Anyone ever regret choosing white cabinets?

leennpDecember 12, 2013

Hello all, still struggling with some big major decisions, I think I am aware of the basic pros and cons of white/off white cabinets versus stained cabinets, but just wondering if anyone had decided to put in a white kitchen and regretted it ? Every picture I see on Houzz of a white kitchen i think how light, bright and open they look and how much I love that look. But those are all newly installed or remodeled kitchens and most fairly high end. I need a working kitchen. You never see pictures of the lived in for 5 years white kitchens. That is my only hesitancy. Has nothing to do with trendiness of white kitchens and maybe down the road white will not be in fashion and affect resale. Only the looking around 5 years from now and thinking wow, this did not hold up to well. Thanks.

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I have had off white kitchens. I thought they were awfully difficult to keep clean even though I was single (no family messing around in the kitchen). I know that white is the current trend, but I would not put it in a kitchen. I need something that I can use and work in.

We just put in clear coated hickory cabinets with tropical brown countertops. Not a speck of white anywhere - except on the kitchen wall, I guess...Anyhow, I'm looking forward to it. I'm a clean housekeeper, but this should still be easier to live with.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 5:20PM
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More people regret not choosing the thing they love and going with the "safe" choice.

I had white cabinets in last house for 2 years before we moved. No regrets. This kitchen is only about 18 months old. So far, no regrets. If they are done properly they should wear just fine. Obviously they show more dirt, but it doesn't mean they get dirtier. A lot of people think that.

Get what you love. Make sure to talk to people who have the painted cabinets you want to use. Those are the people who can tell you how yours will hold up.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 5:20PM
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I had dark cherry in my last kitchen and I hated it because it showed every speck of dust when the afternoon sun came in (our kitchen was west facing, so basically from 3 pm on, the sun streamed in at an angle that highlighted my inadequacies as a housecleaner). I swore that my next kitchen would be light for that reason, and so we have a white kitchen now. I guess I'm not answering your question, but I just wanted to point out that white is not the only color that shows dirt.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:00PM
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My mother in law installed custom white cabinets in her tiny kitchen close to 20 years ago. This is a ranch kitchen that gets a lot of use both before she passed away and now that we have renters there. It looks good. I wouldn't be worried about it as long as you have quality cabinetry to begin with.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:40PM
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I am in process of having white upper cabs and darker (sofieunder Ikea) lower cabs. Except for one walll that has floor to ceiling ikea pantry cabs that are all white. I was worried about the white but the cabinets are in (countertop not yet) and I am SOOOO glad I chose this combo. I did choose the dark lower cabs for practical reasons - thought they might be more inclined to get scuffed up on the bottom.
Don't know yet how the kitchen will wear but I am SOOOO happy with my choices so far.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:53PM
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We moved into our 1964 house 10 years ago. The original cabinets were painted white sometime before 1988, and we repainted a few years ago. So the original paint lasted at least 20 years; we painted mainly to change the white from slightly "off" (a previous owner smoked, that might have one it) to truer white. The cabinets and wainscoting hold up fine! Here are the issues we saw/see:
1) The nasty, old oven vented up, and a cupboard door above it yellowed ever-so-slightly (we've since replaced the oven).
2)The cab door below where we do all our breakfast and lunch prep, and perpendicular to the dishwasher, and hiding the trash pullout, catches some spatters from time to time as you would expect; since we see it, we wipe it off! If it weren't white, it would probably get pretty icky before we cleaned it.

As with anything, if it's done right, it will hold up. And no matter what you choose, you have no idea if that will be in fashion when you sell.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 6:55PM
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White shows more they get cleaned more often! I totally agree with Bpathome, as dark cabinets don't show dirt and I know I don't clean them as often as I did white or yellow ones (previous homes).

That being said, I like to paint so if I were going to have a white kitchen, I would want one I could paint. I'm sure the new ones hold up incredibly well, but I live on a farm...and I want to be able to do my own touch-ups.

It's also nice to wake up one day and decide to add some blue or green accents to the cabinets. But then, that's just me :)

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:06PM
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I've had white cabinets for two years. I still marvel at their creamy goodness. Yes, they show dirt. You see it, you wipe it off. Easy. Other colors get dirty too, but you can't always see it, so it stays put and breeds and has baby dirtlings. :) About twice a year I do a top to bottom wipe down with water/Dawn and a microfiber cloth. Takes me maybe 20 minutes max. It prevents dust from really settling into the shaker pieces. Someone on this board mocked me for doing that, but it's just a little preventive care.

I'll admit I was worried about how it would hold up, esp. with my cats, one of which is a cupboard door opener. I've since relaxed and just enjoy my white kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Thanks for responses so far, it does help. The white cabinets we are considering are the opaque tinted varnish kind. But now that you guys mention the dark cabinets not necessarily being cleaner because they are not cleaned as much, you make me think of my current dark stained cabinets, I think the finish now that they are 12 years old looks horrible due to things that seem to have solidified on finish make it look bad. Really not thinking that would be much different than white where at least I would see and know need to wipe off before something dries. We have started to refinish some of the cabinet doors in current house before placing on market and you can see such a difference after light refinishing, so stained finish won't really "solve" problem of finish not looking good in 10 years. I keep thinking that if I put in dark stained cabinets, every day that was not bright and sunny with lots of light in the kitchen, I would stand there and say I should have put the white in, would look brighter today.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:27PM
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Here's another thread on this same thing.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Would you do White Cabinets again?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:57PM
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I have white cabinets from kraftmaid in my bathroom. I wanted them in the kitchen, but DH nixed it. Now I'm glad he did! We are not living in the house yet, we have been doing all the Reno diy. The bathroom has been in a few months. I wiped down the cabinets today and I'm a bit dissappointed that I already see wear on them. I don't think they would have held up well at all in a kitchen for us.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 10:25PM
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I finally (almost done) have my white kitchen. I've wanted white cabinets since we moved into our home, 18 years ago. They probably weren't as popular then as they are now but I think white kitchens will always be around. My cabinets (oak) were pretty gunky when they left and I don't remember cleaning them very often. My light colored formica, on the other hand, was always spotless. If you like white cabinets, I wouldn't let keeping them clean deter me. I don't think you have to go high end to get a quality paint finish. Lots of info on GW about specific cabinet companies.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:22AM
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linelle: I almost died laughing when I read "so it stays put and breeds and has baby dirtlings." You sound like my husband.

Being on a farm, I'm terrified of white cupboards or floor in the kitchen. My mother did that once...We had a white linoleum floor growing up for about 3 years...scrubbed the the finish right off that Armstrong linoleum!

I do think white cabinets are awfully pretty, though, and a couple of my friends have them. They love them, but I could never get away with it out here. :/

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 1:09AM
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So I guess the overall feeling is if you love the look, you are willing to put up with any negatives, if you don't love it, forget about having white?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 7:57AM
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So I guess the overall feeling is if you love the look, you are willing to put up with any negatives, if you don't love it, forget about having white?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 8:01AM
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We are remodeling, and are doing white cabinets again. We built this house 20+ years ago, and did a white high gloss lacquer kitchen, similar to the finish you would see on a white grand piano. The cabinets have been extremely easy to care for, and still look new to this day. It is a super durable finish, so if you are afraid of a painted finish, you may want to investigate this type of finish. White is very popular now, but in my opinion, white cabinets will never go out of style. I grew up in a house that was over 100 years old. We had the original white cabinets in the butler's pantry that went to the ceiling. When I was first married, we purchased a house with a very nice cherry kitchen, but living in the northeast, I always felt it was too dark. I will also do a white sink again. The other day I was cleaning a pot with sauce, and I mentioned to my husband that if I had a dark sink, it would be impossible to see the light glaze of sauce and grease on the sink. My house is Georgian, and every piece of trim is white, so a white kitchen fits into the overall style of the house.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Fifteen years ago I painted our then 14 year old builder grade oak cabinets. I painted them in semi-gloss oil base. They held up pretty good, especially the uppers. I'm sure most factory finished cabs would be fine as long as it's not a low end cabinet. What I didnt like was stuff/drips getting stuck in the grooves of the doors and drove me so insane I went with slab doors/drawers (maple) when we much easier to keep clean and wipe down!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 9:56AM
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I have had my white painted (catalyzed finish) cabs in for a few months, and they so far have survived floor refinishing and painting. Some floor stain got smeared on them -- wiped off easily without damaging the finish. All kinds of smudges from counter, sink, etc installation -- again, cleaned without problem. I think that they are going to be very durable, and, I agree, stained cabs tend to get overlooked in the cleaning routine and get grungy without really being noticed.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 10:03AM
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We have 2 colors of painted cabinets in our kitchen-- light green and off white. After 2-1/2 years, the cabinets still look great, but the green is wearing so much better. If I didn't have the green to compare it to I might feel differently, but sometimes I wish I had done all green. It's not a cleaning thing-- the off whites are plenty easy to clean-- it's a matter of showing wear for me.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 10:23AM
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IMHO, dirt is dirt. It's more visible on white, but hey, just clean it, right! : ) The larger issue is paint vs stain. Paint can very noticeably flake/chip if not done right. But if it IS done, right, it's very tough.

My last kitchen was 7-8 yo when we moved. My complaint was that the paint was so perfect, even w 3 kids and 8 years, that it didnt look like the cabinets were wood.

I will say this, though, which I totally pooh poohed when someone mentioned it here years ago. Shaker inset doors do collect dirt/dust in the corners. We have cleaning help so frankly I didn't care much when I saw that. But even the help doesn't really want to run around with a qtip, so it isnt' as spotless 100% of the time as I'd like.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 10:45AM
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My housekeeper uses one of the vacuum attachments to clean our "modified" Shaker inset doors and they look perfect.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 11:25AM
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I've always had white kitchens and love them. The drawbacks I can think off:
Ours are painted MDF, so there is some damage (water, dings) that extends into the MDF --- stained solid wood doors could probably be refinished more easily
The dirt is more visible. That's an issue with the cabs over the OTR microwave where grease requires some major scrubbing and harsh cleaners, with the result that I scrubbed away the paint on the raised panels.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 11:45AM
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my partner and I are perplexed at all the white cabinet kitchens... We've had 2, and recently bought a house with beautiful dark wood cabinets with steal counter top and recessed lighting and it looks wonderful and cozy. It seems white is perhaps a 2000s or 2010s style; we wonder if it'll be akin to harvest gold of the 70s. We did not like white cabinets because they showed everything. We currently use Pledge All Surface and it keeps our dark wood looking great.

We would never re-do a kitchen in white after having 2 of them over the past 10 yrs. And, there are SO many out there, now it's like everyone else it seems. White....bleeccchh , sorry, white fans, but it's so played.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:10AM
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I don't know where you're going with this one, utahooha who just joined, but I was told by my cabinet maker that furniture polish can harm the lacquer finish on my cherry cabinets. You only need to wipe them with a damp cloth.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:57AM
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I had white cabinets in my last kitchen for 14 years and just used white again in my remodel. My first ones were Merillat thermofoil and actually still looked great when we ripped them out. They were able to be reused by my friend in her basement. Everything wiped off very easily. I was a little afraid that with painted cabinets that wouldn't be the case. However, I am pleasantly surprised by how easily everything wipes right off.

That being said, I did have my island done in a stained finish this time around because it gets a little more banged up than the rest of the cabinets. I have two boys that sit at the island to eat quite often and it gets kicked, etc. It no longer shows the marks from their shoes!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 12:26PM
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As with any choice, if you like it and are willing to do touch-ups every few years, go with white. I have a kitchen on the north side of my house. It is so lovely and bright--would look like a dungeon if it were stained wood. BM Ivory Tusk. I just did a second kitchen in another house--south side, will be very bright, but I like white! Mayonnaise. I'm stockpiling some quarts of Impervo for future touchups. I also like to paint....

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 12:42PM
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lcskaisgir: What brand of white cabinets did you go with this time? Thanks

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:02PM
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aries61: Shiloh, very pleased so far.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:16PM
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lcskaisgir: Thank you. I saw your cabinets in another thread. Looks like Charleston doorstyle? Which white did you choose? Can't wait to see more pictures of them. What wood/stain did you go with for the island?

I'm 90% sure that I'm going with Shiloh, but wish they did a real finished end instead of a 1/4 finish panel on the end.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:34PM
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Good eye! They are indeed the Charleston door style in Polar White. The island is done in the same door style but the Silas stain w/black glaze (on maple). I'm not sure what you mean about the ü finish panel on the end?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Thanks for the answers. How do you like Silas w/black glaze?

I got a sample of the Silas on maple with graphite highlight and didn't care for it. Can you post a picture of your island?

If I go with Shiloh will probably do Artic white. The soft white had to much yellow in it. Wasn't sure about Polar White.

This what I meant about the 1/4" panel on the end. They have 1/2 plywood sides and if you don't do the integral panel on the end like you did and want a finished end, they will put a 1/4" finished panel on top of the plywood side to finish the end. Most other cabinet manufacturers will put a 5/8" or 3/4" 1 pc end on the cabinet to finish it.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:40PM
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There's a house in my neighborhood and the kitchen is very large with interior cabs/perimeter cabs and an island. ALL being an off white/ivory glazed. IMO, it's too much of the same thing, and nothing seems to stand out. I don't have as large of a kitchen, but decided to have the perimeter cabs a dark stain, and the interior cabs, which include a peninsula, in the ivory glaze. I've had many compliments, as it's not too much of one or the other. DO consider how many cabinets are in a space.One finish can be overwhelming.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:01PM
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I have a thread titled "which backsplash tile?" that shows a couple pics of the island I believe. Not the best photos but until I can get some more taken you can get a general idea. I think I also have one from a couple months ago before knobs were even put on, I'll look.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 4:21PM
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I put in a white kitchen 20 yrs ago. Dark room. Putting in another white one. For a remodeled bath, I did cherry cabs since I like dark wood and it shows dust in recessed panel corner. I don't think bath would have looked nice in white anyway. I go by what the rooms 'speak' to me. Since we remodel only when it really needs it, I don't do trendy for anything that can't be switched out on a whim. It's worked for us so far.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:21PM
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I see the dirt more with white than I did withe the clear maple. Definitely have to keep after it more. But that's a good thing as our previous cabinet grime just would not come off after awhile

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:59AM
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White....bleeccchh , sorry, white fans, but it's so played.

Oh darn, I hate being played.

White does show everything. So, spot occurs, wipe it up, done. What's the problem?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 10:52AM
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I could see it being a problem in some kitchens with lots of cabinetry. Combine that with kids, dogs, and busy lives. Some people don't even wipe their counters down every night, which I could never do.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:17AM
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Does anyone feel like the white uppers stand up better than the bottoms?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:18AM
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FamCook, yes, simply because there's relatively little body/toy/pots/pans contact made with them other than grabbing handles.

may_flowers, the messes that I wipe up happen in a fairly limited area around food prep/cooking, not kitchen-wide. About twice a year I do a thorough wipe down with water/Dawn and a microfiber cloth, stem to stern. In my 10x10 kitchen, it takes me maybe 20 minutes max. Twice a year. That keeps all the dust and incidentals at bay. The rest is just a spot wipe.

I am a compulsive counter wiper, I'll admit it. Any time of day will do for me. Takes me maybe 1 minute if I'm doing a really thorough job. :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:53AM
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If you do end of using one cabinet finish, a few glass doors break up the solid look. A large kitchens needs to be treated differently than one that's smaller. I would suggest visiting showrooms to get a true feel/look.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:28PM
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I'll give one pro for white that I don't think I read - the fact that it can be repaired. So, this weekend I was up on the ladder and really stretching to make a measurement and well, I came down and so did the ladder. I managed to mangle the edge of a cabinet in the process. I had just painted the cabinets late last year so the tears were flowing! But then I remembered that because they're painted they can be repaired and no one will know any better. If they were stained that wouldn't be so.

Really maddeningly the paint has been damaged in a couple of spots by repairmen (and me!) and any touch ups have been really easy. I used cabinet coat and it touches up so beautifully.

I also got electrocuted over the weekend but that's another story...

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 8:38PM
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I'm a little perplexed by people saying white cabinets are "played" or will look dated. I consider white cabinets pretty classic. My mother and mother-in-law both have white kitchens that were installed in the early 90's. And my grandmother had a white kitchen from the 1950's until recently. Granted, the countertops and other finishes were different than the current trends, but they were white kitchens nonetheless. Also, I know white kitchens is all you see in design magazines and on Houzz, but I don't actually know anyone that has a white kitchen in its current iteration. Maybe I run in the wrong circles, as none of my friends' homes have been in House Beautiful.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:18AM
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It really boils down to a matter of opinion. I painted our dark stained cabinets white because the kitchen felt gloomy with dark cabinets on three sides. In our current house, I painted my cabinets cream (Cabinet Coat) and they are quite easy to clean and at least I know when they are dirty. I love stained cabinets like Maple, and Hickory too. Just get what you like and what best fits your kitchen design and don't worry about the rest. What "dates" a kitchen is usually the appliances and lighting and most of our kitchens will be considered "dated" by marketing people in less than 10 years anyway.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 1:06PM
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I grew up with a kitchen from the early 50's that had white cabinets. 1st house I bought in my first marriage had antique white kitchen cabinets. After that marriage lol, my 1st apt had off white kitchen cabinets. When my current husband and I of 30 years bought our first house, it had oak but so dark almost black you couldn't see the grain. Although that house was built 1950, think the cabinets must have been done early 1970's. We moved in mid 80's. 1990 I striped the cabinets, bought new unfinished doors and stained them a medium oak color. They looked great..

I had vowed I was never going to have white cabinets after living with them so long while growing up. In 1994 had a house built, we chose the new cabinets in medium oak. In 10 years they looked pretty beat up, even after trying to keep them clean and keep up with them.
Couldn't afford a whole new kitchen with 16 new cabinets.
Started searching houzz and found many where the uppers were a shade of white, and the lowers were stained. I really started to like the look. This also was a way to have a new kitchen at half the price of all new cabinets.

So... last Summer, bought a Graco paint sprayer and painted all my upper cabinets antique white, but replaced the doors to be butt doors and 2 cabinets went with frame only and I installed a nice glass and bought all new ORB knobs and handles. We will also be placing LED lights inside the glass cabinets.
The whole kitchen looks so much larger than the 16x24 it already is. Being one who loves stained wood, this was a big change for me, even for my husband.when I told him I wanted to paint the uppers white said.. oh no.. don't do that!!.. After showing him the kitchens with painted and stained cabinets, he now loves them too.

This year, in fact just over 1 week ago, we ordered lower cabinets from Conestoga Wood Specialties via one of their dealers.
1st part of the order will arrive on Friday. we added 4 new cabinets to the already 16. 2 island cabinets being added on the ends to enlarge the island will be a soft green that I already painted the 2 that are there. 1 corner upper will be antique white like the rest.
The rest of the lowers will be Cherry that I will be staining walnut. I do a lot of wood refinishing, so this isn't new to me.

2 years ago, I would have never thought I would ever paint wood cabinets, but so glad I changed my mind.

White cabinets in all shades of white have been around probably since the 1800's. If you like white cabinets and it goes in with the style you are going for, they by all means... go for it :)
I just have to decide on which Cambria counter to go with.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 1:27PM
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My dad built the house we moved into in 1948. Oh, I wish I'd been able to buy it when my mom sold it in 1992.

Anyway, it had a lovely eat-in kitchen with white metal cabinets and dark blue formica counters and linoleum tile floor. Over the years there were appliance upgrades, new wallpaper and shutters (!) on the windows, but the cabinets never changed. Nor did the counters or floor.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 1:33PM
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White is is yellow, green, blue, do you choose? :)

If we paint our cabinets, I plan to keep plenty for touch-up! I think it depends on how much sunlight you have, how much artificial lighting, what other colors you use and what you want the room to feel like.

White and pastels seem to be open and airy, while wood and darker colors are often called warm and cozy. Although I'm sure you could warm up white cabinets with other will never feel like an English Pub. Just like dark wood would be a difficult to use in a 'light and airy' look!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 3:36PM
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Reply to Aries:
Aries said: "This what I meant about the 1/4" panel on the end. They have 1/2 plywood sides and if you don't do the integral panel on the end like you did and want a finished end, they will put a 1/4" finished panel on top of the plywood side to finish the end. Most other cabinet manufacturers will put a 5/8" or 3/4" 1 pc end on the cabinet to finish it."

I think you are somehow mistaken about this. Almost ALL cabinet manufacturer's have what you said.....a veneer over a plywood end. Shiloh also offers Here's what most offer:

1. Stock grade only: no wood end; matching wood grain vinyl of some kind. Will have an "ear" or a recessed side. Loose skins CAN be applied or factory applied.

2. Plain, flat wood end: Either recessed or flush. But very common for a 1/4" wood veneer applied behind the "1/4" frame recess".

3. Door applied to end. This is a non-functioning door applied to the end of a cabinet

4. Matching doorstyle panel. This is a 3/4" thick solid wood panel that is integrated to match doorstyle, but does not look like a door. Looks like a wainscotting panel, usually flush to floor with a 5"-6" bottom rail.

5. Integrated doorstyle end: This is also a 3/4" thick material that looks like a door that can open. This door can be made to BE functional or non-functional.

Shiloh offers 6 options: (start pg. 301 in spec book)
1. Decorative door applied to end
2. Functional door on end
3. Non-functional door on end
4. Non-functional door on end for inset cabinets
5. Integral panel on end (doesn't look like a door, but matches door)
6. Just a plain wood veneer end (flat) This is the 1/4" end applied to plywood that you are talking about. Just about all manufacturers do this. With builder grade and some semi-custom lines, this is an up grade. With some semi-custom and custom lines, this is the standard finished end. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Thank you Kompy for letting us know that Shiloh offers 6 options for end panels on cabinet sides!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 9:07PM
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I love my white kitchen cabinets. I would rather see something dirty on them and have the chance to wipe it off, than have something dirty on a brown cabinet and not really see it.

If they are finished well then they should hold up. My previous white kitchen was almost 30 years old befoe we renovated.

I've been in some absolutely beautiful stained kitchens also, and some that are stained, but the job was poorly done. You should get the colors and finishes that you want. Done well, the finish you choose should hold up. I have been in well done and poorly done white painted kitchens too. It really comes down to the quality of the finish.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 10:43PM
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It's only been a year but I still love mine. They are very easy to wipe clean; only one supposed mess-free Crayola product that stained the inside of one pantry cabinet. They show more dirt but they certainly don't get any dirtier than any other color.

I have to laugh when people ask me if my white dog is hard to keep clean. She doesn't get any dirtier than anyone's black dog but at least I can see the dirt before she tracks it all over the house.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 11:26AM
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