catherine21

Help with too white cabinets

catherine21
September 7, 2019

We JUST got new door fronts and repainted our cabinets and I am just dying over the fact that I think they are too white. They used the same white- sherwin Williams extra white- that they previously used in our family room for trim and fireplace and we always loved it! So when they suggested just matching that it seemed reasonable. Now that is is done I think it looks too stark! Repainting is not an option and I feel like I wasted so much money! Is there anything that can be done? Like a glaze I could so myself? Or will it just mellow a bit over time?

Comments (47)

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen

    It’s the contrast between the black counters and white cabinets that is creating the appearance of “stark”. If those counters must stay, invest in warm white under cabinet lighting and some wood accents.

  • Mrs Pete

    I don't think it's "too white", but I do think you need something to warm up the space, and the answer to that is COLOR. Pick ONE color as your accent and bring it into a couple places:

    - Reduce the countertop clutter by 50% ... and add colorful canisters to "tidy up" what's left.

    - Consider colorful cloth toppers for your stools. Perhaps colorful placemats too.

    - Add either a colorful valance in your window OR something colorful -- plates, a plaque -- over the window.

    Then bring in some organic features:

    - You have empty space above your cabinets. Add storage baskets -- woven brown baskets, which will tie into the floor.

    - Add some small green plants at the window. (If you're a plant-killer like me, you can be excused for using quality plastic plants.)

    Last thought: Adjust the shelves in your glass-front cabinet so they match the mullions. No, it won't help a bit with the color issue, but it'll look neater.

  • artistsharonva

    On my screen it looks fine. I guess it depends on what type of overall look you are hoping to achieve.


    The 1st easiest less $ change would experiment with light bulb tones.

    If want to "warm" the room warm bulbs may help, but be careful not to go to warm or may look yellow. This well help a little.





    You may want to paint the walls. I know, what a pain, but maybe that is the answer to achieve your goals. Cheaper than painting cabinets & much easier to do.


    The wall color contrast may be interfering with the overall look you are going for.

    Here's some photos to compare wall colors & the overall look with white cabinets & black counters.


    Dark Walls





    Light Walls


    It may sound counterproductive to paint white if the concern is the cabinets are too white, but white walls that match close to white cabinets makes cabinets blend into walls & makes room look bigger. I like this open bright feeling.


    A very light off white with white cabinets & black counter top is gorgeous in my opinion.




    Also adding white crown where ceiling meets walls would be a nice added feature to your kitchen.


    Hope that helps you get the kitchen to your liking soon.



  • catherine21

    I love those examples that you posted actually! That makes me feel a bit better. It is also a big change because although we had white cabinets before, they were a very yellow white that always bothered me so I knew I wanted to brighten up. Crown molding is a good idea and something we have thought of. And yes... the clutter is mostly due to this being mid-project so stuff was in disarray. One more example at night

  • chispa

    It looks fine, actually looks very nice ... step away from the Panic Button!

  • catherine21

    Thanks! I think I need some reassurance because you are RIGHT.... panic set in and I started spiraling. Truthfully, pure white would have been better but they are so close that it probably wouldn’t be a giant change. Right?

  • herbflavor

    it looks good. mixing metals is happening lately. I might look for a warm metal for the hardware. Could be" not ultra expensive " and certainly easy and a little perk for space. Can the pendants be swapped for a warm tone while keeping the ceiling bar? Not sure if the hanging part is interchangeable.....You're good: also.....colored canisters , some wooden bowls, etc.

  • remodeling1840

    One of the pictures posted by artistsharvona has wood accessories. Change out the stainless on your counters for accessories with the warm wood colors of your floor. Utensils holder, canisters, a beautiful large cutting board-these will balance the black and white. I love your contrast. You could also embrace it with white canisters, etc. and a black and white fabric at your window.

  • chispa

    You got used to your yellowy cabinets and your brain just hasn't processed the change yet. We always second guess these expensive projects.

  • catherine21

    These canisters may help warm it up?

  • artistsharonva

    It looks fine. Normal to second guess a change. You did good. You got rid of the yellowish,too :)

  • catherine21

    Here is looks cold to me...

  • artistsharonva

    Because of the direct sunlight?

  • roarah

    It looks great you just are not use to it yet!

  • catherine21
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Maybe artistsharanova. I’m not sure
  • cawaps

    Honestly, I think it looks great and you probably just need to get used to the change. But if you are still not happy after you've given yourself time to adjust, I think you gotten a lot of good suggestions, some of which I implemented below (wall color, wood and warm-colored accessories). Changing your light bulbs to a warm white (assuming they aren't already) will also help, as someone else suggested.



  • chocolatebunny123

    I think it looks great. I love the contrast of light cabinets with dark countertops. I agree with bringing a little more warmth to the space with wood but I don't think you need to do anything drastic.

  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    Truthfully, pure white would have been better but they are so close that it probably wouldn’t be a giant change. Right?


    No, it wouldn't have been better.


    Extra White is a much, much, much prettier color of white than Pure White. SW's Pure White is one of my least favorite whites out of the 30 brands I work with. JMHO


    Technically they are different. Extra White is a cleaner, crisper white compared to Pure White which is more grayed.

  • catherine21

    Since they have only recently been cleaned, sanded and painted, is there a way for me to just add another topcoat in a softer white without taking everything down? They are hidden hinges so that wouldn’t be an issue.

  • tuffkins20

    You just need more light with a mix of task and accent lights. Ideally I’d like a different wall color.

  • catherine21

    Lori- I see you are a color consultant! Thank you for weighing in! Do you use extra white often for cabinets? Our contractor said that they almost always use it.

  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    Yes. :) It's on the doors, trim and cabinets in my own home.


    And you're going to be fine with the color once you get everything put back in place and add some accessories.


    EW works really well with the back splash. A softer white probably won't look as good as what you've already got.

  • pink_peony

    My cabinets are extra white and I don’t find them cold at all. In fact I chose the color because of its chameleon abilities. It works with so many colors. I really think your feeling of it looking stark is because you haven’t had “clean” freshly painted cabinets in a long time. By clean I don’t mean they were dirty before simply that new paint is completely unblemished and always feels stark before you get used to it and add other elements to it.

  • bobbiewhitten

    I definitely do think the cabinets are to white. I think the plants and baskets are a great suggestion but to me the main thing is lighting. The top lights are not even on in the top picture. Under cabinet lights would be good and a little less "stuff" on the counters and see if you aren't pleased. But the cabinets are great.

  • catherine21

    Thanks bobbiewhitten- you think they ARE too white? Or are not? Sorry...wasn’t quite sure. Under cabinet lighting is a great idea- thanks!

  • Abby Mac

    Catherine you got a thumbs up from Lori who is the expert so I wouldn't worry another minute. Once you get used to it, I think you'll love it. I did Pure White for mine so it's a bummer to see her take on it, but then again, I think it works well and I'm happy with it. Enjoy your beautiful cabinets.

  • Rita Nistler

    I agree with artistsharonva! We have Sherwin Williams extra white on our cabinets in our basement and have warm white led recessed lights which make our cabinets look a warm soft white. Try replacing your recessed light trim with adjustable color LEDs. They have 4-5 different settings that you can play with that dramatically change the color tone of paint colors.

  • DK Haas

    Looks great! Cabinets are a lovely contrast to the black countertop, while the wood floor warms the space and softens the high visual drama.

    What was your previous cabinet color?

    If you had a creamy colored backsplash with black counters and white cabs, OR orange-gray swirled granite, then I'd agree that white may be too stark. However, this is not your situation.

    where is the sink drawer? Are you getting a new sink?

  • cat_ky

    I like them. I think you just need to get used to them. I do agree, you need some color in there with accessories. Sometimes it just takes a few days, to get used to change.

  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    I did Pure White for mine so it's a bummer to see her take on it


    It's a perfectly nice white. It's just that I have other favorites that fit into my very unscientific category of "pretty".


    Pure White is actually a good choice for several marble/marble-look tiles and counter tops.

  • Arlene Samrick

    You can use the space above the cabinets for colored ceramic pieces, woven baskets w/ plants or wire baskets for storage. Coordinate two complementary colors like yellow or tangerine with blue, plum w/ sage green, red & shades of grey which will pop against the B & W. Paint the walls a medium grey. Remember to tie whatever colors you choose to another place that adjoins like canisters, cushions on counter stools, artwork, etc. I think once you get used to it, you'll be fine.

  • cat_ky

    I dont think it looks cold, I think the problem is that it looks too sterile, because there is nothing with color anywhere, except the dark color on your wall.

  • Sheeisback GW

    What were your cabinets before? Maybe you’re just not used to seeing the change yet. The counters being black (they look black on my screen) and the cabinets are giving you a strong contrast. The cabinets actually are reading an off-white on my screen and I think they could stand to be whiter if we’re being picky. They look nice though! I‘d add some wood (cutting boards) to warm it up and add maybe a plant.

    Hmmm... looking at your picture again I see you have a rug and there is a cutting board. I think the biggest thing making it seem cold is the bar stools. I’m sorry for suggesting this because they're probably new but that may be a good place to add wood and replace them. Just a thought if this continues to bug you weeks from now. I still think you just need some time for your eyes to adjust.

    Maybe prop a colorful piece of art against the backsplash. And/or wall space at the sides of the kitchen.

    Roman shade maybe for at the window would also add color and some softness.

    Can you post a photo of the area behind the kitchen?

  • catherine21

    Before the cabinets were a more yellow white that came off as dingy next to the subway tile backsplash. And the original paint job wasn’t great- the wood grain was showing through terribly and it just looked not great. So these are new doors and new paint- they did a great job painting, it’s just that is read “stark” to me and then I went down a rabbit hole of sherwin Williams extra white reviews which people commented could come off as “too white” and it just sent me into a panic. I am going to clear off the counters, get wood-topped canisters (and only two probably) and maybe a cream jar for utensils, and get some better greenery for the windowsill and then just give myself time to adjust. The contractor and another painter did say that they use mostly bright white now in new construction kitchens so I dunno. And yes... I know I have to adjust the shelve height in the glass cabinet...

  • pink_peony

    Honestly they aren’t coming across stark at all. I REALLY think you are just used to a cream cabinet and probably one that had a lot of yellow to the tone now this seems over the top because of what you are used to. Imagine trying on 10 shades of ivory in a wedding dress then trying on a white one . It’s going to look different until you’ve worn it awhile. I would get some real plants or herbs you can plant in some pretty pots that are subtle and do your canister thing. But really time will be your friend. They look great and I wouldn’t change them.

  • sofikbr

    cabinets look really nice. How you feel about repainting walls in very light gray? Also hard to tell from picture, but it might be good idea to paint ceiling bring white too. Adding wood elements like chair seats with black metal legs, wood cutting board or bowl for fruits. Don't do too much, one or 2 would be enough.

  • catherine21

    Thanks everyone, seriously:) I think I will eventually adjust .... and get over my “pure white” regret. Small changes are helping....

  • Junk*Salvation

    I think it looks beautiful & your eyes (& brain) are just not used to the change yet. With time, I bet you will find them to be beautiful, too!

  • Kate E

    I think they are beautiful and it’s probably just a bit of a shock - I think over time (and probably a matter of weeks) they will seem less intense white. You just need time to adapt!

    I think they look spectacular, and would not mess with it!

  • AmyS

    I think they look great!!! Nice job:)

  • catherine21

    Thank you! If anyone has sw extra white cabinets that they love and wouldn’t mind sharing I would love to see pictures in others home- it will take some of the emotionality out of it and I will be more objective I think.

  • pink_peony

    Catherine every space is going to look different dependent on lighting. Not only lighting but what the person taking the photo has their camera set to and. What additional lighting they’ve brought in. Counter tops wall color backsplash these things are all going to affect how the cabinets look. So comparing your space to pictures isn’t really going to be productive . That said here is my kitchen In extra white

    My kitchen · More Info



    My kitchen · More Info


    And here is my bathroom in extra white

    MASTER BATHROOM · More Info


    and here are other kitchens in extra white

    My kitchen · More Info



    My kitchen · More Info



    My kitchen · More Info


  • catherine21

    Your kitchen is GORGEOUS pink_peony. I love it. Thanks for sharing those. I still think I should have gone softer.... but it’s ok. It’s not terrible and I will get used to it!

  • pink_peony

    Catherine I think the difference you’re seeing isn’t the cabinet color but your wall color. your wall color is much deeper creating more of a contrast Which in turn is making your cabinets seem brighter. If you notice in all the photos the wall colors are softer and lighter. So you don’t have the darker background to make the cabinets “pop” more.

  • pink_peony

    oops hit submit before saying thank you ;/)

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