I love timber with white and get the difficulty of trying not to keep things all too neutral, if you don't like stainless steel, although it's a bugger to clean, it does stand out...
My kitchen is also white, stainless steel handles, timber floors, stainless steel fridge/oven... I think a kitchen should have plants, even if it's only herbs in a pot, but a way around worrying if beige is too soft / light, is to add a feature wall and unusal classic light fitting.
I painted mine above the stove and across, in a grey concrete render... and a stainless steel light fitting with around 12 tiny globes as drops... Sounds gross but people comment on it all the time... There are other ways of adding to a room, as far as colour and difference goes.