[Yahoo Homes editor’s note: This article, the first in an exclusive-to-Yahoo series, is adapted from “Kitchen Centric” (Balcony Press, 2010) by internationally renowned kitchen designer Mick De Giulio. Find details about him and the book at the bottom of this post.]
"Fresh" and "clean" are two timeless attributes that are especially important to a space where food is prepared and served. And white, which is irrepressibly fresh and pure, is a classic for kitchens; it will never be passé.
In the past, a white kitchen meant white cabinets -- end of story. Now, though, a predominantly white kitchen can have many different looks, because people are more open to the idea of mixing, and because more elements have entered the picture:
• Varying the shades of white within one kitchen provides depth and richness. I like playing with the variables -- walls, ceiling, countertops -- and making some or all of them white too. An all-white kitchen with white cabinets, white marble countertops, and limestone floors is fantastic.
• Natural wood finishes have a brightness about them, and when combined with other elements that convey purity -- stainless steel, glass, lighter-valued natural stones, tiles -- a lovely clarity can be achieved.
• Stainless steel is an exemplary mixer and the consummate neutral. It's practical -- it wipes clean, it doesn't burn, and although it does scratch, I consider that patina -- and it's beautiful. Stainless steel is never out.
• Wall and paint finishes in lighter values with underlying warmer cream tones will add to the sense of a fresh, clean space without the space feeling stark. Many people fear that a lot of white will make the space boring or lacking any emotion, but the real effect is that those other things in the space -- even windows and natural light -- will add the necessary contrast and interest.
• White countertops can be beautiful as well. There are many natural stones or quartz materials that have veins and markings that soften the feeling of the material. I am careful not to do white floors, though, because it’s just too difficult to maintain. I like grounding whites with wood floors especially, but many natural or man-made tiles can do the trick as well.
The funny thing is, the more you use white in a room, the less it feels like an element. The whiteness becomes dreamlike. Everything white sculpts together, which makes everything that isn't white pop.
Mick De Giulio designed the 2012 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year; test and demonstration kitchens of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Sub-Zero Freezer/Wolf Appliance, and the Chicago Tribune; and the kitchens in Chicago’s Ritz-Carlton Residences, among many others. He has also designed products for SieMatic Corp. (a high-end German manufacturer) and Kallista (a Kohler company), and he recently began collaborating with Caesarstone. “Kitchen Centric,” his first book, is available on Amazon or via Balcony Press. For more information, call de Giulio kitchen design at (847) 256-8833.