Are Maple Cabinets Outdated?

Last Updated on August 25, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Choosing the right cabinets for your home is more than just a matter of storage. It’s about aesthetics, longevity, and adding value to your space. Cabinets can dictate the overall look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom, and they play a significant role in determining the functionality of these spaces. Among the myriad of options available, maple cabinets have long been a popular choice for homeowners.

Maple cabinets, known for their durability and unique grain patterns, have been a staple in home design for many years. However, with the rise of various other styles and materials, a question has emerged – are maple cabinets outdated?

This article will delve into this topic, exploring the history, features, and current status of maple cabinets in modern design.

The History of Maple Cabinets: Origins, Popularity, and Evolution

Maple cabinets have a rich and varied history that traces back centuries. This type of cabinetry has been a popular choice for homeowners due to its durability, versatility, and unique grain patterns.


Maple wood has been used in furniture making for centuries, dating back to the colonial period in America. Known for its hardness and strength, it was often chosen for heavy-use items like tables and chairs. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that maple gained popularity as a material for kitchen cabinets.

In the early 1900s, with the rise of suburban homes, there was an increased demand for built-in furniture, including kitchen cabinets. Maple, with its light color and subtle grain, became a popular choice for these cabinets. It offered a clean, bright look that was appealing to homeowners looking to create a modern, inviting space.


The mid-20th century saw a boom in the use of maple cabinets. This was largely due to the post-war housing boom and the rise of the “modern” kitchen. Maple cabinets were seen as a symbol of this modernity – they were sleek, durable, and relatively affordable.

Maple’s popularity continued into the late 20th and early 21st century. Its light color made it a versatile choice that could fit into a variety of design styles. Whether homeowners wanted a traditional, country, or contemporary look, maple cabinets could accommodate their needs.


Over time, the style of maple cabinets has evolved. While the traditional natural finish remains popular, there has been a rise in the popularity of painted or stained maple cabinets. This has allowed homeowners to customize their cabinets to better fit their individual style and the overall aesthetic of their home.

In recent years, there has also been a trend towards more minimalist, streamlined designs. As such, maple cabinets have become less ornate, with simpler lines and fewer decorative elements.

Despite the evolution in style and the rise of other materials, maple cabinets remain a popular choice for many homeowners. They offer a timeless appeal that can adapt to changing trends and styles, ensuring their continued relevance in the world of home design.

Features of Maple Cabinets: Description, Characteristics, and Benefits

maple cabinet

Maple cabinets are renowned for their beauty and durability, making them a popular choice for homeowners. Let’s delve into the key features of maple wood and what makes it ideal for cabinetry.

Description of Maple Wood

Maple is a type of hardwood that comes from the Acer genus of trees. It’s native to Asia, Europe, northern Africa, and North America. The wood harvested from these trees is known for its light color, typically ranging from creamy white to a light reddish-brown.

Key Characteristics and Benefits of Maple Cabinets

Grain and Color Variations

One of the defining characteristics of maple wood is its unique grain pattern. Maple has a generally straight grain, but it can also exhibit patterns such as birdseye, curl, or quilt. These patterns add visual interest and depth to the wood, making each piece of maple furniture or cabinetry unique.

The color of maple wood can vary based on the specific type of maple tree it comes from. However, it’s typically light in color, which gives it a clean and bright appearance. This light color makes maple cabinets a versatile choice as they can fit seamlessly into a variety of design styles and color schemes.


Maple is a dense, durable hardwood. It’s resistant to scratches and dings, which makes it an excellent choice for kitchen cabinets that need to withstand daily use. This durability also means that maple cabinets can last for many years, making them a wise investment for homeowners.


Maple’s light color and subtle grain make it a highly versatile wood. It can be left natural, stained to highlight its unique grain, or painted for a more custom look. This versatility allows homeowners to tailor their maple cabinets to their personal style and the overall aesthetic of their home.

The Debate: Are Maple Cabinets Outdated?

As with any design element, trends in kitchen cabinetry change over time. While maple cabinets have a long history and have been a popular choice for many years, some may wonder if they are now considered outdated.

To answer this question, let’s delve into the current trends in kitchen design and hear from interior designers and homeowners.

Current Trends in Kitchen Design

Based on the latest reports, some of the biggest kitchen trends for 2023 include colorful cabinets, gold accents, statement backsplashes, and smart technology. There’s also a trend towards making the kitchen feel like a seamless addition to the home.

Another notable trend is the use of organic elements and large islands. This reflects a growing interest in bringing natural materials and textures into the kitchen, as well as creating multi-functional spaces that can accommodate cooking, dining, and socializing.

Opinions from Interior Designers and Homeowners

When it comes to the question of whether maple cabinets are outdated, opinions vary. Some interior designers appreciate the timeless appeal of maple cabinets. They argue that the light color, unique grain, and durability of maple make it a versatile choice that can fit into a variety of design styles.

On the other hand, some designers feel that the traditional look of natural-finish maple cabinets may not align with more contemporary design trends. However, they note that painted or stained maple cabinets can offer a more modern look, allowing homeowners to enjoy the benefits of maple while staying on trend.

Homeowners’ views on this issue are similarly mixed. Some homeowners love their maple cabinets for their durability and classic look. Others, however, prefer more trendy options such as two-tone cabinets or those made from alternative materials like metal or glass.

Comparison with Other Popular Cabinet Materials and Styles

Compared to other popular cabinet materials and styles, maple cabinets hold their own in terms of durability and versatility. They may not offer the same bold colors as painted cabinets, but they can be stained or painted to achieve a similar effect.

Maple cabinets may lack the industrial feel of metal cabinets or the sleek modernity of glass cabinets, but they offer a warmth and natural beauty that these materials cannot match.

Furthermore, the trend towards organic elements in kitchen design suggests that there’s still a place for natural wood cabinets like those made from maple.

Advantages of Maple Cabinets in Modern Design

Maple cabinets have a long-standing reputation for their elegance and durability, and they continue to hold their own in contemporary design. Let’s delve into the advantages of maple cabinets in modern design and explore some case studies of homes with stylish, updated maple cabinets.

Versatility of Maple in Various Design Styles

One of the key advantages of maple cabinets is their versatility. The smooth, fine grain of maple wood lends itself well to a variety of design styles, from traditional to modern and rustic.

In modern design, maple cabinets can add a touch of warmth and natural beauty without interrupting the overall color scheme. They work exceptionally well with shaker cabinets, particularly when stained in darker shades or rich espresso tones.

For a rustic look, the light color and subtle grain of maple can complement other natural materials such as stone and metal. And in traditional design, the classic appeal of maple cabinets can provide a sense of elegance and timelessness.

Durability and Shock Resistance

Maple wood is classified as a hardwood, even stronger than oak. This makes maple cabinets highly durable and shock-resistant, ideal for the heavy usage often seen in kitchens.

The hard and durable nature of maple means that your cabinets will stand up to daily wear and tear and last for many years, making them a wise investment for homeowners. Moreover, despite being a quality wood, maple is relatively affordable, making it an excellent choice for those looking to remodel or design their kitchen on a budget.

Case Studies of Homes with Stylish, Updated Maple Cabinets

There are many examples of homes where maple cabinets have been incorporated into modern design to great effect. For instance, some homeowners have chosen to stain their maple cabinets in dark tones to create a striking contrast with lighter countertops and walls.

Others have opted for a more minimalist approach, using the natural color of maple to create a clean, bright look. In these instances, the cabinets often feature simple lines and minimal ornamentation, aligning with current trends towards streamlined, uncluttered spaces.

How to Update Maple Cabinets Without Replacing Them

Maple cabinets are known for their durability and timeless appeal. However, you may want to update their look without going through the expense and hassle of replacing them. Here are some methods that can help refresh your maple cabinets and give your kitchen a new vibe.

Painting or Staining

While maple is beautiful in its natural state, painting or staining can change its look and feel. If you prefer a more modern aesthetic, consider painting your cabinets in a neutral color like white or gray.

These colors are trending in kitchen design and can give your kitchen a clean, contemporary look.

Staining is another option. Darker stains can give maple cabinets a richer, more luxurious appearance. Or, you might opt for a light stain to enhance the natural beauty of the wood while giving it a fresh, updated look.

Hardware Updates

Changing the hardware on your cabinets can make a big difference in their appearance. Replace old knobs and pulls with modern, sleek designs.

You can choose hardware in a variety of finishes, such as brushed nickel, bronze, or black, to complement the color of your cabinets and the overall design of your kitchen.

Lighting and Decor That Complements Maple

Lighting can dramatically affect the mood and functionality of your kitchen. Under-cabinet lighting can highlight the beauty of your maple cabinets and provide practical task lighting. Pendant lights or chandeliers can also add a touch of style and sophistication.

When it comes to decor, consider items that complement the color and grain of your maple cabinets. This can include backsplashes, countertops, and accessories in colors that contrast or harmonize with your cabinets.


The perception of maple cabinets being outdated appears to be subjective and largely depends on individual tastes and current design trends. While some might view maple as outdated, especially custom cabinet manufacturers who often prefer replacing over refacing, there is a significant counter-argument that supports the continued relevance of maple cabinets in modern kitchens.

Maple cabinets are praised for their versatility and durability. With the right finishes, they can fit into a broad spectrum of kitchen designs. Even if the cabinets may seem out-of-date at present, they can be updated effectively to align with contemporary aesthetics.

Moreover, 2023 kitchen cabinet trends suggest that maple cabinets are the go-to natural wood choice, striking a balance between warmth and lightness. This trend is further supported by customers’ growing interest in renovating their kitchens with maple cabinets.

Therefore, it’s fair to conclude that maple cabinets are not outdated. In fact, they remain a popular choice for many homeowners due to their strength, durability, and enduring appeal. Their place in the kitchen can be assured with thoughtful design choices and updates that align with current trends.