Are Brown Cabinets Outdated or In Style?

Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

When it comes to home decor, the kitchen often holds a special place. It’s not just a place where meals are prepared; it’s also a gathering spot for family and friends, a place for conversations, homework, and even heart-to-heart talks.

Therefore, the aesthetics of the kitchen, from its layout to the colors used, play a significant role in shaping the overall ambiance of your home.

One of the key elements that greatly influence the look and feel of a kitchen is the cabinetry. Cabinets take up a large portion of the visual space in a kitchen, and their color can set the tone for the entire room.

Brown cabinets have long been a staple in kitchen design due to their warmth, versatility, and classic appeal. However, with ever-evolving trends in interior design, one might wonder if brown cabinets are outdated or whether they still hold their charm in contemporary kitchens.

This article will delve into this topic, exploring the relevance of brown cabinets in today’s kitchen designs.

The Evolution of Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets have evolved significantly over the years, reflecting broader shifts in design trends and societal preferences. Brown cabinets, a mainstay of traditional kitchen design, have played a pivotal role in this evolution.

Historically, brown cabinets were favored for their warmth, versatility, and classic appeal. They were commonly seen in homes from the mid-20th century, largely due to their natural wood palette which was popular at the time. This trend continued into the early 21st century, with many homeowners appreciating the timeless elegance and cozy ambiance that brown cabinets brought to their kitchens.

However, as we moved into the 2020s, a shift began to occur. Designers started to experiment with a wider range of colors, ushering in an era of rich, moody hues and high contrast designs. This led to the rise of black, indigo blue, and even cashmere colored cabinets, marking a departure from the previously dominant brown tones.

As of 2023, the color trends for kitchen cabinets continue to evolve. Neutral tones such as mushroom and taupe, along with earthy greens and natural wood tones, are becoming increasingly popular. While these trends indicate a shift away from traditional brown cabinets, they still incorporate elements of nature and warmth, reminiscent of the appeal that brown cabinets once held.

It’s important to note, however, that trends are cyclical in nature and personal preference plays a significant role in home decor. While brown cabinets may not be the hottest trend in 2023, they can still be a great choice for those seeking a warm, classic look in their kitchen.

Perception of Brown Cabinets Today

brown cabinets

The perception of brown cabinets in today’s interior design landscape is largely influenced by the current trends in kitchen cabinet colors. As we move through 2023, there’s a noticeable shift towards more diverse and vibrant color palettes.

According to recent trends, black cabinets are making a strong comeback, bringing a sense of sophistication and depth to kitchen spaces. Similarly, colors like cashmere and mood-boosting yellow are gaining popularity for their ability to create a warm and inviting ambiance.

Taupe and wood tones continue to be favored for their versatility and understated elegance. Dark blues and grays are also trending, offering a modern yet timeless aesthetic.

Additionally, earthy tones, golden hues, and rosy undertones are being loved by designers for their ability to bring a touch of nature and warmth into the kitchen.

However, it’s not just about solid colors. Dual-tone cabinets, where upper and lower cabinets are painted in different shades, are making a splash, allowing homeowners to play with contrasts and add a unique touch to their kitchens.

In this colorful mix, the traditional brown cabinets might seem less prevalent, but they’re far from obsolete. Brown, in its many shades, continues to be valued for its warmth, versatility, and classic appeal.

While it may not be the trendiest choice at the moment, it still holds a significant place in kitchen designs, especially in homes that favor a traditional, rustic, or farmhouse style.

Pros of Brown Cabinets

Brown kitchen cabinets have been a popular choice for many years. Despite the evolving trends in kitchen aesthetics, these cabinets continue to hold their ground, thanks to their timeless appeal, versatility, durability, and ease of maintenance.

Timeless Appeal and Versatility

One of the main advantages of brown cabinets is their timeless charm. Whether it’s a traditional, rustic, or modern design, brown cabinets can seamlessly blend into any kitchen style. Their neutral shade makes them versatile, allowing them to complement a variety of color schemes.

Durability and Ease of Maintenance

Brown cabinets, particularly those in darker shades, are known for their durability. They are better at hiding imperfections such as stains, uneven surfaces, scratches, and dings compared to lighter colored cabinets. This makes them an ideal choice for busy kitchens where wear and tear are common.

Complementing Color Schemes

Brown cabinets offer a wide range of design options. Whether you’re aiming for a warm, cozy ambiance or a rich, luxurious atmosphere, brown cabinets can achieve that. They work well with both warm and cool color palettes, making them a flexible choice for various kitchen designs.

Resale Value

Another often overlooked advantage of brown cabinets is their potential impact on resale value. As per some sources, homes with brown cabinets tend to sell earlier and could potentially command higher values. This could be due to their classic appeal and wide acceptance among homeowners.

Cons of Brown Cabinets

While brown cabinets offer numerous advantages, they also come with a few potential downsides. Primarily, these relate to the aesthetic impact they can have on kitchen space and their alignment with modern, minimalist trends.

Can Make a Kitchen Space Feel Darker

One of the drawbacks of brown cabinets is that they can make a kitchen feel darker, especially in rooms with limited natural light or smaller spaces. Darker shades of brown can absorb light, making a room appear smaller and less open. This effect can be mitigated by using lighter countertops, flooring, or wall colors, or by ensuring adequate artificial lighting.

May Not Align With Modern, Minimalist Trends

Brown cabinets may not always align with modern, minimalist trends, which often favor lighter, sleeker, and more streamlined designs. While brown cabinets can certainly be part of a contemporary kitchen design, they are often associated with more traditional or rustic aesthetics. If a homeowner prefers a minimalist, Scandinavian, or ultra-modern look, brown cabinets may not be the ideal choice.

Limited Color Coordination

While brown cabinets can complement various color schemes, they might limit the color palette in some cases. Certain shades of brown may not work well with specific colors, potentially restricting your choices for wall paint, backsplash, and countertop materials.

Alternatives to Brown Cabinets

As trends in kitchen design evolve, homeowners are presented with a plethora of alternatives to traditional brown cabinets. Here are some popular options and how they compare to brown cabinets:

Painting Cabinets

One of the simplest ways to modernize your kitchen and give it a fresh look is by painting your cabinets[^1^]. This allows you to choose from a wide range of colors and finishes.

Popular choices include neutral shades such as white, gray, and cream, as well as bold colors like blue and green. These colors can make the kitchen feel brighter and more spacious compared to darker brown cabinets.

Two-Tone Cabinets

Two-tone cabinets, where upper and lower cabinets are painted in different colors, are gaining popularity. This design strategy adds visual interest and allows you to play with color combinations. While this trend can incorporate brown, it often utilizes contrasting colors to create a more modern look.

Open Shelves and Ledges

Replacing upper cabinets with open shelves or ledges is another trending alternative[^6^]. This design choice opens up the space, making the kitchen appear larger and airier. However, this option might not be suitable for those who prefer the enclosed storage that brown cabinets provide.

Dark Cabinets

While brown cabinets are a classic choice, other dark shades are becoming increasingly popular. Colors like black, navy, and deep green are seen as modern and sophisticated. They offer the same warmth and depth as brown cabinets but with a more contemporary appeal.

Stainless Steel Cabinets

For a sleek, industrial look, stainless steel cabinets are an excellent option. They’re durable, easy to clean, and resistant to heat and water damage. However, they may not provide the same warmth and homely feel as brown cabinets.

[^1^]: Lily Ann Cabinets

Styling and Modernizing Brown Cabinets

If you have brown cabinets in your kitchen, there are many ways to modernize and style them to make your space feel fresh and updated. Here are some tips based on various sources:

  1. Upgrade the Hardware: Replacing old cabinet handles or knobs with new ones can instantly give your brown cabinets a more contemporary look.
  2. Paint the Walls White: A lighter wall color can help balance out the darkness of the cabinets and create a more modern contrast.
  3. Upgrade to Stainless Steel Appliances: Stainless steel appliances give a sleek, modern look that pairs well with brown cabinets.
  4. Incorporate Light: If your brown cabinets make your kitchen feel dark, add light fixtures or change your bulbs to brighter ones. You can also consider using mirrors to reflect light and brighten the space.
  5. Use Neutrals and Simple Classic Colors: Pairing brown cabinets with neutral colors like white, cream, or gray can help update the look.
  6. Repaint Your Cabinets: If you’re ready for a bigger change, consider repainting your cabinets. Choose a shade that complements the rest of your kitchen decor.

Success Stories

Here are some examples of how homeowners successfully styled and modernized their brown cabinets:

  • One homeowner upgraded the hardware on their brown cabinets with sleek, stainless steel handles. This simple change gave the cabinets a more modern look.
  • Another homeowner painted their kitchen walls white to contrast with their brown cabinets. The lighter wall color helped to brighten the space and balance out the darker cabinets.
  • In a different kitchen, the homeowner chose to repaint their brown cabinets completely. They opted for a lighter shade of brown, which helped to modernize the kitchen while maintaining the warmth and depth of the wood.


Are Brown Cabinets Outdated?

Based on the information I found, it seems that the perception of brown cabinets being outdated is not entirely accurate.

While some sources suggest that darker wood tones on cabinetry are becoming less trendy, others argue that brown cabinets are not out of style and can be modernized with the right design choices.

Modernizing Brown Cabinets

Several sources provide tips on how to update brown kitchen cabinets to make them feel more modern. These include updating the hardware, painting the walls a lighter color, upgrading to stainless steel appliances, and pairing the cabinets with neutral colors.

It’s also noted that dark kitchen cabinets are still in style, especially when they fit the personality of the homeowner and the aesthetic of the kitchen.

The Resurgence of Brown Cabinets

Interestingly, there’s a suggestion that dark stained kitchen cabinets are actually enjoying a resurgence in popularity. They’re appreciated for their timeless and classic look. A trend forecast for 2023 even indicates a shift towards dark wood kitchen cabinet designs.

Personal Preference Over Trends

Ultimately, whether brown cabinets are considered outdated or not seems to come down to personal preference. While lighter cabinets may be favored in smaller kitchens to create an illusion of space, dark cabinets can add depth and warmth to larger kitchen spaces.

In conclusion, brown cabinets may not align with every contemporary trend, but that does not necessarily make them outdated. With thoughtful design choices, they can be integrated into a modern kitchen aesthetic.