My current rental’s kitchen has builder’s grade maple veneer cabinets. When I first saw them, I knew I wanted to cover them up with black contact paper (I am a renter, after all). But once my partner and I moved in, I realized they weren’t so bad at all and surprisingly, were in decent condition compared to other apartments I’ve rented. I no longer had grand plans to change how the cabinets looked, but I still wanted to change up everything around them: swapping out hardware, painting the walls, adding a rug, changing lighting. Even the ugliest kitchens (and yes, that is in the eye of the beholder) can be saved with a little thoughtful accessorizing.
With that in mind, I went ahead and swapped out the nickel hardware for brass, painted the walls a complementary color, and what do you know? I actually like the cabinets now. So, the best advice I have is to lean into the material and don’t try to force-fit a design style that simply won’t work. For instance, if you have traditional-style cabinets, adding lots of modern accents can make them feel even more dated, and vice versa. Plus, if your cabinets aren’t all that bad, why not spend your time and money elsewhere in your home?