How to Warm Up a Chilly White Kitchen?

Sometimes a kitchen with expanses of white can feel a bit too flat or sterile. These strategies for how to warm up a chilly white kitchen are inspired by thoughtful designs that strike a lovely balance. Why do they feel so cozy? How to layer textures? What makes them feel warm in spite of all the white? Is there a formula or secret for bringing balance?

Chic modern country white kitchen with vintage accents, white marble, wood floors, and design by Kelly McGuill. Photo by Tamara Flanagan. #warmwhitekitchens
Design: Kelly McGuill; Photo: Tamara Flanagan

How to Warm Up a Chilly White Kitchen?

1. Repeat Natural Textures to Raise the Temperature

A measure of warmth in a white kitchen often comes from wood floors or wood-look flooring, but there are other ways to add a layer of natural warmth.

Elegant white farmhouse kitchen with Benjamin Moore Repose Grey cabinets, subway tile, gold accents, and reclaimed barn wood. Design: Finding Lovely. Wall color: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.
Finding Lovely – see more details in THIS

This kitchen by Finding Lovely demonstrates harmonious warm and cool tones. Light grey cabinetry and white Neolith counters are warmed by a woven blind, light wood counterstools, and rustic accessories including boards, trays, and vases.

White accessories in the kitchen of Nancy Fishelson's renovated historic home in Killingworth - Country Living magazine/Helen Norman/Janna Lufkin.
Nancy Fishelson’s country kitchen in Country Living; Styling: Helen Norman

Even the simplest terracotta pot for a plant, wooden spoons, wood bowls, cutting boards, wood toned open shelving, and wood frames for art will bring a sense of organic contrast with the sea of white.

Aged Terracotta Urn
Options for Vases & Urns…hello lovely indeed.

2. Accent With Warm Whites Like Leanne Ford

One of the things that drew me to Leanne Ford’s work way before she was a superstar was how she deftly mixed creams and white.

Rustic kitchen designed by Leanne Ford with white range and open shelves.
Photo: Amy Neunsinger for LFI

When I began mixing whites for home decor and fashion in the early 2000s, a whole new world opened up. It is a much more relaxed and casual approach.

Leanne Ford designed rustic modern kitchen with white shelves, farm sink, and customized tile backsplash. #leanneford #modernrustic
Photo: @erinashkelly for House Beautiful

It’s when all of the whites match perfectly that things can fall flat. Leanne uses this trick all the time, and in the rustic chic vintage kitchen (above), a warm white tile is layered with linen white walls, white appliances, and white dining chairs. Mixing whites is not just for rustic farmhouse kitchens though. Consider this modern French approach by Jennifer Lincoln-Cutler:

Fireclay farm sink in a modern French kitchen with sconces, cafe curtains, and Shaker cabinets - The French Nest Co Interior Design.
The French Nest Co. Interior Design

Even if there is no chance you’ll be adding handmade or tumbled cream tile to your kitchen, you may have other options. Just look at how a collection of vintage stoneware in varying shades of cream work together to create interesting warmth!

Neutral kitchen vignette with black and white and Zellige tile backsplash - Scout & Nimble.
Find the white marble mortar and pestle HERE

Here’s a pretty warm white tile:

3. Consider Wood or Butcherblock for an Island or Work Table

I don’t have much experience living with butcherblock so I can’t say whether it stays looking good for long, but lots of designers have jumped on the bandwagon.

Alison Victoria Windy City Rehab season 3 renovated white kitchen with brass hood and butcher block topped island.
Allison Victoria – see more of her work in THIS

Does it get more classic country than simple white cabinets, subway tile backsplash, and butcherblock with a farm sink?

Leanne Ford designed modern farmhouse kitchen with farm sink, subway tile and butcher block counters. #leanneford #restoredbythefords #interiordesign #modernfarmhouse #farmhousekitchen #kitchendesign
Leanne Ford (Photo: Alexandra Ribar)

In a genius move, the Giannetis designed a white oak island for their Patina Farm new build kitchen that included stone inset near the sink. The stone provides enough workspace for tasks that might not be as friendly on wood.

If money is no object in your kitchen design, you could consider: an exquisitely ancient European wood work table…

or a classic piece of fine furniture:

Glorious classic traditional kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interiors - cabinets are painted Farrow & Ball French Gray. #timelesskitchens
Jessica Helgerson Interiors

4. Introduce a Warm Color to the Island or Work Station

Even a subtle contrast from the island can add a ton of interest. The kitchen island below was painted a cozy warm light grey called BM Pashmina, and more light grey possibilities are HERE.

Kitchen. Board and batten coastal cottage in Palmetto Bluff with modern farmhouse interior design by Lisa Furey.
Lisa Furey Interiors – see this story for more of this home.

This bright white kitchen is still on the cool side, but I can imagine it very warm with accessories, plants, and decor.

Elegant, timeless, traditional kitchen with white and light grey tranquil mood - The Fox Group.
The Fox Group – Photo: @giseleparraphotography

High contrast from the island is another possibility, and there are black paint colors with warm brown undertones if you care to veer away from cooler blue undertoned blacks.

This new French country kitchen only looks old! The Enchanted Home.
The Enchanted Home
Funny quote from Simon Holland on Hello Lovely Studio about potato masher. #kitchenhumor #foodhumor

You just might find the perfect black to bring contrast from windows:

5. Paint Cabinetry a Warm White

Think beyond the usual suspects (BM White Dove, SW Alabaster) for a white paint color for cabinetry. But which color? I write about white paint here.

And during the pandemic, I discovered a convenient way to try and buy paint…

With CLARE paint online…here’s a putty-like light beige color with warm undertones I used on in two bathrooms here at the Georgian called No Filter:

Funny cat humor quote on Hello Lovely. #catlady #catquotes #cathumor #funnyquotes

And in case you’re wondering, there are a wide range of beiges out there, mama.

Benjamin Moore Natural Linen 966 paint color (from the 2022 color collection) - Hello Lovely. #naturallinen #paintcolors

In most cases you won’t even find “beige” in the paint color name:

5 Neutral Farrow & Ball Paint Colors for California Cool. #paintcolors #neutralpaintcolors
Buy a sample RIGHT HERE

6. Add a Pattern to Backsplash or Floor That Makes You Warm Inside

It just might steal the show. Remember Lily Aldridge’s kitchen?

Funny tweet humor quote on Hello Lovely Studio from the hilarious @simoncholland! #funnytweet #humorquotes #funnyquotes

There are so many ways to add pattern with the floor’s pattern! This tile below is the same one chosen for the renovation of our son’s bath – see that project here.

Could the warmth of copper be flooring with coppery tones?

Funny tweets and humor quotes on Hello Lovely Studio. #funnytweets #funnyquotes #humorquotes

7. Turn Up the Warmth With Metallic Elements

This idea comes with a price tag if you’ll be investing in copper cookware or custom brass range hood.

Luxurious and bespoke French kitchen by L'Atelier Paris and The Fox Group. #frenchkitchens #frenchrange
The Fox Group & L’Atelier Paris; Photo: Shelby Bourne

However, changing cabinet hardware doesn’t have to break the bank, and even cozying up a corner on the counter with vintage brass candlesticks may get rid of chill factor.

Timeless, tranquil, bespoke traditional style kitchen by The Fox Group. #timelessdesign #kitchendesign #bespokekitchens
The Fox Group
Funny tweet humor quote about exhaustion from daily responsibilities and life - @stuartliddle. #funnytweet #lifequotes #parentinghumor #adultinghumor #hilarioustweet

8. Age & History Often Create a Warm Mood

Mixing vintage and antiques with new is a great way to bring warmth to any space including kitchens.

9. Boarded Walls, Panels & Wood Planking

Whether it’s shiplap on the walls, beadboard on a backsplash, or wood planks on a ceiling, adding warmth with such texture is a smart way to turn up the casual and cozy factor while dialing down the “precious.”

Funny tweets and humor quotes on Hello Lovely Studio. #funnytweets #funnyquotes #humorquotes
Christmas decorated luxurious French kitchen with bespoke range and cabinets - L'Atelier Paris. #frenchkitchen #christmaskitchen #dreamkitchen #bespoke
Courtesy of L’Atelier Paris Haute Design – see more of their kitchen designs HERE.

10. Vintage Style

While new kitchens with fresh new cabinets can feel timeless, a vintage kitchen with simplistic storage can impart a romantic, nostalgic, home-y warmth that is hard to beat in a white kitchen.

The Scullery is one of the three rooms that make up the downstairs of the Millhouse showrooms at Cotes Mill, itâs a very simply furnished room and of all the spots to see this Classic English range, itâs the most humble. You see the piece of furniture, solid hardwood, handmade and hand-painted, itâs not a modular kitchen cupboard that needs another one next to it, itâs a whole cupboard all-encompassing. 10 Amazing English Country Kitchens by deVOL. #deVOLKitchens
Design: deVOL
Leanne Ford designed kitchen with dusty rose range in her Pittsburgh guest cottage - photo by Erin Kelly for Pittsburgh Post Gazette. #modernrustic #vintagestyle
Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette; Photo: Erin Kelly; Design: Leanne Ford – see more of Leanne’s designs HERE
10 Amazing English Country Kitchens by deVOL. deVOL kitchen's South Wing Kitchen. You can't go wrong with Trinity Blue cupboards, especially when they're paired with smooth pale worktops, walls and floors - what a beautifully simple and peaceful combination. Notice these cupboards are fitted away from the walls too, this created the bespoke and freestanding feel to the room that the customers really wanted but it was all done using standard sized cupboards from our Shaker range. #deVOLKitchens
Design & Source: deVOL
Funny humor quote on Hello Lovely about tacos. #foodhumor #foodquote #funnyquotes #tacos
No. 3. This deVOL kitchen project (Cotswold Barn) was designed by wonderful interior designer @susie_atkinson. Flooring: polishd concrete. 10 Amazing English Country Kitchens by deVOL.
deVOL

11. Choose Rustic or Less Fussy Counter Stools

If the white kitchen design involves a breakfast bar or island, turn up the warm factor with counter stools or bar stools to add color, texture, and form.

White kitchen with serene, timeless, European inspired decor by Hello Lovely Studio. Come be inspired by 11 White Kitchen Design Ideas Adding Warmth! #kitchendesign #whitekitchen #kitchenideas #interiordesignideas #whitekitcheninspiration
Hello Lovely Studio – See more of my kitchen HERE.
One-off funny humor quote on Hello Lovely about life on earth. #funnyquotes #oneoffhumor #sarcasticquotes #lifequotes

12. Warmth Upholstery & Textile

Layering with fabric and upholstery is going to make a huge difference! If you are building or remodeling and have the opportunity to add built-ins or a banquette…oh la la, they are such cozy corners and nooks to add pillows and upholstery!

Timeless kitchen design and architecture (look at that nook!) by Atlanta-based Jeffrey Dungan who mixes rustic with elegant in luxury home design. #architecture #luxuryhome #jeffreydungan #timelessdesign #sophisticateddesign
Architect/Design: Jeffrey Dungan Architects

Just look at how the folds of this Roman shade soften and warm a sink area with the sweetest gingham skirt!

Beautiful country kitchen with farm sink in Nora Murphy's Country House book.
Nora Murphy – also see more from the stylemaker HERE
One off humor and funny tweet about groceries on Hello Lovely. #funnyquotes #groceries

Be Soothed by a Tour of Rose Uniacke in London

I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

Shop for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE, and also find home decor here to keep decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!

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White Slipcovered Sofa
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Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
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Black Bergamot Soy Candle
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White Waffle Coverlet
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Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
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White Slipcovered Sofa
French Stripe Seagrass Basket Set
29″ Whitewashed Table Lamp Set of 2
White Matelasse Quilt on MY BED
THE BEST Energy Bars!
Trees White Wallpaper Mural
Round Farmhouse Table
Myla Slipcover Sofa
Deconstructed Wingback Bed
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Slipcovered Dining Chair
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Parisian Style Iron Table Lamp  33.5″
Black or Bronze Accent Table
French Stripe Basket Set
White Cotton Crochet Bed Skirt
French Country Rattan Basket Set
Marble Subway Mosaic Tile
Rattan Basket With Lid
White Ruffle Bedding
Seagrass Basket Set
Schumacher Wild Things Wallpaper
Slipcovered Sofa
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp Set
White Matelasse Quilt
Tree Mural Wallpaper
Faux Potted French Lavender
Shaw Daybed
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Round French Tufted Ottoman
Kinston Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Slipcovered Linen Chair
Warner Upholstered Bench
Rustic Country French Dresser
Laurel Wreath Mirror
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Reclaimed Wood Dresser
Louis Upholstered Bench
Pardon My French Doormat
Stripe Turkish Towel Throw
Pamela Arm Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Carved Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Country Wood Chandelier
French Linen Dining Chair
Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Bar Stool
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Rattan Armchair
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
Holborn Lantern Pendant
French Country 6-Light Chandelier
Tray Side Table
French Country Upholstered Arm Chair
Wicker Trunk Set
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
Mohair Throw
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
White Duvet & Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Linen Modern Wing Chair
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Style Lamp
Kendall Skirted Dining Chair
White Charleston Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
Highback Armchair
Mini Pendant Light
White Vase Set
Round Woven Placemat Set
Cashmere Throw With Fringe
Black Bergamot Soy Candle
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
White Waffle Coverlet
Light Grey Vienna Quilt
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Linen Duvet Set
Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
Rattan Hanging Chair Swing