10 Readers’ Kitchens That AREN’T White

One thing that surprised me as all the entries poured in for my Hooked on Your Kitchens Contest was that most of them had white cabinets. I showed you 10 of the white kitchens last week, but today I’m featuring 10 that bucked the trend and went with wood cabinets instead:

1. Laura’s Kitchen:

“We built our version of Cottage Living Magazine’s 2006 Idea House designed by Michaela Mahady. We made a few tweaks to the kitchen but her overall vision is perfect.”

“Since we live on a private wooded lot, we opted to eliminate upper cabinets to take advantage of the view. I can watch my daughter playing from wherever I am in the kitchen. Since I’m only 5’1” tall and we have a nice pantry I don’t miss the upper cabinets at all. We also went with a natural cherry finish instead of the white cabinets to go along with the woodsy location.”

2. Jana’s Kitchen:

“We built our house in 2008. I wanted our kitchen to have a warm, rustic vibe to contrast with the stainless appliances. I had the stone wall done behind the cook top to match the stone on our fireplace. It is truly the center of our home. It is a great place to work and never feels crowded even when we are all (myself, my husband, 3 kids and 2 dogs) in it.”

3. Karin’s Kitchen:

“Our kitchen is neither big nor fancy, but it was recently featured in This Old House magazine. My boyfriend and I did everything–and I mean everything–ourselves. I designed it, moving some things around so that we could add the former very small dining space (about 8′ x 8′) to the also very small kitchen space (about 7.5′ x 8′), and now that we have kitchen access to the (heated) sunroom we use that space for our dining room.”

“After I designed what I wanted, my boyfriend started building the cabinets (included the ebony wood pulls!), redoing all the old electrical, adding new plumbing, opening up new doorways and a pass thru to the sunroom, closing up old doorways, and installing an entirely new ceiling (beadboard!), then together we installed new flooring, tiled the backsplashes with Honey Onyx marble subway tiles, and installed the concrete counter top that the boyfriend also made.

“Working nights and weekends it took close to a year, but now we have the kitchen of our dreams. It could be twice as big as it is, but it still wouldn’t work any better for us and make us any happier.”

4. Sarah’s Kitchen:

“I love my kitchen because it has lots of storage, deep countertops and warm lighting on dimmers so we can create blindingly bright workspace or romantic serving spaces.”

5. Beverly’s Kitchen:

“I absolutely love my kitchen because we waited a long time to redo it. I love the cabinets, because they are alderwood, and they have knots! I love knots!! We were able to pick out the granite by hand; even got to pick our favorite part for the island. Everything looks a little rustic, which is what we wanted!!”

6. Kathy’s Kitchen:

“My favorite place in the world is my kitchen! It’s warm and inviting and just the right size. We have a great view and easy access onto the deck. People love to gather in my kitchen and visit with the cook. During festive occasions such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, the living room will be empty and the kitchen is the place everyone feels comfortable in.”

“The countertops are concrete and their color complements everything. I can easily change my dishes and linens with the seasons. I try to adhere to ‘organic’ accessories and keep the counters free of appliances.”

7. Simon’s Kitchen:

“I live in Northern Ireland. A fan of American-style kitchens, I was often jealous when visiting the States at the size and quality of kitchens, particularly when my own ‘galley’ kitchen was so small. When we decided to move house, a big kitchen with living areas was top of the list.

“The minute I walked into this house, I automatically loved the space, and the views to the garden. It was important for me to use qood quality materials. Granite worktops, stainless steel, Travertine tiles and solid oak doors.”

“The eating area is located at the end of the room, whilst a doorway connects to a morning room which is my favourite space to have my morning coffee. All spaces are open plan, so it’s easy to talk when entertaining guests.”

8.Karen’s Kitchen:

Karen’s is a combination of dark and light, with a wood island and white cabinets.

Mixing it up even more–her gray butler’s pantry:

“Our kitchen is a true reflection of our family. It’s a place that is truly the heart of our home. Family and friends gather to share great meals, and good times. This kitchen is where we reconnect after a long work and school week. It was important to me that it was beautiful but more importantly it had to be welcoming, comfortable, and a place that people would always feel that they wanted to come back to.”

9. Kim’s Kitchen:

“I love my kitchen because it was a true labor of love to remodel it! It was the main part of a major home remodel before our daughter’s wedding. It took 6 months to complete. No meals at home during that whole time. Boy, was I sick of restaurant food!

“And there were some major headaches along the way. See those beautiful custom alder cabinets? Well, I had to fire the cabinet maker before they were completed! Long story, but he basically used money for the cabinets for himself and wasn’t paying the craftsmen and so I was left with a partially completed kitchen. I had to turn to my bathroom remodeler to help me finish. He did such a fantastic job and I love him for it!”

“We were down to the wire before our daughter’s bridal shower and wedding. It is a good story now, but I didn’t know if I would make it! But the vision that I had in my head for our kitchen became a reality. I enjoy it every day now and am so proud of the results!”

10. Chania’s Kitchen:

“This is my kitchen in Florida. It has the most remarkable light, and I can see palm trees through the windows while doing dishes. My favorite thing is the window sills, which are 8” wide and perfect for display. I lined up my turquoise jars to catch the light.”

“We recently painted one wall with blackboard paint so we can leave messages and numbers for our friends that use the house. I hung my Roost Clock on this wall and also have a few rosary beads hanging, including one that belonged to a Father Mandalayan.”

Many thanks to all the readers who shared their kitchens with us. Do you have a favorite?

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  1. Adallasdiva says

    Dear Julia,

    I love your blog. Truly. But you are KILLING ME. I had a plan. I knew what I was going to do in my kitchen. NOW I’M IN A DITHER. You have presented me with some of the most lovely kitchens I’ve ever seen. I love them all. AND NOW??? I have no idea of what I want to do.

    Yours truly,
    The Diva

    • Christina from Dallas says

      Dear Diva, why don’t you start a scrapbook or use Pinterest and start cutting out or pinning anything that you like? Anything at all. You don’t have to explain it to yourself or anything. Just keep cutting and pinning. After a while, you will notice that a pattern appears. You might notice you keep picking for example red things. Picking country type themes, modern designs etc.. Then with time your choices should become clearer and you will know what really speaks to you.

      • Maddie says

        I agree. I love so many things that I see and I wanted a plan that I would love for a long time. I started a Pinterest board for my kitchen and it really helped clarify what I wanted and was remarkably consistent. I also Pinned many organizing and good idea features that I would not have thought of incorporating.

  2. Miss Em says

    Love it! Love them all! I don’t have a white kitchen either. I went for red brick walls with dark, dark mahogany cabinets and I’ve loved it to pieces. Glad to see others are still liking wood tones too.

  3. says

    Thank you!!! I love looking at white kitchens but I don’t have one and probably never will. We built our house in 1996-97 and did beautiful cherry cabinets and woodwork in the whole house because we hated oak. And everyone was doing oak back then. Now, we are more “with it” since cherry is on trend more now.

    I love looking at all white kitchens but it will never be my reality. So I love to see what other people do with darker wood like ours. Thanks for giving us our moment!

  4. The Lisa Marie says

    Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you! My own kitchen is warm and cozy with honey colored cabinets, nearly black granite counter tops and deep red walls. Most of the blogs I follow only show white kitchens. I was beginning to think I was the only one out there bucking the trend. These kitchens are beautiful.

  5. says

    I have also enjoyed the non-white kitchens you have presented in your blog. I’m currently ready to update my late 70’s kitchen and still want to keep the un-painted wood cabinets. As some one else mentioned, I thought I would be the only remodel with wood cabinets!


  6. Marsha says

    Like to see white, but absolutely love the warmth of natural woods. So warm and inviting. Beautiful !!!

  7. Amanda says

    Laura, How do you ever get any cooking done with windows and view like that?? I LOVE your kitchen! It is stunning and yet so simple. Excuse me while I run and clear everything off my counters!!!

    • Laura says

      Amanda, thank you for your kind words. I think I practically shoveled off our counters to get a picture that wasn’t full of clutter. There’s an nook that I shoved our ugly toaster and can opener in but I hope to have some open shelves there someday soon. I think I overdid the de-cluttering but my 8-year old was barely allowing me to get a photo because she practically lives at the island. As I look around right now I see everything from the day– crayons, lunch pails, coffee mugs. a laptop, the mail…real life. Maybe we need a *keepin’ it real* kitchen post — everyone’s kitchen as is. Thanks again!!

  8. Amanda says

    Kathy, your kitchen is beautiful. I love the ceiling, and, of course, I’m totally jealous of the view from those windows. What really made me jump, though, was the fabric on the buffet. I love the idea of fabric instead of doors, and the color you chose is perfect!!

  9. Amanda says

    Chania, the black chalkboard wall with the yellow KichenAid mixer, white tile, and blue Ball jars is so cool! That’s my kind of decorating . . . except for the mixer. My mixer is 30 years old, almond color, and unfortunately it refuses to die. Anyway, I love the way your kitchen is so put together and yet quirky at the same time.

  10. Christina from Dallas says

    I love the view from Laura’s kitchen but we need more pictures. I love Chania’s kitchen. Especially, the chalkboard on the wall and yellow mixer. Is that fabric panels in Kathy kitchen? If so that is so cute whatever it is.

    • Laura says

      Thank you Christina from Dallas. Your kind comments mean a lot since our kitchen is not yet finished. We still need to install the trim and a few open shelves. We are huge DIYers so we’ll get there eventually!!

  11. Jennah says

    I love the warm, home-y feel of wood cabinets. They are my first choice when it comes to kitchens. Thank you for posting 10 kitchens with different wood tones, accents and accessories. Many magazine and decor sites feature white only kitchens — I honestly don’t know why! One only needs to walk into a kitchen showroom and see there are many other beautiful option besides white. It’s obvious all of the 10 featured are “lived in” which makes them even more special. (Karin – your kitchen is fabulous!)

    • karin says

      Thank you Jennah! We love it, and I think that’s what it all comes down to – having a home you love to be in. BTW – I didn’t even realize my kitchen made it on here. I missed it back in December, somehow, and jut came across it today!

  12. says

    Mirror mirror on the wall. I pick #3 because it looks like a tight space and I can really appreciate those challenges. Nice job with the island. And #7 because the stove looks awesome and I am entranced with the cabinet handles. BUT to be honest, kitchens are so personal and I love the way each and every kitchen reflects the personality and taste of the owners. I love them all and I love these features. I didn’t submit mine, well, for obvious reasons.

  13. says

    I really appreciate Karin’s DIY kitchen (#3) – very nicely done. Natural wood is so lovely, and so is the white look in kitchens.
    Now how about some colorful kitchen cabinets? :)

  14. says

    I love the look of all white kitchens but don’t think i’d ever have one. My kitchen resembles #5 Beverly’s except my backspash is beadboard. Like lots of the kitchens in this post but my fave’s are #8 Karen’s and #9 Kim’s.

    Love this blog!

  15. says

    They are pretty, but they all seem so stark to me. Can you show some warm and cozy cluttered country grandma kitchens pretty please?

    • says

      I’m working on a post about some great small kitchens that readers submitted for the contest–maybe you’ll like those better. :-)

      • Laura says

        Sharon, OMG…I’m looking at the starkness of my photo and realize I totally overdid it in clearing the counters. Trust me…they usually have more clutter and I wish I thought about *stylizing* a bit of clutter in the photo. Perhaps it was my 8-year-old that was literally ready to photo bomb my pictures so she could get back to using the island. I should have just put her and her things in the pictures!!

  16. Sue Brown says

    White kitchens look clean, I’ll give you that. But nothing sucks the life out of beautiful wood furnishings like white does. Give me colour everytime!!

  17. Spring says

    Lovely kitchens, but shouldn’t someone blur out the private phone numbers and address displayed on that last picture?

  18. T. says

    We redid our kitchen 7 years ago. It was the kitchen original to our 1940s era home, and the cabinets were white. After spending all that money to gut it and rebuild it, we didn’t want white cabinets again, so we went with light maple, and we’ve been very pleased. I’m so happy to see non-white kitchens featured here! They are all lovely, but I think Karin’s fits my own personal taste the most. Very nice. I am looking forward to seeing the small kitchens you plan to feature.

  19. Rebecca C. says

    White cabinets are beautiful, but they sure do show the dirt more. We went with natural wood also. I hate to clean all the time. Plus in our Craftsman, the natural wood fit a bit better. All of these are great kitchens. Thanks for sharing.

  20. DB says

    I like Jana’s (#2) best of all – I could totally see myself in that kitchen. Looks similar to ours, which have natural cherry wood, which is beautiful.

    Had natural maple in our previous house, which is looking a little dated now. And back in the 90’s had those bright white cabinets, remember those? – I think they were actually wrapped in some kind of coating as opposed to the painted white today – does anyone remember those or have those still? – I did like them way more than I thought. When we bought that house, the previous owners had just remodeled the kitchen so we just kept them. My wife picked out a wallpaper that really added a lot against the white cabinets. Styles sure do change quickly, guess I’m getting old.

  21. says

    This was refreshing for me – I’m not a huge fan of white kitchens. I much prefer the darker cozier wood tones :) Much like the open concept kitchens, I think they look nice and I love them in other people’s homes, but it’s just not for me. (Although – full disclosure – I like being able to walk out of the kitchen and away from the mess when I’m entertaining. It would drive me crazy to be entertaining and know that everyone can see the giant catastrophe in the kitchen LOL!)

  22. Stefanie says

    Thank you for the wonderful post! My house was built in 1984, and it has oak cabinets. I painted the kitchen island black and have gone back and forth about painting the cabinets white or a light gray. But with three teenagers and three dogs, white seems impractical right now. Thanks for showing me I am not completely out of style! These are all lovely, cozy kitchens.

  23. says

    I have always loved White kitchens, and so do the magazines, they are the only thing they photograph! Thanks for showing some beautiful WOOD cabinets that most of the rest of us actually have!! :) ~Kim

  24. Linzy says

    Karin’s. AMAZING. Those pulls? Handmade? Awesome. I think that the wood tones that I love in kitchens usually look rustic, handmade, or craftsman-esque. My in-laws have a kitchen built by this amazing do-it-all local handyman. He used the knotty bends in rhododendrons to make the pulls, and wood pieces for the knobs of the kitchen as well. My kitchen had dark, dark cabinets that were by no means real wood. So, they got painted. And since the rest of my house is rather colorful, you can guess it- white. :)

  25. David says

    Thanks so much for this post-I thought the color was going out of our lives. I have a theory that white shows better in digital and print reproduction. That is why we see so much of it in design magazines and on blogs and everyone gravitates to it. But did you ever notice that in real life there are a million shades of white and when you try to put them together they don’t work. In photos the wood looks “bizzy” but in reality that translates to warmth.

  26. Debbie says

    Thanks for finally showing wood as wood–I’m feeling validated! White can be striking, but it can feel stark sometimes, too. Ultimately, I think I’m not type A enough for white; I’d feel like I’d have to be all Martha Stewart perfect. I choose ” praline” maple for our (still incomplete) remodel. Wanted a warm, coffee house feel that is an extension of our deep yard that turns all gold and rust in autumn. My other favorite part is a bookcase that became a fish tank (I still recall one in Cheryl Crow’s home and thought it rocked”)

  27. Julia says

    I too am a fan of the wood kitchens vs white kitchens. To me the wood kitchens are much more inviting and warmer. But hands down what jumped out at me on this post was Karen’s gray butler’s pantry! I love it!!!

  28. Kimberly says

    My favorite is #8, Karen’s kitchen. I almost feel like I’m cheating by voting for the one that’s mostly white in the non-white category, but I do really like that she has a combination of white with that lovely wood island. Love the grey butler’s pantry, too!

  29. e. george says

    Hi Julia for me it has to be No. 8 Karens kitchen. I love the style and mix of colour. The grey butler’s pantry is lovely. Regards Esther from Sydney.

  30. Kim says

    My favorite is Beverly’s (#5). I love knotted cabinets and I love the overall design in her kitchen.

  31. Kelly says

    I’ve had white cabinets before and I swore never again. They showed every.little.thing (smudges, fingerprints, dust). White cabinets sure photograph well, though. I like #3 kitchen the best.

  32. Saskia says

    They’re all lovely, but I like Karin’s kitchen best! It’s small, cute, timeless, functional and beautiful. Just goes to show bigger is not always better. And it looks so professionally made. Kudos to Karin and her boyfriend for taking on the whole project themselves! (oh yeah, and love, love, love the subway tiles!)

  33. says

    OMG, they are all so beautiful! All of these home owners with beautiful kitchens are such an inspiration.

  34. Technicolor says

    Coffee with you every morning and today was a surprise and so welcomed. I love Karyn’s #3 and her story. At first it looked like she had worked around brick walls. What selective taste she has in bringing all together, love the tiles. Karyn, you have built a heritage kitchen for tomorrow.

    One thing noticed is all the kitchens did not use those darn corner/angled cabinets. Hopefully these are going away and hopefully mine at some point.

    I am definitely ready for your small kitchen posting. Thank you for thinking of the entire group.

  35. says

    How absolutely liberation and beutiful. Here in DK people have totally blocked out, al the beutiful colors and use nothing but white, grey and black and I’m SO fed up. Love these, thanks!

  36. Alie B says

    These kitchens are all incredible, but I like Jana’s the best. I love the cozy, Victorian flavour of it. Thanks for featuring these colorful kitchens! :-)

  37. says

    I’m back again with a question if that is okay. What is the name of the granite used in Beverly’s kitchen? That’s what I’ve been looking for but haven’t found it yet.

    Thanks for any help with the name.


  38. Marie says

    Julia, this kitchen series was a great idea! I love them all, and so much better than the kitchens in magazines, which are too styled, and too much extra lighting brought in to showcase the kitchens. I love how these homeowners tidied-up their kitchens and shot the pictures with natural daylight. I’m getting more ideas than I ever got spending $$$ on kitchen magazines.

  39. Lisa T. says

    All of them are very nice. I love the look of #3 Karin’s kitchen with its natural finishes and cool vibe. Boyfriend? Honey you need to marry him!!

    #10 Chania’s FL kitchen is so special in that it looks so functional, beautiful and full of character for a relatively small space. She took what could have been a negative; the pole in the middle of her kitchen, and boxed it in with nice molding and built a gorgeous island around it. Really love it.

  40. Kyla says

    I LOVE Kathy’s granite counters! The bright blue with natural colors are a beautiful combination – definitely a winner!

  41. Laura says

    Eeek! I have been *out of internet touch* for the past week and totally missed this post. I was catching up today and nearly fell out of my chair. Thank you so much for sharing my unfinished but very much loved dream kitchen. I am beyond words to be next to such beautiful kitchens.

    • says

      Laura, your kitchen is gorgeous, and I have seen other pictures of you all cooking, baking in it…the rest of your house is also lovely…sort of home built for you, and a magazine. Thanks for sharing with us.

  42. says

    I’ve found as I get older my taste in cabinet color has changed. I liked white kitchens but I’ve been moving to darker colors and my next kitchen remodel will be to a dark chocolate brown cabinet color. Your 10 non-white kitchens reconfirm that this is what I like best!

  43. Karen says

    I appreciated this post as while I love the look of white kitchens I went with warm wood myself. I thought long and hard about it too when it came to remodeling the original 1950’s yellow metal cabinets. I have a big picture window overlooking my backyard garden and the kitchen, since it has a southern exposure is flooded with a lot of natural bright light. I thought white would be too stark, so I went with warm wood. I chose a light honey stained maple cabinets as our floors are red oak

  44. says

    Julia – thank you so much for including my kitchen in this awesome post. I don’t know how I missed this when you posted it – I read “Hooked On Houses” EVERY day and have for years! But somehow I just came across this today! I’m so happy to see all these other non-white kitchen lovers here (although I have to admit I love a good white kitchen as well)! Keep up the good work, Julia. I love this blog.

  45. debbi in Texas says

    thank you; sometimes I feel like an alien because I like wood…

  46. Connie says

    Can I find out more about Sara’s kitchen? Paint color, floors and granite??? My cabinets are identical and I love her kitchen. Thanks!

    • says

      I publish all the info they give me, but sometimes they answer questions in the comments. Here’s hoping she sees yours! :)

  47. jep says

    I vote for Sarah’s kitchen, but I do like them all. I am a throw-back, too….I have a real wood no white paint kitchen. Thanks Julia, these are all really beautiful spaces.

  48. kay says

    I had a hard time choosing between Karin’s and Sara’s, but I chose Karin’s because I like her pendants and backsplash tiles. Very pretty!

    • says

      Thanks Kay! We love those pendants, too! Personally, I love all of these kitchens – they’re all gorgeous!

  49. Claire L says

    My favorite kitchen is Karin’s. I like the details and the fact that she and her boyfriend did all the work themselves. I’m jealous that my husband isn’t as handy :) Great work and it’s beautiful.

    • says

      Thanks Claire! Yeah, he’s a pretty handy and talented guy, but he is a huge procrastinator!! If I can take any credit at all for our kitchen (other than designing it :D) it would be for being the one to crack the whip! If I hadn’t we’d still be working on it! hahahaha – only slightly kidding…

  50. says

    I think all of these kitchens are gorgeous. Hats off to everyone who shared their kitchens.

  51. says

    What I continue to be amazed at is how stainless appliances dominate regardless of the cabinet style or material. Do we really think they look better than other colors?

    • says

      I just read an article about how stainless still outsells everything else on the market by far. I think it’s here to stay for a while, at least.