If you want an updated kitchen but don’t have time to paint your cabinets, then this post is for you. Keep reading to discover 12 ways you can makeover your small kitchen today.
In our home, we have chosen to go the route of painting our kitchen cabinets and even repainting them. However, there are ways to update your oak kitchen cabinets without painting. This small kitchen makeover may have you rethinking your next kitchen DIY project.
Can oak cabinets look modern?
Oak cabinets can still feel modern and fresh by changing the surroundings. Our friends bought this amazing lakehouse and chose to do just that. From your countertops to hardware, adding modern elements to oak cabinets can really make an impact. Use these 12 ways to modernize your 90s oak cabinets without painting them.
📌 Featured Comment
You saved us A LOT OF MONEY! Hubby WANTED TO PAINT! I SAID ” NOT OAK!”Charlotte
The “before” kitchen with oak cabinets
How did they modernize the oak kitchen cabinets?
Here is a rough sketch of the main makeover ideas used to completely makeover this small kitchen without tearing everything out. You will absolutely love the final results and how they were able to do this on a budget!
12 DIY Ideas To Modernize Oak Cabinets
1. Clean the cabinets
Seriously, have you ever seen how much grime can accumulate on kitchen cabinets? Take a wet towel or even a kitchen cleaner and really get the grime off. Really look at the cabinets up close and in all the little grooves dust can sit. A simple wiping can really make all the difference.
2. Add a modern backsplash and grout color
We absolutely love the geometric backsplash they chose in this kitchen. While the color is simple, the shape of the tiles really added a more modern feel. Not to mention they played off of their black matte hardware when choosing their grout color.
Don’t want to completely replace your kitchen backsplash?
Check out how we were able to paint our kitchen backsplash tile in our cheap kitchen makeover. Honestly, it is one of the best DIY projects we have ever done. Ideas like this can help you cheaply makeover your kitchen.
3. Remove some upper cabinets and replace them with open shelving
There are mixed reviews on open shelving, but taking a few cabinets down added so much style to this kitchen and showcased the awesome modern backsplash. You can make your own floating DIY shelves or buy premade ones that match your existing cabinets.
4. Change out the cabinet hardware
This might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes all cabinets need is a little bit of refresh with new hardware. These matte black handles (awesome bulk price) and contemporary knobs can bring a whole new look to the kitchen.
Read More>>>Trendy Matte Black Hardware Ideas
Can you use spray paint on your old kitchen hardware?
You for sure can! When we added laundry room cabinets & shelving, we had a mix of metals that I wasn’t vibing with. We could have purchased new handles like the ones above but chose to spray paint the silver handles we already had.
You could do the same when considering how to update your oak cabinet hardware.
Frequently touched handles may have a limited life span once spray painted, but properly cleaning will help the paint adhere. Hinges on the other hand are rarely touched and are the perfect thing to spray paint to match your modern decor.
5. Change the faucet hardware
The matte black sink hardware plays so well with the white counters and oak cabinets. You don’t have to ruin your budget either when shopping for black matte sink faucets. Stores carry all sorts of styles at different price points now.
6. Replace the countertops
This is the priciest suggestion on this list. Our friends did not have a ton of counter space so they were able to achieve this without breaking the bank. And by adding a premade island they saved money on putting a countertop there. Mixing and matching different surfaces can save you money.
Changing out your countertops to a more modern and airy style can make a world of difference. Our friends went with a faux white marble quartz that added a clean element to the space.
They were able to give a fresher feeling to their kitchen by adding more light and bright colors to the surrounding elements.
Read More: 6 Tips For Choosing Countertops To Go With Oak Cabinets (plus our favorite 7 colors)
7. Paint a light color on your kitchen walls & trim
The “before” dated red painted walls really made this kitchen feel small. By using a nice white color on the trim & walls the space immediately opened up.
The color palette of neutral brown, white and black is a classic palette that will always stay on trend. You can always add fun colors to your accessories and items you choose to put on display.
8. Add a new kitchen island
The original kitchen did not have an island. Instead of trying to match the cabinets, you can purchase a premade island or cart that could work. As you can see in the before picture, taping out the dimensions will help you truly visualize what your space may look like with the new addition.
Don’t be scared to add color, repaint or make the piece completely different than the surrounding cabinets. Add modern stools and showcase your personality in your kitchen island piece.
9. Replace some door fronts with glass
The upper corner cabinet was already a glass front. However, if you don’t have that you could always consider changing some of your upper cabinet doors to help break up the wall of oak cabinetry. Display cool cookbooks or dishes to really add some flavor to your kitchen remodel.
11. Add modern furniture & decor
Our friends snagged an awesome leather couch and other fun decor items for the open living room by buy-sell-trade. Score cheap home items with our tips and learn the lingo for FB marketplace and BST.
The brown leather color plays off of the oak cabinets and has a complete mid-century feel. By adding contemporary furniture it gave the feel that the oak cabinets were always supposed to be part of the original design.
12. Buy new appliances
In this kitchen makeover, one oak cabinet was taken out and a dishwasher was added for functional reasons. The range and refrigerator were also replaced. The stainless steel and modern appliances help to visually break up the line of oak cabinets that were previously there.
If this isn’t in the budget, white appliances would still feel modern in this space. Just give them a fresh cleaning.
- When choosing a wall color to complement oak cabinets, consider lighter colors with slightly warm undertones such as warm whites, light sage greens or creams.
- If matte black hardware is not your thing, you could consider bronze, champagne gold or other modern brass hardware options.
- Keep the permanent fixtures neutral. You can always add color with accessories and decor that can be easily changed.
Before and After Kitchen
Now I don’t know about you, but these ideas will make me reconsider painting cabinets right away.
Oak Cabinet FAQs
White counters or white counters with slight veins go really well with oak cabinetry. Consider a granite color like Super White which is meant to look like Carrara marble or Colonial White for a warmer color for a modern feel.
Add bright and crisp colors to the walls, backsplash tile, and in appliances. A pure white color can help brighten a space with honey oak cabinets. White or stainless steel appliances will also help bounce light around and make your kitchen feel larger.
More and more modern kitchen designs are showing lighter wood cabinets or a mixture of some colored cabinetry. Consider refacing your oak cabinet boxes with newer style doors such as Shaker, adding modern hardware and adding soft-close drawers to modernize your oak kitchen cabinets.
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While we like painting cabinets we know that you can still make oak cabinets look modern with these DIY projects.