How To Make Oak Kitchen Cabinets look Modern - Bedrock Construction

How To Make Oak Kitchen Cabinets look Modern

How to Make Oak Kitchen Cabinets Look Modern

Oak cabinets were the popular cabinetry choice for the kitchens of the 80s and 90s, but these days, seeing oak cabinets in a kitchen can be a turnoff to buyers or homeowners. This is because oak cabinets are considered to be dated and out of style. That being said, if you do have oak cabinets, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost! There are many different ways that you can fix them up to make them look modern again. Take a look at the below for some tips!


One of the top ways that you could modernize your cabinets is to change their colour or finish entirely. You could achieve this by restaining the wood of the cabinets. To do this, you will want to sand the cabinets down first. Then, you can either choose to stain the wood with a darker colour for a fresh and crisp look, or you can neutralize the wood with a more natural and lighter tone– which would get rid of the orange or yellow tones that we commonly see in oak cabinets. What is in style now is a more subtle look, which can be achieved by either a darker tone or a lighter, more neutral wood colour. 

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Consider This

If you are planning to restrain your cabinets, there are a few different things that you should keep in mind first! 

  • Staining wood a darker color is easier than making it lighter.
  • Avoid yellow, red, or orange tones, because these will look old fashioned.
  • Use lighter and darker tones that do not have very dominant undertones.
  • To stain properly, you will need to sand the wood down entirely first. 


Repainting is another common choice when you are modernizing your kitchen cabinets. This allows you to choose many other colors for your cabinets that would not be available if you were using wood stain to restrain them instead! Paint can also be great for resale, because it appeals to younger buyers. When you are repainting your cabinets, try to stay away from colors that are too bold and trendy, since they will fall out of fashion quickly and your kitchen will look dated again. You also don’t want to choose anything that is too distracting. However, neutrals or colors that verge on neutral, like slate blue, can look crisp and fresh in your kitchen. 

Consider This

If you’re deciding on paint colors for your kitchen cabinets, be sure to take the below into account before you make any decisions!

  • There are special cabinet pints that you can use, but any high quality paint should work.
  • Wood cabinets are perfect for painting.
  • Wood grain may still show through paint.
  • Look at the color of your appliances when choosing paint colors– do you want to match, or contrast?

Change the Hardware

Interestingly enough, lots of the cabinetry from the 80s and 90s does not have hardware like handles or knobs. While you can still open the cabinets without the hardware, it is a bit odd not to have any knobs or handles, and may feel like something is missing. There are many different styles of hardware that you can choose from to match the style or color of your cabinets. It’s an easy fix to change out hardware or to drill a few holes to put in hardware in the first place– a lot easier than staining or repainting the wood.

Consider This

Changing the hardware on your cabinets is a fairly easy update! However, there are still some important things to consider when doing this:

  • Consider handles, rather than knobs.
  • Polished nickel and black are the most popular hardware finishes.
  • If you have exposed hinges, make sure that the hardware finish you choose matches the hinges, too.
  • Choose finishes that add contrast to the space. 

Add Crown Moulding or a Valance

When you think of crown moulding, you probably think of ceilings. However, you can install crown moulding on your cabinetry as well. Crown moulding is the “crown”, which sits on the top of the cabinets, rather than what is attached at the ceiling line. A valance is similar to crown moulding, but is attached to the bottom of your cabinets. Both options increase the visual height of your cabinets, as well as helping to hide things like under-cabinet lighting. If you decide to add crown moulding or a valance– or both!–, you are able to give your cabinetry more of a custom look. 

Consider This

There are a couple of things that you should think about before you decide to add crown moulding or a valence to your oak cabinets. Take a look at some of these considerations below!

  • You can install crown moulding on your own, but may decide to hire a professional instead.
  • Crown moulding does not have to go all the way from the cabinet top to the ceiling itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are oak cabinets coming back in style 2022?

You may see oak cabinets coming back in style as design trends move towards what is considered vintage styles. Light and medium oak wood will still be trending in 2022.

How do you downplay honey oak cabinets?

To downplay honey oak cabinets, choose your colors for the kitchen wisely. If you choose a contrasting color or one from the opposite end of the color wheel, this helps to neutralize the orange-y tones in the woodwork.

Is oak coming back in style 2022?

All trends and fashions are cyclical, so they come back around eventually! Oak is one of the trends that you may see coming back as a nod to vintage styles in the year 2022.

Are oak cabinets dated?

Oak cabinets were a big and popular feature in kitchens of the 1980s and 1990s. However, in recent years they fell out of popularity as cabinets in neutral colors, such as white, became the more popular choice. Now, oak cabinets may make your space look more dated or old fashioned than if you had cabinetry with a more modern color scheme.