Get the size you need!

How to Make Brown Kitchen Cabinets More Modern?

March 26, 2021 | Updated on: April 23, 2024

Brown Kitchen Cabinets with light counter top

Brown kitchen cabinets are frequently associated with the late XX when in 90s kitchens there was a trend for this rich dark chocolate-like cabinet colour. Another one feature of that time is a tendency for the durability of materials so it is absolutely possible that they are still safe and sound in yours or your parents' kitchen. 

You may have an ideal kitchen layout and absolutely well-working ergonomics and do not want to change anything in the kitchen except its style. This is a sufficient reason to avoid expensive remodelling and opt for a quick and budget-friendly makeover. While brown cabinets can be updated in many ways, they also have a few advantages on their own. Dark brown cupboards create a timeless appeal and add intimacy, especially when used in an open-concept kitchen. Brown is a neutral hue, that is a great background colour for adding accents.

Kitchen Cabinets

The great news is the dark brown shade is known for its elegance and drama. When it comes to dark brown cabinets, this colour can be applied to a wide range of other hues and work with any kitchen style, from traditional to modern. You may not know exactly how to combine dark brown cabinets with other elements in your kitchen. Cut2Size prepares a few tips to inspire you. The options are many and most of them don’t include going through a big remodel. Some of the things you may want to consider involve: 

  • Embracing the natural wood;
  • Experimenting with two-tone cabinets;
  • Upgrading the cabinet hardware;
  • Installing stainless steel appliances;
  • Replacing the backsplash;
  • Painting the walls.

Embrace the Natural Wood

Hickory Traditional Kitchen

There’s no going wrong with natural wood, especially in a kitchen. Natural brown wooden cabinets can enhance the rustic charm of the kitchen. You can incorporate them into your wood island or stick to having them hung high around the kitchen. With a natural wood finish, you can contrast it with a glossy tiled backsplash for more of a modern look. 

Try Out Two-Tone Brown And White Cabinets

While some people may find the dark brown cabinets to be a tad bit overwhelming, especially if they are on multiple walls of the kitchen, you can always consider brightening up the room. When you swap some of the brown cabinets for white-colored ones, you can get the contrast that makes all the difference. This will make the room feel less cramped and modern. 

Traditional White and Brown Kitchen Combination

Before you choose to remodel your entire kitchen in order to get rid of the old brown cabinets, try swapping a single section of your dark wood cabinets with white ones to see how it looks. Eventually, you can achieve an even mix of two-tone cabinets. 

In most cases, it’s recommended to keep the darker color, in this case, the brown wooden cabinets, on the bottom while the white cabinets are on top in order to achieve the perfectly balanced look that you seek. You can go even further by incorporating the two-tone colorways into the rest of your kitchen by having a white range hood that’s complete with brown trim or even a white countertop over the island with brown base cabinets. 

Order Online Option 1

Upgrade the Hardware

There are even simpler ways to modernize brown cabinets in your kitchen and keep things affordable. By upgrading the cabinet hardware, you can completely change the look of the cabinets and your kitchen as a whole. Most people are unaware of the effect that knobs and handles have on the look of a kitchen.

If you want to have more modern light brown kitchen cabinets, you can opt for bulky chrome bar handles. Larger handles are trendy and they make for the perfect distraction from any potential imperfections your cabinets might have like scratches or stains. 

Brass is another option for cabinet hardware if you’re one who is opposed to chrome. While gold and brass hardware are a bit more traditional compared to chrome, they still match practically any appliance finish. 

Install Stainless Steel Appliances

With the many different appliance finishes out there, stainless steel is one of the most appealing options to have with brown cabinets. The darkness from the cabinets is contrasted by the reflective steel, which gives off a more contemporary style that most other finishes don’t have. 

Traditional Gray and Brown Kitchen

If you want to make your appliances stand out, try adding silver or chrome hardware to the cabinets, as mentioned above. You might even think about trying to mix and match the hardware by having some brass finishes, too. 

Replace the Backsplash

Installing a new kitchen backsplash can also help bring your brown kitchen cabinets to life. A herringbone pattern is often one that can help incorporate two different tones. In this case, they can be brown and another neutral tone. 

If you wish to have a more softened look, you can opt for white subway tiles or even a marble slab backsplash. There are also peel-and-stick options that are more affordable than investing in a new backsplash, and they can add that elegant touch you seek. 

Paint the Walls

The kitchen paint is one of the vital parts of having appealing and modern brown kitchen cabinets. White is a color that pairs great with brown, but it’s not the only one. You can incorporate white finishes in the walls, window frames, countertops, and more. This will help reflect natural light while also making the room look larger. 

A brown and white kitchen is one of the most common. White is the perfect contrast for darker shades of brown. If you don’t want to invest in painting the kitchen, you can always try decorating the walls by hanging white-colored art. It can be as simple as hanging white ceramic dishes or using a peel-and-stick backsplash, as mentioned above. A little bit of white can go a long way for a brown kitchen. 

What Kitchen Color Will Match Brown Cabinets?

Brown wood cabinets need to be complemented by the right color. It’s important to choose a wall color and floor finish that will feel new and modern. It can be powder-blue plaster or some kind of sleek floor tiles that will bring the modern element into the room. You can also choose between the many brown cabinets grey floor options. 

Incorporating some kind of color will be the perfect finishing touch. It can be by painting, adding accessories, some fresh greenery, and more. If you’re wondering what color goes with brown cabinets, keep reading. Here are some colors you may want to consider: 

Cool Neutrals

Darker wood cabinets that have cool undertones such as almost black shades of brown or espresso, will pair well with more cooler toned neutrals. These can include greige, dark blue-grey, lavender-toned grey, shades of blue, and sage green. These colors can be included in the wall color or even in the countertops. You can also pair light-colored quartz countertops with dark brown cabinets.

Grey Walls and Brown Cabinets

Gray walls with brown kitchen

One of the most effective ways to modernize a room is to paint the walls grey. Grey walls brown cabinets go hand-in-hand. This even works for your kitchen and with brown cabinets. The grey color in the walls will pair nicely with the brown in the cabinets. Grey is perfect for different kinds of shades of brown cabinets ranging from dark to light.  

White Walls and Dark Brown-colored Cabinets

When looking at kitchen ideas with brown cabinets, consider white walls. White walls in your kitchen can be covered with dark brown cabinets for an appealing look. The white contrast can help add value to your kitchen as a whole. You can even try having brown kitchen cabinets with white countertops.

 Brown Cabinets with a Light Wooden Floor

When painting kitchen cabinets brown, it’s important to keep in mind that light shades of wood can oftentimes look a bit yellow. Therefore, you can have brown cabinets installed and still match the light wooden floors and match the aesthetic of the room. The shade of the floors will complement the uniqueness of the brown cabinets in your kitchen. 

Bricks and Brown Cabinets

Many people think about brown cabinets what color wall goes best and it doesn’t always have to be a single color. The natural color of bricks is dark red which is why it’s best to have brown cabinets installed on brick walls. They can help give the kitchen a lively feel. 

Grey Walls and Light Brown Cabinets

When it comes down to light brown colored cabinets, grey walls can come into play once more. Grey kitchen walls with brown cabinets will blend together nicely and create a very unique outcome for your kitchen. 

Brown Acrylic Cabinets and Blue Walls

Blue walls with brown kitchen

Experts believe that having brown acrylic cabinets will work best when you have blue walls. The blue-colored walls can go well with light or dark cabinets while also looking good from a distance. 

Most Popular Shades of Brown for Kitchen Cabinets in Canada

Brown is oftentimes associated with nature and it’s considered a solid color. It’s the color of soil and the earth. There are quite a few different shades of brown and each one can invoke a different feeling or emotion in a person. Your preference of brown can tell a lot about your character. 

Typically, a warmer shade of brown can cause a person to feel warmth, security, dependability, protection, and even resilience. However, a more dull shade of brown can invoke a more negative set of emotions like sadness, loneliness, and also isolation. This is why it’s important to pick the right shade of brown, especially when it comes to your kitchen cabinets. 

There are two prime shades of brown and they are light brown and dark brown. They encompass many shades like caramel, mocha, cinnamon, tawny, and more. 

Types of wood

Some popular shades of brown for kitchen cabinets include:

Light Brown

The light brown painted kitchen cabinets can match with a beige backsplash and countertops for a more neutral-toned kitchen. 


Cherry solid wood kitchen kitchen

Cherry brown kitchen cabinets are a desirable option and have a deeper brown tone that is mixed with a bit of red. Red-brown cabinets are considered to be a more traditional option. 


A walnut shade of brown has a more natural tone to it and it can pair well with white backsplashes. 


Maple cabinets can also go well in a two-toned setting. For instance, two-tone kitchen cabinets brown and white; white being the upper. 


Chocolate colored cabinets are a more elegant option for wooden cabinets. It’s often considered to be a shade that is more versatile and the most modern option these days. 

It’s commonly believed that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Regardless of how inviting the rest of your home might be, people tend to gather where they feel comfortable and that will oftentimes be the kitchen. 

The color of the kitchen will influence the way your kitchen looks and feels which is why deciding between dark and light-colored cabinets is important. Whether you choose to have chocolate brown kitchen cabinets or light brown kitchen cabinets, the options are endless. 

 Whether you’re planning on remodelling your kitchens with dark brown cabinets or adding new cabinetry, it’s important to keep in mind that dark colors can dominate a room and make it look smaller than it is. However, you’ll likely find many good reasons to incorporate brown cabinetry into your kitchen. There are numerous ways to use other kitchen colors with dark brown cabinets.

Darker shades of brown can add a bit of elegance to a home and even go well as an appealing background color. When you have a small kitchen with brown cabinets, it’s important to come up with ways to balance the color with various other elements in order to prevent the darkness from overpowering the rest of the room. 

When adding brown cabinetry to a small kitchen, you can try sticking to a two-toned theme. By adding lighter-colored cabinets at eye level and the darker brown cabinets below, your eyes will draw more towards the lighter areas and it can make the space more expansive.  

Rustic Brown Kitchen

You can also try using the brown painted kitchen cabinets as an accent shade. Whether it’s with a small island or a bar cart, you can incorporate the color in other parts of the kitchen. You’ll end up with a kitchen that feels larger and other focal points around the room. Using light to brighten up dark kitchen areas can also help distract from the deeper shades of brown while also giving the impression of more space. There are under-cabinet lighting options and overhead lighting that would go well in practically any kitchen. 

For brown upper and lower cabinets, you can try softening the contrast between the two by utilizing lighter colors for the walls, ceiling, and even having brown cabinets white countertops. Incorporating appliances and kitchen decor with light-colored or reflective metal surfaces can help with contrasting the brown shades. 

Picking the right color and shade for your kitchen cabinets requires a lot of thought and deliberation in order to emulate your vision. Whether it’s light brown painted cabinets or something darker, the options are endless. 

Many people approach the brown shades of cabinets with apprehension since they can take in light and give off a more intense appearance. However, this is the reason why it’s typical to match colors in order to develop an even more neutral color for the kitchen cabinets. This should also be considered when working with different kitchen wall colors with brown cabinets.

Brown kitchen with dark floor

When you blend bold color accents or even muted tones like taupe, camel, and cream, with the basic shades of brown, you’ll oftentimes get a more homey and dark shade. In this case, you’ll need to help brighten up the dark brown cabinets with psychical lighting sources. 

Matching the kitchen colors with brown cabinets and other dark components of your home can help get you the ideal final look. The brown cabinets will look great with lighter-colored walls, especially when you incorporate darker floors. 

Again, it can be common for you to feel a bit hesitant when picking brown cabinets or working with your existing ones, especially when you’re trying to achieve a more modern look for your kitchen. However, you shouldn’t hesitate. You also shouldn’t ask yourself "are dark brown cabinets still in”, because they definitely are. 

Whenever you’re unsure of picking the right shade of brown or are looking into ways to compliment the existing brown shade of your cabinets, you can always consult with a professional for some guidance. It can make the process more manageable.    



Article by:

Valentina Melnikova - Lead Designer at Cut2Size

Office 403.366.7411

Hi there! I’m a millwork designer and an owner of a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. With a team of professionals, I work on designing and manufacturing high-end millwork. Combining professional designing and manufacturing skills is what allows us to develop and translate our plans into a reality through our uniqueness and exclusive ideas. Our employees are highly skilled and creative thinkers that also utilize their professionalism and experience to take millwork to the next level. I’m very familiar with the industry and I take on each project from the design to the final product. With that said, if you’re looking for design advice or technician help, you’re in the right place.