White kitchen, gray stool, black handrail on white stairs. Kylie M E-design, online decorating, virtual packages

KITCHEN IDEAS: Decorating With White Appliances & Painted Cabinets

THE BEST COLORS, CABINETS & COUNTERTOPS FOR WHITE APPLIANCES

Stainless steel is the most popular finish for kitchen appliances with black (including black stainless steel) coming in second place. As for white, well, it squeaks in right before almond and avocado – YES I SAID IT, I DID!

And BECAUSE of this, and because I ONLY use photos from my Color Consulting clients (I don’t ‘borrow’ other people’s work), I have MINIMAL PHOTOS of white appliances. However, I have HUGELY HELPFUL tips and guidance to get you on the right track. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn WHY these white appliances work in this kitchen…

Ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets with countertop, backsplash and hardware. white appliances. Kylie M Interiors E-design

Thank you to my clients for sending your photos in – even when they’re in mid-progress, they’re helpful! 

More IMPORTANTLY, you’ll learn what DOESN’T work when decorating and choosing paint colors when you have white appliances.

While white might not be the top contender in the appliance world, personally, I like white appliances (especially the newer modern style). These light, bright appliances offer a (potentially) low contrast, fresh vibe to today’s kitchens. However, the CHALLENGE is that white appliances can be difficult to coordinate.

WHY?

White appliances are generally a COLD, crisp white. However, with white cabinets being trendy, and the most POPULAR white cabinet colors being warm whites, you’re in for a hot mess if you start mixing and matching. Warm whites are popular because they suit more interior finishes (i.e. countertops) than cool or bright whites.

The most IMPORTANT thing you will read in this entire blog post is this…

You can’t have white appliances with warm white, off-white or cream-colored cabinets.

Actually, you CAN have the above, just don’t expect it to flow (with one exception).

WHY?

The cool white of your appliances will do one of the following to your warm white cabinets…

  1. make them look more YELLOW in comparison to the cool white of your appliances
  2. will make them look DINGY in comparison to your appliance’s cool white hue

HOWEVER, here’s the exception…

GE CAFE WHITE APPLIANCES & CABINET COLORS

GE’s cafe white appliances have a WAY different approach than the standard white appliances from the previous three decades.

ge white appliances and warm white kitchen cabinets

Image from the GE website – GE Cafe White Appliances

Not only do these units have a more streamlined, modern look, but you can also customize the hardware on them. Why is this so handy? Choosing the brushed bronze hardware is a great way to add some WARMTH to your palette, making BRIGHTER warm white cabinets look more at home.

Just keep in mind, WHEN trends shift away from brushed bronze and gold/brass-inspired hardware, you MAY choose to update your appliance hardware to a different metal finish – this is where warm white cabinets could get a little left behind. Warm-toned metal finishes help to TIE-IN warm white cabinets.

Color & Chic offers a great view AND review on these appliances. Hoang Kim chose the BEST white for her kitchen and its finishes – Sherwin Williams Pure White. Why? Pure White has a more moderate warmth than the ever-popular Benjamin Moore White Dove and Simply White. This muted warmth offers a lower-contrast shift between appliance and cabinet.

Pure White kitchen cabinets, subway tile backsplash, white quartz and oak flooring. Navy blue island Sherwin Williams Cyberspace, prep bar station.

In the above photo, while it shows stainless steel, you can see how white appliances could work with the ever-lovely Sherwin Williams Pure White.

Again, I don’t ‘borrow’ photos from other creators’ sites. When I DO link to them (which I rarely do), it’s to help them with their growth by getting your eyes on their pages!

THE BEST WARM WHITE CABINET COLORS WITH THE GE CAFE SERIES

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move back to the more STANDARD line-up of white appliances.

ARE WHITE APPLIANCES STILL TRENDY IN 2023?

OTHER than the GE Cafe Series, no white appliances are not popular and usually* don’t look updated (and I don’t see this changing drastically in the near or far future).

*of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions, but they’re fewer and farther between when it comes to this appliance finish. 

CAN I MIX WHITE APPLIANCES WITH STAINLESS STEEL OR BLACK?

Mixing appliance finishes isn’t recommended. HOWEVER, based on budget, it can be a great short-term solution if you’re looking to transition out of white. In this case, I recommend mixing white with stainless steel – NOT black.

WHICH CABINET PAINT COLORS GO WITH WHITE APPLIANCES?

In this section, we’re not just looking at the best white colors but NON-whites as well.

Choosing white for your cabinets and appliances is a low-contrast approach, which means your appliances will blend in rather than stick out.

Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, best painted white cabinets, gray quartz countertop, white subway tile, white walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, client photo

These appliances are so blended in you can’t even SEE them! 

THE BEST WHITE PAINT COLORS WITH WHITE APPLIANCES

For standard appliances, I recommend going WITH your appliance’s version of white (cool) rather than against it (warm).

Cool whites, or AT LEAST bright and simple whites, will coordinate better with your appliances than WARM whites. Just make sure that a cool white suits the surrounding finishes in your kitchen.

3 Steps to Pick the Best White Paint Color for Your Cabinets & Walls

If your surrounding finishes don’t SUIT cool or clean white cabinets, they likely don’t suit your white appliances either. 

I’m not trying to be mean; I’m just being honest (#truthbomb). If you’re thinking of buying white cabinets, these tips could prevent you from making a big mistake. If you already HAVE white appliances surrounded by warm finishes, life will go on; this is about stopping you from adding another awkward choice to your palette (cool white cabinets would be awkward). This means that if you have wood cabinets and are thinking of painting them white – you might want to think twice.

In this next kitchen, there are actually TWO great choices to consider…

Ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets with countertop, backsplash and hardware. white appliances. Kylie M Interiors E-design

  1. The oak wood cabinets look GREAT. While they contrast moderately with the white appliances, the surrounding finishes visually support the cool white of their range and range hood.
  2. WHITE cabinets would also look smashing. And because the backsplash tile is a brighter white and the countertop is a cool, stormy gray, choosing a bright white could be a gorgeous choice for this space (i.e. Sherwin Williams High Reflective White).

HOWEVER, while a white-on-white palette is easy on the eyes, it can also look stark and unfriendly, so you’ll want to keep these tips in mind…

TIP 1   CONSIDER NON-WHITE COUNTERTOPS

If you have white cabinets AND APPLIANCES, a non-white countertop could be a great move, offering your kitchen dimension, contrast and interest.

Dark countertops will help to ground the space and give your eyes something firm to land on. It will also break up the monotony of the whites and soften the effect of any potentially mismatched whites…

Island with raised bar top. Wine station and fridge with white doors on the front. Beautiful traditional yet modern feeling kitchen

While the above kitchen only has a white cupboard panel on the fridge, it explains my point perfectly! The island is marble with gray/black, and the perimeter countertops are solid black granite.

The COOL-toned finishes shown above can visually support white appliances.

If you have a lot of black on your appliances (which a lot of the older styles do), black countertops will help to tie these details in so that they aren’t as overwhelming.

THE BEST COUNTERTOPS WITH WHITE APPLIANCES

MANY countertops suit white fridges, stoves, wall ovens and dishwashers, but MOST are either a cool or slightly warm gray…

TIP 2   BRING IN THE DRAMA LLAMA

If you’re not into darker/black countertops, white cabinets, appliances, and countertops can be pretty darn boring. An all-white space needs some contrast, drama, or visual interest. At the very least, I suggest using a soft gray countertop or fun cool-toned backsplash.

How to pick gray paint colors for your countertop, carpet, tiles and more. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy update ideas, best paint color ideas (2)

TIP 3   MAKE YOUR WHITE APPLIANCES LOOK INTENTIONAL

Often, white appliances aren’t treated as part of the plan, which leaves them looking uncoordinated and outdated.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

  • To make white appliances look like ‘part of the plan’. If you don’t integrate your white appliances into your palette, they’ll look like an accident or something you can’t afford to replace right now (which might be the truth!)
  • To make white appliances NOT the feature of your kitchen – your appliances shouldn’t be the focal point UNLESS they’re like the GE Cafe series, which are like jewellery for a kitchen. One way or another, we want the focus to be on your beautiful cabinets, countertop, backsplash or paint color.

HOW TO MAKE WHITE APPLIANCES LOOK LIKE PART OF THE PLAN

While you don’t need to do ALL of the items listed below, nodding at a few is a great way to integrate your appliances and create an updated palette.

  • paint your cabinets the RIGHT white paint color
  • surround your white appliances with COOL finishes, not warm ones
  • if your kitchen has a lot of warm finishes, consider a warm NON-WHITE on the cabinets, which can be a good happy medium
  • leave your cabinets a wood stain if the surrounding finishes are warm (as these finishes will demand a warm white cabinet color)

The Best Paint Colors to Update Oak or Wood Cabinets

While this last item won’t help your appliances look purposeful, at least you won’t CONTRIBUTE to the disconnect with the wrong paint color.

Here’s a BEFORE photo of one of my client’s kitchens. What could help these appliances look more at home?

Wood kitchen cabinets before painted edesign

A white subway tile backsplash.

Unfortunately (for the sake of this blog post), my above clients shifted to stainless steel appliances. However, I can show you how they updated their space with a white subway tile backsplash and a new countertop…

Ideas to update kitchen with oak wood cabinets. Quartz countertop, white subway tile backsplash, painted island. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, blogger diy advice

Update oak wood kitchen cabinets with quartz white countertop, subway tile and painted island. Ideas from Kylie M Interiors Edesign, paint color advice blogger

Could they have KEPT the black countertop and white appliances and JUST replaced the backsplash? You bet your booty they could’ve.

THE BEST NON-WHITE PAINT COLORS TO GO WITH WHITE APPLIANCES

If you’ve realized that white maybe ISN’T the best choice for your kitchen palette, you can explore other colors that won’t directly clash/compete with your white appliances and might even UPDATE their look.

Again, short of the GE Cafe series, few of my clients have white appliances – most choose stainless steel for its flexibility (hence the lack of photos). However, if you’ve got white appliances and want them to look their BEST, consider the following cabinet colors (as long as they suit the countertops/backsplash).

A little deeper, perhaps (that’s what she said)? If you want colors with a little more oomph (super technical term), you can also explore darker colors. Just know that the darker your cabinets are, the higher contrast they’ll be with your appliances.

FINAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT (without even opening the fridge)

If you have a lot of white in your kitchen, you might want to consider some warm tones and textures to add some balance. There are two ways to do this…

1. WOOD FLOORING

Wood flooring is a natural way to add warmth and texture to a room without interfering too much with color (as long as the wood doesn’t have a STRONG stain color).

2. BUTCHER BLOCK COUNTERTOPS

Ooo, I love me some butcher block countertops – especially on an island!

3. WOOD CUTTING BOARDS & ACCENTS/DETAILS

It doesn’t take much to add some warmth and interest to an overly white kitchen. A few cutting boards, countertop stools or small details can add function AND form to a space.

4. STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES ARE BEST FOR RESALE

No matter how much you love your white appliances, unless they’re the GE Cafe line, they won’t do much for your resale value (according to popular opinion). Why? Stainless steel is seen as the most updated cabinet finish – not white.

 

White kitchen, Calacatta Botanica white quartz countertops, marble look. zellige tile backsplash, Benjamin Moore White Dove painted shaker style cabinets and walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

READ MORE

6 Budget-Friendly Home Update Ideas

The New Era of Laminate Countertops & Why They Rock

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing White Paint Colors

The Best Paint Colors for Kitchen Islands & Bathroom Vanities

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signature

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2016, UPDATED FOR YOU IN LATE 2022

Comments 36

  1. LOVE this post ~ have exact problem and a lot of fingernail chewing about which direction to go. The hubs will be sooo happy that I won’t fuss any longer about keeping the white appliances in our effort to spruce up the kitchen into this decade. The ugly pics and comments gave me a good laugh! “my brain can’t even comprehend it” hehe

    1. Hi Kristen, I’m SO glad you found it helpful – you are exactly the type of homeowner I was hoping to help as I know it can be difficult to work with something that isn’t exactly what you want. I’ve found the best way to deal with these things is to embrace them and work with them, rather than against them!
      And this is where you say ‘hubby, I just saved us like $2500 by keeping the white appliances, so surely we can go buy some new toss cushions????’ 😉

      ~Kylie

  2. I LOVE my white appliances with my white cabinets. I fell for the “peer pressure” and got a stainless fridge and I hate the thing. Too hard to keep clean…and it screams “look at me”. Wish I had gone with white. I like how my white appliances don’t stand out with the white cabinets. My accents/decor get the focus- not my appliances.

  3. Thank you for this article. We just had our appliances delivered yesterday. Against all other opinions- I wanted white. I love their vintage/ classic feel- I went with the Maytag with the chucky SS handles. When they puled them off the truck I was in love (I had only seen them online). However when they pushed them into place-my brand new beautiful white cabinets looked almost cream. My heart sank…It’s so slight that it does really show in pics. But I see it, my husband even mentioned it. I had already incorporated several of your ideas here-Grey granite counters, aqua island w/ walnut butcher block. Hoping I “get use to it”

    1. Same happened to me….I bought Whirlpool ice….a mix of steel and white….lovely….except it makes my lovely white kitchen look yellowish….struggling..

  4. We just bought a house that has newer white appliances. The house was built in 2001 and I want to update the kitchen right off the bat. It’s oak and overwhelming to me. I was originally thinking about staining the cabinets dark, but when I found this site, I realized that you’re right. It will make the appliances stick out like a sore thumb! I think we should paint them cloud white and go with a dark counter tops and back splash. Thanks for the tips!

    1. I’m so glad the ideas and photos came in handy – these things can be tricky so it’s smart to do some research! And yes, I think going for dark countertops is wise for sure!
      ~Kylie

  5. Great article! I’m starting my kitchen project while keeping my white appliances. Affirms that what I want to do makes total sense!! The pics of the obvious bad use of white appliances gave me the laugh I needed today!!

    1. Hey! So my husband and I just bought a house and the previous owners left brand new appliances and they are all white. They are all whirlpool and they are nice. The cabinets are also white but the whites do not match. The appliances are very white and the cabinets almost look almond. I’ve read the it’s very hard to have white cabinets and appliances because it’s hard to match the same white paint. We are putting in darker counter tops and plan to paint the cabinets white to match the white appliances. Do you have any suggestions with what color white I should go with the match the white whirlpool appliances?
      Thanks!

  6. Hi Kylie! I was so happy to find your pointers on this website. I still have a very difficult kitchen that I was hoping you’d give me pointers on. I am trying to update my kitchen for under $1000…that means floors and countertops and appliances gotta stay. First I have a cream tile floor that I will eventually be replacing, but not now. I have white appliances. I have a black/grey speckled counter top. My walls are grey. I have gone round and round with what I want to do. Currently, I am considering black cabinets (so as not to have so much white against the ugly floor) on the bottom and white cabinets on the top (two-toned). I am keeping the black/grey specked counter top, with the exception of my island. I am considering a butcher block, stainless steel, or white countertop for my island. For my back splash I was thinking white with grey grout. Any thoughts you have would be so appreciated!

    1. Hi Christina, thank you for the note! Unfortunately due to the volume of questions I get daily, I need to refer most questions to my Online Consulting. This way I can look at photos and we can do a questionnaire together – then you can get advice that is suited specifically to your home! If you’re at all interested, it’s affordable, fun and I have some great packages to choose from! https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/

      ~Kylie

  7. I bought the new White Ice appliances a couple of years ago. And love them. Everyone that sees them think they are beautiful. I am so glad I went with White Ice instead of getting what everyone says you should get. Just wanted to say that not everyone loves Stainless steel. The design of the White Ice is very attractive. And do not feel my kitchen looks dated. Just because appliances are white does not mean they are 20 years old.

      1. Wanda, glad to hear you love the White Ice Series by Whirlpool! I just ordered the whole package for my kitchen remodel and am so excited! I saw them online and became obsessed with how cool they look. Not your Grandma’s white appliances at all. I am having custom cabinets painted white. I don’t want to end up with the situation the other commenter posted where my cabinets look cream. Any advice on white paint color for the cabinets?

        1. Hi Sara! When it comes to white sometimes the most ‘safe’ choice is choosing a colour that is pretty…darned…white. Something like SW High Reflective White. It just acts like white but wont’ go icy/cold or blueish toned…

  8. Thanks for the blog, this is exactly what I am looking for. I’m thinking of a white kitchen, including white appliances for a reno that will be a rental apartment. It is a fairly small kitchen with only one small window and no other natural light, that also serves as a hallway so will see lots of traffic. I’m thinking white cupboards with white appliances will help it appear bigger by not cutting up the space. Does that sound right? I’m thinking about the first pic, lets say ‘A’ = white with dark counters and similar subway tile backsplash, glass door upper cupboards with lighting to help it seem more open. OR maybe more like the second picture ‘B’ with the lighter counter top but a light blue/green subway tile backsplash, dark hardware.

    Main question – what sink?! With the goal being to make the space seem larger and brighter, I was thinking of a white farmhouse sink but if I do dark counter that won’t work, will it? Would you do stainless with ‘A’, and consider white sink for ‘B’? Or maybe an under mount and not farmhouse at all?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Adriana! The dark countertop can look striking, but if it’s a small kitchen I might keep things simple with an undermount sink, keeping things a bit more classic and clean!

  9. Hi there,

    I’m so scared to pick a white for my cabinets!! I do not want them to appear yellow or old against my white appliances,… Which bm colours do you recommend? I don’t want stark… So I need an in between .

    Handy help would be so awesome!!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Trish! I try to give as much free info as I can on my blog and if that doesn’t work, sometimes it’s time for an e-design! If that interests you, I have a lot of great packages to check out that are affordable!

      ~Kylie

  10. Hi!
    I loved finding your post! Great info – thanks so much!
    I’m starting to replace appliances and want to stay with white! I’m hoping to replace my countertop soon and have oak cabinets. Should I go white or dark?

    Thanks for your help!
    Mare

    1. Post
      Author

      Well I lean toward dark, to create a light/med/dark effect rather than ‘white or oak’. Your white is the light, your oak is the medium and your countertop is the dark!

      1. Hi Kylie,
        Excellent article, great options abound!
        With what you said in your article, if homeowners picked dark countertops would that negate the need to paint their oak cabinets white? I know some prefer white on white (on white even). If you had white appliances, oak cabinets and a blah countertop and could switch out just the colour of the cabinets or the colour of the countertop which would you choose?

        1. Post
          Author

          Hi Nancy, I would definitely pick a countertop with a decent amount of white in it, to pull in the white of the appliances – otherwise there will be too much contrast and not enough of a visual connection 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
  11. I painted my whole house plus kitchen cabinets BM Simply White. It was SO beautiful….until my appliances arrived and made Simply White looks simply yellow. I cried. I installed a white Bosch dishwasher, a white Samsung stove, and a white Whirlpool fridge. Their blue undertone never occurred to me, and so it was the shock of my project. We just have to live with it since it cost a fortune to paint with such high quality paints. Learn from my mistake girls!

    1. Thanks for this comment, Valerie! I paid for design advice (MK vs. Kylie) and she recommended Simply White for our cabinets to go with white appliances. We haven’t put it up yet, but I’ve been feeling so nervous, and now I’m reading this post and your comment and wondering if we need to change direction ASAP. Problem is, trim throughout our whole house is Simply White. And, our colour palette is very “soft” (taupe undertones), so I don’t think a starker white is an option for the kitchen. I’m wondering about Pale Oak for the cabinets after reading this, but there are some kitchens online with white appliances in griege kitchens, and the appliances stand out too much for my taste… so I’m confused!

      All to say, if you happen to see this, as you’ve lived with it, have you gotten used to it? or does the yellow vs. blue effect remain and drive you crazy?

      Thank you!

      1. Post
        Author

        Hi Summer! I’m glad you wrote! Now, I haven’t seen your kitchen and am a fan of Maria, so I don’t want to go against her advice totally, but my ‘gut’ says that Simply White is likely too yellow for your appliances. Sometimes you don’t notice this warmth until you compare it to ‘white’ and then all of a sudden the difference between them is considerably more noticeable. My thought is actually that if a starker white isn’t good for your palette, then the white appliances seem like an interesting choice, as they are a stark white. And yes, you might be better off looking at a softer warm gray of sorts? Now remember, I haven’t seen your kitchen countertop/backsplash/flooring OR your wall colour, but you could look at Balboa Mist which has a wink less warmth in it compared to Pale Oak, which means there’s a wink less pink undertone in there. Maybe even Collingwood? Simply White is a TOUGH one because of the yellow in it. With your layout, is it possible to paint the trim just in your kitchen, to shift things a bit? You know what, you’ve already paid someone for advice and you’re worried. Why don’t you just shoot me a few photos of your kitchen (4-6) so I can get a feel for your products/natural light/etc…and I’ll put an eyeball on things and see if I have a gut instinct – of course, if you haven’t already gone and painted :). This is such a big project and maybe I can give you some food for thought to help you make a choice you’re comfortable with. Now I receive (ahem) TONS of emails per day with readers asking questions, most of which I just can’t reply to, so in the subject line, please type, ‘Kylie I’m Summer from the COMMENT section’ and then I’ll see it :).
        ~Kylie
        Please email me at [email protected]
        Chat soon 🙂 Kylie

  12. What white or gray paint color would you recommend to complement the GE Cafe white appliances that are so beautiful? Would agreeable gray work?

  13. We’re in the process of having a house built. Small kitchen. I have no idea what color cabinets and appliances we should get. I don’t care for stainless steal so either black or white appliances. White cabinets or ?? Counter tops and backsplash? Sigh I’m overwhelmed. I do like white, black and grey. Thank Kylie I would appreciate any suggestions you can provide.

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      Author

      Hi Cindy! It depends on your personal vibe. If you use a lot of white in your decor, then white appliances makes sense and you’d choose a white cabinet paint that flows (nothing warm). If you prefer contrast/interest and darker accents, black appliances would work, but in a small kitchen I do lean towards the idea of white!

  14. This post was really helpful! I lived with a 1950s kitchen with white appliances and the cabinets were painted a dull, off white — really not pretty. Thanks for pointing us in the bright white direction if we have white appliance, even if it might be a little hard to swallow initially. I sure don’t want to live with a similar mistake in the little cabin I’m building. Also have loved some of your other posts! Thank you, Kylie.

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