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How do I make my kitchen cabinets look modern?

Atif Khan
How do I make my kitchen cabinets look modern?

Are your kitchen cabinets looking outdated and in need of a modern makeover? Don't worry, you don't have to go through the expense and hassle of replacing them. With a few simple updates, you can transform your old cabinets into a modern and stylish focal point of your kitchen. In this article, we will explore different techniques and ideas to make your kitchen cabinets look modern and up-to-date. From changing the hardware to adding a stained finish, we've got you covered. Let's dive in!


Your Cabinets

Before diving into the various ways to update your cabinets, it's essential to assess their condition and identify any specific issues that need to be addressed. Take a close look at your cabinets and determine whether the doors, material, or style are the main concerns. This will help you prioritize which areas to focus on during the makeover process.


Start by

evaluating the overall condition of your cabinets. If the doors are faded,

damaged, or simply unappealing, but the cabinet boxes are still structurally

sound, you're in luck. These cabinets are excellent candidates for a facelift.

However, if the cabinet boxes themselves are in disrepair, you may need to

consider replacing them entirely.

Material and Style

The material

and style of your cabinets can significantly impact their overall

appearance. Oak cabinets and cheap thermofoil were popular choices in the past,

often associated with outdated kitchens. However, oak cabinets can be versatile

and offer a unique aesthetic when designed correctly. Consider whether your

cabinets' material and style align with your desired modern look or if changes

are necessary.


Your Cabinets

Now that you have assessed your cabinets and identified areas for improvement, it's time to explore various methods to give them a modern makeover. From adding a stained finish to changing the hardware, these updates will transform your cabinets into a stylish and contemporary focal point in your kitchen.

1. Add a Stained Finish

One simple

and effective way to move away from the traditional honey-colored look of oak

cabinets is to add a stained finish. Experiment with darker stains to create a

more sophisticated aesthetic and break away from the light honey color. A

stained finish will enhance the natural wood grain, adding depth and character

to your cabinets. Consider using a matte finish to create a more modern and

muted look.

2. Choose Flat, Slab Door Styles

The door

style plays a significant role in the overall appearance of your cabinets. To

achieve a modern look, opt for flat, slab doors. These sleek and simple designs

align perfectly with the clean lines and minimalistic approach of modern

kitchen design. Slab doors also allow the natural wood grain of oak cabinets to

shine through, creating a contemporary and stylish look.

3. Update Cabinet Hardware


out your cabinet hardware is a quick and effective way to modernize your

cabinets. Look for simple and unassuming hardware options that complement the

overall design of your kitchen. Long, oversized pulls are popular choices for

modern kitchen cabinets. These sleek and slim handles add a touch of modernity

and elegance to your cabinets. Alternatively, consider forgoing cabinet

hardware altogether for a clean and minimalist look.

4. Play with the Wood Grain


the natural wood grain of your oak cabinets can add a modern touch to their

appearance. Instead of hiding the grain, let it shine as the focal point of

your kitchen. Consider using oak cabinets with horizontal wood grain patterns

to create a unique and contemporary look. Horizontal lines are a key element of

modern design, and showcasing the grain in this way will enhance the overall


5. Pair with Complementary Countertops


the right countertops can greatly enhance the modern look of your oak cabinets.

Opt for simple and subtle countertops in neutral colors such as white or dark

hues. These colors will accentuate the natural wood grain of the cabinets while

providing a sleek and contemporary backdrop. Avoid busy patterns or ornate

designs that can detract from the modern aesthetic.

6. Utilize Two-Tone Kitchen Design

Create a

modern and visually appealing kitchen by incorporating a two-tone design. This

involves using different colors for the upper and lower cabinets. Pair painted

white upper cabinets with stained oak base and island cabinets for a striking

contrast. The combination of painted and natural wood finishes adds depth and

interest to your kitchen, giving it a modern and stylish vibe.

7. Consider Cabinet Refacing

If the

doors of your cabinets are in rough shape but the boxes are still solid,

cabinet refacing is an excellent option. Cabinet refacing involves applying a

veneer to cover the existing doors, giving them a fresh and modern look.

Consult with a local carpenter to determine if refacing is a viable option for

your cabinets. This cost-effective solution can transform the appearance of

your cabinets without the need for a complete replacement.

8. Embrace Open Shelving


shelving is a popular trend in modern kitchen design. Consider removing the

doors from some of your upper cabinets to create open shelving. This allows you

to display decorative items and adds a contemporary touch to your kitchen.

Paint the interior of the cabinets the same color as the wall to create a

seamless and cohesive look. You can also add fun elements like wallpaper or

peel-and-stick tile to the back wall of the cabinets for added visual interest.

9. Install Undercabinet Lighting


lighting can make a significant difference in the overall appearance of your

kitchen cabinets. Install undercabinet lighting to illuminate your countertops

and highlight the modern features of your cabinets. LED strip lights or puck

lights can be easily installed beneath the upper cabinets to provide task

lighting and create a warm and inviting ambiance. Consider adding a dimmer

switch to control the intensity of the lighting and create different moods in

your kitchen.

10. Incorporate Glass Inserts


inserts can add a touch of elegance and modernity to your cabinet doors.

Replace some of the solid panels with glass inserts to create visual interest

and showcase your favorite dishes or glassware. Choose from different types of

glass, such as reeded, led, or tinted, to add a unique and contemporary look to

your cabinets. You can also experiment with mullion inserts or other decorative

options to personalize your cabinets and make them stand out.

11. Paint or Refinish

Painting or

refinishing your cabinets can completely transform their look. Choose a modern

color palette, such as sage green or deep, rich tones, to bring your cabinets

into the present century. Meticulously sand the surface before applying the

paint or stain to ensure a smooth and professional finish. Consider hiring a

professional painter or take on the project yourself for a rewarding and

cost-effective makeover.

12. Remove Decorative Moldings

To achieve

a sleek and modern look, remove any decorative moldings or trim from your

cabinets. Simple and clean lines are key elements of modern design, so

eliminating ornate details will instantly update the appearance of your

cabinets. Fill any gaps or holes left by the removed moldings and give your

cabinets a fresh coat of paint or stain to create a seamless and streamlined



Don't let outdated cabinets hold your kitchen back from achieving a modern and stylish look. With these tips and techniques, you can transform your old oak cabinets into a contemporary focal point of your kitchen. Whether you choose to add a stained finish, update the hardware, or embrace open shelving, there are countless ways to make your cabinets look modern. Remember to assess the condition, material, and style of your cabinets before embarking on a makeover project. With a little creativity and effort, you can create a kitchen that is both functional and visually appealing. So go ahead, and give your cabinets the modern makeover they deserve!

Atif Khan
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