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How do you make cherry cabinets look modern?

How do you make cherry cabinets look modern?

Cherry wood cabinets can look dated and old-fashioned if not styled properly. However, there are several ways to give cherry cabinets a fresh, modern look that will make your kitchen look up-to-date. Here are some tips for making cherry cabinets look modern:

Paint or Stain

One of the easiest ways to update the look of cherry cabinets is to paint or stain them. Painting cabinets is a project that can entirely transform the look of your kitchen. A crisp white or light gray paint color will give cherry cabinets a clean, contemporary look. If you want to keep some of the wood’s natural pattern and grain visible, opt for a stain in a trendy tone like navy blue. The dark color will make the cabinets pop against light walls or countertops.

New Hardware

Replacing the hardware on cabinets is an easy upgrade that can give cherry cabinets a modern twist. Dated brass knobs and pulls should be swapped out for brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze handles with clean lines. Sleek bar pulls in a matte black finish also look current. Using hardware in the same finish throughout the kitchen creates a unified, streamlined look.

Add Glass Doors

Installing glass-front cabinet doors is a way to lighten up heavy, solid cherry doors. The see-through glass gives the illusion of taking up less visual space, creating a more open and airy look. For a contemporary vibe, opt for frosted or patterned glass. You can also have the interior of the cabinets painted a light color and use clear glass to reflect the light.

Lighten the Walls and Floors

Dark cherry cabinets will look more modern against light-colored walls and floors. White, light gray, or pale blue walls make the space feel bright and expansive. Lighter-toned wood or tile flooring also keeps the room feeling fresh instead of closed in and heavy. The lighter surroundings will make the cherry cabinets stand out instead of blending in.

Add Contemporary Styling

Simple, unadorned cabinetry in a streamlined Shaker or flat panel style has a clean, modern look that pairs nicely with the rich hue of cherry wood. Ditch ornate crown molding or carved accents for a sleek profile. Adding contemporary kitchen island lighting like pendant lamps, modern metal base cabinets, or a marble waterfall countertop edge are other ways to stylize cherry cabinets with modern elements.

Try Open Shelving

Open shelving is trendy in contemporary kitchens. Mixing some open shelves above a bank of cherry cabinets can give the look an instant update. Styling open shelves with colorful dishware, decorative canisters, or sculptural vases will also contribute to the modern, curated aesthetic. Just be sure to keep the look minimalist. Too many accessories will negate the light, uncluttered effect.

Add Contrasting Colors

Using color strategically is an easy way to give cherry cabinets a fresh, modern flair. For example, painting an island a contrasting tone like navy blue or charcoal will enable the cherry cabinets to stand out rather than looking like a giant block of reddish-brown. You can also add pops of bright colors like emerald green, orange, or yellow in the backsplash tile or accent decor pieces for a vibrant, contemporary vibe.

Keep Lines Clean

Maintaining clean lines gives a kitchen a sleek, uncluttered look which is a hallmark of modern design. Avoid ornate moldings and carvings on cherry cabinets that clutter the look. Keep countertops clear of small appliances and accessories that disrupt the smooth, uniform surfaces. Having cabinetry that reaches all the way up to the ceiling also gives a clean, built-in appearance.

Add Interesting Textures

While clean lines are key, playing with different textures adds visual interest to modern kitchens. For example, pairing sleek high-gloss cherry cabinets with a rough wood plank tile backsplash and engineered quartz countertops with a slight pattern creates appealing contrast. Or combine cherry cabinets with a backsplash in glossy subway tile and opaque matte cabinet hardware. Mixing up textures and finishes brings dimension to the look.

Use Integrated Appliances

Allowing appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers to blend seamlessly into surrounding cabinetry gives a built-in, custom look. Opt for appliance panels that match or coordinate with the finish of the cherry cabinets. Streamlined appliances with minimal hardware and controls also contribute to the pared-down aesthetic of contemporary kitchens.

Add Under-Cabinet Lighting

Installing under-cabinet lighting illuminates countertop workspaces while highlighting the sleek lines of cabinetry. For a super modern look, opt for puck lights, linear lighting, or cool-toned LED strips with a blueish tint. This type of unobtrusive task lighting creates a subtle glow that feels very of-the-moment. Just take care not to use anything too warm or yellow, as that will feel dated.

Incorporate Wood Finishes

Bringing in other wood finishes can update the uniform look of all-cherry cabinetry. For example, combining cherry cabinets with butcher block countertops, an oak plank backsplash, or walnut open shelving adds dimension. Just be sure the tones complement each other. Different wood finishes should coordinate, not clash.

Add Industrial Touches

Raw, industrial elements help contemporize the traditional cherry cabinet look. For example, expose some ductwork or piping rather than dropping the ceiling. Or use black metal finishes on the legs of cabinetry or kitchen islands. Iron, steel, concrete, and brick add an edgy, modern vibe that plays well against rich cherry wood.

Incorporate Technology

Lastly, don’t forget to integrate technology like under-cabinet TVs, touchscreen appliances, smart faucets, digital screens, or app-controlled lighting. This type of built-in tech gives kitchens an ultra-modern sensibility. It also streamlines tasks and allows for customization not possible with standard appliances and fixtures. Technology and contemporary design go hand in hand.


With the right combination of updated colors, materials, finishes, and styling, it is entirely possible to give classic cherry wood cabinets a fresh, modern look perfect for contemporary homes. Painting or staining, adding glass doors, swapping out hardware, and integrating lighting are relatively easy renovations that can instantly modernize the look. Bringing in sleek appliances and industrial, on-trend elements will complete the transformation to a kitchen that looks crisp, current, and fully up-to-date. With strategic changes, those dated cherry cabinets can become the envy of all your friends.

Strategy How it Modernizes Cherry Cabinets
Paint or stain Gives cabinets a fresh, trendy color like white, gray, or navy
New hardware Sleek, minimalist handles create a clean look
Add glass doors Glass lightens up heavy solid cabinet fronts
Lighten walls/floors Makes cherry cabinets pop against bright surroundings
Contemporary styling Streamlined, Shaker style profiles look modern
Open shelving Looks light and airy, perfect for displaying décor
Contrasting colors Accent colors like navy blue complement cherry
Clean lines Crisp cabinetry from floor to ceiling looks sleek
Interesting textures Pairing cherry cabinets with other finishes adds dimension
Integrated appliances Built-in look helps appliances visually disappear
Undercabinet lighting Subtle lighting highlights clean lines
Mix wood finishes Different wood tones add visual interest
Industrial accents Iron, metal, brick, concrete, add edge
Technology Touchscreens, smart home tech give futuristic vibe