Because creating a classic and timeless house, using classic and timeless colours (especially in your hard finishes), is such a huge conversation on this blog, I constantly receive questions similar to this one:
Interior design by | (I know you’re surprised) Joanna Gaines
Maria, what do you think about this trend of mixing white with wood (sometimes reclaimed wood)? For example, a white surround with a wood stained mantle (above) or a white kitchen with wood stained open shelves (below).
I see it a lot in the modern farmhouse look (which we’re copying) and I love it, but wonder if it will look dated in a few years.
Here was my response:
I think wood can warm up a white kitchen if it’s done right. And, EVERYTHING dates eventually. However, a good question to ask yourself to gauge how quickly something will date is this:
How much money will it take to insert a new colour or a new pattern (with paint, wallpaper or soft furnishings)? Can we paint the kitchen a new colour or does it forever have to be ‘gold’ or ‘green’ because you have gold and green slate tile on the floor (for example)?
Case in point. This is a lovely Tuscan kitchen (below) but with the glazed cabinets, gold and green tile floors, green countertops and backsplash, you’re basically stuck forever with this colour scheme until you start renovating.
For example, if this is your kitchen and you love the ‘white and fresh’ farmhouse look, you can’t switch out the countertops for white marble because they will in no way relate to the floor.
You can’t paint the walls white because there is zero white in this room.
If you wanted to paint the cabinets or walls indigo blue or kelly green, well again, you cannot.
This floor will boss this kitchen around until it’s taken out.
Solid cream cabinets and cream subway tile backsplash would be the best choice for this type of kitchen.
By the way, if you are choosing a white for your cabinets, walls, trim or millwork right now, make sure you download my White is Complicated eBook here.
Whenever I bring up subway tile, because it’s often the most timeless option for a backsplash, there are always those who say they hate the look.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to go with actual ‘subway tile’, it can be a completely different pattern. As long as it’s white, off-white, or cream. This way you’re not ‘stuck forever’ like you are with the earthy kitchen I just mentioned.
Related post: What’s Next After Subway Tile?
Even a trendy black and white encaustic floor (above) will give you more colour options later.
And the other thing you should know is that my advice is for the person who has no idea what to do. If they make decisions on their own, without a good designer, they will surely end up disappointed.
Better to keep it simple.
There are some gorgeous creatively designed kitchens in this world (See both photos below).
But, there are so many details and things you need to know about kitchen design, that if you DON’T know these things, you will simply insert all the latest trendy colours and finishes (that you’ve fallen in love with) into your kitchen or bath (and not WELL I might add) and end up with the kitchen or bathroom in Zillow that no one likes.
I bring up real estate sites, because that’s the best place to find kitchens and bathrooms designed badly.
Tough love, I know, but I want you to be happy with your efforts and investment.
If you are reading this and you’re not a kitchen designer, you will not end up with a kitchen that looks like the two in the above photos, no matter how much you love them and try to duplicate them.
It needs to be custom designed to coordinate with YOUR house and that takes years of experience to pull off.
Not to mention that as gorgeous as both of the above trendy kitchens are, they are still extremely PERSONAL. Best left in the high end home with lots of money to switch things out when the time comes.
I recently received an email from a reader who expressed that she was miraculously happy with the kitchen she was inheriting in her new house but lamented that the previous owners had chosen an olive green subway tile for all the surround tile in one bathroom and a pink beige hex floor in another bathroom.
Dream kitchen by Sarah Richardson |
Another objection to a white kitchen that I hear a lot is that it’s cold.
Well this kitchen (above) is a pale blue grey which could almost be interpreted as a very cool blue-white, however the gold accents and true white countertops including the styling, make it perfection.
By the way, there’s nothing boring about the subway tile in this kitchen, just saying.
If you take the earthy kitchen at the top of this post and suddenly install white marble countertops (as I mentioned at the beginning of this post), that’s when you might also conclude that “white is cold”.
However, what you’ve just done is installed the wrong hard finish.
This is not a warm or cool problem, it’s a yesterday and today problem.
The overall design features of a white kitchen will technically date it much faster than the colour.
For example, we are doing pantry walls now which is where the storage is located, because more kitchens are being designed with decorative upper shelves or no uppers at all (at least in the area around the sink or range, see above kitchen).
If you have a microwave sitting on a shelf. That is also dated. Now they’re built-in to the pantry wall or installed in the island.
So here’s the point of this post.
Choose hard finishes that don’t heavily dictate your colours FOREVER and your house will be more timeless because you or a new homeowner will have more options for inserting their personality in the end.
However, ultimately, the devil’s in the details.
Generally farmhouse trend kitchens are fresh and white which makes them pretty versatile, but the details like reclaimed wood and shiplap will let everyone know exactly when it was installed. So the answer is, yes it will look dated as soon as the next trend replaces it.
PS. Are you going to KBIS? I will be leading a panel called Colour is Relative:
Register here to attend!