How to Get White Kitchen Cabinets

White kitchen cabinets are a timeless and classic choice that can make your kitchen look bright, airy and spacious. Going for an all-white kitchen design will never go out of style. With crisp, clean lines and a light reflective surface, white cabinets create a fresh backdrop that allows other elements of your kitchen décor to really stand out.

While white cabinets have a clean and simplistic look, getting the perfect white for your kitchen can be more complex than you think. There are actually many shades of white to choose from, ranging from brilliant bright whites to warm antique whites with subtle grey, cream or yellow undertones. Choosing the right white for your kitchen cabinets will have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of the space.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about how to get white kitchen cabinets – from choosing the right white shade, to smart cabinet materials, finishes and hardware options. Follow these tips and you will have a stunning white kitchen in no time.

Choose the Right White for Your Kitchen

Not all whites are created equal. The first step to getting your dream white kitchen is deciding what shade of white you want for your cabinets. White kitchen cabinets can range from stark bright whites to warm off-whites and have undertones of grey, cream or yellow.

Consider the overall style you want for your kitchen as well as factors like lighting and surfaces when choosing your white cabinet color. Here are some popular shades of white for cabinets and how they can work in different kitchen designs:

Bright White

  • A crisp, clean white with little to no undertones.
  • Works well in contemporary and modern kitchens with lots of natural light.
  • Can make a space feel open and airy, but may not be great in a kitchen with limited natural light.

Warm White

  • Off-whites with subtle cream/yellow undertones for a softer look.
  • Warm whites work with almost any kitchen style from traditional to modern.
  • Warmer whites pair well with materials like granite, wood floors and stainless steel.

Antique White

  • Whites with grey, cream or beige undertones for an aged, timeworn effect.
  • Popular for more traditional kitchen aesthetics like cottage and farmhouse styles.
  • Works well when paired with natural materials like wood, stone or marble.

Soft Grey-White

  • Whites with grey undertones for a more contemporary but neutral scheme.
  • Perfect for transitional kitchen styles combining traditional and modern elements.
  • Grey-whites pair beautifully with materials like quartz, concrete, tile and industrial metals.

High-Gloss Bright White

  • Clean, vivid whites with a shiny, reflective sheen.
  • Works best in modern, contemporary kitchens.
  • Can enhance lighting and create a feeling of openness in a smaller kitchen.

Once you’ve settled on the right white for your space, bring home paint chips and cabinet samples to view in both natural and artificial lighting in your kitchen. This will give you the most accurate impression of how the whites will appear in your actual kitchen.

Choose the Right Cabinet Materials

White kitchen cabinets aren’t restricted to just one material. From wood to laminate and vinyl, white cabinets come in an array of materials that can complement your kitchen’s style. Consider factors like durability, ease of cleaning, sustainability and overall look when choosing cabinet materials. Here are some top options for white kitchen cabinets:

Painted Wood

Painted wood cabinets are very common for white kitchens. Choose a high-quality hardwood like maple or oak and opt for multiple coats of cabinet-grade paint for a flawless and durable finish. Keep in mind that painted wood shows more wear over time than solid wood. Avoid painting softer woods like pine that can show imperfections through the paint.


Maple is a fine, dense hardwood that takes stain and paint beautifully. It has a smooth, seamless look that mimics more expensive woods for a fraction of the cost. Maple requires less prep work and is easier to paint than oak. Its tight grain makes an excellent canvas for crisp white paint.


Thermofoil (aka plastic laminate) cabinetry consists of wood substrate wrapped in a vinyl skin for durability. It won’t peel or chip like painted woods. Thermofoil is seamless and waterproof, making it ideal for bathrooms and laundry rooms in white. It can scratch over time but resists fading and staining.


Lacquered finishes apply coating upon coating of high-gloss or matte-finish lacquer resin. The multiple layers create an extremely durable and scratch-resistant barrier ideal for white. Lacquer has a seamless glass-like look. Asia-imported cabinets often feature lacquered finishes.

Vinyl Wrapped (AKA PVC)

Vinyl wrapped cabinets consist of wood covered in a PVC skin for moisture resistance and durability. This budget-friendly option resists scratching, staining and moisture damage. Vinyl wrapping can mimic more expensive cabinet finishes at a lower cost but won’t match their quality and seamlessness.

No matter what material you choose, always opt for high-quality cabinets from reputable manufacturers. Avoid cheaply made cabinets that can warp, fade or peel quickly.

Choose Door Styles that Complement White

The style of your cabinet doors and drawers will also influence the overall look of your white kitchen. Certain door styles pair better with crisp white finishes. Simple, clean lines work best for white kitchens rather than ornate or detailed door fronts. Here are some door styles that look stunning in white:

Shaker Style

The quintessential white cabinet door, Shaker style features a simple flat center panel and basic square frame. The pared-down, versatile design suits any kitchen style from traditional to modern. Shaker cabinets in white look timeless and sophisticated.

Slab Style

Slab cabinetry has simple, flat and frameless fronts for a minimalist, contemporary look. Without ornate details that can clash, the slab style highlights the crisp whiteness of the cabinets. Slab cabinetry gives a bright, sleek appearance.

Flat Panel

Like Shaker style, flat panel doors consist of a center flat panel but with more subtle rounded edges inside the frame. The simple lines complement white finishes. Flat panel doors add interest while remaining classic.


Louvered cabinet doors feature sets of angled horizontal or vertical slats, reminiscent of shutters. This tailored style looks particularly fresh in bright whites. Louvered doors also cleverly conceal cabinet contents while allowing airflow.

Glass Front

Glass-front cabinetry retains visibility while protecting contents from dust and grease. Frosted, etched or even transparent glass paired with white cabinet frames lighten up a kitchen visually with an airy, open feel. The reflective surface also brightens white finishes.

Keep door fronts streamlined and opt for minimal ornamentation. Stick with flat center panels rather than raised inset panels. Matte finishes tend to suit white cabinets better than glossy surfaces that can look overly reflective.

Hardware is Key

Don’t overlook the importance of hardware in finishing off your white kitchen cabinets. Cabinet hardware should complement both your cabinet style and overall kitchen aesthetic. Stick with simple, clean-lined hardware shapes and brushed metal finishes. Here are some hardware tips for white kitchens:

Knobs vs. Pulls

Small, simple knobs suit Shaker style cabinets, while long bar pulls work well on slab fronts. Recessed handles are another minimalist and sleek option for a contemporary look. Mixing knobs and pulls can add interest, just keep shapes simple.

Metal Finishes

Opt for brushed metal finishes like brushed nickel, bronze or aluminum rather than shiny polished chrome. Matte black hardware also pairs beautifully with white for a contrasting modern statement. Stainless steel, oil-rubbed bronze and antique brass are other fitting options.

Size Matters

Keep hardware small to medium in scale. Oversized hardware competes too much with crisp white fronts, while hardware that’s too small looks disproportionate. Adjust hardware size to cabinet style – smaller knobs for Shaker doors or longer pulls for slab fronts.

Consistent Finishes

Choose the same finish, shape and color hardware throughout for a cohesive whole kitchen look. Mixing and matching hardware finishes tends to look disjointed and messy rather than eclectic. Stick with one metal finish like brushed nickel for all cabinets and drawers.

With the right style and finish, hardware can perfectly round out your white kitchen cabinets for a pulled-together customized look.

Add Interest with Accents

All-white kitchens can look beautiful, but adding punches of contrasting color through accents prevents them from feeling clinical. Think beyond just wall paint color to add pops of interest with:

Window Treatments

Hang drapes, blinds or shades in colors that complement your overall kitchen color palette. For contemporary spaces, opt for unlined linen curtains in neutral tones. Bold printed curtains or roman blinds bring fun personality.

Colored Appliances

Incorporate color appliances like a fire engine red fridge or sunny yellow oven if your style is playful. More neutral colored appliances like navy, black or grey can add contrast while remaining classic.

Kitchen Island

Use a colorful stained or painted island to anchor the room. Navy blue, green and charcoal islands look striking against bright white cabinetry. Or opt for contrasting materials like wooden butchers block.

Accent Tiles

Add hand-painted, patterned or colorful tile backsplashes to really make them pop against white cabinets. Use tiles sparingly above ranges or behind sinks rather than on every wall.

Display Collections

Show off display collections of glassware, ceramics or dishware to bring color to open shelves. Place them on top of cabinets to tie in accent hues.

Modern Metals

Include elements like brass pendant lights, chrome fixtures, copper sinks or bronze door pulls for contemporary metallic accents. Their sheen plays beautifully off matte white cabinetry.

Lighting is Key for White Kitchens

Proper lighting is essential for any kitchen but especially for white kitchens to look their best. The right lighting highlights the clean lines and brightens the reflective surfaces of white cabinets. Follow these tips:

Mix Lighting Types

Install layers of overhead, task and accent lighting for well-illuminated work zones and style. Overhead can lights, pendant lights and under cabinet lighting prevent shadows.

Use Dimmers

Dimmers allow you to control light levels from bright for cooking to softer ambiance for dining. Dimmers work well on overhead lighting and pendant fixtures.

Accent with Glass

Glass pendants, sconce shades or cabinet doors allow light to reflect around the room, opening up white kitchens. Creating lighting layers is key.

Shine On

Use lighting strategically such as downlighting above counters to spotlight tasks or spotlights inside glass cabinetry to put beautiful dishware on display.

Choose Warm Tones

Opt for incandescent, halogen or warm LED light bulbs that cast a warm, flattering glow and enhance the tones of white cabinets. Avoid harsh fluorescent lighting.

Proper kitchen lighting should complement your cabinets, not overpower them. The right lighting illuminates and accentuates white kitchens beautifully.

How to Care for White Cabinets

While stunning, white kitchen cabinets do require some maintenance to keep them looking freshly painted. Follow these tips to care for your white cabinets:

Use Microfiber Cloths

Clean cabinets with a soft microfiber cloth instead of harsh paper towels that can create tiny scratches. Microfiber picks up grime without leaving lint.

Clean Regularly

Get in the habit of quickly wiping down cabinet surfaces and fronts weekly to prevent grease and dirt buildup that can yellow white finishes.

Use Gel Cleaners

Gently clean with specialized gel cleaners formulated for wood and laminate cabinets to remove grease and residue without dulling or damaging the finish.

Touch Up Paint

Keep white paint fresh and new looking by quickly touching up any nicks, scratches or discolorations with matching white cabinet paint.

Re-Wax Wood

Wax painted wood cabinets yearly to protect the finish and fill in minor imperfections for a like-new luster.

Use Protectants

Apply protectants like wax to thermofoil and PVC vinyl cabinet surfaces to guard against scratching and surface damage from cooking splatter.

With regular, gentle care your white kitchen cabinets will maintain their beautiful, bright new look for years before needing a refresh.

Frequently Asked Questions About White Kitchen Cabinets

What colors go well with white cabinets?

White kitchen cabinets pair beautifully with almost any color due to their classic, neutral look. Try accenting white with navy blue, soft green, grey, black, brass, reds, bronze and stones like marble.

Do white cabinets make a kitchen look bigger?

White cabinets will visually open up and lighten any kitchen, no matter the size. The reflective surfaces and clean lines give the perception of more space. For smaller kitchens, use unified white on both upper and lower cabinets.

Do white cabinets get dirty easily?

White cabinets do require more regular maintenance than darker finishes. But with proper care and cleaning white cabinetry can maintain its bright look. Opt for durable cabinet materials and apply protectants to thermofoil and vinyl.

Are white cabinets trendy or timeless?

White kitchen cabinets remain a perennial classic look that has spanned decades. Crisp white paired with elements like marble backsplashes and brass accents creates a timeless and sophisticated kitchen.

Should I choose warm white or cool white cabinets?

It depends on the overall feel you want and your kitchen’s existing elements. Warm whites with cream undertones pair well with materials like granite, wood floors and metals. Cool crisp whites pop against concrete, tile and modern glass backsplashes.

Can you change the color of kitchen cabinets?

Yes, cabinets can be repainted or refinished to transition their color completely. Proper prep like sanding is vital for painted finishes to adhere correctly. Be sure to use high-quality cabinet paint for a durable finish.

White kitchen cabinets offer versatility and timeless style. Following these tips and suggestions will ensure you get your dream white kitchen that stays looking its absolute brightest for years to come. With so many shades and materials to consider, think through both your overall vision and functional needs. From bright contemporary whites to cozy antique shades, your ideal white cabinets await!


White kitchen cabinets provide a crisp, clean backdrop that makes any kitchen look fresh and spacious. But not all white cabinets are created equal. Choosing the perfect shade of white along with the right cabinet materials, door styles and finishes are all crucial design decisions that can impact the overall look, feel and functionality of your kitchen.

Take the time to carefully consider the white undertones that will complement your home. Look at how natural and artificial lighting play on whites at different times of day. And don’t overlook small details like cabinet hardware, lighting and accents that all complete the kitchen’s design. With the tips and suggestions provided above, you can confidently choose and install white kitchen cabinets that keep your kitchen looking its brightest for many years to come.