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Distressed kitchen cabinets are right up there with sink skirts and tiled counters when it comes to French country elements enjoying a recent reputation revamp. Blame it on our love of secondhand shopping and DIY (the style blends both of our favorite hobbies). If you play your cards right, weathered doors will infuse any room with an enviable dose of character—even a white-box rental.

Start small if you aren’t ready to rip out your existing features, or go all out with a colorful new storage system; the possibilities with this rustic design are endless and definitely up for personalization. The only challenge? Figuring out how to style them in a way that still feels fresh. These five tips will help get you started. 

Make It a Focal Point

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Set against a backdrop of matte black and caramel brown, the indigo really pops. Guy Pinjuv’s Nevada kitchen brings the charm to the center of the room, staining the initially white oak fixture a cool denim tint, the effect of which is eye-catching without being overpowering. If a remodel isn’t in the near future, make things just as interesting by adding an antique workbench to double as an island. 

Pick a Vibrant Color

Punchy teal and old-school detailing are not typically associated with each other, and that’s precisely what makes this space, designed by Kathy Marshall, so chic. Blend aesthetics by choosing a cheery paint, like a Kelly green or blush pink. Bonus points for keeping all hardware on the contemporary side, too. 

Indulge in Noncommittal Decorating

If the idea of decking out your whole room in distressed kitchen cabinets scares you, take a page from Nick Blaine and Paul Denoly’s 18th-century farmhouse: The founders of Hawkins New York opted for a side shelving unit made from salvaged floorboards instead. Tiptoe your way into cottagecore by opting for open shelving that’s been equally stripped down. You can always swap it out if you decide you want something more modern down the line. 

Ditch the Built-Ins 

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Uniformity is overrated. Anthony D’Argenzio proves the merit of mismatched furniture in his upstate New York home, where weathered antiques take over his kitchen in the most stylish way: The sink and prep station are separate, stand-alone pieces. Scour your local vintage shops for a collection of aged items to create your own perfect mix. 

Let Your Palette Guide You 

Liz Caan fully leaned into the French country look with this charming design—minus the acrylic barstools, which balance out all the older touches. Everything from the Turkish rug to the purple hydrangeas looks like it came with the house, a factor that’s down to the continuity she created with her color scheme. If you’re feeling stuck, pick out your distressed cabinetry first, and let that shade serve as the base for all your decor. Then watch every accent fall into place. 

See more kitchen cabinet design ideas: 5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Completely Overhaul Your Kitchen Cabinets 7 European Kitchen Cabinet Ideas to Turn Your Home Into a Perma-Vacation That Empty Space Above Your Kitchen Cabinets Is Actually Prime Real Estate