White is one of the most popular colors for a kitchen these days. From highly traditional to sleek and modern and everywhere in between, the bright, clean look of a white kitchen holds an almost universal appeal. But making the look work well can be a little tricky. Too much white and your space can look sterile rather than inviting, and too little and you won’t get the full effect. Adding just a little bit of contrast can go a long way towards balancing out a white kitchen, and there are several subtle ways you can mix and match to achieve the best results for your space.
Despite nearly everyone’s insistence that the trend can’t last, granite has remained the most popular choice for kitchen counters for years, and doesn’t show any sign of falling out of favor any time soon. Choosing dark granite – especially black granite – is a perfect way to add contrast to a white kitchen, helping level off and divide your upper and lower cabinets and adding a decent amount of contrasting color throughout the whole space.
Shop Knobs and Pulls
The simplest way to make your white kitchen cabinets pop is to dress it up with dark hardware. This works best with a more traditional style, as there’s a huge selection of antique style cabinet hardware in oil rubbed bronze, pewter, and other dark finishes, while more modern hardware tends toward reflective finishes like chrome or stainless steel. What I like best about using hardware for that little bit of contrast is that it works impressively well on its own to break up a monochrome kitchen (like little punctuation marks of contrast), but also pairs seamlessly with any or all of the other techniques on this list.
Shop Kitchen Faucets
Like changing out your cabinet hardware, opting for darker faucets and other kitchen accessories is another small, subtle, yet effective way to add contrast to a white kitchen. Opting for a dark, oil rubbed bronze kitchen faucet is a great place to start, as a really nice faucet will act as the centerpiece of your sink area. But to get a little more mileage out of it, consider adding other accessories with a dark finish, like bar stools at the kitchen island, a tile backsplash, or smaller things like a pot filler or paper towel holder. You can even paint an accent wall in a darker color to really make your cabinets stand out.
Shop Kitchen Islands
Similarly, adding one large piece in a contrasting color – whether it’s black or some other dark shade – can help balance out a whole kitchen, even without any of these other techniques. A kitchen island is the most obvious choice, as it naturally acts as a centerpiece for the kitchen, and can easily be made in a different color than your kitchen cabinets. That said, a distinctive range or range hood can work quite well too, especially in a more modern kitchen. Generally speaking, it’s trendier for your other appliances to blend in with your cabinetry, but a full suite of stainless steel appliances do a great job of creating contrast in a white kitchen.
Shop Hardwood Floorings
One place you might not think to add contrast to a white kitchen is directly underneath it: the floor. Hardwood flooring has been steadily regaining popularity in the kitchen, and a dark hardwood works especially well to offset bright, white cabinetry. Stone or tile can serve the purpose, too – and remember that while dark brown and black are the most popular contrasting colors, any dark shade will work, like a dark terracotta red tile or even stained concrete.
Shop Island Lighting
Oversized industrial style kitchen lighting is incredibly trendy right now, overtaking and replacing the more petite pendants that were popular in years prior. I particularly like these for adding contrast to a white kitchen because they not only tend to have great, dark, finishes like oil rubbed bronze, but also because they add a nice, old fashioned farmhouse touch to a white kitchen that can give it a great classic look and feel. Plus, many of these larger lights have fluid designs, like pulley lights which can be moved with just a touch to improve task lighting over a kitchen island.
Finally, keep in mind that contrast doesn’t always have to be between extreme light and dark. While this can make for a daring look, subtler contrasts can be just as effective. For example, simple white subway tile is making a huge comeback, especially in white kitchens, but with a simple twist: instead of the conventional white grout, many homeowners are opting for a colored grout. This can range anywhere from a subtle off white to much darker shades, but is a great way to add striking visual contrast, even if the rest of your kitchen is entirely white.
What do you think of these white kitchens? Is there any particular way you want to add contrast to yours? Let me know in the comments!