6 Easy Kitchen Upgrades to Update a Dated 90s Kitchen

Are you looking for some easy kitchen upgrades? Learn how to update a dated kitchen without changing any cabinetry.

We're going to use everyone's favorite cabinets to rip out as our example: honey oak from the 90s. Solid wood cabinetry will be the most expensive part of your kitchen reno, so let’s try and salvage what we can.

Honey oak cabinets example 1
Honey oak cabinets example 2
Changing the backsplash

1. Refresh the backsplash

Choose a backsplash with a bit of sheen to it. Opt for something that reflects more light to counter the visual heaviness of honey oak cabinets.

Cabinet range hood
Box range hood

2. Box range hood

Consider installing a custom or DIY box range hood. This will further break up the heavy wood appearance of the cabinets and modernize the entire kitchen.

3. Update hardware

Upgrade cabinet hardware for a cost-effective change. Aged brass is a recommended pairing with honey oak, but any metal finish can work. Keep the hardware more traditional in style.

Metal hardware
New countertops and floor tiles

4. New countertops and floor tiles

Choose new countertops and floor tiles to bring the entire look together. Avoid overly busy stones, considering the existing movement in the wood grain.

Terracotta and cream color palette

5. Color palettes

Neutrals are an option, but consider other color palettes that work well with the orange undertones of honey oak. Terracotta and cream create a calming effect.

Black and white check tiles
Blue backsplash

Blue, being the opposite color on the color wheel, provides an energizing feel depending on saturation.

Green backsplash

Green is another color that complements honey oak.

Kitchen island in honey oak

6. Island makeover

Painted kitchen island

Consider painting the island in a contrasting color for a two-toned look.

Replacing the kitchen island

Alternatively, remove the island entirely and replace it with something freestanding.

Kitchen upgrades

That’s how you can give your kitchen a significant facelift without the need for major cabinetry changes. These kitchen update ideas will modernize and refresh a dated kitchen. Let me know in the comments if I’ve left out any kitchen upgrades or what dated room you want to see next.

Follow @jordansamsondesign for more design inspiration.

Join the conversation
2 of 20 comments
  • Doug Doster Doug Doster on Jan 23, 2024
    He is just showing examples of each suggestion, not physically doing anything to the first kitchen shown.
  • Jim Cox Jim Cox on Mar 30, 2024
    Virtual project? Where’s the sweat, expense, mistakes, etc??