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White Shaker Cabinets: The Basic Bitch of the Kitchen & Bath World.

Prelude: As I sit here typing out my first design blog post sitting cross-legged on my bed, wearing my floral linen button-up two-piece pajamas, and drinking an iced latte (my doctor said I can have 200mg of caffeine per day while pregnant and don’t think I don’t count every last milligram), I can’t help but acknowledge the overwhelming amount of basic bitch that is exuding from my pores. I’ll be honest with you. I hate having traces of basic inside me, but I just can’t help it. Not many people can. What can I say? Those basic bitches know how to do it up right. When it comes to Tory Burch sandals, tassel earrings, and loving Oprah, sign me up. The woman is a God. But even though basic trends can be comforting, they quickly get overplayed. This is where I draw the line.

There’s a certain level of comfort in knowing what you are wearing, designing, or doing is on “trend,” but there’s a problem. We’ve got to stop copying and looking like everyone else. Not everyone needs to look like a Kardashian or design their houses after them. What the heck happened to being unique? I’m getting so tired of designing the exact same kitchen over and over again because Susan Springfield’s best friend has a white kitchen and that’s what Joanna Gaine’s keeping spitting out. Stop it. For the love of God, please stop.

Now don’t get upset with me quite yet. I’m sure plenty of you reading have painted or installed white kitchen or bath cabinets recently in an effort to “keep up with the trends,” but there is a growing complication with white shaker cabinets being camouflaged as the stylish go-to when determining the cabinet choice for your remodel. Yes, white shaker cabinets are classic and have been forecasted to stay on trend for the foreseeable future, but they leave a considerable opportunity for homeowners or designers to miss the mark. It happens more often than not and it’s becoming a plague in the kitchen and bath design world. Let me show you exactly what I am talking about.

Let’s take Susan Springfield. She comes into a showroom with her mind set that she wants all white shaker cabinets in her kitchen. She pulls up her Houzz and Pinterest pages which are full of beautiful designer quality kitchens such as this.

Brightening your Home with January Florals - Kristy Wicksimage by John Smith via 

WOW. BEAUTIFUL! Just take second and breathe it in. It’s white. It’s crisp. Its glamorous as hell. No one will dare step foot in your house and say your kitchen is outdated or ugly. I can bet you that most of us have pinned a similar picture in our social media folders as an inspiration photo. It’s easy to imagine our friends and family gathered around that island snacking on hors d’oeuvres and laughing at a hilarious joke you made while sipping on chilled wine. What’s not to like?

But unfortunately this is where I have to be real with you. Unless budget isn’t an issue for you, your kitchen is always free of messes, and your family always follows the rules of Emily Post, you fall under the category with the rest of us where budget and reality play a huge part in your everyday life.

So let’s break this down. First of all, this is a $70,000 plus designer kitchen. To the untrained eye (which is everyone who isn’t a professional kitchen and bath designer), this seems like a simple design to follow. Just use all shaker painted white cabinets and you’ll attain the same look in your kitchen, right? Sorry guys, but no. Please take note of the built-in custom hood, designer window shade, custom panel covered appliances, integral end panels, large stacked crown molding, and bowl of perfect WASP fresh cut flowers. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a $250+ monthly budget for fresh flowers or the fragile lifestyle that allows for a $1,000 espresso maker and designer chinaware to have a permanent home on my countertops. What I have is a 2 year-old Tasmanian devil who’s only aspiration in life is to throw balls across every room and a hippie husband who believes wiping off a kitchen countertop is optional. Though this kitchen is exquisite, it’s just not realistic or attainable for the majority.

Here’s a photo of what 85% of Susan Springfield’s kitchens actually end up looking like.

Harsh. I’m not even going to get into the bar pulls, terrible floor choice or hideous backsplash (see what I did there?). I want you to take a good look at the reality. Now flip back and forth between both photos. See the difference? It just falls short. Like “missed the last two steps of your stairs” falls short. Now imagine those white cabinets with random stains and spills all over the countertops and I’m 99% confident you’d swipe right. Sure, it’s probably a vast improvement from the before photo, but they could have done better. All white is very hard to pull off without the help of a trained professional.

Here’s the other issue I need to point out which is my biggest pet peeve of all. IT’S JUST SO BASIC. Stop copying and matching everyone else. Just because the top 10 kitchen photos on Pinterest have white kitchen cabinets, doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. It’s so common now, it’s underwhelming. As a kitchen and bath designer, I am fully emerged every day in designs and I’ll be honest with you. I can’t help but secretly eye roll every time a client comes walking in wanting me to design their kitchen in all white shaker cabinets. Not only because I’ve done it before time and time again, but because she’s the 4th person this week who wants the same thing. Come on, guys. You’re better than this.

Here’s a solution that grants you the permission to embrace the white shaker cabinet trend without looking like everyone else.

Tada! Hello bright, fun, functional kitchen! Aren’t you sweet as hell?!

This kitchen doesn’t cost anymore money than that fugly one above. The only difference here is good taste. Here’s the simple and easy-to-follow recipe: Take one part darker base cabinets, one part white upper cabinets, add a clean, classic tile/ dark grout combination to tie together the colors, and finish it up with pretty functional every day cooking essentials and blammo! Adorable!

Let’s break this down further by starting with the base cabinets. They’re darker, which means they hide every day messes. I don’t know about you, but it would probably take me a week or so to notice the artwork Knox commissioned on the front of them. Besides being a great color, of which you could choose different, they play so well off the upper white cabinets without looking bland and washed out. Next, let’s look at the white uppers. Glass panels can add so much to your cabinets and they’re only a slight upcharge. Obviously you don’t want to do all your uppers in glass because who really keeps their cabinets perfectly organized? But a few well placed glass panels, takes your kitchen from looking stock, to custom. Lastly, let’s talk floating shelves. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon and they definitely feed that hungry basic bitch inside you. Most of the time, they’re cheaper than purchasing an entire cabinet so flip your hair to the side and add those suckers. Disclaimer: please consult a designer on proper placement. This can go somewhere real bad faster than you can say Tristan Thompson Scandal.

Now that you’ve been educated on white shaker kitchen cabinets, I hope you listen to my advice and put your own twist on your own kitchen or bath. Like I said, we all have basic inside of us. That can be a good thing. But as we all know, too much of a good thing is dangerous so let’s proceed with caution.

Now put down your phone or laptop, make the quickest turn towards the closest Starbucks and order that grande caramel macchiato because your inner basic bitch is thirsty and she deserves a pick-me-up

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