyond the fresh clean vibe white gives off, the color is versatile, Waters says. White can be easily integrated into any kitchen decor from traditional to modern and everything in between.

"White can play a role in any style," says Matt Jahns of Refined Renovations. "It stands the test of time."

Whatís more, white is a perfect backdrop for adding accent color, whether itís a center island in a deep, rich wood like cherry or a brightly colored backsplash.

Retzak agrees that white goes a long way.

"It provides a nice contrast," he says. "White cabinets pop against other colors in the room. It adds additional interest to the space."

Mixing other materials and textures like natural wood and stainless steel creates an interesting juxtaposition and can change the way the space feels altogether.

"A wood floor makes a white kitchen more friendly and approachable compared to the same kitchen with a tile floor," says Retzak.

Waters says homeowners also tend to choose white because itís a noncommittal color.

"People are worried about how remodeling will affect the value of their home," he says. "I tell my clients theyíre not going to make a mistake with white."

The universally appealing color offers a blank slate for potential buyers to re-envision the space.

A white kitchen can be a huge plus for small kitchens, too. In smaller homes, white makes a room feel bigger, says Retzak.

Not every shade of white lends itself to creating a friendly, cozy atmosphere. The pure, crisp white popular in the 1980s and 1990s has been replaced by hues with a tinge of color ranging from blue to yellow. This small amount of color makes todayís white warmer and more accessible.

"White doesnít have to be stark," says Jahns. "White kitchens today usually incorporate warmer, more welcoming tones."

The National Kitchen and Bath Association confirms the trend, with muted, milky white tones ranking high on its annual top trends list.

"White presents a classic framework that can be reinvented over and over again," says Jahns. "You can infuse your personality and dress it up or down." 



This story ran in the January 2014 issue of: