15 wood kitchen cabinet ideas – the best new ways to use timber

The wooden kitchen is right on trend and these are the latest design styles to take note of

wood kitchen cabinet ideas
(Image credit: Tom Fallon)

Wood kitchen cabinets are a popular choice for those that love a timeless or classic look – not to mention the fact wood gets better with age. 

But if you think that a wooden kitchen will feel too traditional in a contemporary home, think again. We're seeing a return to wood kitchen cabinet ideas that showcase the beauty of wood in all its forms. 

In recent years, there have been a number of new and interesting techniques which have reinvigorated the style and made this old staple a modern favorite. If kitchen cabinet ideas made from wood are high on your list, here are the key ways to put a fresh spin on the look.

Wood kitchen cabinet ideas

There's a spontaneity and creativity to the new look wood kitchens.

Dark and light woods are mixed together. Raw wood and full-grain timber are seeing a comeback. And we're finding designs that combine painted kitchen cabinet ideas with natural wood to create a new, relaxed mood in the heart of the home.

We spoke with kitchen designers to identify the key trends in wood kitchen cabinet design today. Which one will you choose for your next remodel?

1. Combine wood with color 

wood and orange kitchen

(Image credit: Papilio)

‘Historically, timber was viewed as a necessity in the construction of a kitchen and consequently was often decorated with paint to hide it,’ explains Matt Prall, managing director, Papilio. ‘More recently the beauty of timber has been embraced.’ 

Combining exposed wood with color is a good way to ramp up the impact of a design, especially if bold and deep hues are used to contrast with the timber. 

Here, the mellow beauty of cabinets in smooth lacquered quarter sawn oak are offset by doors in rich Rebecca’s Red from Francesca’s Paints and a specially mixed deep blue. 

‘The timber brings an element of softness and nature which, when paired with the paint colours, brings intrigue and balance,’ says Matt.

2. Go for a wooden island

wood kitchen with wood island and blue cabinets

(Image credit: Figura)

The natural beauty and warmth of wood, combined with its strength and resilience, makes it ideal for all kinds of cabinetry. But if an all-wood kitchen seems too heavy, why not celebrate its special qualities with a central feature, such as an island? 

‘Wood looks better as it ages and gains even more character,’ says Giles Slater, founder and designer, Figura.  It makes the material ideal when considering kitchen island ideas.

Here, European oak has been used to create a focal point, designed as the welcoming hub of the room. The warm color and beautiful grain and structure of the timber stands out against the cool blue painted tall cupboards which form the backdrop of the kitchen.

3. Add interest with ribs and ridges

wood kitchen with ribbed wood cooker hood

(Image credit: Sola Kitchens)

One way to introduce modern character to a kitchen is to play with texture. Wood works well when layered with other natural materials, such as marble and granite kitchen countertop ideas, and can be used to provide gentle warmth when contrasted against polished steel and glass. 

Slatted and ribbed textures can be used to further elevate the design, introducing three-dimensional features that catch the eye and make the room unique.

In this painted kitchen, slatted timber has been used to conceal the extractor hood above the hob. ‘

The Skog wood panelling successfully adds a sense of depth and texture to the design,’ says Sofia Bune Strandh, CEO, Sola Kitchens. ‘Skog’ is Swedish for ‘forest’, and the vertical slats are designed to resemble tall trees. 

4. Go for a modern rustic look with raw grain

raw wood timber kitchen

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Timber is available in many varieties (with oak and walnut widely particularly favoured for kitchens) and in different cuts, some with consistent vertical grain, others with richly patterned results. The choice of finish, from lacquers and stains to oils and waxes, can also be used to enhance color and grain, as well as protect timber. 

In this Metro Urbo kitchen in matt lacquer green sections of rough sawn oak add a rustic, homely quality. It's a lovely approach to green kitchen ideas.

‘By using wood in a kitchen with contemporary cabinetry and tiled flooring, you can avoid the space feeling clinical,’ explains Oli Moss, senior designer, Roundhouse.

5. Opt for a timeless timber

wood kitchen haberdashers

(Image credit: deVOL)

Recyclable and renewable, timber from sustainably managed forests makes it a more environmentally friendly choice than many other materials – another reason that its natural beauty is being celebrated in today’s sustainable kitchens

deVOL has always been careful to use sustainably sourced wood for all our furniture,’ says Helen Parker, creative director for the company. This, along with careful craftsmanship, ensures that timber kitchens should last. ‘They are very appealing to people looking for something that will stand the test of time, both practically and in timeless design,’ she adds.

Let it shine in designs that showcase its individual grain and honey-colored tones, like this unique kitchen inspired by mid-century haberdashery counters, handmade in oak. A bespoke aged copper counter introduces another layer of warmth, while cool Estremoz marble worktops and painted walls, floor and ceiling provide light contrast and bring a fresh feel to this country kitchen.

6. Go for the perfect blend

Wood kitchen cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Studio Jake Arnold)

This highly layered kitchen was created by US-based designer Studio Jake Arnold. ‘We wanted to preserve the charm of this Los Angeles home, and this kitchen emits an amazing combination of old world and modern elements,’ says Jake. ‘The tones of the wood cabinetry and the skinny floorboards are the perfect contrast to the exposed beams, while the ogee edge of the stone countertop adds fine detail.'

7. Choose a dark wood for drama

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - dark wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Espresso Design)

The traditional hues and craftsmanship of antique furniture have been deftly brought up to date with the introduction of contemporary lines and detailing.

Here, Cesar’s Intarsio range takes its inspiration from traditional marquetry to create doors with distinctive cross direction veneers that are paired with dark marble and other luxury materials to create a unique kitchen. 

8. Add a fluted finish for texture and depth

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - Fluted wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Sola Kitchens)

Three-dimensional surfaces that shift with the light bring a modern twist to wood in the kitchen. ‘Combined with sleek flat-fronted doors in crisp white, thin vertical wood slats provide texture and depth, enhancing the tension between plain and pattern,’ explains Sofia Bune Strandh, CEO, Sola Kitchens

SKOG, meaning 'forest' in Swedish, is the name given to this striking new wood-focused design from Sola Kitchens. ‘It’s called SKOG partly because the wooden slats resemble the outlines of trees, but also the name reflects the embracement of natural materials – a typical quality of Scandinavian design,’ she adds.

9. Go for an integrated design

Wood kitchen cabinet ideas

(Image credit: CRL Quartz.)

Beautifully grained timber is the highlight of this chic well-crafted kitchen, bringing character to the open-plan space. ‘The industrial look is key here,’ says Simon Boocock, managing director of CRL Quartz. ‘The Ceralsio Slate Grey ceramic surface, with its textured finish, is hardwearing and easy to care for.'

10.  Take a modern approach with sleek surfaces

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - grey kitchen with brass accents

(Image credit: deVOL)

Taking timber in a contemporary direction requires a considered approach to avoid missing out on wood’s natural beauty. TR Studio chose deVOL’s Sebastian Cox range, featuring cabinetry in black stained beech. 

‘We really like to use wood in a very calm way in kitchens. You can maintain clean lines and use sleek surfaces, but wood itself brings craft and texture, both visual and tactile,’ says Tom Rutt, founder, TR Studio. 

‘We love how this kitchen strikes the balance between traditional and contemporary. It is clearly a real solid timber door, but the colour makes it abstracted and adds a modernity.’ 

11. Turn to reclaimed for a more unique and sustainable look

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - Reclaimed wood kitchen

(Image credit: Tom Fallon)

Reclaimed wood has clear environmental benefits, not to mention unique historic appeal. Often associated with very rustic, timeworn kitchen styles and designs, this version by salvage specialists Retrouvius demonstrates a more sophisticated approach. Made from old timber shelving, the geometric door fronts are beautifully executed for maximum impact. 

‘Our salvaged tropical hardwoods were used in the areas where the main cooking action takes place,’ says Maria Speake, founder, Retrouvius. ‘Brilliant for backsplashes and countertops, the wood is innately water resistant, hardwearing and the odd splash of oil from cooking all adds to the timbers own natural oiliness and is absorbed to help protect the wood.’

12. Mimic freestanding furniture

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - Modern wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Elizabeth Sherwin)

Keeping timber use below eye level is more peripheral so won’t overpower. It can also appear less ‘kitcheny’. 

‘Using oak kitchen cabinet worktops and wrapping the drawer units in the same oak creates a modular look, more akin to a living room sideboard,’ explains Jayne Everett, co-founder, Naked Kitchens. ‘We wanted each wood section to mimic a piece of freestanding furniture – far removed from a standard fitted kitchen.’ 

White American Oak was chosen for its robust, tightly knitted grain and soft washed tones. The timber was finished in a specialist Nano coating to provide resilience without altering the wood’s natural look.

13. Pick flat-front cabinetry for mid-century appeal

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - modern wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

If your aim in designing your kitchen is to create a space that feels less like a cook station and more like a living space – where you happen to create meals – a pared-back approach to design might appeal. 

Flat-fronted wooden kitchen cabinetry is easy to live with, enduringly timeless – and can come with a ton of character if you choose a timber or finish with a noticeable grain or texture. Handleless cabinetry will work best with flush door designs – and can even set the scene for a subtle, mid-century feel.

14. Combine wood kitchen cabinetry with antique wood furniture

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - kitchen

(Image credit: Bert & May)

If you want to create an eclectic look that focusses on wood kitchen cabinet ideas, one way to do so is to combine new cabinetry with antique furniture. This eclectic kitchen by Bert & May has freestanding wooden units with a hand-crafted quality, combined with a mahogany cabinet with a glass front that creates a further unique dimension in this kitchen. 

15. Focus on the kitchen island

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - kitchen

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

The kitchen island is inevitably the center of a kitchen's layout – and you can draw further attention to it by contrasting its color or material with the rest of the units in the room.

Melissa Klink, creative director at Harvey Jones explains why wood is a wonderful choice for the kitchen island: 

‘Using reclaimed wood adds an interesting story to the kitchen space. Any material that has an organic influence helps to ground the room and provide an instant sense of calm, and reclaimed wood is warm and full of rich detail. The look is beautifully unique and something you cannot recreate using new material.’

Are wood kitchen cabinets out of style?

Wood kitchen cabinets are enduringly stylish, and designs using sustainably produced or reclaimed woods are more popular than ever. What has changed is the design of wood kitchen cabinetry: fluting, unusual, textured finishes and inlay are at the forefront of kitchen trends right now.

What goes with wood kitchen cabinets?

Wood cabinets are wonderful with a wide array of complementing materials and colors. You can use both dark and light woods with pale marble countertops for a contemporary appeal, and combine wood cabinetry with other woods to create a richly textured space. Our advice: don't choose colors or materials that compete with the tones and texture of the wood – let them be the star of the show.

The most popular wood for kitchen cabinets include: oak; cherry; hickory; pine and maple. The best choice for your kitchen might, however, be a locally sourced wood, which will really complement your home and the other materials within your kitchen. 

Kitchens in mixed woods are also a popular trend for the year ahead – both within the cabinetry, and cabinetry/countertop combinations.

How do I care for a wood kitchen?

Always follow your supplier’s specific maintenance and cleaning instructions for your kitchen furniture.

Wooden kitchen doors are often finished with a lacquer to protect against staining and scuffing, so typically there won’t be much upkeep – a simple wipe down with a clean and soft damp cloth should suffice.

Be sure to wipe up spills when they happen as delay may cause the acidic ingredients of food to react with the lacquer and ultimately strip the doors of their protective finish.

Do not allow water to remain in prolonged contact with wood, as this may cause staining and warping.

Some cupboard doors may require re-polishing with a clear, natural spray wax to keep them looking their best: follow manufacturer’s guidelines.

Linda Clayton

Linda graduated from university with a First in Journalism, Film and Broadcasting. Her career began on a trade title for the kitchen and bathroom industry, and she has worked for Homes & Gardens, and sister-brands Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, since 2006, covering interiors topics, though kitchens and bathrooms are her specialism. 

With contributions from