Oak cabinet kitchen ideas – the best new ways to use this traditional material

We celebrate the beauty of oak cabinet kitchen ideas, and its myriad incarnations

Oak cabinet kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Future)

Oak cabinet kitchen ideas are nothing new – they have been a popular choice for years because of their timeless appeal, not to mention the fact oak is a durable material that gets better with age. But if you think that oak cabinet kitchen ideas will feel too traditional in a contemporary home, think again. 

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

Oak cabinet kitchen ideas – 10 modern ways to style a wood kitchen

Finding the right oak cabinet kitchen ideas is pivotal to creating a space that you will love for years to come.

Whether you prefer a classic look with lots of detailing or something more modern, such as flat-fronted doors, these oak cabinet kitchen ideas will provide you with the inspiration you need to create a scheme that fits your home's period, your decorating style and the room's proportions. 

If you're looking for more kitchen ideas, these kitchen cabinet ideas will provide inspiration for open-plan, galley, U-shaped and L-shaped kitchens.

1. Choose a serene scheme

Oak cabinet kitchen with oak floor and white walls

(Image credit: Banda)

Pale and interesting best describes this dreamy scheme in west London by Banda. ‘We have positioned this wood kitchen cabinet idea on the south-facing side of the apartment so it is filled with natural light,’ says founder Edo Mapelli Mozzi. 

‘It has a calming uplifting feel and overlooks the garden square through the generously proportioned early-Victorian windows. The long central island mirrors the length of the room in a linear style. We worked with Obumex to create minimalist bespoke cabinets in a light brushed-oak wood and incorporated a Calacatta Dior marble kitchen countertop.’

2. Explore the beauty of bespoke

Oak cabinet kitchen with bespoke steel doors

(Image credit: Eggersmann Design)

A combination of textured timber and striking metal details forms this original look. ‘Hand-applied concrete along with vintage oak and rolled-steel surfaces create a tactile space with an elegant industrial presence,’ says Gary Singer of Eggersmann Design.

3. Go for a dark and moody color scheme

Oak cabinet kitchen with handleless doors

(Image credit: Chamber Kitchens)

This Chamber Kitchens design features dark kitchen cabinets with handleless rough-sawn oak doors, antiqued Indian Black granite countertops and a Lazenby polished concrete floor, which combine to create a sophisticated scheme. 

‘The restrained palette ensures that the Cherner chairs, Ochre light and artefacts from southeast Asia are not lost in what is a fairly large space,’ says Matthew Higgs, designer at Chamber Furniture. ‘The clients (one an architect) were enthusiastic about design, materials and the process – it was a nice collaboration to be part of.'

4. Create decorative interest 

Oak cabinet kitchen ideas Ledbury

(Image credit: Ledbury Studio)

Detail is at the heart of this sensational kitchen by Ledbury Studio. ‘Handmade from English and European Oak with patinated zinc highlights, it blends a strong contemporary feel with traditional craftsmanship,’ says founder Charlie Smallbone. ‘Highlights include the exquisite design of the tall cupboards.’

5. Give it a modern farmhouse twist 

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - Modern rustic farmhouse

(Image credit: Tim Williams)

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.'

6. Mix different styles of oak and timber

wood kitchen cabinet ideas - wooden kitchen

(Image credit: Base Interior)

‘If you want to introduce two or more species of timber in the same room, it’s wise to ensure there’s enough contrast between each one. You can just see the media wall shelving, in a much darker stained oak, reflected in the kitchen backsplash here,’ explains Deborah Bass, director, Base Interior

The hexagonal flooring is cut from natural marble in similar tones to both timbers, helping to unite the two. ‘Whatever timbers you use in the kitchen, the key to avoiding a heavy ‘wall’ of wood is to balance out the other finishes in the room – such as pale painted walls, simple handles, antique mirror or metal backsplashes.’ 

7. Evoke a textural look

Wood kitchen cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Studio Jake Arnold)

Jake Arnold’s integration of contemporary Californian style and traditional British design has produced a wood kitchen that delights with its sense of comfort and luxury.

Timelessness was key when it came to the kitchen, too. ‘We wanted to create a well-appointed space that functioned as a central hub for the home, so we developed a rich warm wood tone for the oak cabinetry, coupled with hand-painted cabinets, antique bronze hardware and a classic La Cornue range,' says interior designer Jake Arnold. 'It was important to combine high impact with minimal materiality. Lastly we chose an ogee edge for the stone to enhance the natural veining of the marble.’

When it comes to choose kitchen cabinet colors for a farmhouse kitchen, it is best to stick to muted tones. 'The paint shade on the oak cabinetry – dead salmon by Farrow & Ball – brings about the warm and timeless feel that we love to create in our homes.'

8. Invest in simple oak cabinetry

Wood kitchen cabinet ideas

(Image credit: CRL Quartz.)

The beautifully integrated oak cabinet kitchen idea is the highlight of this chic well-crafted white kitchen, bringing character to the open-plan kitchen 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.'

9. Embrace an industrial approach

Oak cabinet kitchen with white backsplash and brass tap

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

Considering the kitchen color options for your modern kitchen? Whether you’re remodelling your room or refreshing it, oak cabinets are a fabulous choice, with the potential to create both a look you love plus give your room a durable finish.

The charm of this oak cabinet kitchen idea comes through the reinterpretation of industrial style, with pale, textured surfaces in Caesarstone’s quartz Cloudburst Concrete. ‘We wanted to soften the rawness associated with this trend,’ says Mor Krisher, chief designer.'

10. Take inspiration from nature

Oak cabinet kitchen ideas with island and marble countertop

(Image credit: Magnet)

Inspired by the beauty of Scandinavian woods, the new Nordic Nature range by Magnet has oak-effect doors in smooth, fluted and glass-fronted designs. ‘Incorporating forms inspired by nature improves our physical and mental wellbeing,’ says Herman Persson, group design director.

Are oak kitchens outdated?

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

How do you complement oak cabinets?

Oak cabinet ideas can be complemented in many ways, and will suit open-plan kitchens, galley kitchen, U-shaped kitchens and L-shaped kitchens.

If you want to give an existing oak kitchen cabinet an update, then do consider the best painted kitchen cabinet ideas first. Painting existing cabinets is a great way of changing the aesthetic of a kitchen without the upheaval of a full room refit – plus it will take less time, skip the disruption of renovation, and save money.

Kitchen lighting ideas are another brilliant way to add interest and illumination to your oak cabinet kitchen ideas. Apart from its key function, lighting can have a transformative effect on your kitchen cabinet ideas from making them look brighter to highlighting key details and creating a specific ambience.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.