I hate my new Cabinets

elliots11June 17, 2012

My house was recently badly damaged in a storm. Floors, walls, and in this case kitchen cabinets. Trying to begin repairs, and actually repairing has been going on for 6 months.

A while back my contractor shows me some cabinets at one of her previous clients house. In there they looked good, but it's a different style house then mine. I had said I wanted a cherry red kind of cabinet, but her view was that with my wood floor being brazillian cherry that i should go with a contrasting color. It still had a little red in it or so I thought. A few weeks ago a sample came, I didn't like it much, but it wasn't horrible, thought it might grow on me, had enough other problems that I didn't make a fuss, and I was under the understanding that it was too late anyway.

Today the cabinets went in, and I just hate them. I hate looking at them, I hate that they're in my house, it pisses me off every time I look in there. I looked at the sample that was left and compared it to the cabinets, and they're similar, but a little different. Less red. Now it's just awful when they weren't even that special before. I don't recall even looking at many samples. Maybe I did, but I'm fixing a whole house here, I don't remember. And now I'm paying $15000 for cabinets that I freaking loathe. I hate them with my whole heart. They suck. Functionally they're ok, but I hate the color. I don't' know how it's going to be any better once the floors go in. I've looked into resurfacing online, it's probably going to be $10000 that I don't want to (and can't) spend.

These things took weeks to make, I need to get moving onto other projects in the house, my budget is dwindling, and I hate these cabinets. Do I have any recourse? What are my options here? What should I be able to reasonably expect from my contractor?

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Edit: Yes I approved the cabinets, but they don't look like I thought they would.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:40AM
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Can you tweak other, less expensive things to bring it all together better? Countertop, backsplsh, paint, fabric choices?

As a last resort, if it is a wood tone that you truly can't stand, you can always paint them.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:48AM
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I am so very sorry that you don't like your cabinets. What a disappointment!
Actually, disappointment isn't nearly a strong enough word. Are you up for posting pictures?
If so, maybe the GW community can help you see some beauty in your cabinets.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:50AM
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Another option is to consider selling them on Craigslist. You will lose a chunk of money on them, unfortunately, but it's something to consider. What if you only changed out some of them? The two-tone look is getting very popular, could you use a different color for the uppers and keep the lowers?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:06AM
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they must be clashing with something in the space to feel the way you do at this time. Things can be changed to possibly make it work:lighting,hardware,adjacent paint,adjacent other surfaces. Get a photo up so some ideas can be tossed around.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:12AM
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Can you maybe post a picture so we can give you some feedback.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:30AM
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Hi elliots11. I'm sorry to hear that you're unhappy with the cabinets. After all you've been through, and all you've spent to fix your house, it is awful that the result is not turning out to be what you want. No matter what you do, it's going to cost you time, but it's better to find a solution now than hate your kitchen for years to come.

Can you post a pic of the sample, the cabs and the floor you expect to put in, along with counter top choices? This would allow the design gurus to come up with options for you that you may not think of yourself.

Now to your questions, "Do I have any recourse? What are my options here? What should I be able to reasonably expect from my contractor?"

Here's the thing. You definitely have recourse, especially if what was installed is similar to, but not the same as the sample. If the only difference is that the shade of stain is a little lighter, you need to tread lightly, because you're going to have to convince your contractor to please you, at some expense to her. She could offer to have the frames and doors glazed to darken them, for example, for a reduced cost.

If the stains are considerably different, or there are even small differences in door details, you should be able to have the cabinets replaced at her expense - read your contract, and hang on to your sample.

Step #1 is to take a breath, be sure you really do hate the cabs, and read your contract.

Step #2 is to contact your contractor and tell her you hate the cabinets. Ask what she can do to fix the situation. A glaze might help. As to how much that will cost and who will pay, that depends on Step #1.

Step #3 is to look at kitchens online (Google Images for "brazillian cherry floors kitchen") with the floors you love, and pick one look you like so you can show your contractor what you want.

Keep calm, and keep an open mind. The answer may be to choose a different floor. It hasn't gone in yet and may be the least expensive fix. If you hate everything about the cabs, including the door style, you can price new doors from a site like Barker doors online that will give you an actual price. I find it hard to believe that painting the doors you have would cost you $10K. That sounds like a little panic attack. Try to deal with real numbers.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:32AM
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Do you like the style?
Perhaps a compromise, since it sounds like they were custom.

Get everything else in. Decide if you can change the floor, or the lesser of the expenses.

If they were custom, talk about having the builder come and reglaze the finish. It can be done, and I'm not talking just wiping something on top. They'd have to change the finish, reglaze to your satisfaction, then refinish. It's more than a wipe.

However, the cost could be high.

If it doesn't match the sample, you have some grounds. Don't accept "almost" or "there are differences in natural woods" (Always on clothes, even when made of synthetics!) or some condescending "you'll get used to it when this all calms down." Good enough doesn't fly with $15000.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 8:35AM
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I know how you feel, it has been over a year and I still absolutely hate my master bath that some lame company did for us. I don't have the money to do anything about it having spent way more than I ever set out to do in the first place plus my practicality and guilt would not allow me to be wasteful. All I can say is that I wish I had stood up for myself in the beginning rather than to sign off on something I truly hate. It's fugly, sorry but it is, it was a year ago and it still is today. See if there is anything that can be done now rather than later. If only I had really let them know how much I hated it, how incompetent they are how big of a liar their rep was maybe I would not still be heartsick every time I walk into that room. I feel for you : (

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 8:52AM
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What wood are they? If they're cherry, they may change color with time (this could explain the difference between your cabinets and the sample).

Your reaction is strong and I sympathize with you not liking your new cabinets. I agree with everyone else -- please post a picture and that will help us know how to advise you (changing other elements in the room, changing the stain on the cabinets, or -- if everyone else loves them -- perhaps waiting to see if you develop an appreciation over time).

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:46AM
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Can you have them painted? maybe it would be a nice contrast and compliment to thre floor?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:54AM
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I can sympathize with how you're feeling, that knot in your gut when you really hate something. It sounds like it's the color that's the problem, not the style. I don't know how large your kitchen is, mine is small, 10x10 G-shape. I had my oak cabinets painted professionally (white) and it cost me $4300. It was the most expensive thing in my kitchen update, but it changed the look of my kitchen radically. My cabinets don't even look the same. If you don't get some resolution through your contractor, it's something else to consider.

As others have said, posting a picture will help.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:05AM
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It might be that the sample has aged a little. All wood and painted surfaces age and change color. Paint is just a little bit more discrete about it.

Other objects in the room can also cast on a different color - having stuff that is predominantly red or blue can cause different tones. Also having more of the same shade can appear different than a small sample. We found that a great deal of our wall color surprise was likely the uv inhibitor in the windows.

Sometimes, this goes away by itself as you install more finishes or more cabinets. Sometimes, this can be fixed with different light bulbs (using blue/daylight bulbs instead of warm white bulbs - or the reverse) and sometimes it takes paint or reevaluating a flooring choice.

I would try all of these before painting the cabinets or sending them back. I'd suggest waiting a couple of days to see what you feel like after the shock wears off. Having been close to where you're standing, that place where everything that went wrong caused either over-reaction or froze me in place or I simply melted down because I couldn't take one more thing standing between me and getting my life back, I wish to extend my best wishes for your project. I sucked at managing my reactions by doing stuff like waiting a couple of days.

That's why I'm saying try to wait a little bit before choosing.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:26AM
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I'm sorry, I don't think the contractor should have to compensate you at all for your inability to make a decision or say No. Unless they are markedly different than what you signed off on, they should not have to pay for your mistake.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:30AM
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Fori is not pleased

Palimpsest is right of course.

But you can still ask your contractor for help (knowing you have to pay for additional work and hoping for a little mercy in pricing).

Or post some pictures and see if you can get ideas here. We're sort of throwing ideas in the dark without them!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:51AM
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Is it the color or the style you don't like? Please post a picture and see if anyone here can help. There must be something you can do with them.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:21PM
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    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:23PM
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I'm not sure what you don't like about the cabinets? That they don't go with your floor (have you already paid for the floor)? Or is it the style? Do you think they're too dark?

If you can change the floor...that's one possibility. Or you can paint the cabinets. Or you can take a deep breath and stop for fifteen minutes and LOOK at your space. You are making all these choices and if you don't like the way this project is going...then change it!

Yes, you're obviously overwhelmed, but now is the time to stop and take a day, to figure out how you want to deal with these cabinets and do what is necessary to fix this. Installing more items will only compound your problem.

My advice would be to look at the cabinets in your kitchen 'as is' and if you can...design a new kitchen style around those cabinets. Change your floor color, find a backsplash and countertop that look great with them and paint the walls a fun color, to tone down the cabinets. If you don't want to do that (or can't because everything else is already ordered/paid for) then paint the cabinets. Then move on and finish your project! :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Elliot - as others have said - take a deep breath first.
Then as lavender says - figure out what you don't like.

I remember CKGM hating her backsplash and turned out it was the grout that was the major problem.

Maybe you can use a paint color or backsplash to pull it together.

PS - EA - love your kitchen!!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 1:27PM
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agree with palimpsest. and mixing woods can be tricky. as others have said, if the cabinets are cherry, the wood will change color as it ages in which case you will either like them ...or not.

how do you feel about painted cabinets?

i'm sorry. i do sympathize. it's tough enough to go through a planned renovation, much less one brought about by unforeseen circumstances. i hope there is a way you can turn it around and enjoy your home.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 1:36PM
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Elliotts, you really have my sympathy, too. I can just imagine how you're feeling. Regardless of what happens with your contractor, though, this doesn't have to be permanent. Hurry yourself up and push past this upset to a more balanced stage. You're not enjoying it, after all. And don't even consider changing other surfaces to coordinate with a finish you don't like. Your eventual fix will address the cabinets.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 5:22PM
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You really need to post pictures, so people can see to help. lot of great people on here that can give you, help.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Thank you all for your concern, EAM44 in particular. I went over there today and took photos of the cabinets compared to the sample. They're at the link below.

The sample cabinet (which is the loose board held up in most of the photos) is more red than what I've got. I don't know how to describe the color I've got except less red, more green, kind of manila and neutral and bland and sucks. The example I saw at the contractor's other house looked better than my sample, and way better than my result. I knew there was no way I'd give the go ahead on this. Now the big question is: what happens next? Guess we'll see when we talk tomorrow.

As for the floors, there's a sample of the floor that covers my living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast nook, stairs, etc. toward the end of the photo set. Changing the color of the floors isn't an option both stylistically, and because the boards are here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet comparison

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Well, I definitely see a difference. The sample is much warmer toned than your cabinets. I don't know that a glaze is going to help,it looks like the first layer of stain is missing the red tones it should have, and I don't know if that can be added back in at this point.

Fingers crossed that you get a good resolution!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:42PM
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Dear Elliots11,

Thanks for posting pictures. This will help everyone who is offering advice.
If they are natural cherry (they don't look like the are) they will "redden" and deepen, often times dramatically, over the first year.

It looks like they have a slight charcoal gray tint. Is it possible that the cabinet company gave you the correct wood and stain but accidentally put a glaze on the cabinets?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Yeah, definite color difference from the sample. I'd be asking the contractor what's up and let her know how unhappy you are with the finished project. Seems like you have so much going on that you may have left this choice up to the contractor overall? Not sure what you can do if you approved them ahead of time.

Sometimes though, when there is just 'one' element of a room or whatever sitting alone it seems awful but once the other elements are in place, it all works and pulls together. I hope this will be the case for you.

AND... you have probably the best resource for ideas and feedback at your fingertips on this forum.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:54PM
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You know, to others it might be "fine".
However you're talking to a lot of people, who agonize about a tiny, miniscule difference in hue, shine, temperature, you name it.

I can see the difference. I know others will, too.
I think it's a glazing issue, myself.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:58PM
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I agree the sample is different than what is on you installed kitchen. I would have them removed and restained/glazed darker and redder if possible than the floor will be. If that is not possible I would consider paint. My monitor may not show the color well but the current stain looks like a mistake to me - a non color.
Wood that has not had a wood conditioner properly used prior to stain most often does not take a stain well and can blotch and look grey. I would ask that a door be redone to see what the "fix" looks like before signing off on a fix

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:59PM
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I can see the difference in the stain/glaze, too, but is your sample door supposed to be the cabinet door style as well? I ask because from what I can see, there is difference in the beading around the inner panel. If they are supposed to be the same, then you may have some recourse.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:30PM
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What kind of wood is it underneath the stain? Lots of woods change color over time.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:01PM
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You poor thing! You sound so overwhelmed and I can't blame you. There is a definite difference between the sample and your cabinets. I hope your contractor can help and you have a quick resolution to this that you're happy with. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:08PM
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I think Shelaye has a good point...it looks like a different style, too. However, I don't know that the original sample would look good with your floor. Is it as red as it looks in the picture?

Maybe you can complain about the stain/style being different and get a discount on the cabinets. Then, I would paint them! White, black, blue, green...anything to go better with your floor. Maybe it's just my monitor, but I think a color would look much better with your floor and you'd probably be much happier with your end result, too.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:09PM
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Hi elliots11. I see what you mean. The drawer fronts in the first image look especially faded in comparison to the frames. They almost look like they don't belong together, and they don't match the sample.

What others are saying about the photosensitivity of cherry is correct. I didn't realize this but within the first year, the color of your cabinets can darken a lot if exposed to light. Check out the link below for more info.

So what do you do in the meantime? Put all you doors and drawers in the sun? I guess you talk with your contractor and let her come up with solutions. Another one that occurred to me is that she can contact the manufacturer and ask them to have new doors and drawer fronts sent out that will better match the richer looking frames.

I like all shades of cherry, light and dark but your cabinets look almost ashen, and are really not very attractive right now I'm afraid. Even if she does nothing for you, there is the hope that the cabinets will eventually be what you want them to be.

Hang in there! E

Here is a link that might be useful: Cherry

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:13PM
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natebear zone 10B

Wow! I see what you mean about the color difference. Besides that, I see a glaring difference in the quality of the finishes! The doors appear to have a factory finish whereas the cabinet boxes look sloppy.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I agree, the drawers and doors are a bit different color and not the same sheen as the frame. It looks like the frame may match your sample door.

The doors look to be a bit different than your sample too, but the drawers just don't look as good as either of them. I can't put my finger on what it is though.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:52PM
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The floor is not as bright red as it is in the photos, but it is quite red and has a lot of dimension.

If I had my real camera with me it'd come out more accurately, and the disparity between sample and actual drawers would be even more evident, but that's taken with my iPhone.

I'm not sure these cabinets are cherry, or what they are. Besides ugly, of that much I'm certain.

I'd rather not paint them. I paid for wood, and I like the look. This needs to be fixed, not patched. We shall see.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:02AM
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To me, there is enough of a difference for them to have to fix something. I see a more marked difference with the slab drawers that the doors.
I would imagine an orange toned stain could fix it, but you would need a pro to do it and need to see one done before you sign off on it.
All that said, I don't think they are so bad. I was expecting terrible and they aren't. I would make more of a stink about the drawers because the doors seem better. I'd still want it all tweaked, but I'd probably try to get the drawer fronts redone...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:47AM
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The sample has life to it but your cabinets don't. I don't know why though. Someone also mentioned that the cabinet boxes and the doors/drawers don't match either - and they don't. It would be interesting to know how old the sample is and if it is old enough to have darkened through age. Your cabinets may darken but there will still be no life to them.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:01AM
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Is the sample door supposed to be what you ordered exactly? The stain AND glaze are different as well as the style. In some of your cab doors the glaze appears to be almost non-existent (could be lighting/camera stuff). But the slightly wider interior beading, wider styles and rails, better and richer stain and finish all make the sample door a much better choice than what they gave you.

I will be interested to hear how they plan to fix this. I don't know if you have any experience with negotiating, but it is good advice above: State your case and listen for their solution. The first one who talks loses, so don't cave into any natural tendencies to be conciliatory!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:06AM
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The maple just hasn't aged to it's full richness yet is all. Lay one of the new doors in direct sunlight for a couple of days and you will see a change.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:28AM
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If this were one of my woodworking projects, I would be getting out the tung oil and applying several coats. Pretty sure you can't do that to your kitchen cabinets because they already have a finish coat on them, or should. The problem is, they don't look like they got the finish coat(s). Several people have mentioned a gray look which I am reading as they didn't finish doing the finish. Maybe GreenDesigns is right and it's just a case of needing time to come to their "full richness," but honestly, to me they look unfinished and lacking life.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:05AM
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Are the new cabinets supposed to be cherry? They look like Maple to me... Maple does not take a stain very well. There is a quite a bit of splotchyness on the doors and it just reminds me of what Maple does as opposed to cherry which definitely has more warmth and takes a stain much better.

Just curious if possibly the sample is cherry and your cabinets are maple?

Also, I agree with Marti8a that the frames and the doors look quite different. Perhaps they make their own frames and outsource the doors and therefore the differences?

either way, I'd be disappointed too. So sorry for your trouble.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:25AM
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a body can get used to anything except a pebble in one's shoe. It will look fine.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:21AM
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I agree that right now there is a visible difference between the sample and the actual cabinets. It may be a difference in age because maple and particularly cherry will oxidize darker (and cherry redder) in a matter of months. My cherry pieces were pink at first, which was kind of disturbing, and my maple cabinets in my old house definitely darkened. Most newer pieces will look flatter than older examples.

So it needs to be determined if that is the issue, because it could self correct. If they are in fact different finishes then you have some recourse. If it is the panel style you don't like but you signed off on it, I am not sure that aspect can be changed.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:41AM
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Well, they're not completely horrible, but for that type of money I would expect better. Something obviously went wrong, at the very least with the door style. You need to ask about this and what happened. I think the response you get will be very telling in terms of how likely you are to get a good resolution.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:47AM
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I really sympathize with you too! I had the same stain color difference problem that you did when I refaced my cabinets and was really upset at first. My doors and drawer fronts were several shades darker than the color sample I signed off on. The refacing company gave me a 10% discount because of the color mistake and now that I've lived with it for a while, I actually like the darker color better than the original color I picked. (I think that if I had really hated the color and insisted, they would have remade the doors and drawer fronts for me.)

But the color that your cabinets turned out to be is definitely not better that the color you picked out. In the photos it looks dull and lifeless. The color you picked out is warmer and richer. Also, the door styles don't match the sample door. Do all of the doors on the cabinets even match each other? In some of the photos it looks like the doors have darker glaze at the edge, but in other photos I can't see a darker line near the edge of the doors. I think since they got both the color and the door style wrong, they should be willing to replace or at least restain your doors and drawer fronts.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:19AM
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I would ask the contractor exactly where these cabinets came from and what brand they are. He/she showed you the same cabinets in someone else's house and you approved them?

I think you got a bait and switch, especially if this is a restoration contractor that works hand in hand with your insurance company.

Let me have it guys, if you want to--but I have lots of experience here.

Something is fishy here.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:46AM
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I agree that the two doors are different styles.

Was the sample that you received a finish sample on a similar door to the one you signed off on?

Meaning, did you actually get the door that was in the other persons house, which is not exactly like the sample, or is the Sample exactly like the door in the other person's house and you did not get That cabinet style delivered?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:18AM
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Fori is not pleased

Those are dreary. Don't think you would have approved those.

Is the frame/box actual wood? Hard to tell from photos but it looks like vinyl from here.

It's hard to comment on what you can do since it's still not clear what you actually specified and it's possible things were conducted in such a manner that you don't actually know. (Not saying you're being scammed--just that sometimes contractors like to control things a little more than they ought. Some people like having decisions made for them.) So do try to find out the details on what exactly you did sign off on. Basic things like wood species (some change colors) or door style (if you got the wrong one, you have more wiggle room) or manufacturer (some care more if you're happy with the product) etc.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:14PM
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I am really wondering if the doors you contracted for were switched out for, perhaps, another manufacturer's? You haven't said if the apparent difference in style we're seeing is actually there.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Ok- those do not look like the sample at all and I can completely see your point. I would argue it- and this is definitely an issue where you could put a glaze in a red tone to change the color.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Not the same at all. The color is different, the rails and stiles are narrower on your cabs, and the bead detail is also narrower and not as detailed. It also bothers me that the larger drawer fronts don't have the same raised panel as the doors.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 5:27PM
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I, had a kitchen where the drawer front,s did not match the cabinet door,s. Some do this do this to cut time and cost. I, was told. Like if you get money off they may cut corners.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 6:12PM
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Any update from the OP?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 6:14PM
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So sorry to hear about your cabinets. I felt the same way when my cabinets were installed. My cool white cabinets had a greenish tinge to them that made me sick. To make a long story short, I changed my lighting, and it was amazing to see the difference. I would experiment with different colors of lighting...cool, warm, led, whatever it takes to help the color. By the time your counter and backsplash goes in, you wil love your cabinets!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:35PM
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thirdkitchenremodel "Not the same at all. The color is different, the rails and stiles are narrower on your cabs, and the bead detail is also narrower and not as detailed. It also bothers me that the larger drawer fronts don't have the same raised panel as the doors."

That's it! That is what is off about the drawers.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:41PM
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Talked to my contractor today. A restaining or reglazing is in the cards, and she's talking to the contractor.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:37PM
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Your cabinets look similiar to mine and mine are maple. Cherry is usually more expensive, so you probably want to be sure you got what you paid for. It seems like your cabinets lack the grain of cherry. Maple is more uniform.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:01PM
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seconding dilly ny's sentiment. they look like maple. is that what you thought you were getting?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:09PM
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On my monitor it looks like you have a white/grey haze on the wood. That is a sign of bad finishing. Perhaps the wood was not dry. They have to know they sent out a bad finish, so be careful if they do the new work.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:17AM
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Hi elliots11, so sorry about your cabinets. For that money, I am sure you should have ordered Cherry wood cabinets. Like so many people here said, cherry darkens when exposed to light. You need to check the age of the sample door. And may be leave the doors and draws in direct sunlight for few days. Also lighting changes the way the cabinets look. Try with some light options.

But before that, definitely check with your Contractor if they are genuinely the wood and finish that you ordered. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:06AM
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My contractor is pretty good, so this is all getting worked out. Thank you all so much!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:15PM
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