Oak cabinets have a reputation for being dated and making a space look bulky and cramped. However, oak cabinets have a warm appeal that can soften the look of a modern interior and make it look more inviting.
It's no surprise that most people want to utilize old oak cabinets. Not only are they an affordable alternative to other wood cabinets, but they are also highly durable and can last for a long time.
Oak wood has a subtle elegance that only needs a few tweaks to make it work with modern-style interiors. Aesthetic versatility can be achieved with the right shape, form, and color.
Although oak cabinetry caters more to a classic and vintage-looking interior, you can make it fit into contemporary styles simply by toning down its rich and vibrant orange stain and making it more neutral.
Space saving and functionality are the major elements in a modern-style kitchen, so making your oak cabinets sleeker will make them seamlessly blend with any interior design and make the area elegant.
We have gathered 11 modern-style kitchen interiors that feature oak cabinets. You can use these ideas if you don't want your oak cabinets to go to waste during a remodel and if you want to discover other aesthetic options.
1. Keep A Neutral Color Palette
When it comes to modernizing a kitchen, the first step is to create a neutral color palette. Neutrals are easier to match, and they can make your color scheme more cohesive.
Modern interiors are all about having a visually polished color scheme. You don't want to have rich-toned colors right off the bat since that will make it difficult to decorate.
Try to have a light-colored base. Paint the walls white or get a light-colored wallpaper, and go for light countertops. These colors should be able to accommodate the stain you choose to paint the cabinets with.
Having dark-stained oak cabinets will make the kitchen space more cosmopolitan. However, make sure you paint the oak with a dark brown stain, and not with a darker orange stain in order to lean into a more modern style.
Technically, you'll be choosing to paint the cabinets with either a dark or light neutral.
If you choose to paint the oak cabinets with a light neutral color, the interior will look softer and bright, especially if you have access to natural light.
Choose a light neutral color palette if you have a smaller space to give the illusion of wider open space.
2. Stain Or Paint The Cabinets
Oak, despite its durability, started to decline in popularity mainly because of its deep orange and brown tones which can clash with many modern interiors.
Fortunately, you can address the issue simply by staining or painting it in either dark or light neutral colors.
Modernizing oak is about transforming its color into something that can be combined with various aesthetics.
Painting the cabinets and replacing the handles are small changes that will instantly transform its look, making it look more in-style.
Read: What Color Floor Goes With Oak Cabinets?
3. Choose A Sleek Design
Bulky and arched oak cabinets are no longer in style. Sleek, flat, and straight lines are more fashionable these days, and it seems to be gaining traction among many design circles.
If you want to transform your kitchen but you're not willing to let go of oak, at least choose cabinets that have a subtle and flat form, ones that look almost like they're part of the wall.
The straight lines will make the space more polished, and it will be more visually appealing as it makes the kitchen look wider.
4. Utilize Light Fixtures
Lean into the rustic appeal of oak and utilize warm lighting around your kitchen area. Adding under cabinet lighting and sleek light fixtures will make your space more elegant, as well as dramatically modernize it.
These light fixtures will also enhance the ambiance of the kitchen, especially during the night. It will make the space more inviting, more so when combined with the natural warmth of oak.
The light fixtures can also act as an accent piece if you choose ones that are eye-catching and add a structured appeal to the room. Geometric light fixtures will add to the modern vibe of the kitchen even with the warm lighting.
5. Introduce Natural Elements
Just because you're trying to modernize your kitchen space using oak cabinets doesn't mean the kitchen should be devoid of anything related to nature.
Natural elements such as rattan baskets, wooden boxes, and indoor plants can still fit into a modern farmhouse-style kitchen interior, which is a softened and toned-down version of a cosmopolitan kitchen space.
This is ideal if you want to add more character to your kitchen space and make it cozier. Oak cabinets already have that warmth, especially if you coat them in a light wood stain.
6. Mix With Other Wood
Having a modern kitchen space can be achieved with a refreshing, coastal vibe that comes with mixing together different types of wood. Mixing different wood tones can emphasize the different qualities of other elements in the kitchen better.
For example, maple floating shelves will add dimension to the space when placed next to oak cabinets.
The textures will add character and uniqueness to the room, so make sure you strategically place knotted wood in various areas of the kitchen. Of course, you still need to make sure that their stains will make your interior visually cohesive.
7. Lean Into The Wooden Texture
Your kitchen can still have a modern vibe even if you lean into the rustic texture of oak cabinets. You can do this by utilizing sleek countertops, geometric light fixtures, brass knobs, and nickel or chrome hardware.
If you already have a neutral-colored base with the backsplash, walls, and countertops, the wooden texture of oak cabinets will give the kitchen a unique visual contrast.
Of course, the cabinets should still be sleek to lean into a more modern appeal, and the color should at least be a muted brown so it won't look lost amidst your modern interior.
8. Build An Open-Cabinet Concept
Open-cabinet concepts are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they are also more functional and space-saving—the qualities that truly make a modern kitchen interior.
This is ideal if you don't have a lot of space to work with, and even the swing of a cabinet door can cramp up the space.
The open-cabinet concept can make your interior feel airier, but you need to pay close attention to your organizational method: you wouldn't want it to be messy when it's open for everyone to see.
9. Match With Dark Countertops
Nothing screams "cosmopolitan" better than dark-colored countertops. These dark neutral colors can blend into almost any kitchen interior.
The dark countertops will add depth and dimension to your kitchen, and the visual contrast between the rustic style of the oak cabinets and the modern appeal of the countertops will make the area more visually stunning.
You can lean into the structured look of the dark countertops by accentuating the area with sleek lighting, or you can transform it into a modern farmhouse interior by incorporating country-style decorations into the space.
These country-style decorations can include burlap-style window treatments, vintage ceramic decorations, indoor plants, and rattan baskets.
However, if you want a more minimalist and sleek modern appearance, keep decorations at a minimum and stick to essentials such as grey or black appliances.
Read: What Color Island Goes With Oak Cabinets?
10. Choose contrasting Colors
Contrasting colors can instantly modernize a kitchen space, but make sure you have a neutral base to work with. This will make choosing colors easier, and you'll have a cohesive look that won't make the eyes hurt.
Dark-stained oak wood will pair beautifully with black appliances and fixtures; the colors will not look mismatched or lost in one another. The light neutral base ties up the play of colors neatly, allowing for a more aesthetically versatile interior.
11. Incorporate Earthy Colors
Earthy colors will naturally fit in with oak wood, but you can still have a modern appeal by incorporating geometric shapes and straight lines in the interior.
The earthy colors will soften the interior and make it look more refreshing, and they can still look modern if you strategically incorporate sleek lines on the most dominant parts of your kitchen space.
Modernizing classic and vintage pieces requires ingenuity and innovativeness, but this process can be easier if you have a solid vision of what you want your kitchen to look like.
Make sure the interior fits your preferences and lifestyle. Above all, it should be functional and elevate your daily routine’s —which is what modernizing really is all about.