5 Gorgeous Kitchen Redos That Make Natural Wood Cabinets Look High-End

published Feb 17, 2023
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Kitchen
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Modern
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DIY
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Credit: Kit Lin

If you’re looking at revamping your kitchen on a budget, one of the most common pieces of advice is to rely on paint. And it’s good advice! Paint can not only transform walls, but can also do some seriously heavy lifting in making countertops, flooring, backsplashes, and even fixtures look brand new — not to mention past-their-prime wood cabinets. But there’s beauty in letting natural wood cabinets shine, too, even though it can feel like there aren’t nearly as many projects featuring them as there are those featuring painted cabinets.

If you’ve been searching for natural wood inspiration to inform your own kitchen makeover, we’ve got you. These five beautiful kitchen transformations all feature the glory of natural wood, from super light Scandi-style finishes to richer mid-century-inspired ones. In one case, the kitchen even showcases the old wood cabinets that were already in place — just dressed up with fresh hardware and new surroundings that gives them a whole new look. Read on to see how these homeowners incorporated natural wood finishes to create cozy, inviting kitchens.

The Scandi-Style Kitchen That Combined Light Wood and White Accents

To create a light, breezy cook space, the automatic first thought for many is to reach for the white paint. It’s a good instinct — white paint can brighten up gloomy cabinetry and make a room seem bigger, too. But light wood tones can hit the same note, as homeowner Jenna Malar shows in her 1949 duplex’s kitchen redo. After knocking out a wall to expand the footprint of her kitchen, Jenna and her husband Luke opted for light ash-tone kitchen cabinets from IKEA. Slim-profile hardware ensures a clean, simple look that keeps the wood on full display; in true Scandi fashion, it’s all balanced out with fresh white features above, including a white countertop, white backsplash tile, white open shelving, and even a frosted white light fixture.

The 1960s Kitchen That Rediscovered Its Mid-Century Vibe

Here’s a kitchen redo that shows how drastic the difference can be between two types of wood cabinets. Homeowner Suzanna Smith went from a natural wood kitchen to another natural wood kitchen, yes, but the character within is completely different. Suzanna’s starting cabinets in her 1960s kitchen were fitted with raised panel doors featuring a cathedral shape — much more in line with the 1990s and 2000s than the original mid-century style of the house. Swapping out those cabinets for flat-front ones in a rich walnut finish tapped into that retro charm while maintaining the warmth of natural wood.

The Kitchen That Kept Its Same Cabinets — But Freshened the Surroundings

Like many homeowners, Kit Lin already had a nice set of cabinets in her home’s kitchen. It was the the stuff surrounding the cabinets that bothered Kit — things like the speckled, wood-trimmed countertops, the ho-hum hardware, and the totally absent backsplash. Kit and her husband opted for a transformation in their kitchen that worked around those cabinets, keeping both the placement and the color exactly as-is. They put the bulk of their money into a fresh white quartz countertop, which instantly modernized the kitchen, and then replaced the meh cabinet pulls with much more stately black ones. After a new backsplash and pendant lighting, those once-dull, now-gleaming cabinets are barely recognizable.

The Kitchen That Combined Sleek Black and Warm Wood

Natural wood may not seem like the most obvious choice if you’re looking to create a modern kitchen with a polished look. But here’s proof that it can be done, and done well. This kitchen, from homeowner Jelyka Pederson, started out with a cottagey feel thanks to its white-painted cabinetry. But a gut reno that replaced all that white with a combo of sleek black and light-toned wood makes this cook space look completely contemporary and cutting edge. All-black kitchens can sometimes come off as intense, but complemented with a honey-toned hue, this kitchen feels open and welcoming.

The Kitchen That Made Mid-Century-Inspired Wood Cabinets the Star

Some kitchens are designed to let cabinets recede into the background so everything feels breezy and open. But some, like this kitchen from homeowner Brooke Roeder, are designed to make cabinets the star. Brooke’s cook space started out dark and dreary, thanks to the bulky cabinets and closed-off layout that were original to the 1967 home. Downing some walls and scrapping the old cabinets made space to redesign a kitchen that was functional for the family. And in it, new cabinets boasting expressive wood grain are the focal point, popping against the rest of the white finishes and proudly reflecting the roots of this mid-century home.