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7 Ideas for Updating Wood Cabinets (Without Painting Them)

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If painting, staining, or replacing your wood cabinets is out of the question, try one or a few of these ideas for a fresh look.

1. A white subway tile backsplash

White subway tile can brighten and modernize oak or maple cabinets, making a dark kitchen seem lighter.

Although peel-and-stick tile is a popular choice with RV owners because of how easy it is to install, real tile has been used successfully in RV’s as well, as in the RV kitchen pictured below.

by Patricia Pradmore

2. Gray walls

Gray is a trendy choice for wall color (“the new beige”), and it happens to complement amber colored wood nicely.

Dark slate walls are bold choice that may be too dark for some spaces, but with light floors and plenty of natural lighting, the look can be stunning.

Oak cabinets with slate gray walls

by Kirsti via lovelylalaland.com

Dark gray peel-and-stick subway tiles and stainless steel hardware and appliances give this RV kitchen a sleek look.

Dark gray peel-and-stick subway tiles

by Rene Bahner-Yonkie

3. Accent with stone or brick

A stone or brick backsplash or accent wall makes light wood seem rustic and earthy.

Although real stone is likely too heavy for an RV, a look similar to the one below might be achieved using a faux stone veneer.

Removable peel-and-stick wallpaper offers an affordable and reversible alternative.  The RV kitchen pictured below features this wallpaper.

faux stone wallpaper backsplash

by Sarah Keth

After what was deemed an unsuccessful attempt to paint a “brick” backsplash, this homeowner ended up using brick wallpaper and was very happy with her results.

Brick wallpaper was also used in this RV kitchen.

brick wallpaper in RV kitchen

by Terri Anderson

4. Mosaic tiles

A popular choice for many RVers peel-and-stick Smart Tiles, like these that RV owners Emily and Barry installed in their kitchen, pictured below.  You can see “before” photos at their blog.

Another RV kitchen upgraded with Smart Tiles:

neutral SmartTiles

by Lisa Dondrea

5.  Colorful walls

Try choosing a wall color that contrasts with honey colored wood.


Oak cabinets with green walls

by Autumn via itsalwaysautumn.com

Alternatively, oak blends nicely with a neutral wall and gold accents in this bathroom.

6. Replace the hardware.

Dark, modern cabinet hardware can give a kitchen a richer look.

Kitchen before and after new hardware

by Kim via thekimsixfix.com

Don’t want to spring for new hardware?  Try updating them with a can of Rustoleum spray paint, like this RV owner did.

7. Add a decorative insert

This RV owner added sheets of imitation black leather contact paper to the panels of her cabinets.  Chalkboard contact paper or any other type of contact paper would work as well.

For more kitchen makeover ideas that don’t require major renovations, check out my blog post about backsplash ideas or this one about RV refrigerator makeovers.

Thinking about painting your cabinets instead?  Check out my blog post “RV Owners Who Painted Their Cabinets” to see some photos.

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  1. 6 RV Refrigerator Makeover Ideas | RV Inspiration 23 October, 2017 at 16:19 Reply

    […] cabinets need a makeover?  Check out this blog post about RV owners who painted their cabinets, or this one about ways you can update cabinets without […]

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