Extracted from 24H Vancouver September 13, 2012 edition
By Linda White
Over the years, the white kitchen has been called many things: classic, contemporary, clean and sparse. It’s also never really gone out of style, though it has been cleverly reinvented.
“There are a number of ways that white continues to make an appearance, in hues ranging from snow white to varying shades of creamy, muted, milky tones,” the National Kitchen and Bath Association reveals in its list of top trends from this year’s annual design competition. “This combination of colours and textures is a strong representation of the reinvented and renewed white kitchen – strong, sleek and superb.”
What is the white kitchen’s enduring appeal? “It works in so many different contexts – from traditional to modern and everything in between … and always feels fresh, clean, bright and airy,” says Beverley Leigh Binns of Binns Kitchen and Bath design in Toronto.
She compares it to the little black dress: “It’s a classic framework and can be reinvented over and over again. You can infuse your personality and dress it up or down through elements such as wall colours, accessories and polished metals.”
The white kitchen can fit any type of furniture of flooring, says Martha Beckermann of Kitchen Concepts by Martha Beckermann of Kitchen Concepts by Kitchener, Ont. One of her designs was used by National Kitchen and Bath Association to illustrate the white kitchen trend.
“My favourite design approach is working with the warmth of a beautiful wood, offset it with the coolness of a metal – like stainless in the appliances – and then add a splash of colour to pop whole design,” she says.
Beckermann describes the modern white kitchen as “minimalist. Less is more. Clean, linear lines or simple design elements will give it a sophisticated sleek look.”
Features include mostly wide doors of the same size, drawers hidden behind doors and 24-inch rather than 18-inch backsplash tiles. “It looks sleeker and the designer can keep all the doors in one flowing line instead of raising cabinets over the cook-top or sink. Often linear lift-up doors are used for upper cabinetry in order to simplify the look,” she says.
Today’s white kitchen isn’t necessarily pure white but a variation, Leigh Binns says. It’s often a clean, neutral backdrop for other materials and textures – a marble backsplash perhaps – and can create interesting “tension.” When used as a background, it allows polished metals to truly shine and lets dark finishes stand out.
“Everything looks richer and warmer when paired or contrasted with white,” she says.
For a contemporary look, pair white countertops and cabinetry with a bold wall colour. For a softer look, mix a variety of vanillas and muslins to create textural statement. Layers of white with undertones of grey or darker values of white can create a traditional fell. “An infusion of contemporary into a traditional design can be done as well,” says Leigh Binns.
When opting for a white kitchen, consider whether you want it to be the focal point or backdrop. Also think about how a white kitchen will fit into the ‘story’ of your home. “If your home is filled with heavier textures and dark colours, a white kitchen can be jarring,” she says. “What is the right white – not only for your kitchen but the rest of your home?”
Consider the undertone of the white you select: Is it blue, green or even red or yellow? “On its own it may look like a strong colour but how it’s perceived against other colours is also an important consideration,” Leigh Binns says.By Soho Properties l Sotheby's International Realty, Thursday, October 4th, 2012