Updating Oak Kitchen Cabinets?

I am looking to update my kitchen cabinets. They are high quality oak cabinets, but from the 70s. I don't want to paint them. Any suggestions would be very helpful. I will be changing the knobs. These same cabinets are in my bathrooms and laundry room.


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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 140 Posts
August 16, 20190 found this helpful

How about put on peel off adhesive stickers. They appear to have a stencil look that's not forever, because these are removable. many different designs!

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
August 16, 20190 found this helpful

What look are you going for? You could have a professional (I would not attempt this on my own) to either bleach them for the farmhouse chic look or stain them darker for the classic neutral look.


Be sure to read reviews of the places carefully and get references before you let anyone do the work. See if you can see their actual kitchen/work so you get a feel for their work.

Post back with updates! Have fun with the reno!! It is so much fun to get a new look!

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
August 16, 20190 found this helpful

Change the knobs first and then decide if you want to do more. Our kitchen looked entirely different when we invested only $200 for new knobs.

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August 17, 20190 found this helpful

For the Oak Kitchen Cabinets:
This is what I did to our kitchen cabinets, 1 Cabinet at a time: First things first: Remove EVERYTHING from your cabinets. Including any old liners.


Step 1. Clean, clean clean the inside and outside to remove any dust, grease, dirt or grime that may be hiding. (Or any pests that may have made their way in...sorry, but it does happen at times, even in the cleanest of homes)
Step 2: Take off the doors & hardware!! Very important, whether painting with Polyurethane or paint.
Step 3: Lightly sand doors, inside and out and the cabinets, inside and out.
Be sure to vac any dust left behind.
Step 4: Wipe down with clean, lightly dampened cloth.(again) Let dry completely.

(I would consider painting. There are great colors that are 'in' and makes a great statement that looks great!
I would suggest any of the following, depending on your wall color & back splash: 1. Denim or Slate blue, especially with a Butcher Block type or black counter top, it looks like a 'Modern Country' 2. Medium to light Grey or a Dove grey. 3. If you are really an adventurist, try a medium to slightly toned down (not bright) Red.


Step 5: Lightly "paint" inside/outside with a clear coat Polyurethane,(Or paint) using about a 3" soft (I mean, really soft) detailed, angled brush, using light, even strokes. (Don't forget the inside corners or underneath cabinets!)
Let dry 24 hours.
(You can also use Satin Finish Modge great & is less expensive)
Step 6: Replace doors & hardware*.
Step 7: Line the cabinet 'floors' with your favorite contact paper OR (as I did) the 'Spongy', airy type liners.

TIP 1:
*HARDWARE: Instead of replacing your old door hinges, if they can be seen, you may would like a clean, updated look by using the hardware door hinges that are 'invisible'. You can get them at most hardware stores, especially your 'big box' stores.


They would have a larger selection, at a great price. Sometimes you can watch for their sales, and get a great bargain.

TIP 2:
Also, change your door knobs & drawer knobs. You can update with all "pull" type or use a combination of both. Depending on your paint selection, should you had decided to paint, I'd go with a 'brushed' nickel look. Or stay with the ever bright & shiny 'chrome' look.

TIP 3:
If you don't have a 'Shaker Style' cabinet, you might try adding the extra wooden pcs to go around the facing of your doors. They are always popular and adds style to older cabinets. OR buy new doors already made.

TIP 4:
If your budget allows, think about topping off your upper cabinets with a 'trim' or cornice pieces, that makes your cabinets really POP!


Especially if you painted your cabinets. I choose black paint on mine. I'm extremely glad I decided to add these "toppers" to the top of the cabinets, as well as a complementing accent color. Depending on your cabinet color choice, black or white will make your new cabinets POP with 'Flavor'!

I took mine a step further. Once my cabinets were done, the rest of the kitchen looked "old" and "wrinkled".

I went to work tiling the backsplash in ceramic small brick-like tiles. Over the stove, I made a "pattern" of the small brick-like tiles, with 5 - 4" square copper tiles and rounded tiles as a border. Came out great! I have to give my husband "Kudos" on the final pattern used!

As always, you can go to the following on How-To's for refinishing or restoring old kitchen cabinets:
and more tips and tricks to update old kitchen cabinets.
More great tips online. Just enter into your browser, "how to update old kitchen cabinets".

Enjoy your new kitchen!

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