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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Interior designer suggested natural finish for kitchen cabinets but...

cyclingthroughlifeFebruary 23, 2013
Our kitchen cabinets are almost done, and the interior designer suggested that we leave the quarter sawn red oak natural and covered with a clear coat. The floors haven't been stained yet, but will be English Chestnut stain on white oak (see picture I found on the Internet of a similar combination). The countertops will be honed absolute black granite (or possibly absolute black with an antique finish). The backsplash area is small, but will be carrera marble subway tiles.

I understand why he made the recommendation (so the kitchen wouldn't appear too dark). I couldn't help but think that a natural finish would give the kitchen a 1980's honey oak look, and as well as not be consistent with a Craftsman style home.

What other stain finishes would you suggest that provides the contrast needed? Painting the cabinets, while theoretically possible, is not something we want to do (since we paid a premium for stain grade wood).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Could you explain the photo you've included? These look like white painted cabinets. What is their relation to your kitchen or your question?
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:09AM
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nFORMAL design
Depends on the actual cabinet. We tend to stay away from red oak in general. Craftsman style can use a myriad of wood species. Remember...it was the wood that they had at the time, so red oak would have been used quite a bit. Just curious...why white oak floors and red oak cabinets? White oak cabinets left with a nice, light finish would have SCREAMED Craftsman.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:10AM
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@feeny - that was just a picture I found on the Internet. It was meant to show the floor color (english chestnut on white oak flooring) so that everyone can see what the floor will look like (for context of my question).
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:49AM
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@nFORMAL - the original plan called for both red oak cabinets and red oak floors (for budget reasons). When the flooring guy came out a few weeks ago, he said that he was able to get white oak floors for the same price as red oak at this one particular point in time, and gave us the upgrade. Unfortunately, our cabinetmaker wasn't able to get the same kind of deal through his suppliers.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:52AM
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I'd be tempted to look at some original cabinetry stain colors for Arts and Crafts movement furniture to get inspirations. So, for example, looking at the different stain color sample options for Stickley's mission line of furniture (which uses the original stain colors of Stickley furniture from the 1910-20's) could give you some good ideas for how different stain colors might look with your floors. As they do their mission furniture line in both cherry and quarter sawn oak, you should look only at the stain samples for the latter.

Here's a link:
2 Likes    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Are you furthering these discussions with your interior designer? I'm sure he'd be very inclined to help.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:58AM
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@platemark - I am, although he has also asked me to come back with any suggestions as well.
    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 8:03AM
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feeny is right. You can get a red oak panel to test stain from your cabinet maker. You are right to be concerned about getting the stain color you want. This will be a beautiful kitchen.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 8:15AM
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