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Light Wood Kitchen Cabinets Vs Dark Wood Cabinets


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Light Wood Kitchen Cabinets Vs Dark Wood Cabinets

In rural central New Jersey, Farmhouse light wood kitchen cabinets are very popular. White Oak, Hickory and American Hard Maple are the species we specify most. Light Wood Cabinets vs Dark Wood CabinetsAmerican Ash was on our list of pale wood species until the emerald ash borer emerged in the US and began its devastation of our parks and forests.  We also design many kitchens with dark wood cabinets and shared a few of our dark wood cabinet designs in this post. American Walnut and European Oak tend to rise to the top of our list of dark hardwoods when discussing options with customers. But there are several tropical species we will share about below. In this post, we will make a few comparisons to help you decide what works best in your kitchen. Let’s start with…

Light Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Most modern light wood kitchen cabinet styles are made from white oak today. Maple tends to meet the demands of more traditional and contemporary designs. Grain direction matters when discussing light wood cabinets for a kitchen. Rift Sawn White Oak produces a straight grain direction that our customers love. Plain sawn oak produces a swirling grain direction that is often less favorable. 
Light Wood Kitchen Cabinets NJ

Hickory kitchen cabinets are also very pleasing when we are designing a farmhouse kitchen. Hickory is a very hard and dense wood species that accepts natural stain colors very well. Often when a customer requests a “rustic” feel to their kitchen, my mind turns towards hickory because it tends to have a few knots intermingled within each slab. 

Some of our Favorite Stain colors for light wood kitchen cabinets are
Light Wood Cabinet Stains
The last thing we wish to do is hide the light natural wood grains with a darker or colored stain.

Dark Wood Kitchen Cabinets

A kitchen with dark wood cabinets is not as common today as they once were in my parents’ generation. Often associated with more traditional or transitional design styles, dark wood cabinets in a kitchen require lighter color accents to brighten the space. We wrote this post on blending dark wood cabinets with light wood floors that may be helpful. Most customers are rarely undecided in their preference of light wood cabinets or dark wood cabinets. Our efforts are spent more on balancing out the color scheme. 
 Dark Wood Cabinets
Walnut Cabinets by Tobias Design LLC

As we mentioned earlier, Walnut and European Oak are two great dark wood species. There are a few Exotic Woods for Kitchen Cabinets that are worth mentioning.

Brazilian Tigerwood has a beautiful, stripped pattern.

Brazilian Tigerwood Cabinets

Often used in flooring but also a good candidate for your Island Cabinetry

Wenge Cabinets and Veneers

Wenge Wood VeneerWenge wood veneers are great for finishing a modern dark wood kitchen cabinet. This tropical dark wood comes from Central Africa and often has a few reddish hues mixed in with the darker wood colors. We use it as a veneer due to its difficulty to work with as whole slabs and its cost. So we specify Wenge Wood veneer sheets, AA grade be applied to the exterior cabinets and doors in the custom cabinet makers shop. This ensures high quality adhesives and grain flow.

Main Factors To Consider

Your Kitchen’s Size. Smaller kitchens need to have an illusion of space. This is best achieved by choosing lighter cabinet colors instead of darker ones that can make a small space feel even smaller.

The Design. Rustic, Farmhouse and some Traditional kitchen designs favor light-colored cabinets. More modern kitchen designs often benefit from darker colors here and there.

The Mood. Cabinets occupy most kitchen space, so they naturally draw attention and affect the mood. Choose a shade that best represents your personality so that they complement the general ambiance you exude as a host.

The Pros and Cons Of Light Cabinets

Now that you have some of the most critical design factors in mind, it’s time to delve deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of light wood kitchen cabinets.

The Pros. Light cabinets have been trending for some time now, and the trend isn’t fading soon. Lighter wood cabinets are also a very versatile choice because they can be both casual and simple. Light cabinets can be painted or stained with a different color if you decide to make a drastic change in the future.

The Cons. The balance between clean and elegant and too sterile is a thin line when choosing white cabinets over dark ones. Light wood cabinets can stain easily, making their upkeep more of a hassle compared to darker cabinets.

The Pros and Cons of Dark Cabinets

If light wood cabinets don’t suit your style, you should consider dark wood kitchen cabinets. But before settling on dark cabinets, here are a few things to think about:

The Pros. Dark cabinets are more luxurious because they add richness, sophistication, and formality to the kitchen. They are also cozier and give off a more inviting atmosphere. Of course, dark cabinets don’t easily show scratches and food stains, making them less of a hassle to maintain.

The Cons. Small kitchens look even smaller with dark cabinets. Not everyone likes the look of dark cabinets, which can affect the resell value of your home.

Your Kitchen Designer Should Guide Your Selection

There are so many details that go into designing the perfect kitchen for your home. You don’t have to do this alone. Our team at Tobias Design can help guide your choices with rich insights and details that you may never consider on your own. It all starts with an easy phone call to determine if we are the right fit for you. 

Posted by Tom Gilmour in Custom Cabinetry | with 0 comments
Filed under: cabinets, dark, hickory, kitchen, light, veneers, wenge, wood

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48 West Broad Street • Hopewell, NJ 08525 • Phone: (609) 466-1445 • Fax: (609) 466-1499 • email:

Specializing in custom kitchen cabinetry designs in Princeton, Somerset, Central Jersey, Monmouth County, Hunterdon County, Morris County and Bucks County, PA.

Some photos depict kitchens designed by Lisa Tobias for DeMadera Design.

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