10 Ways to Add Character to a White Kitchen

10 Ways to Add Character to a White Kitchen | Over the past three years, we’ve been slowly and surely finding ways to add character to our blank-slate white painted kitchen. Read on to see my tips and tricks for warming up this space!

How to Add Character & Warmth to a White Kitchen

Originally Published October 10, 2016

Add Character and Warmth to a White Kitchen | Here are some strategies for adding warmth to a white kitchen.

It’s almost hard for me to believe that it’s been almost five years since we completed our cabinet painting project. When the cabinets were first painted, it was like a huge breath of fresh air. The room felt so much brighter, cleaner and more modern to us. We looked at that stage of the process (you can see the rest of the photos here) as phase one and planned to add decor and other elements slowly over time that would soften and add character to the somewhat stark look of the cabinets and other light finishes.

Add Character to a white kitchen with wood accents.

1. Add Wood Accents

One of my favorite, quick ways to add warmth to any room in our home is to use natural wood accents. My tiered tray is one of my most versatile and favorite pieces of all time.

Add character to a white kitchen with wicker and other natural textures.2. Wicker and other Natural Textures

The woven shade above the sink was also an early addition. It perfectly compliments the baskets under the island and adds warmth to the room.

Add character to your white kitchen with greenery.3. Add Greenery

I wish I could be better at keeping plants alive indefinitely. At any given moment, there are plants in the kitchen. However, they die fairly frequently.

Bring flowers into your white kitchen to add character.4. Bring in Fresh Flowers

Whenever possible, I love how pretty and cheerful fresh flowers look in the room. Although it may seem like an expensive luxury, that doesn’t have to be the case. Grocery store flowers have come a long way and you can often find fresh staples like roses and hydrangeas and seasonal flowers year round.

Highlight natural light and use accent lighting to add character to your kitchen.

5. Natural and Accent Lighting

People are often surprised to hear that we don’t have a ton of natural light in our home. In the afternoon, the breakfast nook pours a ton of light into the kitchen. However, during the rest of the day, we depend on high-quality LED can lights and softer Edison bulbs in decorative fixtures for accent lighting.

Include a kitchen seating area to add warmth.6. A Seating Area

Speaking of the Breakfast Nook, having a seating area in our kitchen is what makes it the heart of our home. From eating meals to doing homework to doing my daily work, this part of the room by far sees the most use. Having a place to gather in our kitchen is what gives it life.

Bring in contrast using other finishes like flooring to add character and warmth to your kitchen.

7. Contrast

This photo was taken just after we installed the dark hickory hardwood floors and shows the space where the new rug now sits. When it came to choosing a finish for the floors,  I knew that I wanted something that was vastly different from the cabinets. The contrast is very appealing to me! You can read more about our hardwood floors here.

Homey touches like a candle add character to your kitchen.

8. Homey Touches

Little things like leaving out some knickknacks and burning a candle also help to add character and warmth to our space. I often say that my goal is not just to create a beautiful home, it’s also to create a beautiful place for my family to live and gather. Little things like the smell of a candle or something baking are the intangible things that most definitely help create a sense of home.

Leaving baking and coffee canisters out can help add character to a white kitchen.

9. Leaving Canisters Out

Similarly, we don’t feel the need to completely hide things away. I love keeping my baking canisters on the counter, and I also leave out our bread box. As a result, these touches show that people actually live, eat, play, and work in our home. All in all, that is the kind of authentic character that you can’t stage!

Enjoying the space with family and friends adds the most character to a white kitchen.

10. Add Family and Friends

As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true: the most important aspect of our kitchen is the memories we’ve made. It’s truly the heart of our home and the place where we spend the most time. Although it’s intangible, adding those memories will bring an unparalleled warmth and character to your room because it’s important to you.  

Overall I hope these tips gave you some ideas for adding warmth to your white kitchen! While white may seem like a simple color, this is proof that it can still have tons of personality.

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How to Add Warmth & Character to a White Kitchen

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  1. I am not a fan of white cabinets but your kitchen is very pretty. Adding wood and greenery definitely warmed it up!

  2. Your kitchen’s transformation is amazing Nina! Thanks so much for sharing what you have learned from all of your hard work! I see so much quartz these days and am so pleased to see your slab countertops that look like they are granite. They are beautiful and add to the other natural accents you have in the room. I was wondering if you might know what stone they are as it has been a challenge for us to find something that looks like that. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi, Paula! Thank you for your kind words. The granite was chosen by the former homeowners, and unfortunately, I’m not sure what the stone is called. I do know they are pinkish-purple in person and not the neutral brown that they appear in photographs!

  3. Your kitchen is beautiful! The perfect mix of white, wood and neutral colored accessories. I have many of your photos pinned as inspiration!

  4. Hello! I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere and I was wondering what the paint colors are in the hall off the kitchen and on the dark door. Thank you!

    1. Hi Wendy, the walls are Benjamin Moore Gray Owl eggshell the trim is Benjamin Moore Simply White in semi-gloss and the dark door to the garage is Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal semi-gloss. Our favorite paint color guide can be found here!

  5. I am 2/3 done with painting my oak cabinets white following your excellent directions. Thank you for the tips on how to complete the room. I love your blog and refer to it often.

  6. Hello,

    Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful! Wondering the source of the wooden tiered tray? Thank you.

  7. Your kitchen is gorgeous – that island is just lovely! Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your home!

  8. So many beautiful tips! I love the Dash and Albert rug. We have a few of the indoor-outdoor ones as well and I couldn’t be happier. The one you chose goes perfectly in your kitchen! Love that tiered tray too!

  9. I enjoyed your post, pictures and comments. I like how you have made your home pleasant and attractive, but at the same time showing “real people” live there. Thanks!

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