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Love Your Dark Kitchen Cabinets Using Fall Colors

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Today begins a new series at My Wee Abode.  Learn some tips and tricks on how to love your dark kitchen cabinets using fall colors.  This is “Love Your Dark Cabinets-Part 1”.yellow candle and berries on a wooden shelf


Let me ask you a question, or three.

Do you wince every time you look at your kitchen? Okay, well, do you at least wish for something different?

Are your floors all wrong?

Or do the counters need updating?

What about your cabinets?  Are they dark wood that just make your kitchen look drab and outdated?

Well, my kitchen dilemma is definitely my cabinets. For sure. (And my floors come in a close second, but that’s another post.)

If you’ve been around these parts for any time at all, you know that I have dark wood cabinets in my little kitchen.

love your dark kitchen cabinets with white island and open shelving
This is MWA’s kitchen from last fall.

And I don’t like them.

Just keepin’ it real here…

They are in wonderful condition and quite well made.  But they are a dark, orange-ish wood finish and…

I don’t like them. (Did I say that already?)

And I have fought against them… for almost 3 years.  Trying to work other kitchen items around them and create a light and bright area, but still just hating those cabinets-that-I-wished-were-white.

But, as you all know, I live in a rental loft apartment.  And I’m not ready to ask my landlord if I can paint the cabinets… yet. 😉

Love Your Dark Cabinets – The Inspiration

However, recently, unbeknownst to one of my sweet blogging buddies, I was challenged by her to start thinking differently about my dark kitchen cabinets.

At the beginning of the fall season, I was part of a wonderful blog hop called Celebrating Fall, and one of my lovely blogging cohorts in the hop was Kelly from The Tattered Pew.  You will definitely want to take a look at Kelly’s fall kitchen.love your dark kitchen cabinets with white island and simple fall decorDid ya take a look at the whole post?  Well, go and look… you’ll be blessed.  I’ll wait.

Do ya see why and how I was challenged to love dark kitchen cabinets?

Yep, Kelly has embraced her dark cabinets (which are very similar in color to mine) and managed to create a light and airy feeling in her amazing kitchen.

Here are a few points that I specifically notice about The Tattered Pew’s kitchen:

  • Dark wood kitchen cabinets (yep, that’s why we’re here, folks.)
  • White island
  • Neutral countertops
  • White subway tile backsplash
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • White stools that have dark seats (that tie in the white and dark cabinetry)
  • White pendant lights
  • and additional warm elements (her decor and green chest)

So, with Kelly’s inspiration, let’s stop fighting and start loving… our wood kitchen cabinets, that is!

And remember, this is the first in a series of how to love your wood kitchen cabinets.  I’ll be sharing a new post every holiday/season with tips on how to work with dark cupboards!

Adding Fall Colors to a Kitchen with Wood Cabinets

So, today we are going to see how to ‘warm-up’ to your dark cupboards with some traditional fall colors, and how I’ve incorporated some of the same elements of Kelly’s kitchen into mine (without actually even knowing it)!

This season, I used some orange, neutrals, and even a bit of red to compliment the wood kitchen cabinets. Warm fall colors have tied in the wood cupboards with the rest of my kitchen items.

Along with color, natural textures and a touch of copper were used to add some interest.  Let’s take a look. (Hold on to your hats… we have LOTS of photos!)

Love Your Dark Kitchen Cabinets Part 1 – Islands and Appliances

Here’s a full view of the majority of my 10×10 kitchen.  To the left of the island is my front door, and that oak cabinet on the left forefront is a peek at my antique baker’s cabinet (which is on the list of projects).love your dark kitchen cabinets with white island and open shelvingWhen you have dark cabinets, add some lighter furniture to the room (like an island), along with appliances that are all the same finish/color. (The fridge is white, yes… but that my be on the project list, too!) Remember, keeping the appliances matching helps keep the kitchen looking cohesive.

Love Your Dark Kitchen Cabinets Part 1 – Neutral Countertop

Although my tiny kitchen doesn’t have a backsplash, it DOES have a neutral countertop!

And you know what? It’s actually faux marble!  Not just laminate, either!  Take a look at how you can DIY these countertops for under $50! Seriously… you’ll be amazed!love your dark kitchen cabinets with open shelving and fall decorAlso, notice that the hardware is a polished nickel.  This coordinates with the appliances and the sink and gives an element of brightness to the dark cabinets. (Mixed metals is a great way to add interest to a room, but in a small kitchen I like metals to match).

Love Your Dark Kitchen Cabinets Part 1- Lights

Again, at this time, I don’t have pendant lights, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t make an appearance in the future! (*runs to go add to the project list*)

Depending on what you choose, adding another unexpected and lovely element, such as pendant lights, to the kitchen, will only add more interest and “accessorize” the cabinets.

How Do I Work with Dark Cabinets? Use Fall Colors

Last, and certainly the most fun, add some decor elements in colors that celebrate your dark cabinets.

It’s no secret that I love open shelving.  Mine were not here when I moved in… One of my dear friends installed them for me!  (Tip: Wanna really give some love to your dark cabinets?  Stain your open shelving to match them!)  And my open shelving is the perfect place to add decor that ‘loves’ my cupboards.

Using white ironstone (neutral) and orange and gold hydrangeas help tie in the dark color of the cabinets that I’m beginning to now embrace.love your dark kitchen cabinets with open shelving and fall decor

Add some coordinating yellow candles and a sprig of berries to bring in texture and warmth.yellow candle and berries on a wooden shelfAdditional wood tones and metals, such as a wooden pear with a copper leaf (oh, I mixed metals!), adds another aspect of warmth… and says, “I love wood… even wood cabinets!” 😉

Lettered signs are great, especially when they give a nod to the season.love your dark kitchen cabinets with open shelving vintage sign and wooden pear

And here’s a bit more copper (I don’t think it’s the last either).  Again, using a bit of a warm-colored metal like copper (okay, I lied about matching metals!) helps to ‘hug’ dark cabinets.  And the orange velvet pumpkin doesn’t hurt either.copper soap dispenser and velvet pumpkin on a cupcake plate

Adding a pop of another color, like green, helps to “break-up” the orange and red being used.love your dark kitchen cabinets scale with apples and bread boards with pitcher and cinnamon sticks on white counter

apples in a colander with berries and boxwood

Again, using white dishware, you can add tradition fall elements and colors to tie-in the dark cabinets.love your dark kitchen cabinets with open shelving and fall decor

Some rustic pine cone and acorn stems look great in a white pitcher!love your dark kitchen cabinets white pitcher with acorns and pine cones

And there’s that mixed metal ‘thing’ again! I LOVE acorns in my fall decor? What’s your fave thing to use for fall in your home?love your dark kitchen cabinets coppe acorn on wooden shelf

And lastly, a nice big milk glass bowl with a bunch of faux pumpkins… all in fall colors.milk glass bowl with faux pumpkins on open shelving

So, in the past, I would have NEVER thought of using so much orange and red in my kitchen decor.  But this year, I think using traditional fall colors really helped me to love my kitchen… especially the wood cabinets.

Now It’s Your Turn

Now tell me… do YOU have dark wood cabinets in YOUR kitchen?  Do you love ’em, or hate ’em?  What do you do to show them some love?  Let me know in the comments!

And remember, this is the first in the series. With each season/holiday, I plan on doing a new post to help us embrace our dark kitchen cabinets ! Stay tuned!

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  1. You do an amazing job with your tiny abode. I have a small home, but not nearly the struggles that you face. I lived in Southern California for a few years, so I know how expensive it is to have something larger unless you have or want a roommate. You are a pioneer, girl, and should be very proud. Do your best and remember to give yourself a pat on the back.

    1. Thanks, Pat… I do love my small home, and I enjoy having my alone time (no roommate for now!). I appreciate your sweet encouragement!

  2. Your shelves are styled to perfection, Julie! The warm fall colors paired with white look fabulous with your dark cabinets.

    We gutted our kitchen about 15 years ago and enlarged it. I went with cherry cabinets and I still love them. I heard on a podcast that people stopped liking darker cabinets around the time that Instagram became popular because they are hard to photograph. Not sure if this is true, but it makes sense. I went with a white kitchen at the lake and I would never have a white kitchen and especially a white sink in my main house. Every bit of anything shows on the cabinets and the sink takes more work than stainless to keep looking good.

    Looking forward to your new series!

    1. Interesting about the white vs dark cabinets, Paula. My mom had very light cabinets in her home for years, and I didn’t have a struggle with everything showing on them… and when it did, it was easier to see to clean! 😉 My cabinets are difficult to get ‘true’ color to show in photos… but I just prefer lighter cabinets anyways. I do like stainless appliances… and a stainless sink! Thanks for the kind words! 😉

    1. Oh, thank you, Holly! I’m hoping to continue to embrace the cabinets, and create a beautiful kitchen even with dark cabinets!

  3. Your kitchen looks lovely Julie! Thanks for the great tips! 💗 I, like Paula, have deep cherry cabinets – and also matte black counter tops – and I love them both! So many different ways to have a beautiful kitchen. 🙂 I’m looking forward to your next dark cabinet installment!

    1. Oh, I’m glad you liked the post, Barbara. I would love to have white cabinets with the black matte counters. I can dream! 😉

  4. Beautifully styled, Julie! And I adore that large copper acorn! I have a love/hate relationship with acorns…love the ones in my decor/hate the ones on the lawn that are all striving to become oak trees!

    1. Oh, I think I would not like having acorns in my yard either, Janet. Thanks for the love. Always enjoy you and your blog!

  5. Enjoyed your post. I, too, have dark cabinetry, very little wall space, and not enough sunlight. As a milk glass lover, I especially enjoyed your use of your milk glass pieces!

    1. Oh, we have LOTS in common, Kathy… at least in our kitchens. 😉 So glad to have your input here! Hugs and hearts!

  6. I like your dark cabinets and those wood shelves too. I would not paint them. They are so pretty the way you have it decorated for fall.
    Happy Fall,

    1. Thank you, Kippi! Really? You like dark cabinets? I think lighter ones might make MWA look a bit larger, too! 😉

  7. Hi, Julie! Your kitchen looks so lovely the way you styled it! I painted my oak cabinets white, but I still have my oak china cabinet and table in the kitchen. I’ve been trying to figure out how to update my eating area with all that oak. I don’t think I want to paint the table and hutch. I should do some styling! (The hutch is just used for storage now.)

  8. I love your fall decor with the dark cabinets! I don’t have dark cabinets, but I still took away many ideas for decorating in general. That metal acorn is so lovely, and you took such great photos.

    I’d love for you to link some of these decor items so I can buy similar ones. Pinning, my friend!

  9. I don’t like dark kitchen cabinets either, but you really made yours work well in your kitchen. I like the balance of the unpainted wood of your cabinets and shelves with the painted wood of your kitchen cart. Thanks so much for sharing this at Farmhouse Friday!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I actually have a baker’s cabinet waiting for a makeover that I haven’t shown yet… but it IS in my kitchen! LOL!

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