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Goodbye to white?

Kitchen ideas from Food magazine

Has the all-white kitchen finally been eclipsed? it’s time to try soft greys, deeper neutrals and colour accents

Say goodbye to a white kitchen.Style accent, Kitchen by designer Natalie Du Bois.

While kitchens with white cabinets will remain a mainstay of our interior choices for their versatility, the coming years may see white take a bit of a backseat in preference to stronger tones. Never fear, it’s not a radical change.

More of a subtle groundswell than an earth-shattering transformation. For as sparkling white steps back, soft greys and other mid-toned neutrals are taking its place.

The other emerging trend is using an accent colour alongside white – it could be anything from a subtle colour change to something stronger. A clever delineation for this type of colour change is to use it on any full-height cabinetry or on an island bench, leaving the rest in white.

Soft greys in the kitchen
The Goodbye to white kitchen, designed by Susan Templer of Templer Interiors.

The rise of grey in our interiors has been significant in recent years, so it’s little wonder it’s appearing in kitchens. Grey is a true neutral – a blend of black and white – so it has the same adaptability features as white, and looks good with a number of other elements and colours. It’s also a flexible colour in regards to style. Put it on tongue-and- groove or panelled cupboards, and it takes on a country or Scandi twist. Use it as a sleek and uncluttered profile, and it becomes city-style and urbane.

If true grey is too cool a colour for you, try a greige. It’s exactly as it implies – a cross between beige and grey. There is a huge range of these tones in the Resene colour range, in particular the Resene Whites & Neutrals collection. Check out Resene Truffle, Resene Tapa and Resene Half Friar Grey. These are stony greys with a twist of warmth.

These colours are calming, subtle and hugely versatile. You can dress them up or down, and change their look and style according to the accent colours or accessories you put with them.

As with any neutral, you can include certain elements to bring the scheme alive and stop the kitchen looking too plain. Texture, gloss level and pattern are the key. First, the profile of your cabinets can provide interest – will they be plain, panelled, grooved or patterned in some other way? Is there an opportunity to inject pattern via the benchtop? Or via another surprise element altogether – metal, timber, glass or a shot of colour?

Pale colours in the kitchen.
Right: Tranquil place, by Rochelle Jackson of Kitchen Elements. Left: Stiudio below, Toni Roberts of Kitchen Architecture used tiles for this inner city villa.

Helping you choose:

When you’re decorating, you’ll discover a wealth of ‘whites’ with varying touches of yellow, green, brown or grey to turn them into ivory, chalk, cream, silver and pale beige. They all have subtle differences that can vastly affect the look of your kitchen.

Resene makes choosing easier with the Resene Whites & Neutrals collection of paint colours. The collection includes 28 palette cards with 12 colours on each. Often these colours are from the same colour family, and are variants of one colour, which makes it easier to build a tonal colour scheme. Your kitchen cabinets might be the normal variant of the colour, then you can use a double strength of the colour for the walls, and a quarter strength for the trims.

Resene has also recently published a handy guide called Habitat Plus – whites and neutrals to help get you started. This is available for free at your local Resene ColorShop or you can view it online at

Pleasantly neutral:

The cabinets of this kitchen designed by Susan Templer of Templer Interiors are painted in Resene Half Stack – an intentional departure from the ubiquitous white kitchen. While still a neutral, this grey has more depth and personality, and allows for a more individual look to this traditional- style kitchen. Resene Blackboard Paint is used to frame the window. It coordinates with the black stove and benchtops and adds a striking and functional feature wall. Walls in Resene Villa White are perfect for this old villa and are close to the white of the subway tiles. The ceiling and trims are painted in Resene Alabaster.

Studio above:

Toni Roberts of Kitchen Architecture responded to a design brief for a fresh, timeless look with urban character for this studio kitchen beneath her client’s inner-city villa. The clients were averse to the usual white doors so Toni suggested a glamorous marble mosaic for wow-factor, which looks superb with Resene Quarter Scarpa Flow cabinets and Resene Half Concrete walls. A Corian Designer White benchtop is a crisp contrast, while an oak floor and timber-look open shelves balance the cooler tones.

Style accent:

The cabinets of this kitchen by designer Natalie Du Bois may be white (Resene Black White), but they are so cleverly accented with interesting features that the white doesn’t dominate. There’s the striking oval island bench wrapped in stainless steel, a wavy texture to the overhead cabinets, an elegant timber room divider, a black double free-standing oven and timber floors.

Tranquil place:

Rochelle Jackson of Kitchen Elements responded to a brief for a relaxed, tranquil kitchen by combining cabinets in Resene Half Sea Fog and Resene Apple Green. To add to the sanctuary feel of the room, she also rid it of visual clutter and specified ultra-quiet appliances.



Kitchen Decorating Ideas
View more kitchen decorating ideas from Food magazine in the Resene kitchen inspiration gallery.

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.