Are oak cabinets totally outdated?

kclvJanuary 24, 2008

My house is going to be six years old in October. At the time it was built, we opted for standard raised panel oak cabinets instead of upgrading to maple or cherry. We used our upgrade money on flooring instead. They are good quality cabinets with solid doors.

Now it seems that according to every home improvement show and magazine oak is considered "dated".

I have granite countertops, 18" ceramic tile floors, and installed antique copper pulls on the cabinets. (I have a lot of copper in my kitchen.) I personally think it looks fine, but I wonder if it will hurt our chances of selling in a few years.

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Personally, I really dislike standard honey oak cabs (now quartersawn oak is a different matter). The first thing I did when we moved into our previous house 5 years ago was paint the oak cabs, which were otherwise in good condition even if they were not as functional as I would have liked. But, if you like your cabs and you're not planning to sell anytime soon (and given the real estate market these days, it's probably a good idea to wait if at all possible), go ahead and live with them. You can always have them painted white before you try to sell.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 6:56PM
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We have no plans to sell until our youngest has graduated from high school. (He is a freshman) Given the state of the housing market these days it would be foolish to even try right now, especially since we live in Las Vegas, which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 7:03PM
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if you like it - then it's fine! If and when you decide to sell (and it doesn't sound like you even want to sell) then you'll cross that bridge.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 7:04PM
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Golden oak is despised in today's market however in a few years who knows what else will be blacklisted. Paint it white for now if you dislike it too or wait until you are ready to sell.

I am sure designers will let us know what wood they will target next to hate :)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 7:30PM
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I wouldn't worry about it - by the time you sell it could be popular again - things cycle in and out of popularity. And by the time you sell other things you have could be dated too and someone would want to re-do more than the cabinets.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 7:32PM
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I wouldn't say they're outdated, they still function as well as they always did, and they function just as well as cabinets faced in other more exotic woods. Oak alas, just isn't as fashionable as it once was. Never fear, though -- just like changing hemlines, fashions in cabinetry comes and goes. In a few years, they be what everyone wants again.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 9:08PM
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If not done professionaly those oak cabinets could look worse painted. I had seen so many horrible DIY painted cabinets when we were house hunting 7yrs ago. It was the owners feeble attempt to update the place. We saw some other horrible scary things including 70's fake wood formica cabinets with ugly hardware. At the time the market was hot. Houses sold on the first day they hit the market. Our house with honey oak cabinets had 3 bids within the first three hours. We had to over bid the first 2 to get the house. My point is that a clean uncluttered house in a good location is what will sell it. I can't understand why people spend thousands of dollars to please a potential buyer who may or may not like what they did.
I have been lurking on this forum since 2004 and have seen many finshed kitchens with maple and cherry cabinets. Although they are beautiful and I would never rip one out if I purchased a house that had one, I am starting to get tired of them. They all seem to look the same. I am more enthused with the ocassional hickory or quartersawn oak cabinets that pop up from time to time. If you are happy with your kitchen leave it alone. Worry about resale when the time comes.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 9:20PM
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I am not considering changing the cabinets, or even painting them. I don't mind them, and since we are not thinking of selling for a few years, I will let them be. I was just curious as to how outdated they actually are. If I was to spend any money on my kitchen, it would be for stainless appliances.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 1:57AM
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I honestly think they are starting to creep up in popularity again.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 4:48AM
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Hmm. In 1982 I worked with a gal who had a nice home, but who had fallen out of love with her walnut furniture and cabinetry when the craze for medium/dark "country" oak hit. She redid the whole house in that medium oak, and by 1989 it was surpassed by honey or pickled oak, which later gave way to maple. Now we're back to the ascendancy of dark wood again. If the cycle follows the same pattern as previously, we'll go through phases of a.) dark wood and and silvery metal highlight pieces, then b.) medium wood tones and nubby textures, then c.)blonde wood with black highlight pieces. Your cabinets will probably be cutting edge fashion in another 2 or 3 years.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 5:28AM
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I'm one of the few on the forum who chose oak cabinets. I wanted a lighter color with more uniform wood graining. I really thought maple was my future. In our cabinet line, there was a lot of color variation in maple. I didn't like that cherry darkens with age.

I really like our oak shaker style cabinets and feel like my choice didn't follow the current "herd mentality" of dissing oak. Oak is a strong wood and doesn't dent easily either. Our kitchen has a modern, Asian look with dark granite and simple stainless steel cabinet pulls and appliances.

About 6 months ago or so, there were quite a few of us on a posting who were happy with our current oak choices and feeling quite proud of ourselves for "bucking the current trend."

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 7:29AM
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It's not so much that oak cabinets are out of style, it's just that bad oak cabinets are out of style. You know, the ones with the fake vinyl print moldings and the ultra cheap vinyl interiors and the badly stapled drawers that probably aren't even level. The ones that builders put in homes by the millions because suddenly there was a supply of inexpensive oak cabinetry available, muchof it Chinese in origin. If cheap maple cabinets had been available, you can bet they'd have used them instead. Builders want the least expensive lowest common denominator selection that won't seriously offend potential customers.

Cheap builders grade anything is out of style for those that can afford to upgrade. Look at what happened to brass fixtures. The cheap badly plated "Colonial" fixtures became overused everywhere and now there is a stampede movement to "upgrade" them to cheap badly plated brushed nickel fixtures before someone sells. ;~)

On the other hand, real quality never goes out of "style". It may be "unfashionable", but fashion is fleeting. Style is forever.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 9:20AM
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All that matters really for resale is that you have a clean functional kitchen. Let the next people swap out the doors or do whatever they want to make it their own. There's no way you can anticipate whta the next people will want. When I was looking for a house it annoyed me no end that I was supposed to pay for brand new kitchens that I didn't particularly like.

At best you'll only get back about 70-75% of the cost of a new kitchen. Makes no sense to redo it unless you want to for your own reasons.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:13AM
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Possibly the trend to red/ dark wood tones in cabinetry is tied to the stainless steel appliance trend. Reds look better with the greys of SS.

Personally, I would not have the dark wood tones in a kitchen because I don't want to have to dust the cabinets every time I get out the flour or the Westie & Sheltie pass thru the kitchen. And, I'm a Sunbelter transplanted to the Wisconsin woods. Winters are long & dreary, spring is long and overcast. I want Light!

I'm in the process of planning a new kitchen. I will be replacing dysfunctional honey oak cabinetry with either oak, maple or birch with a natural or very light stain. Will be mixing white & SS where SS is practical..the cooktop & sink. And I am finding that I love the color of aluminum so I'm planning to use either alum for hardware or wrought iron--I'm liking the idea of iron hdwe because I can paint it an interesting color & on a whim. And, because I'm an eclectic, maybe I'll mix up the hdwe choices.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:40AM
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ci lantro: I have a Westie too :)

Thanks to everyone for their input. My cabinets are Merrilatt, so they are good quality. The stain is a bit lighter than honey oak. I have found that since everything else in the kitchen is quite current (counters, backsplash, hardware, flooring, lighting, paint) the cabinets look acceptable, at least to me. And given the way trends change, the could be in style again soon

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 12:27PM
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We have no plans to sell until our youngest has graduated from high school. (He is a freshman)

By then, oak may be back in.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 12:43PM
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We're finishing up building our house. We purposely picked natural red oak cabinets. They're merillat. I guess it's a personal preference.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 3:58PM
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i have to laugh at and totally agree with whoever said they were bucking the ..."'herd mentality' of dissing oak".
it's not really happening in this thread, but too often in our discussions, i see a sort of elitist attitude where, if you don't have creamy colored cabs, preferably with some sort of glaze (whatever that is), stainless appliances, granite or soapstone counters, travertine or hardwood floors (or cork or bamboo or any of the latest trends), you are nowheresville. God forbid someone actually likes oak cabinets, vinyl floors, laminate countertops or bisque appliances. these materials are available out there and someone is buying them.

i understand that on this board, golden oak seems to be "despised". but there is really no reason for that. really, many people still choose oak, considering it to be sturdy, pretty, and classic.

it's a different story when you, personally, HATE your own oak cabinets and are dying to change them. but please remember, there are people here who have and might even really like what you are so strenuously criticising.

and for mapletex,
no, your oak cabinets will NOT hurt your chances of selling. a clean, nicely done kitchen with sturdy, neat looking cabinets will be appealing to buyers. i know of two complete kitchen renos within the last year where the owners chose raised panel oak cabs. they are lovely, crisp and clean looking. neither of these people are hurting for money. they picked what they liked.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:45PM
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I am with live wire oak....bad oak is bad. Shesharee proved above that her oak cabinets are beautiful. Let's take a look at some bad oak cabinets:

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:47PM
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Keep in mind too, that the responses you get here probably do NOT reflect the vast majority of potential home buyers. This forum is best at figuring out what will work for a beautiful, functioning kitchen.

Now, what we need to start seeing are Real Estate Listings, that say - "kitchen worthy of a Garden Web TKO"!!!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 9:09PM
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The creamy painted cabinets are the last thing you want in a kitchen that's really used to cook and eat in. If you have young kids it's even worse. The smudges and fingerprints eventually migrate into the paint. We had brand new good quality Schrock cabinets that had the dovetails, plywood backs and sides but the paint was terrible to clean. I'm happy with the 20 year old oak cabinets in the kitchen we now own. New granite and a gas cooktop on top of them next month, new pulls - now we're in business.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 9:11PM
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raehelen, too funny on the real estate listing!

I totally agree with your statement: Keep in mind too, that the responses you get here probably do NOT reflect the vast majority of potential home buyers. The majority of the people on this forum are soooooo TKO'd! (Me included.) Look at our posts as proof. lol

All of my three siblings thought I was crazy for remodeling my 1980's kitchen. It looked fine to them and I never argued. To each their own.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 9:21PM
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Phobie Privett

Crud, I hope they're not outdated! I just outfitted a 4000 sq. ft. home with them!! I'd hate to think I was behind the times before I ever got started! Hahaha! Honestly, if $ were no issue, I'd have picked maple, but that's not what I got. I'm very happy with my oak cabinets. In fact, my house has a ton of wood trim everywhere as well. Quite handsome if I may say so myself. I think they'll be nice for a long time. But there is a big difference in custom cabinets and the builder's grade oak of the 80's!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:14PM
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Pickled oak, anyone? I still don't know exactly what kind of cabinets these are in the home I'm about to move into, but they've got that pickled oak look of the 90s. They actually appear more light grayish than the pinkish hue of the photo, but I'm still struggling to know how to decorate around them--paint color, for example--and internet searches have turned up little to nothing. Talk about a trend that came and went quickly!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 6:59AM
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I have what is considered by many to be "bad" oak in my home, its cream washed. However, itÂs not the main reason for a kitchen re-do, the re-do is mainly for poor design. Before coming to this forum I hated oak but after seeing some of the beautiful quarter sawn oak kitchens I have a whole new love of this wood. The other thing I have been impressed with is how some have taken their golden oak and glazed or stained it in darker color, also beautiful. Although cherry kitchens and or all white kitchens are nice I am wanting something that doesnÂt look like everyone elseÂs. I donÂt think IÂm alone on this and think it very possible oak will make a big come back in the next couple of years. At this point what I want and what I can get are still far off so I will wait a little longer. I dream of a kitchen with quarter sawn oak base cabinets with a carmel-ish brushed glaze and off white wall cabinets with a brushed carmel-ish glaze and a warm tumbled marble harlequin patterned backsplash. Simple applied molding doors on inset boxes would top it all off. Oak isnÂt a bad word, if my cabinets were not so poorly made I would utilize some of them in the kitchen remodel. If they where worth salvaging I could age them a bit, change the stain, hardware and add legs, with a little imagination what is considered "bad" oak could be the highlight of any kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 10:07AM
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Even tho I don't care too much for oak kitchen cabinets, that would never stop me from buying a house that had them. If they look like the above pictures, I might even consider LIKING oak cabinets again!!!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 10:09AM
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The realestate agent called this an updated California Country Kitchen. Seeing as we live on Long Island there is no way we could debate her. Well it was updated from the original 1954 kitchen. Since we couldn't afford to redo the entire kitchen we just replaced the worn Formica with Corian. Yes, I used the "C" word. We wanted to keep with the time period that the kitchen was updated so Corian was the way to go. By the way, what did they have against pulls and knobs back then? I couldn't take opening the drawers anymore without a knob so I just got around to installing ORB knobs on them. Maybe I will continue to install them on the rest of the Cabinets or at least the 3 bottom doors.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 11:04AM
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I love how bright my natural oak (somewhat lighter than honey) cabinets make my kitchen. We have a southern exposure and the sunlight and the oak work well together. I think white cabinets make kitchens look very clean and I have always liked them but I do think they are a hot trend that will peak soon. Once everyone starts doing it, then it soon becomes passe.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 11:48AM
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I've always liked the look of good oak. I can't help myself. We have oak hardwood floors in the house (original) and we'll do oak cabinets when we redo, most likely (although hickory and alder look interesting too.)

The detail of the wood, and the grain are very appealing to me. And it's very durable.

I'm hoping for a more "modern" color on the oak but even honey brown oak is fine by me.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 1:30PM
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Oak is not a personal favorite of mine but if the kitchen in my house had come with well maintained oak cabinets, instead of the poorly maintained badly painted particle board cabinets, I would have been a happy camper. I chose maple for the new cabinets because I love the grain. But I saw some dark chocolate stained oak in a catalog.....

I'm sure when we go to sell our house in 20-25 years people will turn their noses up at the maple, granite, travertine, beadboard look. Which is fine, they can replace it with whatever makes them happy.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 2:24PM
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i've never been partial to oak myself. as to whether or not it will affect your chances for resale in the future it depends. we've purchased two houses; our first was a 103 year old dutch colonial with large rooms and beautiful woodwork. the kitchen was a brady bunch 70s special. that sold us because we were in it to do the whole house over ourselves. especially the kitchen. we got it for a great price in a tough market because it was such a mess. fast forward ten years: we sell redone house with beautiful new kitchen with maple cabs/granite/german stainless appliances and pocket $800K for our trouble. on to our present dwelling: we find another house on acreage and plan to knock existing house down. the kitchen is a wreck. we buy it for a song. again, we had no intention of buying someone else's kitchen so the fact that it was a wreck was to our advantage. we get the house for 50K under the asking. if the kitchen were "updated" we would not have purchased. so, it really depends on your buyer and your house in general. if your kitchen is "updated" (that's a big warning sign that means: old kitchen trying to pass as new") and the rest of the house is a little tired i don't think it will make much of a difference. on the other hand, if the rest of your home is a showplace (like our first home which we totally renovated) the kitchen has to follow suit. of course the market will need time to recover which could take several years. you really need to take an unbiased look at what you have. there are two types of buyers: they want everything new and beautiful or they want to come in and make it there own so don't do any major work because they don't want to pay for your vision. as for the oak in general, i'd have to pass. i really dislike it. all that grain is "hokey" to me.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 5:22PM
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kateskouros I agree that some buyers will specifically look for houses with good bones but dated kitchens in order to start with a blank slate. That's what I plan to do with my next house (and apply all the great ideas I've gleaned here on GW). Unfortunately most buyers in my area want a turnkey house with custom cabinets, top of the line appliances, and granite counters. My kitchen will be a negative when I sell in 3-4 years. But who knows, maybe oak cabinets and tile counters will be back "in" then?

The previous owner of my house installed custom oak cabinets in the late 80s or early 90s. They're well-made and not terrible even though they wouldn't have been my choice. Replacing them isn't in the budget. I found that stripping the dated wallpaper and painting helped a lot.



    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 6:44PM
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For what it's worth, if I had nice stained oak cabinets, I wouldn't paint them. I am a lover of stained wood and would prefer any stained wood cabinet over a painted cabinet but that's just me. It might be a generational thing.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 7:01PM
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It's funny that so many people say they don't like oak but oak is the most popular wood for flooring. These same people like oak floors.

I had my 1983 honey oak cabinets refaced with maple recently but my oak doors were worn and looked bad. Part of the problem was the handles had been put on my the builder in the middle of the doors and had never been used. The style of the doors were also dated.

Newer raised panel oak cabinets in excellent condition look fine. I wouldn't paint them unless you want painted cabinets. Another poster mentioned badly painted cabinets and I know what she meant. Also for every buyer that likes white cabinets theres another that would perfer quality natural oak.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 9:14PM
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Guess what wood species & color appeared in this winter's Crate & Barrel catalog: Hutch ; French Hutch

Oak went out about 18 years ago. For years you never saw an oak kitchen in the upscale home decorating magazines. In 23 years of home ownership, I haven't known anybody who's put in a new oak kitchen. So we must be due for an oak revival. Maybe we'll be seeing more Crate & Barrel-types offering honey oak furniture, but with a fresh take on the finish & cabinetry style. Frankly, I think those hutches are beautiful, probably because it isn't the stale old finish & country kitsch oak style we're all tired of seeing.

I chose dark oak cabs 5 years ago, partly because I was tired of cherry & maple, partly because I realized many of the historic homes that I admired had oak woodwork & cabinetry. I'm enjoying the grain very much. It adds texture & visual heft. Now whenever I go to church I gaze at the oak pews and think what lovely cabinets they'd make (admittedly TKO).

One curious point: many of us enjoy the homey, comfort-evoking feeling of period or retro style kitchens. I wonder if someday there will be nostalgia for 1970s & 80s oak kitchens "just like Grandma's" or "just like the one I grew up with as a little girl" ?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 10:10PM
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While I like Oak on certain floors or furniture - I personally hate it on Kitchen cabinets. However, I also dislike all white kitchens too. My point is - some folks will like it, some will not. If you like it, don't worry about how it will effect you selling it in the future

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 10:28PM
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I am a bit new to this whole kitchen decorating thing. But, I am in the middle of a kitchen redo and we are keeping our raised panel, honey oak cabinets. They are sturdy and the grain is beautiful. We are going to refinish them ourselves when in the spring, when we can open the windows. But, they won't change much other than new hardware. We had thought we might have to put new cabinets in to bring the kitchen into this century, but once we took down the paper they started looking better! When we put in new appliances and counter tops, they should look even better. We are putting in a new island that will be painted black, which hopefully will compliment the oak cabinets.

Right now, the parimeter couunters will be cambrian antique and the island may be Spectrus.

Our selling timeframe is 3-6 years, so hopefully light oak will be back into favor ; )

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 10:41PM
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We personally didn't care what was in and what was out - we redid the kitchen this summer and chose oak cabinets. If oak is "out", then why did every place we priced cabinetry at, have lots of varieties of oak cabs to look at???

We're in this house for the long haul - so we bought what *we* like -


Here is a link that might be useful: Donna's Kitchen Project

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 10:51PM
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Oak is a superb wood. Not currently stylish, but that is more about the finish and the cut than the wood itself.

And if you dislike the finish...

try changing the wall color and hardware (that bought me a couple years)

and if you still are unhappy, change the cabinet color/finish (I'm good now for decades)

Thing is, oak is extremely strong and easy to rework.
Don't confuse the finish trends and debates with the wood itself.

The wood is good.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 12:19AM
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Oak fits the age and style of my house. I have a 1922 colonial revival. We're trying to keep an Arts & Crafts feel to the house, so we chose Shaker-style inset oak cabinets. I don't think they look outdated at all!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 8:58AM
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Celticmoon and Vjrnts, you must be psychoÂ.I mean psychic hehe. When writing my above first post both your kitchens are exactly the ones I had in my mind.

Vicky, your kitchen makes me feel happy every time I look at it, you single handedly inspired me to take a new look at oak. I donÂt have a period home but what to somehow incorporate quarter sawn oak it into my own look & style.

Celticmoon, you should be an inspiration to all that have cabinets that just need a little something. What I wouldnÂt do for cabinets that were sound and I could utilize. If this were the case I could justify in my own mind spending a little more on some of the higher-end stuff I want.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 9:48AM
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Okay, now I just have to come right out and say it. I LIKE OAK!! Celtic and Vjrnts - every time I see your cabinets I'm reminded of that fact. They are so different but both fantastic!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:22AM
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Me too! I AM a believer!!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 10:35AM
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Celtic, I need to check back your old posts about the stain/paint you used on your Oak cabinets. I have an Oak vanity that I don't like (late 80s stain), and would like to darken it because I've painted Oak before and did not like the end result.

If I had to choose again, I would not choose Oak though some I've seen here looks nice. I never did like too much wood and grain to be honest. Maple is about as "woody" as I care to go. That being said, I must add that my Maple cabs get dinged very easily while the Oak could take some major banging before anything showed. For strength, Oak is amazing. But I wanted change and didn't care for Cherry or anything else, so we got Maple. I am seriously considering Oak for baseboards though because it's so hard.

Vjrnts, Your cabinets look amazing...OAK? Wow!

My Oak cabinets were in really good shape but the layout was awful. There was no way to save them, so I gave every piece away on Freecycle to about 4 different families.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 11:20AM
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Good oak cabinets are classic. They do not go out of style. They are the 'wingtip shoes for a well dressed man'. I have seen many 5/4 oak cabinets that were in very very nice condition get glaze painted to keep up with the current style. About half the folks who had it done (and it is not cheap) are not really happy with it. It has to be done correctly or else it looks like cooking grease has dripped down the inside corners of the doors. If you havee good oak cabinets, then leave them alone!!!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 11:22AM
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Most of the time I'm a lurker to these forums, but for this thread I wanted to show you the Ikea cabinets my parents installed in their kitchen. They chose the Nexus yellow-brown door style. It's an oak veneer on a flush slab door. The contractor just got the backsplash tile installed. Now it just needs to be grouted.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 12:11PM
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terible, gibby, kitchenkelly, mariposatraicionera, you're all too kind! Thanks so much for your kind words!

I love my new kitchen. It makes me feel good just to walk into it. And imagine how great it will feel if I ever get around to painting the darn walls!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 9:37PM
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What a great topic! A consensus seems to be elusive.

I'm considering oak cabinets in the kitchen and appreciate seeing these pictures. Doesn't the stain make a lot of difference in terms of the cabinets' historical reference? The carmel (?) stain on vjrnts cabinets, for example, makes the kitchen feel like the 20s rather than the 70s, to me at least. (Care to share the secret of the stain, vjrnts?:) Did folks use lighter stains in the 20s as well? Or did that come later?

Those of you who've put in oak cabinets: Did you use red oak or white oak? Quarter sawn or flat sawn? How did you decide what to go with? Can you get a Stickley look with the cheaper red oak?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 1:33AM
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Douglas, I think your point is valid: to many people, 'oak' is not a species of wood, its a color of wood.

And if the final color you are after is darker than red oak, then red oak will be fine, but it will always be softer than white...

For a 'Stickley' look, I think the essentials are >Quartersawn >appropriate style >dark stain >'period' hardware

Those who are tired of their golden oak might want to try a gel stain, formulated to stick to anything, before resorting to paint.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:03AM
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I've had Oak in 3 houses, so guess i've had my fill. The color of the stain isn't what bothered me, it was all the graining. I prefer something with a very soft grain like Mahagony, or better yet painted/glazed cabs.

In reality, Oak will always be a mainstay as it's the graining which many people love.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 3:44AM
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VJ - your craftsman kitchen is beautiful, and Goffgirl, I LOVE your parents' kitchen design! Doug, I don't think that you even need to have such a dark stain to get a stickley look, so long as its at least a medium tone and the shaping is right. Remember also that the original stickley pieces have now had nearly a century to darken.

Marita - I had to live with pickled oak cabinets for a while, too, and found that the best paint colors to go with them had a sandy, grayish-pink or taupe undertone. I managed to make a pale yellow wall color work with them, but only as a 5th layer of sponged color over 2 shades of white, a taupe and a sandy beige, also sponged.

There's no arguing with taste, and if you don't like oak, you don't like it. In considering how to furnish my house, though, I decided to buck the trends and keep my blonde oak furniture as a conscious statement of unity with my surroundings. The neighborhood where I live is a miniforest of native oaks and sycamores, tucked into a corner of the vast concrete expanse that makes up metropolitan LA. There are 12 oaks on my lot, and since Druid tree-worship is the established religion at city hall for our municipality, I couldn't beat 'em, so I had to join 'em. When remodelling the exterior of the house I chose colors and materials that reflected the earth and natural landscape around it, and it only made sense to bring that inside. During the remodel we had to fell a big oak out front that was dying of root-fungus, and I wished we could have harvested the wood for building our own furniture, but was never able to get calls back from companies that advertised such services. The tree, of course, was replaced with another coastal live oak.

This discussion of oak got me thinking, though, about the place of oak wood and trees in our western culture, and they have tremendous power in our cultural landscape. The oak and the willow are western culture's counterparts to eastern culture's yang and yin. To the ancient pagans the oak was a father-god of trees, and it remains a potent symbol of longevity, strength and virtue. It thrives in adverse conditions: most oaks grow in poor, stony soils, require little water, fight erosion and are exremely prolific. Swine, a vital food source in ancient europe and a cultural archetype in their own right, fatten on acorns, deer browse the leaves, and truffles grow in the roots of the trees. From adversity the oak yields great bounty. Think of all the sayings about oak and acorns - no other tree carries so much significance in western culture. So let the fashions spring up and die like the grass, Mapletex; those aren't just cabinets you've got, they're cultural icons too!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 5:21AM
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mapletex...good luck to you when and if you sell. if you like your new kitchen, you may decide to stay longer!! i have had painted pine, metal, natural maple, and now cherry cabs in the kitchen (pine and metal were the ones we got rid of..). i do not like oak, because of the reason that pattycake noted...the grain. i don't like zebrawood either, for the same reason. we do have oak floors, but floors are different in my mind..don't know why.
However, at least in our area, oak is a very good choice for kitchen cabinets. most people we know have a great deal of oak furniture...for them a kitchen that was not oak would clash, especially if it was in a great room set up. because so much of the furniture (amish style and other) around here is oak, i think that it can actually be a good choice for resale. kren

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 9:46AM
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I don't think I would be as concerned about Oak being out of style as I'd be concerned how all these stainless steel appliances will be passe' soon. Oak has lasted the test of time. But will stainless? Doubt it. I'd be more concerned about "other" things than the oak, JMHO.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 7:24PM
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Yeah, maybe one day Viking will design their line to be all black, white, or almond. Maybe yellow and avocado will come back, too.

I'm not a huge oak fan, but I completely respect the vision people have for their kitchen. And I LOVE your kitchen vjrnts!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 8:54PM
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This thread has been very interesting to me. I currently have oak cabinets in my kitchen in a medium, perhaps honey, finish. They are from the company that makes Shiloh, although I bought them almost 19 years ago and am not sure if they were referred to as Shiloh back then. I was unaware that oak was 'out' in 1989 since so many people in this area were installing them into new homes and I never seriously considered any other brand or type of wood. Having said that, I was sure I was now bone-tired of oak until my husband and I decided to browse one of the big box stores yesterday. We passed by maple, cherry, and hickory and commented that they were nice. As we turned a corner, we stopped to soak in the sight of a cabinet display that was so invitingly warm with such a sense of stateliness. It was...oak. The stain was much darker than what we currently own. It was called chicory and I believe, but am far from sure, that the cabinets were made by KraftMaid.
I have been all over the board in trying to decide what type of cabinets I want now, having narrowed my choices to all white maple or half painted maple and half knotty alder or character maple in a dark stain, and suddenly I'm back in love with oak. My two cents' worth is that I don't think oak has ever been totally outdated and if the cabinetmakers I've consulted with know anything, it will be a popular choice for many years to come. Another plug for oak and Shiloh - my cabinets are still beautiful and as sturdy as they were the day they were installed. I'm a little embarrassed to be pursuing a new kitchen as it seems somewhat wasteful, but a girl needs a change...

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 1:22AM
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I also have oak cabinets and I'm not too fond of them. I am seriously considering re-staining to a mahogany or cherry color. I certainly dread such a huge job and I have never done it before so don't even have a clue where to begin. But I am hating the oak cabinets more with each passing day!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 5:10PM
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We have the cheesy builder grade oak cabs in our 3 yr old house. Lots of nice molding through out, beautiful fireplace and other extras. Then he put in oak cabs and green laminate. Guess he ran out of money??

We're replacing the laminate, and painting the cabs.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 6:34PM
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I have 30 year old custom oak cabinets (40 feet of them) that were in the house when we bought it 13 years ago. They still look almost new. I love oak and the grain, and cringe whenever I hear of someone's painting their beautiful wood cabinets. We would like to update the hardware, however, but when we removed the backing plate behind the cabinet pulls (all 50 of them), some of the wood was discolored. Any easy fixes to this, besides buying new backing plates?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 12:58PM
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I had a bit of this too when I replaced the hardware on the cabinets at my lake cabin. They didn't have a plate but the pulls had a wider part on each end and if I didn't get a similar pull, it would show. I got a similar pull but it doesn't sit flat against the cabinet so you can see the discoloration a little. I experimented a bit with cleaning it with tsp then sanding lightly and adding some Varathane stain/poly - I found some that really seemed to be a perfect match. I'm not sure this would work very well if you have a larger surface to deal with.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 3:52PM
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Well, we're about 2/3 of the way through stripping, sanding and re-satining our oak cabinets. While the color isn't quite the color I wanted, they are quite nice. If I had it to do over again, I would have replaced the doors and drawers. They are a solid frame with a veneer panel. With the amount of time and materials that Hubby is putting into fixing them (half the drawers need to be rebuilt), we would have come out ahead.

Funny thing is, when we first started on this we were planning on painting them. Then I cleaned them and saw their beautiful graining. There was no way I could paint over such natural beauty.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our kitchen WIP

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:03PM
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Gotta share this example of quartersawn white oak [courtsey of Showplace Cabs]:

If this is dated, I'm all for it!

Here is a link that might be useful: showplace

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:45PM
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oruboris, I wondered what quartersawn white oak looked like - gorgeous! Wow!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:34PM
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I love the look of oak. When I bought my refacing supplies 2 years ago, I went with oak. Of course it took me 2 years to get started on the project, and by then my distributor had all kinds of woods, but I'm still happy with oak. I like the graining, and it has a kind of "Craftsman" look that I like. I have the plain flat-panel doors so they're kind of Craftsman-looking and I think that makes them more "classic" instead of "dated." Or maybe I'm just delusional. I do think, however, that those oak doors with the arched panels look a bit dated. But today's dated is tomorrow's retro. Don't you think that in a few years all those maple and cherry cabinets with the dark granite counters will look dated?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 10:03PM
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Of course they will look outdated - how else will they be able to entice us to "update?" I'm old enough that my first house had dark wood - a few years later, light wood was "in." And for those of us around in the 70's, don't you get a kick out of the youngsters loving the yellows, oranges and greens now? Been there, done that. Having seen the trends over the years, I guess I am to the point that I am just going with what I like. Wonder what they are going to do with all the tons and tons of granite that will be taken out of houses when it is no longer the "in" thing?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 3:07PM
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bumpity bump!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 4:56PM
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What would you recommend for updating the hardward on honey oak cabinets that are in terrific condition?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 4:20PM
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