PLEASE help!! How can I make my kitchen with oak look better??

NewYardInGaOctober 30, 2012

Hi all!

I would LOVE to stain/paint my kitchen cabinets, but I have gotten a couple of quotes and I think that is out of our budget, for now at least. So, WITHOUT painting/staining our cabinets, do you have any suggestions that would help our kitchen? I was thinking some color of granite (if you could suggest a color, that would be wonderful!), new backsplash, new floor and maybe pain the trim at least white that is closest to the ceiling and around the windows? I need help, so please post any/all suggestions!! Thanks so much in advance! I'm new to this board too! :) Oh, and sorry about the mess! :)

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Pictures of my kitchen now! Maybe paint suggestions, granite colors, anything! Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 11:57PM
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Another, oak overload!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 11:59PM
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Another! We are thinking about new granite, paint the trim white and windows, new sink, backsplash, tile floor, and paint the hardware ORB..anything else, or suggestions on those?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 12:01AM
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Those are actually some pretty nice cabinets...look to be of reasonable quality, and don't have the dreaded arches. If I was doing an oak kitchen I'd do something along the line of these belgian oak kitchens...I can only dream myself, but you may be able to pull it off.DArk stone floor, marble or dark counters, white tile, steel elements. Could be gorgeous.

Here is a link that might be useful: Belgian kitchens

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 1:52AM
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I'm not giving you the answer you're asking for, so my apologies in advance.

If you have the budget for granite, bs and floor, you have the budget to paint your cabinets and top them with white corian. It's more fun to have pretty stone, but if it's sitting atop outdated cabinets, you might not get the upscale update you want.

Deciding where to allocate funds in your remodel is a personal choice, but there's nothing you can put on or around old, yellowed oak that will make it recede into the background or look the way you want it to. There are some images of painted cabinets with white corian posted below.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 2:52AM
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IRL is your cab color more like the color in pic 2 on the left or in the lower right corner?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 6:40AM
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It's hard to tell what the color of your oak is. There was a "design around this" thread on Golden Oak last year that may give you some ideas ...

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:36AM
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I have to agree with EAM. And I want to add that your cabinets are very lovely and look to be of very good quality. Also, it could be the pictures but they do not seem to have the characteristic grain of oak. They may be select grade maple.
I think what you don't like about your space is the excess woodiness. Is that is?
I see three distinct areas in your space from the pictures you posted; eating area with wall of cabinets, desk area, kitchen triangle. And, I would suggest that you think about them separately; what you like, dislike, what works functionally and flow-wise. Of course, the long range plan is that they need to work together, but if your overall space is working for you and you just want an inexpnsive cosmetic hit you can address some of it separately.
If it was my house, I might start with the eating area. It seems very impersonal. I would add color, a warm green/brown/grey, maybe BM baby turtle or providence olive. I would paint all the ceiling trim white to match the ceiling and to lift the eye, instead of stopping it. Why is there a railing separating the eat in area from the family room, is there a step? I might get rid of this railing, change it, paint it, I don't know without a better understanding of your overall space and family needs, but it is another wooden element. Is the table sized/shaped correctly for the space? You need a window treatment. You need some softness. Do you have a rug under the table? I might remove the upper doors from the wall of cabinets, and the stiles if there are some(can't tell) I would paint or wallpaper (or use the fabric to match my window treatments) the back wall and add chunky white/light painted shelves.
The desk area, is a quick hit. If you don't like it remove it. What are you using it for, because in my house it would just be a clutter catcher. If you removed it what would you want there? What storage/counterspace needs do you have for that space? You have your china displayed there, maybe a freestanding painted hutch? It is a place to remove a woody component and add something different.
Now in the kitchen itself, paint the ceiling and window trim.
If you did all three of these projects, would you still hate the cabinets. If you did there would be fewer to paint/stain and maybe the cost would be withing budget?
Hope this has been a little helpful.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 8:43AM
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Your cabinets don't look like oak to me. I can't tell on my computer, but your floor doesn't look bad to me either. I think with some stain or paint, new hardware, and a new countertop, you could have a very nice kitchen without going over budget.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 9:56AM
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I agree with bcafe. I'm not sure what it is--alder, maybe?--but those aren't oak. Look at how grainy the cabinets are in shelby110's thread that you also posted in. That's oak--big open grain. Not what you have.

And you can certainly stain the cabinets yourself, if that's what you decide to do. Several people here have gotten splendid results from doing that. But first you need to find out for sure what wood you've got.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 10:45AM
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The expression "lipstick on a pig" comes to mind.

Your cabinets look very nice, and you have some that to purchase new are expensive. Glassed cabs, pantries, etc. I'd also like to see a close-up of the grain. They don't look like oak to me, either, but rather a yellowed finish.

I would start with the foundation, rather than putting in all the window dressing: Restain or paint them.

THEN and only then would I start to accessorize with counter tops, hardware, trim, etc. Oh - and I would paint that trim very last. It looks different than the cabinets, and I'm wondering if it might be worth keeping.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 11:43AM
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I have seen many builder grade oak cabinets and your cabinets are definitely several notches above them in appearance (I agree the grain doesn't look like oak). However, it sounds like they are not to your taste, which I certainly understand--I'm not a big fan of mid-tone woods with orange/yellow undertones. Some people love the warm glow of this color of cabinet, but not me, and it sounds like not you either.

I don't have much to add to the above posts. Reiterating what others have said, check out the golden oak "Design Around This" thread, it tries to show off orangish cabs to their best advantage.

However, from what you've said, I think staining or paint is still your best option, even if you have to delay the project to save up. Lipstick on a pig was spot on!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 12:15PM
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I would paint the cabinets too, and change out the hardware. The counters look to be in good shape, I'd leave them be and save up for the stone you want. To change the counters now and paint the cabs later would be a pain even for a professional. Huge risk of harming the counters.

Not the answer you were looking for, sorry.

I do think a new wall color would help, but I don't think I'd paint the trim yet though. What do the rest of the adjoining spaces look like?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 12:50PM
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You've gotten some great advice from the experts here, and while I'm a newbie just embarking on my own very limited budget kitchen facelift, I think you could easily make thie space more to your liking within your budget.

It sounds like you don't want to invest in having the cabinets painted or stained by a professional, but have you considered DIY painting them? I ask because updating everything else but leaving them warm oaky toned might not get you the updated feel you are after. Our layout looks similar to yours, and our maple cabinets were outdated but in great shape. Without a budget to completely gut, nor a desire to, we decided to get new appliances and countertops and DIY paint the cabs. Still painting, but it's completely doable and makes a huge difference. (FWIW, we also have a pantry desk area like yours and are choosing to keep it as is and paint in a darker complimentary color. We actually use the desk!)

I agree that painting the wooden trim white, changing out the cabinet hardware, and warming up the eating area with a window treatment and a nice rug would go a long way even if you did nothing to the cabs. Have fun with it!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 1:09PM
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I agree with local eater that your cabinets are probably maple, not oak. They are more expensive than oak so that's a good thing for you.

I can't get the embed feature at houzz, but here is a maple kitchen that is really nice: maple kitchen

It think it would look nice if you gel stained the bottom bead of the crown on the cabinets with a darker color like java, and put a dark granite on the counters. I would paint the crown at the ceiling white though.

Here's another houzz photo with maple and a dark bead

Eclectic Kitchen design by San Francisco Design-build Harrell Remodeling

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 1:10PM
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I actually like your cabinets!!! :)

They're very pretty and have a lot of potential. I think you need a style/look that works for you, to make you feel good about your cabinets. That will help you decide what to do with the trim and other finishes.

Do you have a style that you like? Here are a few possibilities...just to give you an idea of style and finishes, with wood cabinets.

From Kitchen plans

From [Kitchen plans]( From [Kitchen plans]( From [Kitchen plans]( From [French Country Kitchen]( From [Western kitchen]( From [Cottage house plans]( From [Kitchen plans](
    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Oops! Meant to add that I know the last picture shows much darker cabinets...but I really like the countertops and floor :)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 1:48PM
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If that were my kitchen, I wouldn't even consider messing with those cabinets. They look quite nice and of good quality. However, changing the hardware could make a world of difference. I too, would paint the crown moulding white, but not the window trim. A fresh wall color would be nice. I would also go with new countertops, backsplash, sink and faucet, leave the floor. Without a complete redo, you could have a kitchen that feels entirely new and fabulous.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Did we lose the OP?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 3:34PM
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Sherrie Moore

Maybe not what you want... but I would wait until you can afford to paint them or replace them. Don't put more money into something you don't want.

Speaking from my experience. 26 years later and we are now remodeling the whole kitchen. Good bye yellow oak!!!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 4:12PM
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I agree, they look like maple vs. oak, and seem to be well made and in good condition. I like the inspiration pictures above. Using the greens (I see something like verde peacock or emerald pearl) and dark greys in the granite will really help the space and updating the counters and cabinet hardware.

I agree on painting the crown molding white but otherwise leave everything else.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 9:21AM
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Those are not oak cabinets. As I started reading this thread, I was starting to compose a reply -- "Am I the only one thinking those are not oak?" but then started running into a growing number of folks saying the same thing. They have a tight grain that looks like maple or possibly cherry, but the way they appear to have taken a stain makes me thing maple. Maple has a tendency to not accept stain evenly and you have some lighter and darker areas. I suspect they are not alder because that is a softer wood and I don't see any dings. They do appear to be in good shape. I'd work with them.

As said above, if you have money for granite and tile floors, you have money for paint or stain. If you are willing to take the time to learn and DIY on the cabinets, you may be able to do both.

You showed us a lot of the kitchen, but not two things I'd like to see -- your lighting and the cooktop.

Do you have a vent hood? Does it exhaust or recirculate the air? I'm wondering if the cabinets have years of gunk built up on them. They look not only yellowed, but possibly dirty or dry. I would give them a really good cleaning for starters. You can't paint or stain until you do that anyway.

Then I'd look at the lighting -- It looks like it may be adding to the yellow cast to everything. Any chance you have an older florescent fixture in the kitchen? The wood color looks better in the breakfast nook than it does in the kitchen. Changing or improving your lighting and cleaning your cabinets could make things look a lot different and neither of those should be budget busters.

I would paint the walls with some color and then step back and take a look. If you want darker hardware, I'd buy new. It doesn't have to be expensive, but painting hardware is likely to be very temporary. So far, with DIY, we're looking at a few hundred dollars.

I would like to remove the soffit in the kitchen itself if possible. If not, I'd paint it or give it a deep crown treatment to carry the cabinet line to the ceiling. You could also paint the ceiling crown to match the ceiling if it will not bother you that is will then be different that the rest of the house. I would not paint the window trim -- the window itself is stained wood and matches all your other windows.

Once you get to that point, I would make a decision on painting, gel staining or stipping the cabinets and refinishing. Those are all things you can DIY, but paint and stripping will be time intensive -- which is why there is a lot of cost to them, especially if they need a lot of cleaning and prep work. You don't want any painter who isn't looking at good prep work because the job will not be good or last unless they do it right.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 6:21PM
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I like your cabinets! I would keep them and Not paint them.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 12:31AM
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They are not oak. They are very workable.

Check out the GW finished kitchens blog and see what looks good to you and what would work with your house. Once you zero in on an inspiration look, the rest will follow.

Here is a link that might be useful: finished kitchens

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 12:44AM
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