White appliances and can't decide on white or dark cabinets

redecoratingmomSeptember 3, 2011

So I've been searching the forum and can't seem to find a post that addresses my question. I have white appliances in my kitchen which are still pretty new and I want to update my cabinets. They are a mid tone brown/wood. Its like the typical 80's color. For the past couple of years I've been really wanting my cabinets to be darker like a chocolate or espresso color, then I got to thinking about how that would look against the white appliances. So now I'm starting to chicken out from the dark cabinets and am thinking of painting them white just for continuity sake. I'm not in love with the idea of having white cabinets it feels like a design cop-out to me(just a personal preference)but I want the kitchen to look good when I'm done with it. Its gonna take alot of effort to get those cabinets painted and I don't want to not love the final result either because the contrast between the dark cabinets and white appliances is too stark or because I'll have this big bright white kitchen with no flair. Does anyone have pics of kitchens for either scenario that have turned out well? Help, please.

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If you like dark cabs and need/want to stick with the white appliances, you can absolutely make it work. You'll need to tie it all together with some unifying elements.

When we reno'd our guest bathroom, we knew we would be using a white toilet, white sinktop, and white shower pan. We were having our vanity made in walnut, with Espresso stain, and we already had the floor tile--lt noce/walnut travertine. At the tile place, it was suggested that we choose tile that tied in the different colors, so the room looked cohesive. We used glossy white field/wall tiles, and then a listello border that incorporated the dk brown, lt noce and white (emperador dark/noce trav/white thassos).

You could do much the same thing; white countertop, white or dk brown sink, backsplash tile that has your dk browns and white (overall, or just a border), etc.

Here are some pics of our bathroom, just to give you an idea of the colors working together:

I hope this helps!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 9:42AM
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I think the darker cabinets would look great! I also think it would be really difficult to "match" the white appliances with a paint color for cabinets. cat_mom I just remodeled my bathroom last year and it is almost identical to yours! Love it!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:19AM
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I prefer white with dark cabs than white appliances with white cabs. It is never a perfect color match and either the cabs or the appliances look dingy next to the other white. Also you are not expressing a liking for white kitchens so you would never feel at home in your own if your heart is not into it. I say go darker.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:25AM
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Why not sell your appliances on Craig's List and buy dark ones from the same place? Or paint the appliances? Whatever you do, don't make any major decisions based on existing appliances.

It's true you could make white not jump out so much by changing other surfaces for that purpose, but appliances are their sizes, shapes, and positions for utility, and I don't think anyone ever has managed to turn a refrigerator into a visual asset. We almost always place them off the sight lines so they do minimal damage, and some camouflage them in walls of cabinetry to make them disappear altogether.

Although, I guess I take it back a little--like a kitchy kitchen with an antique turquoise fridge standing proudly, but those at least are typically much smaller. How about dishwashers, though? Who's ever made one of those an attractive, or at least pleasant design feature in a handsome room? Go for what you really want, and don't let those things act as balls chained to your ankle.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:25AM
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We just got a new stainless refrigerator, microwave and range to replace the white ones that died. We have chocolate stained cabinets as you can see in my photo.

Now that we have the stainless (as you can see we still have the white dishwasher), DH much prefered the white. He loved the brightness the white appliances gave the room.

I have mixed feelings. While the white were soooooo much easier to keep clean, in my case, with the white counters and white backsplash, there was too much starkness against the dark cabinets. I was the one that pushed for the stainless too ironically.

If there were white appliances with stainless handles, I would have gone for those in a heartbeat. I know IKEA makes a white refrigerator with stainless handles but it was too wide for our space, and we couldn't afford the beautiful floating glass JennAir one. I also could not find a range or microwave with the stainless handles also.

You can decide from my photo if you prefer the white appliances.

As cat mom said, you need something to unify the two extremes. I love her bathroom! I think if we had a backsplash and countertop that wasn't so white it would have made my kitchen look much nicer and I wouldn't have been so quick to insist on stainless appliances.

Here's the kitchen with the white appliances

And here it is now with the stainless just to show the difference

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:27AM
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I think it depends on your counters and backsplash. I like dark cabs with white, esp if you have light counters.

If you decide you do not want so much contrast, then find another color that you like. No one said cabs had to be brown or white. The paint store has every color and shade you can imagine. For example, the front of our house had ugly aged wood siding on the top of the front. The sides and back were white and the p.o.s painted the brick white. I waited a few years but when it seemed like the reno was still a ways off, I decided to paint to get me through. I chose a pale lavender because I wanted a color that was not an option once we finally put new siding up. It instantly made our house go from ugly to a kind of cottage look. It brightened things considerably. When the reno finally came, we decided that the front of our house looked good as it now is and we did not even bother to side it. Someday, when the paint starts to chip, we may put up vinyl siding after all or just may repaint it. This is your chance to use any color you want. Grays are getting popular, but you can use green, blue, red or any color you can imagine.
If the darker espresso color is what you are after, a lot of people here have had good luck with gel stains. As long as you work with your bs and counters, or replace them, you have many options....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:44AM
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I personaly do not like the dark cabinets with the white appliances. Why is works in cat mom's bathroom is that there is not a large expanse of dark wood the way it would be in a kitchen. There is a thread tht Boxer pups found that shows white cabinets with white appliances. The trick is to make it seem intential. She had a couple of examples that looked great. I will try to search for them, but maybe Boxer will see this and find that thread. If you decide to go dark, I would consider stainless.
I like the idea of starting over with new appliances. Unless you absolutely love them, why work around them? CL is a great idea.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 12:04PM
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Whether you go with white or dark cabinets (personally, I prefer the dark, even with white appliances) is your choice.

However, keep in mind that if your cabinets are in good shape, they will outlive your appliances. You're not enamored of white cabinets, do you want to commit yourself to them "forever"? Unless you plan to redo your kitchen when the appliances die, you will have a similar decision to make when you need new appliances...and they won't die all at once, so you'll be re-committing to the color over and over again.

If the cabinets are in good shape and painting is intended to be your only redo of them in the foreseeable future, then paint them the color you want, not to match your appliances. As Rosie mentioned, you can paint the appliances if they really bother you (using, I think, appliance or auto paint or a paint meant for metal).

The bottom line is this: If the cabinets are not going to be replaced when your appliances die, paint them to please you, not the appliances. Then, for your appliances....(1) patiently wait for them to die and replace them with black or stainless, (2) sell them on Craigslist and then buy new, or (3) paint them now. I would wait b/f I decided what to do w/the appliances until you've painted your cabinets...then make the decision based on how you think they look! (If it were me and I didn't like them, I would probably go with option (2) or (3).)

(If your cabinets are in only fair or poor condition, then you may be replacing them sooner than you think/plan! So, if you're willing to live with white for a couple of years, then it might not be so bad. Oh, and if they are in only fair or poor condition, don't put an expensive countertop on them now...it would be a waste of money b/c existing countertops very, very rarely fit new cabinets...even w/the same layout...and if you end up replacing cabinets, I recommend looking closely at your layout and changing it to be more functional if it's not ideal now.)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 12:36PM
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hi redecorating..

One of my favorite kitchens is a rtpaisley's DIY black cabinets... white appliances..

When you click on the link, scroll way down to see her kitchen, and then click on her blog...wildinkpress.. You must check it out!


Here is a link that might be useful: rtpaisley's kitchen

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 1:16PM
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Thank you everyone for the responses! @cat mom you bathroom is beautiful. @chitown remodel I didn't consider that the appliances and the cabinets would need to be the same shade of white, thanks for pointing that out.
As for the deal with the appliances,they definitely are going to have to stay. When my dishwasher broke a couple of years ago I bought it in white because previously it was the only black thing in a kitchen full of white appliances. Last month our stove broke so I purchased the same brand and series stove to match the dishwasher to give a sense of cohesion and had planned on doing the same as each old appliance dies. All this was done without thinking about the change in cabinet color. So considering how new the appliances are and the money spent on them I couldn't dream of selling them or painting them (plus the husband would have a fit). That's why I kinda stuck with working around them.
As for other elements in the kitchen it pretty much a blank slate. The walls are white (save for the areas the toddlers attacked them with markers/crayons), there is no backsplash, the countertops are like a pale gold color (I plan on maybe using the Rustoleum countertop transformation to redo those), and the cabinets are low end and not in the best condition.
We plan on moving in the next 2-3 years so I'm not willing to spend money an a major renovation. My plan is to paint the wall a caramel color, change up the flooring, and gussy up the existing cabinets and counters, maybe even install a backsplash if i really adventurous :) You guys have given some great input, feel free to keep it coming! SN: I haven't posted a pic b/c the kitchen is really sad and embarrassing but it you think it will help I will post one.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 1:32PM
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It would help if you posted pix. We might be able to photoshop them if you want to see how different options would look.
If you will sell soon and don't want to sink big money in, there is a lot you can do to gussy them up....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Why don't you try light, but not white cabinets? Here's my favorite kitchen with white appliances:

I'll add a link below that shows a couple other kitchens, but that's my favorite.

Here is a Martha Stewart kichen I love in a color called Sharkey Gray. The appliances are not white, but white would look great in this kitchen:

Now I just thought of another great kitchen with espresso cabinets and white appliances. It was posted in the last week or so:

I've already used the link below, so here is the link:


She doesn't have a lot of natural light, but she pulls it off with the granite choice, gorgeous backsplash, and undercabinet lighting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchens with white appliances.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 2:43PM
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I think a dark charcoal gray color on the cabinets would blend nicely with the white appliances and the golden countertop. Then maybe window coverings blending the colors gray, white, and yellow.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 3:02PM
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I had the same dilemma. I have a white fridge, dishwasher, and built-in double ovens, and want to remodel from cream to darker cherry cabinets. I hate the idea of getting rid of my white fridge and dishwasher because both look fine and work perfectly.

However, both are 20 years old, so I decided to move the fridge to the basement and give the dishwasher away.

The built-in double ovens are another matter. Since I just bought them about three years ago at a cost of about $3,000, I wasn't about to buy new ones. Then I had an idea: since the white double ovens were originally sold in either white, black, or stainless steel, I checked things out and came to find that all the parts that differentiate the white from the black from the stainless steel are the exposed parts (doors, handles, and trim) and they can be interchanged. Therefore, since all the parts are still available. I've decided to convert the white ovens to stainless steel at a cost of about $400.

This may not work in your situation, but I thought I'd share the idea.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 1:29AM
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