What to do with maple cabinets

BJB-TXFebruary 16, 2014

I just had some beautiful White Springs granite installed. I picked a slab that featured more gold, but when it was installed, the gold didn't really show up enough to tie in the maple cabinets. The granite looks taupe compared to the maple, although it's creamier than appears in my photos. I thought about staining, but I have 46 drawers and doors plus maple molding at the ceiling and the bid to refinish was $2800. The contractor recommended not painting because these are premium solid maple.

I know this is very subjective, but I would like to hear opinions: Would you paint, stain or find a way to tie it all in with decor? I also need to replace the knobs. Thanks!

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I wouldn't stain and definitely not paint the cabinets. It looks good on my monitor
I'd replace the hardware
Tie it in with wall paint and accessories

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 6:04PM
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I would not stain those beautiful maple cabinets. What is your floor? I agree with nosoccermom - tie it all in with wall paint, accessories and change the hardware. Do you have SS appliances?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 6:14PM
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nosoccermom: thanks for the photos. That makes me feel a lot better. It's good to know people actually did this on purpose!

Caya: My tile floor is a beige/gray with a splash of the maple color. It's a large kitchen with cabinets almost completely surrounding it. The painted surface is minimal and at the back, so it's not going to play much of a part. Unfortunately, I don't have SS appliances. They are black and white. What hardware do you suggest?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:17PM
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Here is a better view of the cabinets. The lighting make the tile and granite look blue-ish and the corner of that drawer faded. I'm wondering if small, single door pulls work or are they too small for this pantry? Just hate to drill holes!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:26PM
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Are there some worn areas on the sink doors and cabinets around the stove? Or is it just the photo? Will they eventually need restaining? If so, I'd keep that in mind when choosing hardware. Right now the dark knobs look good, but if you stain the cabinets darker, you might want nickel hardware. Replacing 46 knobs isn't cheap.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:36PM
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I'd be tempted to gel stain them a darker color to see how that turns out and if that is a fail then to paint them or white wash them if possible.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:37PM
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robo (z6a)

Is your faucet pewter? Would pewter be a nice color for the pulls? It might pull the cooler tones of the granite and tie it into the cabinets. I think it all looks very nice and personally I'd leave the cabinets. For me an unstained maple is almost a neutral and plays nicely with others.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:43PM
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Gel stain is pretty much paint.
It's also a commitment.
If, for some crazy reason you decide to stain them (maybe even yourself), I'd start with real, regular stain. You can control how dark you want it. If in the end, you decide you can't get what you want, then go to the gel stain.

Last thing in the world would be to paint those lovely cabinets. It sounds like you never intended to in the first place. :)

I agree about the hardware. I also think stepping back you might end up seeing the whole picture rather than the trees. Or whatever that expression is.

Do you have any furniture pieces? If you did, I'd suggest them dark. Either something like BM's 'Dragons breath' or a very charcoal gray. The BM color reads as black, but it's got a zillion other colors in it. It's gorgeous. Anyway, I was thinking that might tie things together a bit more?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:56PM
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May flowers: There are no worn areas around the stove. I just haven't cleaned them yet after the granite installers put up the backsplash. However, the two under the sink have become discolored around the pulls. I haven't been able to remove that.

gr8day: I did some research on staining maple and it's very hard not to make them blotchy. I would have to get it done professionally. I've heard about the gel stain but I'm afraid to tackle this huge kitchen.

robotropolis: Yes, the faucet is pewter. I like the idea of pewter hardware, but I was wondering if it would work on the gold maple.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:58PM
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CEFreeman: great suggestion about the dark furniture. This is a 1950 eat-in kitchen and I'm going to replace the oak veneer table, but keep the solid oak captains chairs and possibly paint them. Hmm....more things to think about.

You are right about not wanting to stain in the first place. Gosh, all I was going to do was upgrade the Formica countertops to another laminate. Got such a great deal on this premium granite (which I thought had more gold in it) I couldn't resist. Once you start remodeling, there's no stopping....

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:11PM
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BJB. Your "research" on maple is meaningless. The "maple" is underneath the finish. The blothiness you refer to is on raw wood, not a finished kitchen.

Forget all the stupid posts about staining or painting your cabs unless you want to strip them down to bare wood.

Just leave them be and add some new hardware. It is what it is.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:16PM
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robo (z6a)

I think it could look nice! here's the closest thing I could find on Houzz:

Traditional Kitchen by Big Falls Kitchen & Bath Designers Old School Cabinets

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:17PM
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I can't really tell whether your knobs are black or some other dark metal. Since they are dark, I'd leave them as is. I only thought to go with pewter to tie in with the faucet and the gray in the granite, especially if you had SS appliances.

I like the cabinets with the counters. Maybe you just need to get used to it. Here are some more pictures:

Traditional Kitchen by Louisville Kitchen & Bath Designers Southern Kitchens, Ltd. Co

Traditional Kitchen by Louisville Kitchen & Bath Designers Southern Kitchens, Ltd. Co

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:38PM
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    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 9:04PM
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Thanks to all who offered suggestions! I'm actually liking the cabinets now. Just need to get them clean. (By the way, the pulls on the cabinets are actually brass that have darkened. I definitely need to get something else....on sale!)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:19PM
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I don't know if anyone will see this late follow-up, but I wanted to show you the dark English oak table I got to contrast with the light maple. Thanks for the suggestion! I'm loving this turn-of-the-century table, and it's in great condition!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:09PM
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That's a really beautiful table. What a great purchase! Congrats!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:32PM
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Isn't that just beautiful!

I really find the mix of different woods to be very appealing.

Did you consider changing your pulls to something a bit larger? Maybe darker?

Your kitchen has really come along. That maple really is so lovely.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:38PM
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The door pulls turned out to be an interesting experiment. At first, I spray painted them pewter to go with the faucet, but didn't think they popped with the maple, so I started sanding them in order to paint them a gloss black. As I began sanding, the old tarnished brass came out a brilliant gold while retaining the silver. Now, they blend in perfectly with the pewter and the gold maple.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:41AM
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Wow, I really love these pulls. Talk about serendipity :)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 12:06PM
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How totally cool!
I think your kitchen is coming together. Just had to get out of the world of maybe unintentional matchy-matchy.

The grain on those cabinets is really beautiful.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 2:13PM
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I LOVE those accidental pulls. They look great.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 2:30PM
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Your post caught my eye because I also have maple cabinets. They look very similar to yours (mine are Kraftmaid honey-spice maple--about 13 years old and still in great shape!) I also picked out a very light colored granite a few years ago that had lovely gold running in it that I thought would tie in with the cabinets. Unfortunately, when it was installed it was very hard to really see the gold--like you experienced!

I also am not as thrilled about the way the colors of my granite and cabinets go together. I've thought about having a darker "antiquing" overglaze put on the cabinets to darken the wood slightly and adjust the tone to go with the granite better. (I originally had wanted to order them with the glaze from the manufacturer, but it would have cost an additional $1000 for the whole kitchen!) I thought perhaps a custom cabinet shop could do it for a reasonable price if I brought the doors in. Maybe one day....(or then again, if I wait long enough, the maple will darken on its own and aquire its own natural antiquing!)
I agree that it does seem like a shame to paint such pretty wood, though I know that painted cabinets are so popular right now.

Your backsplash tile looks like it has a pinkish undertone to it that doesn't seem to be complementing the golden undertone of the maple--but perhaps that is just in the photo. Are they travertine or tumbled marble? Those stones usually have a pinkish undertone to them- esp. next to a golden- undertoned wood. Perhaps that is what is bothering you--the backsplash next to your cabinets--or perhaps the backsplash is bringing out all the wrong tones in the granite? They are pretty tiles, however, in and of themselves, and do seem to go well with the granite. Maybe you can play with undercabinet lighting to see if you can make them look less "pinkish". Just a thought, fwiw. (I do know that with thinset, you can tile right over an existing tile backsplash in case you ever decide to change the tile.)

One tip, if you need to "freshen up" the wood finish in a few spots, "Restor-a-Finish" is a wonderful product--just wipe it on. I used to use it on my kitchen cabinets in my old house--works fantastic. I use it on furniture, too. (Home Depot now carries it near the wood stains. Antique dealers often sell it, and use it a lot, too!) Here is a link:
Just some food for thought, fwiw.

Here is a link that might be useful: Restor-a-finish

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 8:27PM
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Thanks for your interesting comments! Actually, the tumbled marble tiles are more neutral than pinkish, so no, the photos don't show the true colors. If it weren't for the cream colored grout, they probably would look a little pinkish.

I have fluorescent lighting. I don't intend to spend the money to get can lights, but I wish the fixture itself looked a little more up-to-date. I did change out the bluish daylight bulbs for the natural light--somewhere between blue and yellow. It did make a difference.

After agonizing over my choices, I've come to appreciate what I've got, especially after a cabinet refinisher told me that bird's-eye maple of this quality would run about $18,000 in a new home. That maple looks a lot better. LOL!

Thanks also for mentioning Restor-a-finish. I will look into that. A handyman recommended Crud Busters (or something like that). He swears by it for getting the grime off. I used vinegar and baking soda and that worked just fine.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:34PM
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