Why A White Kitchen Might Decrease The Value Of Your House

Kitchen trends come and go, but one that seemed like it would always be in style is the all-white kitchen. White is a timeless option with tons of versatility, so it was often a top choice for homeowners when choosing cabinet colors, countertops, and backsplash tile. An all-white kitchen feels open, can make the room look larger, and maintains the appearance of a clean room. However, despite the popularity of the color, it seems that all-white doesn't help increase home value. House Beautiful posted a video on TikTok, stating, "White kitchens can actually cause a buyer's offer to drop by more than $600." But if the color is a top choice, why does it contribute to a decrease in value? Simply put, white cabinets can read as uninteresting to many home buyers, and they no longer feel turnkey.

For homeowners looking to move into a space that's completely finished, white looks like a blank space, but in a bad way. It feels more like playing it safe rather than like a thoughtful design went into creating the space. A unique area that feels curated will often fetch a higher price, which is why some experts suggest using dark, moody, statement colors on kitchen cabinets and walls. A color other than white in the kitchen is sure to set you apart from all the other kitchens that potential buyers are likely looking at around the same time.

Does white have a replacement?

According to research by real estate site Zillow, white is no longer the top choice for homebuyers. The findings come from a study that evaluated more than 4,700 home buyers who recently or were currently looking to purchase a home. Images of kitchens in one of 11 colors were randomly assigned, and the homebuyers were asked to score the design based on their likelihood of wanting to tour and the price they would willingly pay for the home. The results showed that all-white spaces, including the kitchen, had decreased in popularity compared to prior research.

Researchers also made another finding. It seems like buyers are drawn to another color: gray. Graphite gray, in particular, was found to sell for almost $2,500 more, midtone gray for $2,550 more, and dark gray for $1,755 more than expected. This hue can offer the same neutral and versatile appeal as white while adding a little bit more personality and style to the room. Similarly, earth tones were also noted to fetch more than expected when it came to price. Exposure to these unique shades on social media and home renovation shows may be responsible for buyers' change of heart.

Are there risks to straying from the standard?

Even though new research is showing that white kitchens aren't nearly as popular as they once were, could there be a risk of not following the all-white and bright advice that has been the standard for years? Not exactly. Opting for gray over white isn't as crazy of a choice as painting kitchen cabinets purple or orange would be, for example. Gray retains the neutral feeling of white while adding a bit more character. 

Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home-trend expert, said in response to the study's results, "People don't buy homes every day, so they're trying to quickly process a lot of complex information in an area where they don't have a lot of experience" (via Architectural Digest). She added, "That uncertainty is likely why buyers rely on color as a powerful visual signal that a home is modern and up-to-date, or tired and needs maintenance." While it's true that neutrals don't fall out of style the way bright colors do, they're still subject to trends. And, ultimately, following the trend cycle for something that can be easily changed, like paint, poses little risk for both sellers and buyers.