Hilary Farr Can't Stand One Of Today's Biggest Kitchen Cabinet Trends

With her latest HGTV show titled "Tough Love," Hilary Farr isn't afraid to air unfiltered design opinions. She has some strong views when it comes to finishes and home features, and one of these concerns is a rising kitchen cabinet trend. Stained wood cabinets were universally fashionable from the 70s well into the 90s, and Hilary Farr has headed many a remodel where she updated tired wood-tone cabinets in homeowners' kitchens. Painted finishes sprung to popularity in the early aughts and continued to replace stained wood through the 2010s. Revamping stained wood cabinets with a couple coats of paint became a no-brainer for designers, homeowners, and renovators who were after a more modern look. 

Now, however, wood tones are back with a bang, and are fast burgeoning into one of the biggest kitchen trends of 2024. The National Kitchen and Bathroom Association released a trend report that found that wood was quickly replacing white as the reigning favorite kitchen cabinet finish (via Retrofit Magazine). This is supported by a report from MasterBrand, which identified pale wood finishes as being one of the top color selections for kitchen cabinets (via PR Newswire). 

HGTV's Hilary Farr, however, isn't feeling the trend. Although the designer isn't averse to wood entirely, she doesn't think it's time for all-wood kitchen cabinets to come back. One of the kitchen renovation tips Hilary Farr swears by is keeping things classic, saying in an interview on YouTube that homeowners should "Make sure that the cabinetry is timeless." Here's why wood doesn't make the cut for Farr. 

Why Hilary Farr isn't feeling stained wood kitchen cabinets

If you're a fan of Hilary Farr's HGTV series, you'll know that the designer's signature kitchen aesthetic is simple yet luxurious-looking. She doesn't enjoy distracting design elements, such as super statement hardware, and this is Farr's primary pet peeve when it comes to wood cabinets. During an interview with Apartment Therapy, Hilary Farr said that stained cabinets can steal too much attention and distract from other focal points in a kitchen design. The only time she feels wood cabinet fronts are okay is if they are a "super cool walnut that is repeated and reflected somewhere else."

We can see why walnut gets her nod of approval. Not only does it have a dense, elegant grain, but dark tones of this top-shelf hardwood often feature cool gray undertones. Of course, premium wood like walnut comes at a price. Solid wood cabinets can already be quite cost-prohibitive, and walnut is one of the most expensive options out there. 

If your pocketbook isn't quite at a point where it can safely handle the price of walnut, you might want to follow Farr's advice and plump for painted cabinets. Not only are they cost-effective, but you can easily paint your kitchen cabinets a new color in the future. You can also get your cabinets painted professionally for as little as $3 per square foot. Not sure what shade to select? Blue is a timeless paint color HGTV's Hilary Farr swears by for creating a welcoming kitchen. 

Ways to incorporate wood tones into your kitchen without it becoming too much

While wood might be one of the distracting design features Hilary Farr says to avoid putting in your kitchen, this doesn't mean it's entirely off-limits. If you want to follow Farr's advice and boycott the stained wood kitchen cabinet trend, you can still incorporate this natural material through smaller pieces such as cutting boards, wooden canisters (like this salt box from Amazon for under $10), spoons, and other kitchen accouterments. You can mount open shelves made out of timber, bring in some wooden furniture — such as an oak kitchen table, some wooden stools, or (if space allows) a sideboard — or even install faux exposed beams. If you want to go this route, Jenn Todryk has a genius tip for making faux beams look legit

There are also ways you can participate in the stained wood kitchen cabinet trend without allowing the wood tones to become distracting. Two-tone kitchen cabinets are a great way to add interest and keep a kitchen design from leaning too hard in one direction. Selecting wood for either the top or bottom cabinets and then balancing this out with a complementary paint color means you can have the best of both worlds: the warmth of wood with the contemporary feel of paint. Another way you can swing this concept is to opt for wood on your kitchen island (either with wood on the sides or through a butcherblock top) and paint the rest of your cabinets, or vice versa.