In a house filled with golden oak, it can be a challenge to update things in a way that is both stylish and doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount. This is especially true when it comes to cabinets in the kitchen.
After all, most people are thinking ‘if I’m going to spend so much money to make this oak work, I’m going to just wait to completely renovate the kitchen.’ There is little point to investing in stone counter tops, new flooring and the rest of it, if you are just biding your time until you can deal with the cabinets.
But, what can you do that will update the oak and make your kitchen look amazing in the meantime?
I hear it all the time. You might be wondering, too: ‘is there such a thing as a quick, simple and cheap update for an oak kitchen?’ My answer? Yes!
There are a few ways you can make it work. Right now. For little money. All of them check those boxes and can be done, by you, in a few hours or afternoons. My go-to steps: Paint the walls, change out the lighting fixtures, work with the other colors in the room (art, accessories, rugs) … and one of the biggest impacts: change the hardware!
Hardware makes an enormous difference in the bones of the cabinetry and the style of the room. If I was facing down an oak kitchen that I wanted to live with, in harmony, for a bit of time, here’s what I would do in one weekend: Paint it a great color. Clear the counters. Lay down a great, eye-catching rug. Change out the hardware. Add some color (probably a big framed print and a huge plant in a nice planter). That’s it.
Rest easy, friends, you can do this, too. And then, since it looks much better and you are thrilled and at peace with it, you can move on to dreaming about that full kitchen reno you are still working towards… one day. Or, maybe you will be so happy with the small changes you made that you can cross that idea right off the list and move on to dreaming about making other areas of your home just right.
Wondering if the hardware on your oak cabinets is outdated?
Here’s what’s to look for:
Brass or gold look (yes, I know it’s back but on golden oak and in the 90s styles, it’s not)
Ceramic inserts, especially painted with flowers or fruit
Wood center on pulls
Here’s some thoughts on getting that update right:
Stick to either historic (think luxurious historic mansions or Frank Lloyd Wright) or modern with simple lines.
Respect the integrity and style of your home’s architecture.
Balance the oak with a more updated style when choosing hardware, colors, counters, sink & faucet, appliances and accessories.
Contrasting colors will make the new hardware stand out and give some visual breaks in the monotony of overwhelming golden oak (and add The Power of Distraction!) so go for black, oil-rubbed bronze or a nice silver finish.
Take a look at my list of top 20 suggestions for updating oak cabinets with fresh hardware!
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Hi, I'm Tara. I'm a professional interior designer living in rural Canada where I help the practical & down-to-earth to love where they live. I offer professional interior design services in person and online and am the author of a design & style guide to Living With Oak.
I believe you can become a happier person in a more beautiful home and I’m here to guide you in creating a practical plan to pull it all together. I’m here to offer interior design advice and inspiration to help you make that happen.