How to Make Oak Kitchen Cabinets Look Modern

 In Kitchen cabinets

Oak is a classic hardwood that has been in use for millenia! To this day, its durability, moisture-resistance, and appearance make it a popular choice for flooring, furniture, and cabinetry.

However, even as oak remains a very popular wood, some people feel as if oak cabinets have gone out of style. The dark, heavy, tones can remind some people of a cottage or farmhouse – not what you’re looking for if you’re aiming for an elegant, modern style.

For this reason, current trends have more and more people avoiding oak cabinets or looking at replacing them. If you’re wondering how to integrate oak cabinets into your kitchen design, you’ve come to the right place! As you’ll find in the post below, oak cabinets can actually be a great addition to even the most modern kitchens.

Positives Of Oak Cabinets

Before we talk about strategies to modernize your oak kitchen cabinets, let’s discuss the advantages of oak that will make you want to keep them in your kitchen!

  1. Durable

Kitchen cabinets see a lot of wear – cabinets in a high-traffic area of the kitchen often end up scraped, bumped or dented.

Oak is a fantastic cabinet material. A very hard and solid wood, it can easily withstand abuse that would damage many other cabinets. Better yet, oak can always be refinished to remove scratches or blemishes – an advantage over non-hardwood materials

  1. Versatile

Oak is actually a very versatile material. Oak stains well and is already a darker wood to begin with, allowing you to tweak it to fit the rest of your space. Depending on the hardware you choose, oak cabinets can complement a variety of styles. Of course, oak can also be painted, giving you even more options to work with.

  1. Attractive

Oak is a classic and sought-after hardwood with a great grain pattern. Don’t throw it out too quickly just because you don’t feel that it fits your design vision! A full set of oak cabinetry could cost thousands of dollars new, and if you’re lucky enough to have inherited one with your house it would be a better idea to try to work with it.

Ways to Make Oak Cabinets Look Modern

If you find your oak cabinets are giving your kitchen the wrong look, here are some great tips you can use to modernize them. These strategies work no matter what kind of oak cabinets you have – from your walls to your kitchen island.

  1. Update Your Hardware

If you’re not loving the look of your cabinets, playing with the hardware should be a first step. Just changing the handles alone can have a huge impact on the look of your kitchen, and could help your dark oak cabinets blend in better with the rest of the space. Copper and gold will form a nice contrast with your wood panels; metals like stainless steel or chrome will be more muted.

  1. Set Up A New Focal Point

If you have extensive cabinetry in your kitchen and are having trouble wrapping your head around all that wood, setting up a bold new focal point can be a great idea. This will draw the eye and break up the feeling of unbroken oak. Some colourful fixtures, a tile backsplash, or other showpiece all fit the bill and will bring balance to the space.

  1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets is one of the best ways to completely change the look of your room without replacing anything. While oak kitchen cabinets will look dark without painting, once you’ve decided to change the colour – anything goes.

If you want modern, white cabinets – just paint them that way! Once you’ve decided to paint your oak cabinets, you’ll have a lot more flexibility in terms of the looks you’ll have available. This works especially well with flat panel cabinets.

For a unique, contrast look, try just painting the cabinet doors and leave the rest of the cabinet as it is.


We hope this post showed you that you have room for modern oak kitchen cabinets in your own kitchen. If you feel that your cabinets are keeping your kitchen in the last century, this guide can be a great place to get inspired!

Recent Posts
Two Toned Kitchen CabinetsReplacing Kitchen Cabinet Doors