White Kitchens: How to Choose Coordinating White Tile

So I have a running list (several, really) of future blog topics to address. When I feel really confident about the quality of the post, I’ll start a draft to force myself to write it quicker, because my OCD tendencies can’t handle too many things in my “drafts” folder.

So today’s post is from my drafts folder, and was kicked into gear by a question I received from Patrice regarding coordinating white tile with her white kitchen. She asked,

“My two choices are between a whiter white and a barely distinguishable not so white white!!   You can see in the photos that the stove is one white, the cabinets are another, slightly darker.  (…) is there a rule-of-thumb about picking white tile that I should know?”

this kitchen has slightly warmer undertones

In short, yes, there is a rule, but it’s really quite simple: coordinate the undertones, not the exact color.

You see, there are so many different variations of white out there that you will never perfectly match the shade of your cabinetry or appliances…and that’s OK! White on white is still beautiful, as long as the undertones of the whites coordinate.

Now, when I speak of undertones, I’m speaking of the slight tint of warmth or coolness given to the particular white tile. This can be difficult to distinguish unless looking at some white tiles side by side.

this kitchen has slightly cooler undertones

For instance, if your kitchen has warmer tones throughout…maybe off-white cabinetry, a bright white tile definitely won’t coordinate as well as a slightly off-white tile would.

If you can’t tell what the undertones are in your kitchen, here’s a good rule of thumb: do you have lots of warm woods throughout the room, or is it decorated with more of a black-white-gray color palette?

Warm woods = slightly off-white tile
Black-white-gray = bright white tile

wouldn't want a wet dog running through this kitchen!

If you’re still unsure, take samples home. You’ll know when you get home if it blends beautifully or if it seems a little “off” to you. If it seems a little “off”, it’s likely that you’ve mixed undertones.

And if you’re really unsure, don’t hesitate to email me at tiletramp@gmail.com for a free consultation!

*all images courtesy of apartmenttherapy.com










7 Responses to “White Kitchens: How to Choose Coordinating White Tile”
  1. Katie says:

    I had that SAME exact first kitchen photo saved in my files when we were remodeling ours. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t going for the white cabinet look, and my kitchen is umm… about a quarter of the size and maybe a tenth of the budget. But a girl can dream. 😉

    • Tile Tramp says:

      I know what you mean…I’m obsessed with the look too but given that our kitchen is like a total of ten sq.ft., I don’t think it’s gonna happen for me either! But drooling over pretty kitchen pictures never hurt anything either 🙂

  2. Nancy says:

    Okay, I feel somewhat screwed after reading this post. I remodeled my kitchen, and I love it! I kind of went against design rules and placed grey/white/black granite countertops in a kitchen with warm colored wood floors (think light brown/slight orange/red). I plan on placing a rug to help offset the warm colors, but will this still be unappealing? You can say yes, if it is true. You won’t hurt my feelings. But secretly, I want you to say no. 🙂 So back to this post. I never really thought about the color of tiles until I read this. My cabinets are white with dark hardware. I was planning on placing white tiles with light grey grout. What would you recommend since I have warm floors with cool cabinets and countertops?

    • Tile Tramp says:

      Hi Nancy! No, you are not screwed, and I’m sure your space looks fantastic. The flooring doesn’t cause nearly the same level of clashing as something right up against it, if that makes sense. In fact, I am actually frequently a fan of a nice warm floor to offset a cooler toned space. It provides a nice balance. As for recommendation, I think you have it spot-on. No change required 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    We are remodeling a 25 year old house which we purchased in September. I love tile and need your help with 2 areas. First the kitchen. Nothing except the flooring has been ordered yet but we are closing in on it so don’t hesitate if you think we should go a different direction. Our floor is gorgeous reclaimed rift and quartered white oak. The countertop is Caesarstone Wild Rice and the cabinets a cream color. The kitchen is an L shape with a 4’x8′ island. I love subway tile and want to do cream crackle tile backspslash but worry it might be all too warm or boring. The oak will be in the kitchen as well. The house is a clean and modern design but I want it to be warm and welcoming…not too sleek or cold. I have thought about doing a backsplash in a brown that works with the wild rice. Your thoughts would be so appreciated.

    Not too far from the kitchen (great room concept) is our fireplace area. There is a hearth which is a bench style and goes up either side and wraps around into the wall. I am considering a honed dark, chocolate marble. It is a new fireplace and surround. Our house is being insulated and sheetrocked now. Any suggestions would be so appreciated. I have picked out the rest of the tile for the house and love each thing. The kitchen and fireplace haven’t fallen into place. Our kitchen is not huge with a 30″ range. There is 20- 25 linear feet of tile in the backsplash. I could send photos if you would like.


    • Tile Tramp says:

      Hi Lisa,

      For your kitchen: there is nothing at all wrong with sticking with all light colors, with a darker counter. This is a beautiful look, and I don’t think you would ever tire of it. You can always incorporate other colors through decorative accents (towels, pretty vases/jars, etc….I incorporate color in my kitchen through a constantly-changing candy display in apothecary jars). I don’t think the brown is the way to go, it would just darken the space.

      The fireplace I will definitely have to see to be able to make a recommendation. If you could send me a photograph, I’d be happy to give you my opinion, but it depends so much on its location in the room, natural lighting, etc. But I can say confidently that a creamy crackle subway tile for your kitchen backsplash will look absolutely beautiful and timeless.

      My email is tiletramp@gmail.com. Hope to hear from you!

      • Lisa says:

        Hi…Thanks for your thoughtful response. Now I am down to one kitchen backsplash dilemma. The 3×6 cream crackle tile is lovely but there is a new contender which is a 2×12 shiny cream tile with no crackle. The more interesting size might be winning over the lovely crackle tile distributed by Statements.
        If you can, please email me soon because I should finalize everything tomorrow. If the 2×12 is the way to go, what pattern would you use to set it?

        The fireplace problem might be solved with a modern, stacked, pencil sized grey and gold quartzite. I will send a photo of it to you along with one of the fireplace.

        Best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: