White has been the default color for new kitchen cabinets for at least a decade, usually accented with gray or another soft neutral.

You'll still see a lot of that color palette in the 481 new homes that will be open for touring during the spring Parade of Homes, which opens Feb. 24 for a four-week run.

But you'll also see some bold cabinet colors making inroads, including black and blue.

City Homes installed all-black kitchen cabinets (Hirshfield's Black Licorice) in its $1.8 million Parade model in Victoria (#476).

"We wanted it to stand out," said project director Katie Stenger of the dramatically dark kitchen. "It's a conversation starter ... something to remember us by."

While Stenger said that white cabinets remain hugely popular and are "still a great look — bright, clean and happy," she thinks homeowners are receptive to other options. "They've been seeing it so often," she said of white-on-white kitchens. "Some are ready to break the mold and try something new."

A City Homes house on last spring's Parade broke the mold even more colorfully, with vibrant green kitchen cabinets. That home was built for a particular owner who loved green and requested it, but this year's home with the black kitchen is a spec home, hoping to attract a buyer.

"We've gotten good feedback on it," Stenger said of the color choice.

Homeowners who want more color but aren't ready to commit to an entire kitchen are increasingly using color on center islands, noted City Homes co-owner Rebecca Remick. Others are using color to highlight one bank of cabinets in an otherwise white kitchen, to evoke a stand-alone furniture piece.

Designer Amy Offerman of Gonyea Homes & Remodeling combined gray cabinets with a soft blue island in Parade Home #447 in Chanhassen. Colorful kitchen cabinets are the current trend she "can't get enough of," according to the Parade Guidebook.

And after years of covering wood with white paint, natural wood finishes also are returning to kitchen cabinets. Not the dark cherry or golden oak of your mom's kitchen, but a "modern updated look," according to Stenger, with clean linear grain and finger pulls rather than traditional hardware.

Other design trends you'll see in Parade homes:

• Whitewashed wood floors.

• Concrete tiles.

• Distressed weathered materials contrasted with glossy polished finishes.

• Accent walls of stone, shiplap or covered in wallpaper.

Homes on the Parade range from a $198,000 two-bedroom rambler in Cambridge (#217) to a $2.5 million lake home in Stillwater (#262), one of five Dream Homes that carry a $5 admission fee.

Other Dream Homes include a Cape Cod Nantucket style-home (#134) on the Mississippi River in Coon Rapids for $1.7 million; a lakeside Craftsman in Arden Hills (#191) for $1.984 million; a shake- and stone-clad home in Edina (#434) for $2.195 million, and an ultramodern energy-efficient home in Minneapolis (#436) with rooftop deck, green roof system and solar array for $1.289 million.

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784