Kevin Isbell is an (opinionated!) interior designer based in Los Angeles.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve no doubt seen my Reels series of hot takes on watered down design trends. Nothing was more controversial than my stance on thinking outside the (literal) "white box" when it comes to kitchens. The white kitchen has become so classic that it is now cliché—and, as this designer sees it, deeply uninspired.
While I understand the argument for the color, I just can’t condone its lack of originality. The proliferation of white kitchens today seems to have gotten a jump-start with the 2003 movie Something’s Gotta Give, which you'll remember for its big, beautiful, light-filled, Nancy Meyers-designed oceanfront kitchen. That set started a revolution—soon thereafter clients began asking for a kitchen that was similar. As with any design idea that takes hold, mass retailers started to pay attention and began offering the now ubiquitous Shaker White cabinet at every price point.
Related: See Isbell's own Los Angeles home
With mass availability, you get mass visibility, and soon the white kitchen was on your feed and on your renovation shows, all adding to the awareness. Soon, clones of this space were rolling out across America. None of this is inherently bad, per se (albeit a bit uninspired), but my job as an interior designer is to bring you something that you can’t find at the local big box store. My job is to inspire you and present a heightened version of yourself. So why would you aim for anything less just because you may be designing the space yourself?
I want to inspire people to try something that is more representative of themselves, rather than just blind allegiance to a trend. Instead of reaching for the same white marble countertops and subway tile backsplash, why not try painting your island a a bold color, or adding a pop of wallpaper to the ceiling?
If at the end of the day, you keep coming back to the same white conclusion, then so be it—at least you know your decision is based in your personal likes, not the cheap influence of set designs and social media feeds. And if that's the case, your task will be to bring in personality elsewhere (hello texture, art, or even rugs), finding something that makes your kitchen unique and different from your next door neighbor.
After all, as I see it, your home is the ultimate expression of who you are as a person and what you value most. I simply ask that you choose accordingly.
Convinced? Check out these kitchens for some bold color inspiration.
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