Vintage-look kitchen with unpainted wood? -help!

aimskitchenSeptember 17, 2012

We are hoping to soon replace the circa 1980 pickled oak cabinets in our kitchen, which is a small, L shaped room that opens into a larger dining area. While I love white cabinets, every KD I've spoken to advises against them, due to our busy house with 5 kids still at home and the wear and tear they'll get. More importantly, my husband really wants wood in the kitchen.

My requirements to work around: my small kitchen is a workhorse, as multiple food issues require I cook most everything from scratch, so it must be durable. While our house is a 50's split-level, we have a lot of old/antique furnishings, and would love to incorporate my collection of Jadeite and old pyrex in colors like turquoise and yellow. In the adjoining dining area, which is feet from the last of the kitchen cabinets, I have a 70" antique quartersawn oak buffet - probably from an old country store - that I'm going to have a matching glass top made for by a custom carpenter. My cabinets, however, will be stock, either Candlelight, if we can afford, or Legacy, if we cannot. While I'm not going to try to match the buffet, I'd like whatever wood we choose for the kitchen to compliment it. Cherry, for instance, would be too busy IMO. That room also houses a huge table with a stained alder top and black enameled legs, and Hitchcock chairs.

So, my question for the amazingly creative people on this forum (I've read your posts, I know you are!), is what type of wood - and countertop - might you choose? I'll be most likely going with a simple shaker door, with cup pulls, either brushed nickel or black, depending on the wood and countertop. One other note - the kitchen is in the center of the house, and while the dining addition is bright and has natural light, the actual kitchen has little, so while I love darker countertops, I don't know that I can get away with them.

Thank you for any input you can give.

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I think you need white cabinets...easy to touch up or even repaint if needed. Wood finish varnish gets that patina which requires refinishing.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 9:13AM
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Rustic Alder in medium stain, to lessen the emphasis on the knots.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 9:27AM
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It is a big fallacy that all vintage kitchens were white. Many were gumwood, quarter sawn oak or other fine woods. Here is a link to, IMO,the best vintage kitchen I have seen on this site. Sayde restored her orginal gumwood cabs so I do not think you can use this wood in your house, but a similar look could be achieved with a quarter sawn oak. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sayde's non painted vintage kitchen

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:00AM
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Roarah, I love the look on the link you sent! I love the marble counters too, and think my kitchen needs a dose of bright like that, but want to find something more durable than marble or the superwhite I also love. Any suggestions there? I'll check out the quartersawn oak when I next go to the cabinet shop.

Jumpilotmdm, I chose an alder I really liked as a possibility, thanks for seconding that idea without knowing it.

Nancy, I love white, really I do. But for the sake of domestic harmony - and probably a cleaner looking kitchen - I will likely go with wood.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Picture of the buffet would help a lot. Some are stained and some have various colors of shellac on top. It's hard to tell what wood would go with something that I've never seen.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Nothing says that painted cabinets have to be white. Yellow would be a nice complement to both the oak and the color of pottery that you collect. In fact, with budget being a concern, I'd look at painting what exists as the first option rather than replacing. If they are in decent shape, but just dated, paint can work miracles. There is also no shame in using laminate for the counters. Both Wilsonart and Formica have developed marble lookalikes that would look great on yellow cabinets. Take out the center panel on one or two of them and put in glass, and paint the interior in the jade or turquoise as a subtle accent.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:03AM
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Thanks for continued input. I'm uploading a few pics - the glare was bad and my batteries quit before I got it adjusted, but these will do for now to give an idea of the buffet and what the wood is like. Forgive the poor quality.

And Live Wire Oak, love yellow. I think the paint vs wood itself is what we're working out - I love painted most any color, husband loves wood. We've thought long and hard about painting existing cabinets but between a good deal of wear on builder grade cabinets, and needing to do some reformating for more counter space, we'll be replacing instead. I love some of those laminates you mention but had only seen darker ones I'd loved - I will look again for lighter ones. It's good to hear votes for laminates as we've been considering them vs stone. Love your color suggestions!
Here's a close-up - wider view to follow as I can't seem to get them to both load in the same post.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:37PM
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Here's a wider view, with terrible glare, but it'll give an idea of what we're working with.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Another question: I read that alder is one of the softer woods. It's held up well on our table, but I'd love to hear how people feel it holds up in cabinetry for a busy household and well-used kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Another question: should I be worried about alder being one of the softer woods? It's held up well on our table, but I wonder how it holds up in kitchen cabinets in well-used, busy kitchens.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Really like paint or thermofoil for your kitchen. You've already got two shades of oak (floor and cabinet) and I'd be hesitant to add another wood. If I was adding a wood, I'd want it to be a bit darker than the buffet piece to a lot darker. I wouldn't "rustic" it up - it doesn't seem to go with your collections.

Sagebrook, Flagstone, English Linen, Creme Brulee in painted finishes in order that I would use them with your stuff. (if candlelight cabinetry is the right candlelight?)

For dynasty(omega), magnolia, alma for painted-like finish.

For wood, Burnished on Qtr Sawn White Oak, followed by Embers on walnut.

For dynasty, I'm actually drawn to the gray wood finishes - porch swing or Riverbed.

I wouldn't do alder but would think about oak if they had a close color match. I might do a wood that matched my dining pieces or something like that.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Sorry about the double post; I didn't see the first show up and tried again. bmorepanic (love the name), thanks for the great suggestions. I've been concerned about the mix of woods as well as about the issue of light/darkness in the small kitchen, which is in the center of a house with a northern exposure; it doesn't get a lot of natural light. I'm looking more into painted finishes because it is what I'd really like, but I hadn't considered those colors, thank you. Love the grayish idea, hmmm.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:25AM
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