We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Distressed cupboards, salvaged sinks, thrift store vases—there are many ways to bring rustic charm to your cooking space. But if you want the real deal, put your secondhand shopping hobby to use and turn to antique kitchen cabinets—it’s not as challenging to decorate around them as you might think. “Antiques give your kitchen a layered feel and a story,” says designer Geneva Vanderzeil. Going vintage doesn’t necessitate redoing your entire room with one-of-a-kind furniture. It can simply mean incorporating a couple pieces to break up a contemporary design. Here are some ways Vanderzeil strikes the old-new balance. 

  • Pick a statement item. “Consider swapping out a basic island for a vintage workbench or upcycling a hutch for shelving,” she recommends. 
  • Scour online shops. Vanderzeil swears by eBay, Chairish, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace
  • Choose search terms wisely. Go with a catchall, like mid-century or retro, to find the style you’re looking for while still casting a wide net. 

Ready to gift your kitchen some instant character? Take a page from these 10 antique kitchen cabinets.

The Bedroom Staple That Doubles as Cookware Storage

Helen Parker, DeVol’s creative director, bought a bedroom wardrobe piece she found at an antiques fair and converted it by painting it, raising it up on bun feet, and topping it with a curvy marble work surface.

The Victorian Gem

Journalist and photographer Caroline Briggs scored an almost complete Victorian kitchen when her sister discovered it in an antiques shop for $1,970. It included a glass cabinet, some drawers, and five cupboards, all in great condition. Her builders pieced it together in its new home, filling in the gaps with custom boxes made out of reclaimed wood. 

The Old-School Pantry 

Courtney Halverson shopped her own kitchen during her renovation and turned some of the old cabinets (which she guesses have been in the house since the 1950s) into a larder pantry. The unit is where she stores eggs and butter in the wintertime, when it’s naturally cooler in her L.A. home. 

The Stand-Alone Cubby

Lattice-front doors make this case the focal point—no small feat, given how stunning the whole Taylor + Taylor–designed room is. The shade of wood perfectly matches the rest of the natural materials, from the ceiling beams to the glass-front cupboard, making for a seamless blend of heirloom and modern. 

The Upper Replacement

Keren Craig’s renovated farmhouse is full of unique touches, and this single unit is no exception. If you lack necessary storage real estate, take a page from Craig’s rule book and hang up your own wall-mounted piece. Play up its one-of-a-kind nature by using it to house all your favorite dinnerware—including the novelty coffee mugs you scored on Etsy. 

The Compartmentalized Storage

If your main priority is organization (and lots of it), look no further than this cream-colored kitchen for inspiration. The built-in is outfitted with an old apothecary cabinet, which includes 12 drawers. A piece like this offers plenty of room for all your most-used cooking tools and niche equipment—pastry cutters, we’re looking at you. 

The French Country Dream

Brick floors, ceiling beams, and an assortment of copper pans: This Montagu, South Africa, home looks like a villa in Provence. Introducing a medley of reclaimed items like a workbench, island, and even dining room table plays a big role in creating that escapist vibe; mimic the idea with a mishmash assortment of your own. 

The Eclectic Grouping

In Carly Jo Morgan’s Topanga Canyon, California, home, unexpected pairings—like salvaged cupboards with a fire truck–red stove—rule. Scattering pieces from different eras is the ideal solution for anyone who likes the principle of upcycled furniture but doesn’t want to feel too theme-y.

The Multifunctional Unit

When working with a room that’s low on prep space, look for antique worktops that can double as decor. Ben Pentreath brought in a dark wood china cabinet that—when not being used as a display—we’d guess easily doubles as a stylish spot to assemble cheese boards and mix cocktails. 

The Fancy Entertaining Station

In lieu of a bar cart, why not give your favorite glassware its own permanent display? Joanne and Luke Bartels’ vintage cabinet was a Craigslist score—now they use it to show off every martini glass and Moscow Mule mug in their collection. Track down one of your own to make its origin story a built-in conversation starter at your next dinner party.