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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Should I paint these cabinets or leave alone? If so what color?

pud07January 20, 2013
These are contractor grade oak.
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Leave as it. Once you are truly ready, you will know the exact color you want your cabinets to be for the rest of time
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 6:49PM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Your kitchen will take on a wonderful new life when you paint it white, or a mossy green. You have beautiful black countertops which will stand out nicely against white or light green cabinets.

I think that it's important that you also improve the lighting in your kitchen, with under cabinet lighting (which you may already have) and additional recessed lighting. I would update your cabinet hardware to more modern brushed nickel pieces.

The wood valance over the sink, spanning the area between the two upper cabinets, should be removed, and then I would also update the window covering, perhaps just by removing the lace panels.
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
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6 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 6:55PM
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Jill Coert
I think heavier, darker cabinet pulls would look great in here. It would accent the dark counters - the pulls that are on there are getting lost. Plus, its an easy fix to try out - just go buy some and see if you like the look and if you don't you can return them :)
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:08PM
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The big question is... Do you want to paint them? I think they look nice the way they are. They go well with the stainless appliances and they are a nice color. But painting them will give the space more brightness and will give a nice update. You could paint the upper cabinets in white or beige and leave the bottom ones as they are. The choice is yours.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Great idea Jill All advice from each of you is helpful and useful. Thank you
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:12PM
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The problem with painting oak is you will see the grain. I painted a light oak fireplace surround white and realized my mistake afterward. Even with primer and two good coats, I could see the grain.
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:13PM
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See Jones
No green with your black counters. If you paint, you will need to remove hardware, sand your current cabinets,prime really well and paint (no more than a satin). Note that if you paint, you will not be able to get rid of the wood grain completely, like in the pictures posted above. Also, if you paint, you might consider a glaze. I find cabinets without a glaze look cheap. Call me crazy, but I would remove the piece of wood connecting the cabinets over the sink. And I would add to the trim around the top, to make it bolder. Also, you might need to redo the backsplash. If you are really handy, I would move the cabinet section above the microwave higher, so that the cabinets have some dynamic. It would give your kitchen some height. Love the appliances, floor and counters. CCJ
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:21PM
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Ann Taylor
I think painting them white would be fabulous. I had very dark cabinets and I painted them white. It really brightened up my kitchen.
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:26PM
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rustoleum cabinet refinish kits are great. am doing mine right now. no need to sand unless they are not in good shape. The paint comes in like 70 different colors,got mine at home depot.
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:32PM
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The good thing is, your cabinets are not the decorative type, with arches and fancy beveled inlays. Everything is pretty minimalist, and square, so you can do a lot to these, and make them look custom without spending lots of money.
I don't think painting them white is a mistake. I saved a ton of money and bought my cabinets unfinished oak. I sanded them, primered them, and painted them in oil paint. Two coats. Its a week long project, but I think it is very worth it. Make sure you go for a superior paint. You want something that is easy to wipe down, and can take the heat and grease of a kitchen. I used Sherwin Williams Door and Trim paint, oil based, but I have used the same in latex in other parts of my house. Either are fine. I do think oil has slightly more durability. It cost around $60 a gallon but it paints on like butter and is much much much better than what you can find at Lowes or Home Depot.
* I mentioned above that my cabinets were unfinished oak, I knew that the grain would show through, but I rather like the effect, because it has a real traditional look. My cabinets are made of wood, not pressed particle board, I don't see it as a downfall of the kitchen at all. With the other updates I've made, I think it gives my kitchen a timeless look. IMHO.
I would second the suggestion above to remove the curtains and let it as much light as possible, also removing the wooden valance between cabinets. It really dates a kitchen. I would also remove the ceiling fan, and put in a tasteful stationary light. Personally whenever I see a ceiling fan in the kitchen, all I can think about is the dust on the blades swirling above open dishes of food. :P
Finally, new silver or nickel hardware.
Heres ours:
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:03PM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
It's great to get advice like poodiesgirl has given above...from someone who has done it herself! I totally agree with her about the charm of seeing the wood grain through the paint.
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:16PM
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I think something you should ask yourself is, is this your forever home, or is there a good chance that in two or five or 10 years, will you be selling it? If you're ever going to sell it, don't paint the cabinets.This will leave the buyers the option. And nine times out of 10, wood cabinets with a natural finish, are more desirable than painted cabinets, no matter what color they are.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:22PM
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This was the kitchen in its beginnings. I so appreciate all the great input and wonderful advice to keep on with updates. Thank you
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 9:00PM
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I am in the same situation with my new home's kitchen. The oak cabinets are beautiful but so dated. I wonder if it would be possible to stain them to a darker shade for some contrast with the wood flooring?
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 9:21PM
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Audrey Kresser
white is classic, you cant go wrong. If you are more daring how about grey?
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:52PM
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Plain oak cabinets like these are anathema to an updated look. I do not think you will lose value by painting them. I think oak is as passe as anything could be and for good reason although I can't explain why. Perhaps the oak is just not as pretty as it used to be because of the way trees are grown and harvested. If I buy a home with oak cabinets in the future, the first thing I would do is paint. When I was younger, I thought oak was just the greatest thing, but as I looked at it more and more, I grew to really dislike it. If you show me a really old piece of oak or French oak flooring I feel completely different. This is why I think something about the oak we are getting is unattractive. My favorite wood: unstained maple. Unstained curly maple.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:03PM
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I like the shaker style flush fitted oak cabinets; I would not say yours are "anathema"; they just need some updating. Bold New hardware (this is not cheap, just fyi), maybe a cabinet glaze of some kind (talk with a professional cabinet maker), and try updating the ceiling fan and you could see something much improved. Good luck
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    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:15PM
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Robyn Eisler
I love what you have done so far: decluttering, new benchtops, new door handles, s/s everything! I even like your new curtains. Not sure on the fan in the kitchen, but that is a personal preference for functionality. I also think poodiesgirl's kitchen is fantastic. (btw I love the knife block).
You are right, the only thing you have to decide is whether to paint the cabinets. Photoshop your picture with an almost white colour (look at the colour of your ceiling vs your curtains in the photo). Print the photo and get a quote. Then decide whether to paint perfectly good oak cabinets or go on a holiday.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:30PM
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There is a designer, Janell Beals, who has a blog "Isabella and Max Rooms". She had knotty alder kitchen cabinets and had them painted. Here is the entire blog about her kitchen redesign. It shows in reverse order.


Depending on your budget, another option is to replace the doors and drawer fronts and just refinish the face frames.
    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:33PM
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Matt Lunde
Call a realtor before you do anything. When I was thinking about doing the same thing to my existing cabinets, my realtor advised me that if I did, the value of my home would drop when I went to sell. I ended up redoing my entire kitchen. Granted it was more expensive but I will luckily see a lot of that back when I go to sell in 4-5 years.
    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 4:32PM
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You might consider staining the cabinets with gel stain. We have just used "Java" on our oak bathroom cabinets, practicing for the kitchen, and we are so pleased with how it turned out. Minimal sanding, really just a good cleaning would work, and then 2 coats of gel stain and 2 coats of polyurethane. You can youtube for a tutorial.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:35AM
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