A white kitchen can look clean and contemporary, but only if your paint holds up to the wear and tear. Choose a white paint with a semi-gloss or glossy finish for durability, as glossy paint will stand up to scrubbing, but flat finishes won't. The gloss will also reflect more light than a flat or matte finish, making your kitchen appear brighter. The best white shade will depend on your surrounding colors and your personal tastes.
Cool whites have a slight blue undertone to them, making them work well with cool colors or as a high-contrast look against black and stainless steel appliances. Blue-undertone whites will look particularly bright and white if you hold them up for comparison against off-white or ivory shades. Choose a cool white if you have a black and white kitchen or other decor in the blue, cool purple or cool green range. Examine several swatches against your existing appliances and other paint or decor colors to find the one that looks the brightest and cleanest.
Warm white shades have a slight yellowish undertone that is apparent when contrasted with cool colors, but they appear white when used on their own or with warm colors. If you have a warm tone kitchen, such as yellow, natural or stained wood, or warm sage green, choose a warm white paint to enhance the inviting, cozy feel. Choose a shade that appears white when standing alone or placed against your wood or warm wall color but that looks slightly ivory or yellowish when held against a cool tone white.
Many paint stores sell "High-hide white" or "One-coat white" paints. Choose this white if you are painting over a previous dark color. Kitchen cabinets may become hard to open and shut if you build up too many layers of paint, so a white that covers your cabinets with only one layer will keep them looking and performing their best.
Another practical consideration in your white cabinetry choice is your appliances. If you have existing white appliances that are right next to your white cabinets, such as a dishwasher, refrigerator or oven, bring home several swatches and choose the one that matches your appliances best. White countertop appliances won't matter as much if you have a different color, such as on a countertop finish, between the appliance and your white cabinets.