Kitchen Review and Reveal


Well it is finally time for the kitchen reveal.  I told you all about my sad no painting allowed story on Wednesday.  How the Realtor said we couldn’t paint our cabinets because we had chosen to rent the house and the painting them would not be the best choice.  And the cabinets are only 10 years old, so they were not worth replacing , cheap though they may be.

Since we chose to rent out our house, we wanted to be realistic about a few things.  The house is probably not going to be returned to us in better shape than we handed it over. (Although I do love the actual tenants, so maybe?)  But also, there is a limit to how much we can earn each month from the house, so investing in to a new kitchen would be pointless, (at least until we decide to sell – and I doubt we will do it then either).

Once, I accepted the fact that our kitchen was going to stay this color, I had to decide what small changes we could make to improve the look of the space and ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets.  Besides a few of the things I showed you that we did just to live in the space, I also tiled the back splash including a half wall as an accent for more interest and lastly adding some architectural character to the existing cabinets.

ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets

Kitchen Makeover without painting @remodelaholic #kitchen #Makeover #wood_cabinets


There we are few other things that I did to make the kitchen look a little better in itself and in our space.

1. Added some hardware (I went for the color black to match the grout and appliances)

2. Add orange to the living room.  This was a HAPPY accident.  We received our new family room rug the same day that we had the carpets cleaned, so while waiting for the carpets to dry, I rolled it out in our living room.  All of a sudden the tile in the kitchen was not as offensive, because it matched something else… WOW!

3. Use a complimentary color to help the orange pop.  This was not that much of a stretch since turquoise and blue are a main color way in the last home, but bringing that color into the kitchen really helped the orange look nicer.

Okay so what not a good before and after with out a hideous before?  Okay this is not super hideous (although you need to see how truly disgusting it was…)


Befreo kitchen and dining room (4)

1 Before Kitchen 2 Before kitchen


Cleaning up the mess after buying our house:

<KENOX S730  / Samsung S730>

Small repair and updates over time (before the actual makeover):


Installing a subway tile back splash (and tutorial):

IMG_5773 (651x1024)

Updating the Cabinets Tutorial (without painting of course):

ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets


Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal8

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal2

ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal7

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal3

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal4

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal5

Final Kitchen Makeover Reveal6

Well, what do you think?  It is a much better space if you ask me!  I love the ideas to update oak kitchen cabinets that we came up with!  And I think when and if we update, when we are ready to sell, we might try staining the cabinets a dark chocolate to match the living room floors, or just go ahead ad paint them, but for now we are happy with the changes we made…

FYI, here is a link when we were building the columns in case you wanted to see how we did it.

Meet the Author: Cassity

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. She is an interior designer, wife, and mother of two. She and Justin have remodeled three Read More


  1. Michelle says

    I just love the pass through between the kitchen and living room. That turned out so beautifully (as did your stairs and everything else you both have done. :) )

    • says

      Score, that is exactly what we were going for! I know painting would have been amazing, but it was a harder challenge to see what we could do without painting!

  2. Traci says

    It all came to together so nicely. Even thought you were not able to paint the cabinets you changed the whole look of the room. I really enjoyed seeing the progress on this room.

  3. says

    Great remodel! We are starting a kitchen renovation soon, and I want to use subway tile for the back splash. I like how you used the tile all the way to the ceiling on the wall to the left of the sink, instead of painting that little sliver of wall.

    Just found your site – can’t wait to check out all of your projects!

    • says

      Dana, I thought the same thing. It is such a fun tiny accent wall and maybe only cost and additional $30 bucks and would have been less if I had used regular mortar instead of the sheets. I am so glad you found us!

  4. Lisa E says

    Amazing! You do beautiful trim work. We are in the process of putting in a pass through between our kitchen and dining room, however, my hubby won’t let me paint any of the stained trim or cabinetry because he thinks it makes it look cheap! Ugh! Anyway, is there anyway you can do a closeup of the column and it’s details? It’s washing out in the photos and I really would like to see it up close to possibly help us out! I would really appreciate it. Keep up the great work. You really do beautiful work!

  5. Lori says

    Can anyone tell me the paint color in the kitchen? I love how it’s not too yellow and not too grey but perfect for the oak cabinets. I have painted my kitchen 5 times just trying to find a “happy color”.

  6. Pat Petschow says

    Very inspiring. My kitchen is so ugly, I would kill for the before pictures kitchen. Builder grade cabinets, faux butcher block counter, horrific 25 year old floor tile and a lousy space wasting layout. Time to get off the couch!

  7. Megan says

    I love the udpates you made to your kitchen. I’m in the process of updating my kitchen with oak cabinets. And while I could paint them I’d rather skip that process (I have 4 small boys at home) and save the money and leave cabinets as is. My cabinets are same color as yours but uppers are not squared they have an arch detail which really makes them look country/traditional. Do you think backsplash updates you made would work with that type of cabinet..any other suggestions. I am planning on replacing blue laminate counters. Struggling to modernize on budget! thanks for any help you can provide. Megan

  8. Lizzy says

    You realtor was wrong; I would have painted! Having said that, you made it as beautiful as it possibly could be without painting. You guys really are amazing! You have wonderful vision and your husband is a very talented carpenter!

  9. Holly says

    I love it! The kitchen, the living room, the flow of it all looks great! Very inspiring! I was never a huge fan of oak cabinets…guess I’m tired of them, but just adding hardware to them really makes a difference!

    • says

      Kimber, (the one with the twigs in it? I think?) I got that Ross, a few years ago, but TJ Maxx, and Home Goods or Ross are great places for those little decor items without breaking the bank!

  10. Mona says

    Wow! What a transformation! I’m glad that you embraced the oak. While painting seems to be trendy, it sure is a pleasant change to see you work with the oak. I think the wood tones make the kitchen warmer. Did you also install track lighting? I have been meaning to do so for years but not sure whether it provided enough light as opposed to a fluorescent light fixture. Where did you get the track lighting?

    • says

      We found our light and the Habitat Restore for $15.00 it was a good deal. But I will tell you it wasn’t quite enough light. We had to add under cabinet lighting and the one light hung over the sink to make up for the lack of light. So just be aware if you decide to change it out.

  11. Sandy says

    Where did you get the molding for the top of the cabinets? I would love to do that? I’ve never priced it….is it expensive for the size of your kitchen? It looks great!!!

    • says

      Sandy, I got the moldings from Home Depot. It was not cheap exactly, although you could do it cheaper. But it was a HUGE upgrade for the cost. This is me guesstimating but you are looking at somewhere like $5-8 a linear foot. So depending on the size of your kitchen and average kitchen might cost $100- $200 dollars to totally upgrade. And you could simplify what we did and lower your price a bit.

  12. says

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  13. Rachelle says

    You are so lucky to have a hubby that likes doing this stuff. I would add a small island to the kitchen, too! Looks fab!

  14. Justine says

    Looks great – I am interested in the corner bookcase you have built in next to the stairs. Is it black paint behind? Did you build it from scratch? Have you ever done anything with a laundry room/mud room? I have a smallish laundry room that is narrow and the main entry for the family to come into the house from the garage. I am trying to gather creative ideas for easier entry and exits with 3 school age kids.
    thanks again for sharing your projects.

    • says

      Yes, Cassity painted the back black and we did build them from scratch. You could put something like this anywhere in the house if you wanted. This is how we built ours here.

  15. Lynn says

    Love the cabinets! Did you do anything to them so they don’t look so shiny? I have oak and I hate the shine. Thanks!

  16. Courtney says

    I love it!! I would prefer this kitchen over painted cabinets, which I think is getting a little overdone to be honest. I generally don’t like oak but need to make it work in our new house, and it’s nice to see such a bright and updated oak kitchen!

  17. Screendoorgirl 3 says

    Great job! I think the details make an amazing difference. You have to think about money in your pocket! I like the dark stain idea for down the road…Thanks for sharing.

  18. Brooke says

    This is great! We are doing a minor update to our kitchen and this serves as great inspiration. What color are your countertops? We plan on replacing ours and are considering a light grey tone laminate. Do you think that would work with a kitchen look similar to yours or are we better off sticking to a neutral beige like color to go with the honey oak cabinets? Thanks!

    • says

      Brooke, our countertops are like a rosy beige. We couldn’t replace them, so they stayed. We think that a gray countertop would look just fine. Beige might be too much! Those are just our thoughts.

  19. Lindsey says

    Hi Justin and Cassity,

    I love your remodel of the kitchen with oak cabinets. I, too, have the same color of cabinets and while I would love a white kitchen, it is not in the cards for us. I was wondering if you could tell me the color or the walls in your kitchen? I’m trying to repaint ours, so it doesn’t clash as much with our cabinets.

    Thanks so much!

  20. says

    I can’t even tell you how much I love the fact that you didn’t paint your cabinets white…It’s actually refreshing. I have the same color scheme going on in my kitchen and I think it really compliments the wood. Well done on the back splash too! It’s so inspiring!

  21. Augustina says

    Love love the update. I was thinking of painting my cabinets but you Reno gave me hope that you don’t have to. My kitchen have the same cabinet color and I cant seen to find a wall color I like. Are you able to maybe suggest similar paint colors to the kitchen wall color?

    • says

      Augustina, I don’t know the name of the paint that was on our walls, but it was a neutral tan color that was in the house when we moved in. It seemed to work really well and look nice. You could try for some warm neutral colors.

  22. Amanda says

    Wow! I wish our landlord had done updates like that! We rent a cute little house that has so much potential, and I’ve tried doing what I can to “update” it without going crazy and spending too much of my own money since it isn’t our property. I love that you take such pride in your homes. This is beautiful and I’m sure the tenants appreciate it! :)

  23. Camille says

    You did a good job laying the tile, but why did you go so high on the one wall between the cabinets and sink? And I don’t think the subway tile goes with the southwestern floor tile. But that’s just my opinion.

    • Cass says

      It’s not my ideal pairing either, but we did what we could with what we had :) and we went to the ceiling because we like the full-height tile look, rather than stopping the backsplash a few inches up the wall. Again, not everyone’s taste and that’s fine :)

  24. Trisha says

    Wow, this is wonderful. I never thought I’d like oak cabinets again but you made them look fabulous!

    • Cass says

      Thank you, Trisha! I would still have rather painted, but it was nice to get a new look even without paint!

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