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Are Your Oak Cabinets Just Okay? It's Time to Upgrade

By: Carrie on May 15, 2017

Are you interested in cabinetry that is both beautiful and durable? Oak cabinets are a definite possibility. Over the past decade, the relentless pace of kitchen design trends have made it seem like oak is a non-option, but plenty of kitchen design and build teams will tell you otherwise.

Some of the possible updates or changes can occur using existing cabinetry, in other cases you might want to reface the existing cabinets. Either way, the following examples demonstrate how oak cabinets are so much more than just "okay."

Take Advantage of Oak's Beauty and Durability

There are plenty of ways to upgrade - or update - the look of oak cabinetry to gain a timeless and stylish kitchen design. Its grain patterns provide that quintessential "natural wood" look that is so popular right now, and it is a wonderful way to add pattern or texture in a mostly sleek or monochromatic kitchen.

Think Oak is Outdated? It's Not So!

As we alluded to above, oak has been marginalized a bit in the kitchen design world, wholly thought of as a "traditional" design motif. In fact, oak cabinets can be used in ultra-modern kitchen designs, like this Custom White Oak kitchen located in Austin, TX.

Look how beautiful oak looks when it's used in a completely flat-panel cabinet door design, along with contemporary, bar-style handles. The rift-sawn milling pattern changes the way the wood grain looks, giving it a very parallel and uniform appearance.

Go Whiter and Brighter

If you're in the process of selecting cabinetry, ask your designer to see samples of lighter oak door options.

For example, this San Francisco kitchen boasts bleached kitchen cabinet doors with shaker style panels, which work with any kitchen style. The effect is very light and open. They pair well with a range of kitchen finishes too - from white and pale yellow, to darker browns and grays.

Speaking of gray, liming is another treatment option that bleaches the wood a bit and gives it a rustic, beach wood effect.

Paint Them Any Color You Want

With the right coat of primer, which fills and masks bold wood grains, you can take those early 90s oak cabinets and bring them into the 21st century using the paint color of your choosing and contemporary kitchen finishes.

Case in point? Check out this California Bay Area kitchen, where original oak cabinets were painted white.

You'll be even more impressed when you compare the finished kitchen with the Before Pics. Wow! When complimented with an elegant countertop and a stylish, subway backsplash, the entire space is transformed into a sophisticated take on traditional design preferences. Another thing to appreciate about this kitchen is how the owners have made different color and wood finishes blend together as a whole.

You can view additional Before & After pictures, showing how the right cabinet updates pack tremendous style punch.

Don't forget about staining options

Here's an interesting thing about oak - for some reason, it was almost always treated with clear, neutral finishes, so all oak cabinets wound up looking alike. However, wood stain can do all kinds of things to enhance the look of oak cabinetry.

The Laight Street Loft has modern, light-stained cabinets.

Here's an example of a medium-dark stain, featured in this Capitol Hill kitchen.

Oak's rich grains are wonderful for picking up darker stains while still looking woodsy, as seen in this Sleek Home in Oakville.

Finally, don't forget glazing options, which allow you to add color and/or depth to oak cabinetry, like the ones featured in this Mediterranean kitchen.

Are you ready to upgrade your oak kitchen cabinets?

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