Are wooden cabinets outdated? Interior designers weigh in on whether to shut the door on this style

Design pros share their thoughts on the timeless kitchen cabinet material

A kitchen with a white storage bench with a red rug underneath, natural and white wooden kitchen cabinets, and a marble kitchen island with yellow vases and strawberries on top
(Image credit: Emily Minton Redfield)

Even the most timeless kitchen design styles can go out of style eventually, which is why I've been wondering if wooden cabinets are outdated.

I asked two interior designers whether or not they think this cabinetry material is out of fashion and the answer was a pretty resounding 'no' from both. They have both installed wooden kitchen cabinetry in the past, so have strong feelings on whether it still works in homes today.

For those looking for kitchen cabinet trends and who love cozy, rustic interiors, you might not want to write off wood kitchen ideas just yet – below, our experts tell you why they're still popular and I bring you their advice, and my own, on how to get the best from a wood kitchen. I've put together a wooden kitchen storage edit, too, in case you feel inspired and want to start bringing this texture into your space. 

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.

Why wood kitchens stay in style

A kitchen with a white storage bench with a red rug underneath, natural and white wooden kitchen cabinets, and a marble kitchen island with yellow vases and strawberries on top of it

(Image credit: Emily Minton Redfield)

In my opinion, the best kitchen cabinet ideas are adaptable and easy to maintain, which is why wood kitchen ideas are so enduringly popular. 

“While painted cabinets seem to be on trend, creating the impression that wooden kitchen cabinets are outdated, I am experiencing the opposite in my design firm,” explains Angela Rennie, interior designer and owner of Angela Rennie Design.

“Not only are they less expensive than painted cabinets, wooden kitchen cabinets are more durable,” she continues.

For example, Angela says that many species of wood such as maple, oak, cherry, walnut, and hickory are hardwoods that take stain easily and stand up to wear and tear from a kitchen's daily use. 

Choosing the right kind of wood is also key part of ensuring this kitchen staple won’t ever look outdated.

“Wooden cabinets exude a sense of class and sophistication that is hard to match with other materials,” says Andrea Schumacher, interior designer and founder of Andrea Schumacher Interiors.

She adds, “The natural beauty of wood, with its unique grains and textures, adds warmth and richness to any kitchen.”

As well as this, Andrea says that choosing wooden cabinets is a sustainable option, especially if you select responsibly sourced wood. “High-quality wooden cabinets are durable and long-lasting, reducing the need for frequent replacements, which is particularly appealing to environmentally conscious homeowners.”

How to decorate with wooden cabinets

A kitchen with wooden cabinets to the left and right, white walls, and a wooden kitchen table in the middle with a green vase on it and a black pendant light hanging over it

(Image credit: Angela Rennie Design)

No matter if you prefer a modern, minimalist look or a more traditional, rustic feel, wooden cabinets can be tailored to fit any aesthetic. It’s all about picking the right type and matching accents.

Angela explains, “Hickory is a popular wood species that has a lot of pattern and variety in the grain — a client of mine who renovated her farmhouse kitchen always wanted to have hickory cabinets, and they’re now the star of the show.”

To make sure the other materials didn't compete with the beautiful grain and pattern, Angela chose simple and neutral brick flooring, black granite countertops, and zellige tile backsplash.

“Alternatively, wooden cabinets with less grain, knots and patterns such as maple can be paired with uniquely patterned marble or granite, which in my opinion, is mother nature's artwork,” she adds.

You can also enhance the look of your wooden cabinets by incorporating detailed trimming and unique hardware. 

“Crown molding, raised panel doors, and intricate carvings can elevate the design, giving your kitchen a custom, high-end feel,” Andrea suggests.

She says, “Additionally, choosing the right hardware, such as brushed nickel handles or vintage-style knobs, can complement the wood and add a touch of personal style.”

For example, I think the Jiansenbao Cabinet Pulls from Amazon are a chic choice, and they're also durable, smooth, and corrosion-resistant.

Alternatives to wooden cabinets

A kitchen with a tall dark brown wooden cabinet, a sink area with blue cabinets and a blue wall above it, and a marble kitchen island in front of it

(Image credit: Emily Minton Redfield)

While wooden cabinets aren’t outdated and remain a classic choice, there are also several on-trend alternatives you can consider. 

“Matte black cabinets, for instance, are a bold and contemporary choice that adds a touch of modern sophistication,” says Andrea. “They create a striking contrast in light-colored kitchens and pair well with a variety of materials and finishes.”

I’ve seen black kitchen ideas everywhere this year, as moody hues are popular kitchen color trends this year.

You can also look for two-tone kitchen ideas, as Andrea says the style of upper and lower cabinets being painted in different colors is gaining momentum. 

“This trend allows for creative expression and can make your kitchen look more dynamic and interesting,” she explains.

For those searching for small kitchen ideas, Andrea suggests looking for open shelving, as this is a great way to make a small kitchen look bright and airy.

I love the look of the Afuly Solid Wood Floating Shelves from Walmart, as they have chic hanging hooks and come with all the installation hardware required.

“Open shelves will also allow you to display beautiful dishware and accessories, adding a personal touch to the space,” Andrea adds.

Wooden kitchen storage edit

If you want to bring chic wooden kitchen storage ideas into your home without renovating, these storage picks will help you do just that.

I think it's safe to say wooden cabinets are not outdated. They offer timeless beauty, versatility, and sustainability, making them a worthwhile investment for any kitchen. 

“By selecting high-quality wood, incorporating detailed trimming and hardware, and considering painted finishes, you can ensure your wooden cabinets remain stylish and functional for years to come,” Andrea finishes by saying.

If you’re adding this storage feature to your cooking space, you might also find it useful to know the kitchen cabinet colors that make a small space appear bigger.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.