Pros share how cabinets with a natural wood finish add warmth and flair to a variety of kitchen styles.
by Suzanne Ennis, Houzz Editorial Staff
Wood-finish cabinets can add warmth and a natural element to any style kitchen. And while they’re timeless, they’re also enjoying a resurgence in popularity right now. Here, pros share how they used all-wood cabinets in a variety of finishes and styles to create inviting spaces.
1. Light and Luxurious
Designers: Homeowner Holly D’Amour and consulting designer Nate Fischer
Builder: Osada Construction
Architect: Michael McDonough
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Size: 282 square feet (26 square meters); 24½ feet by 11½ feet
Homeowner’s request. “The homeowner wanted a light, functional, easy-to-clean kitchen, with plenty of storage,” says project manager Cory Wax of Osada Construction. “It needed to take advantage of the views of the forest through the large kitchen window and the river on the opposite end of the great room.”
While looking for ideas, the homeowner, Holly D’Amour, fell in love with a kitchen she saw on Houzz. “It turned out to be designer Nate Fischer’s personal kitchen, and it became the inspiration for mine,” D’Amour says.
Cabinet details. The custom cabinets are made from rift-cut white oak, finished in aged cedar with an ultraflat sheen. Matte black hardware adds contrast.
Other special features. The countertops are Crossville’s porcelain Lightning polished slabs with a 2½-inch mitered edge. The backsplash is white 5-by-5-inch ceramic tile, and the floor is 32-by-32-inch Porcelanosa tile from Spain.
Because this is a retirement home, the homeowner designed the kitchen with accessibility in mind. The lower cabinets in the back run are primarily drawers, and those with doors have pullouts.
“Uh-oh” moment. Building at the height of the pandemic with the homeowner in a different state at the time presented unique challenges. “Originally there was an appliance garage below the microwave-convection oven,” Wax says. “When the appliances were installed and the homeowner came to check on the project, we realized the microwave was too high for her to reach comfortably. We removed the appliance garage, lowered the microwave and had new doors made for the cabinet. We added shelves for small appliances in the pantry. The homeowner doesn’t miss the appliance garage, and the microwave is a perfect height now.”
Light fixture over sink: Clark, Visual Comfort
2. Warm and Worldly
Designer: Laurel Mullikin of Infinite Home
Location: Suwanee, Georgia
Homeowner’s request. An avid cook and globetrotter, the owner of this eclectic kitchen wanted to improve function and have the space evoke feelings from her trips. “She is an antique collector and had many items she wanted to display,” says designer Laurel Mullikin, who used Houzz for inspiration for the project. “It was really important for this home to feel curated, just like [her] favorite items from her travels.”
Cabinet details. The slab-style full-overlay kitchen cabinets, as well as the floating shelves, are rustic white oak plank veneer applied to maple. The wood was prefinished with gray stain and a wax sealer. The countertop is steel gray granite with a leather finish and a standard 3-centimeter edge.
Other special features. “My favorite element is the handcrafted Cle zellige tile,” Mullikin says. “This tile is hand-molded and hand-cut in Morocco, so no two are alike. This really set an authentic tone for our kitchen. We decided to not grout the tile so we could highlight the texture and varying depth of the tiles once in place. The end result was reflective of a European villa kitchen and the perfect backdrop for an antique copper tureen displayed on our client’s floating shelves.”
Designer tip. “To give stained wood cabinets a modern feel, I suggest choosing a slab-style cabinet door construction and confirming with your cabinetmaker that they will follow the grain through, so you have a beautiful consistent grain throughout,” Mullikin says.
3. Welcoming in Walnut
Designer: Kim Rice of R. Designs
Builder: Starr Homes
Location: Stilwell, Kansas
Size: About 300 square feet (28 square meters)
Homeowner’s request. The homeowner had the home custom-built to match his architectural vision. He also made the specific material and design selections for the kitchen.
The open floor plan of the midcentury-modern-style design required that the kitchen blend seamlessly with the family room, which has an operable glass wall with views of the beautiful rolling hills of Kansas. “Removing most of the upper kitchen cabinets provided space for large windows and unencumbered walls integral to modern design,” designer Kim Rice says.
Cabinet details. The walnut cabinets are full-overlay flat-panel-style with a vertical grain. Sleek linear hardware and a black-painted feature wall allow the natural materials to shine.
Other special features. Marble countertops and backsplash.
Designer tip. “When designing a modern all-wood kitchen, it’s important to limit finishes and provide clean lines,” Rice says. “The marble countertops were used as a backsplash, which visually maximizes the space between the upper and lower cabinets.”
Cabinet design and installation: Cabinets by King
4. Calm Connection
Architect: Pierre-Henri Hoppenot of Studio PHH Architecture
Builder: Lasley Brahaney Architecture + Construction
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Size: 210 square feet (20 square meters); 21 by 10 feet
Homeowners’ request. “There was not a specific look we were trying to achieve,” architect Pierre-Henri Hoppenot says. “The conversations around a successful outcome were always around the way the space would feel and the performative aspects of the home. The home has always been a revolving door for friends, family and international visitors, so the kitchen is meant to be a wonderful place to cook while spending time with family or friends.”
Cabinet details. The rear storage wall is reclaimed teak. Bifold and pocket doors conceal a work area, a coffee station and other elements. The 21-foot island features oversize plain-sawn white oak veneers, carefully bookmatched to maintain continuous grain all the way around the unit.
Other special features. Concrete-look quartz countertop with an integrated sink. The flooring is 24-by-36-inch gray Indiana limestone. Rooftop solar panels offset much of the energy usage in the house, and all of the lighting is LED. “Careful siting shelters the space from the southern sun and provides diffuse natural light all day, minimizing the need for artificial lighting,” Hoppenot says. “The room was designed around the windows on both ends, so the sunrise and sunset are visible from the kitchen every day. The kitchen lives within a room that feels like it is outdoors, tied to the rain, sun [and] trees swaying in the wind. The room was specifically designed so that the tops of the trees are visible from anywhere in the space.”