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Wait Til You See This Kitchen Renovation Project Plan!

Get all the details for a light and bright kitchen renovation project plan to update a kitchen with cherry cabinets without painting them!

Have you ever made design choices that seemed good at the time that haven’t stood the test of time?

Maybe you’ve chosen something that looked good on a small scale, but then realized it didn’t work after it was installed?

Or bought an older house that needed some updating?

How about lived in a house for a while and your tastes have changed?

I’ve done three of those four things in my current house!

In the early 2000s, cherry cabinets with dark granite counters were very popular.

So when we bought our home in 2005, wanna take a guess what we chose?

Fortunately, we chose a light cherry stain for the cabinets instead of a darker red, so I still like my cabinets.


Just about everything else could use a little something to give it a more current look.

Recently my hubby and I decided that we aren’t going to downsize into a smaller house any time soon.

There are too many things we love about our home!

So we decided to make some updates.

Wait until you see the vision board with all the changes together at the end of the post!

I’m so excited!

Cherry Cabinet Kitchen: Before

Kitchen with cherry cabinets and dark Baltic brown counters with a glass mosaic tile backsplash and black appliances.

This is my kitchen right now.

It feels really dark.

And out of date.

About five years ago we tried to make it look a little more current by adding a mosaic tile backsplash…

Close up of cherry kitchen cabinets with a mosaic tile backsplash and Baltic brown counters

In our defense, you can see that the colors work together perfectly!


Could it be any busier?

I wouldn’t wear two busy patterns when I get dressed, so what on earth was I thinking when I put this together?


In a small square, sample, it worked.

But as much as I’ve tried to fall in love with it, I just don’t.

Kitchen with cherry cabinets and dark Baltic brown counters with a glass mosaic tile backsplash and black appliances. Ornate iron chandelier hangs above the cherry kitchen table with a black painted base. Floors are prefinished Bruce white oak with high gloss and gunstock stain that has faded to orange.

Our kitchen gets a lot of light in the afternoon and early evening, so it can look brighter at some times of the day.

We painted the walls Revere Pewter to brighten things a bit more.

But sadly, the overall look of my kitchen is dark.

And dated.

With a side of busy.

I’ve been putting together a vision board and can’t wait to share it with you!

Let’s take a look at the projects I have planned and the new finishes I’ve picked out.

Hardwood Flooring

The first project we tackled to update our home was to refinish our hardwood floors.

The original floors are Bruce pre-finished 2-3/8 inch oak planks with a beveled edge and high gloss finish.

Over time, the gunstock stain turned very orange.

That high gloss?

It looked smeary and dirty less than a day after cleaning them!

Pre-finished Bruce white oak floor sanded down and refinished with Red Chestnut stain

We decided this was a job for a professional, and are so glad that we did!

They sanded down the beveled edges so the individual planks are all smooth.

That simple change made such a huge difference!

We may not have the wider planks that are popular in new home builds, but the smooth finish gives the illusion that the planks are wider.

The stain is Red Chestnut which works beautifully with our cherry cabinetry.

And we ditched the high gloss finish in favor of a satin Bona HD high traffic top coat.

The water-based top coat is sturdy enough for commercial use and it won’t cause the stain color to yellow over time.

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Cherry Cabinets

There are a lot of people who are opting to paint their cherry cabinets, but that wasn’t the way we wanted to go.

While I love the look of a white kitchen, I also love the warmth and beauty of the wood.

product photo of Light cherry wood raised panel cabinet door

Back in 2005 we opted for a light cherry stain and I still love how it looks.

Maybe someday if/when we move I’ll do a white kitchen?

But these cherry cabinets are gonna keep rocking their warm glow!

Not to mention, I think my husband would have a fit if I painted over these cabinets…

What is it about men and not painting wood? LOL

Fortunately he didn’t balk when I painted the laminate cabinets in my laundry room.

However, the other updates I’m making will give this kitchen a bright and airy (hopefully) timeless look.

product photos of Satin nickel drawer pull and handle in Sea Grass pattern

One update I am making to the cabinets is new hardware.

I debated between a matte black, brushed gold, and satin nickel finish.

After holding up each option against my cabinets, the satin nickel was a clear winner on my cherry cabinets.

I’m installing these sea grass cup pulls on all the drawers, and these coordinating cabinet pulls on the cabinets.

The updated hardware will add a little bling and shine to the space.

Sink and Appliances

Speaking of shine, let’s talk appliances.

When we bought our house, stainless steel was a new thing.

Fingerprint resistant was not an option, and my kids were 6, 3, and 3…

So I opted for black appliances.

We’ve been super fortunate that our appliances have lasted over 15 years!

However, we’ve decided that as they need to be replaced we will be replacing them with stainless steel.

We had to get a new fridge this summer, and our dishwasher has been acting a little wonky lately.

But the range is going strong!

product photo of White fireclay undermount sink with central drain

Even though I’ll be replacing appliances with stainless steel, I opted for a white fireclay sink.

I love the look of the white sinks, and can’t wait to have a single basin!

Plus a white sink is going to look best with the new counters, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Product photo of Matte Black 1-Handle Deck-Mount Pull-Down Handle Kitchen Faucet

When I chose the satin nickel hardware for my cabinets, I thought I’d need to go with a similar finish for my kitchen sink faucet.

But the light fixtures in my kitchen all have a black finish.

It is okay to mix metals, but the recommendation to stick to just two different finishes.

So I’ll be adding this gorgeous matte black faucet.

Kitchen Island

So far everything has been pretty straight forward.

Hire someone to refinish the floors.

Buy some new hardware.

But don’t be fooled!

We’re going to do some fun DIY projects to give our cherry kitchen a custom look.

Let’s take another look at my kitchen island.

Kitchen with cherry cabinets and dark Baltic brown counters with a glass mosaic tile backsplash and black appliances. Kitchen island has two pendant lights with small frosted shades and three wrought iron counter stools with white seat cushions Floors are prefinished Bruce white oak with high gloss and gunstock stain that has faded to orange.

We spent extra when building the house to add panels on the ends of all our cabinets.


The front end of the island is faced with an inexpensive veneer.

With chintzy braces holding up the counter overhang.

Recessed panel trim for kitchen island

We’re going to add trim to the front of the island to mimic the look of the panels, similar to the image above.

I’m excited to see how this update will make the island look more like a piece of furniture!

product photo of Unfinished corbel for kitchen island with scrollwork

Then we’re replacing the old bracket supports with decorative corbels similar to these.

I’m still looking for the perfect set of corbels, so stay tuned for what I find!

These two changes mean a small section of my cherry cabinets are going to get painted.

paint sample of Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray

I’ve chosen Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore for the island.

This light color will help to break up the sea of wood between the hardwood floors and the rest of the cabinets.

And it will also coordinate with the Revere Pewter that covers the walls of the rest of my downstairs.

I used Benjamin Moore Advanced paint when I painted the cabinets in the kids’ hallway bathroom in 2018 and it’s holding up great without any chips!

So I feel confident it will do well on my island too.

Quartz Counters and Tile Backsplash

Now it’s time to really brighten things up!

To say I’m a little giddy would be a huge understatement.

It took a lot of research and samples, and I finally decided to go with Cambria quartz counters in Dovestone.

Product photo of Cambria Dovestone quartz

“Dovestone features soft, dove gray and khaki veins that call to mind pen and ink etchings on a creamy parchment background.”

Cambria Website

I looked at lots of different options, and absolutely love the Dovestone pattern!

The background isn’t too stark of a white when paired with our cabinets, and the touch of khaki in the veining adds a little warmth.

Plus, I love that Cambria quartz comes with an amazing warranty that transfers with the home!

Not to mention, it’s practically maintenance free and doesn’t require any sealing, polishing, or reconditioning.

And since it’s nonabsorbent, it won’t stain and will never absorb bacteria.

product photo of Sheet of matte white lantern tiles without grout

Since I chose a counter surface that has some pattern to it, I’m learning from my experience and keeping the backsplash simple!

Not making that mistake twice…

I’ve always loved the shape and style of lantern tiles, but until recently they’ve only been available with a glossy finish.

When I found these matte white lantern tiles, I knew it was meant to be!

I haven’t decided what color grout I’m doing yet.

What do you think? Should I do white, or pick up one of the colors of the veining in the counters?

Lighting Selections

If you already have pendant lights in your kitchen, a great option to give them a more current look is to replace the globes.

product photo of 8.75-inch by 7.5-inch diamond helix textured glass pendant light shade replacement shade

I found these large clear glass pendant shades to replace the small frosted shades.

We also shortened the length of the stem so the pendants hang higher over the island.

It was amazing what a big difference that change made in the room!

Not only are the pendants so much brighter with a clear glass shade, they also look more current at their new height.

product photo of Chevonne 6-light lantern drum pendant chandelier in black finish

Recently, I replaced the light fixture in the family room that adjoins the kitchen.

I chose a gorgeous chandelier that was better-scaled for the space.

But the airiness of the new fixture made the heavier kitchen chandelier look “off.”

This drum style pendant is now hanging over my kitchen table and it helps the two rooms flow.

Finishing Touches

The kitchen will be getting a few more updates to complete this no demo renovation.

Speaking of which, have you been watching that show on HGTV?

We love seeing how Jen transforms spaces without major demolition and she inspired us to do this project!

product photo of white leather counter stool with wood legs and nailhead trim around bottom of the leather seat

The wrought iron counter stools are not in good shape!

The cushions aren’t very cushiony after nearly 18 years of bottoms sitting on them.

And the curved piece at the top has broken off of one, and they all need to be recovered.

I’m still searching for the perfect replacement, but these white leather counter stools are a strong contender!

Corner of white and taupe floral patterned rug

I’d like to add some area rugs in front of the sink, fridge, and island to protect the floors from water.

This white and beige rug will coordinate perfectly with the other colors in the room and I love the floral pattern.

Paint sample Benjamin Moore Dune White

Currently, the ceiling of my kitchen is painted Revere Pewter.

I’m going to give it a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Dune White to help bounce light around a little more in the space.

It’s possible that the rest of the downstairs will end up getting a fresh coat of this color of paint depending on how everything turns out!

One Final Project

I’ve learned that I need to ease my husband into projects, and he’s not sold on this one just yet…

Give me a little time to convince him how perfect it will look!

Painted DIY vent hood with shelf between wood cabinets

But this is an inspiration picture for what I’m thinking (obviously different colors and finishes!!)

This is what I have now:

Kitchen with cherry cabinets and dark Baltic brown counters with a glass mosaic tile backsplash and black slide in range and built-in microwave above the range.

I don’t love the look of the microwave over my kitchen range.

We only use the microwave to heat up leftovers, so I don’t need one that’s so large.

There’s a corner next to my pantry that would be the perfect spot for a small microwave.

And with that gone, we can install a hood vent over the range and build a custom enclosure to cover it.

The custom hood vent would be trimmed out with the same style of trim that we put on the island, and then painted the same color.

I don’t know if we’d take it all the way to the ceiling, but it would extend above the cabinets to break up the long line of cabinets on that wall.

It would be such a pretty space to hang a wreath! Or put a shelf to decorate for the seasons.

How to Update a Cherry Kitchen Vision Board

You’ve seen all the individual changes I’m making, now take a look at how it all looks together!

If you’re planning a kitchen renovation too, here are some other things to consider for a kitchen update that go beyond cosmetic changes.

Mood board for kitchen renovation with cherry cabinets and white quartz counters to create a light and bright kitchen without demolition

Want to see how this makeover is going?

We’ve dealt with some supply chain issues and some delays with contractors, but here’s what we’ve done so far:

  1. We’ve removed the tile backsplash
  2. The kitchen island update went in a different (better!) direction than planned
  3. I changed my mind on the paint color for the island
  4. Here’s the latest progress update on this kitchen makeover

You can find us on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

And of course you’ll be able to find complete instructions for each project as they’re completed here on the blog.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

Pin it to Remember it!

Pinterest graphic for how to update a kitchen with cherry cabinets