Ideas to Update Oak Cabinets (or any wood) Cabinet
You might be surprised to hear it, but I’m a huge fan of oak cabinets…that’s right, a HUGE fan. Why? Well, unlike melamine, thermofoil and veneers, oak cabinets are almost always REAL solid wood. And with real wood comes real potential.
The above photo shows maple cabinets, not oak, but it’s a GREAT example of a well-updated space
Potential for what you may ask? Firstly, the potential for many many ‘hard wood’ jokes (always a personal fave), and second, the potential for updating them regardless of the century you’re in, for example…
- An updated look via paint (which you can learn about here)
- A fresh finish with stain
- A facelift with hardware, decor and paint colours that suit your wood stain – ideas that involve much less work, labour and wine-drinking compared to painting or staining those cabinets
Now, I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about painting/staining oak cabinets to update and add value, but today we’re going to talk about everything BUT that.
You ready Betty?
1. Add New Hardware
I talked about new hardware in my blog post here and today, I want to add to those ideas…
- Antique Brass. If you’re looking for a low-contrast look, antique brass is a beautiful finish with oak cabinets. The bonus is that most oak cabinets (if they have their original hardware) have hinges in this colour, so that’s just one less thing to worry about!
- Oil Rubbed Bronze. Another beautiful finish with oak cabinets, adding a bit of contrast and drama without being as stark as black
- Black. I love the look of black hardware on oak or wood cabinets as long as the hinges aren’t exposed
Julie Blanner did a FABulous job of updating her kitchen while keeping the rich tone of her oak cabinets. With cup style pulls and decorative handles, her kitchen looks warm and inviting!
Via Julie Blanner
The cathedral style door (as shown above with the arched top) is the hardest look to update. By choosing hardware with soft, curved lines, Julie gave this kitchen a new lease on life and the cathedral style door/hardware look natural and well-coordinated.
Read more: The Best Hardware to Update Cabinets
2. Add Glass to Feature Doors
Adding glass to a few key doors will relieve some of the visual weight of the wood and add some reflective value to your kitchen.
And of course, you can hire a cabinet company to do this for you, but with a bottle of wine and a saw you might be AMAZED at what you can accomplish (it’s how I trim my toenails…)
3. Use the Right Decor
Using unified decor with a consistent colour palette can really help update a kitchen or bathroom with oak cabinets. The more colours and metal finishes you add, the more cluttered it can make the room look.
Black, white, cream, gray – these are all classic, simple colours to add to a room with oak. Rather than contrasting the wood with a colour like blue or green, keep things simple with some well-placed neutrals.
Copper is a beautiful complement to oak cabinets with its earthy rich metal finish. Whether it’s canisters or small decorative pieces, adding copper can help to simplify and unify your cabinets and decor as copper tends to have the same warm undertones as oak.
The use of greenery keeps the accessories in this room well-connected and complementary to the oak cabinets. Remember, oak is already a ‘busy’ look as it tends to be pretty grainy – keeping thing simple with your decor will help to calm things down.
4. Paint…Just a Lil’
Okay, so I’m a big fat liar, I know – slap me with a wet noodle. However, this idea doesn’t involve painting ALL of your cabinets – just some of them, and it’s too good of an idea not to share!
By choosing a few key places to paint you can give your kitchen an updated look and give the oak something to play off of.
Of course, there are MANY different kitchen layouts, so it can be challenging to say ‘always paint these cabinets and leave these one’s wood’, but here are some ideas to get you going…
- Paint only the upper cabinets
- Paint only the lower cabinets
- If you have a pantry style cabinet in the kitchen, paint it as well as the uppers OR lowers
- Paint the island
- If you have a unique range hood or desk area, paint it
5. Add a Backsplash
Whether you have an outdated backsplash or none at all, adding a more modern looking backsplash will do WONDERS for your oak cabinets!
The most popular, timeless choice would be a white subway tile with white or gray grout, however, this doesn’t suit EVERY countertop. You can also check out travertine which is a beautiful natural stone (travertine is FAB with most oaks).
Check out my affordable and FUN E-Design and Online Color Consulting Packages – I’d love to help!