Yellow Oak Cabinets Transform!

M&M Embellishments
by M&M Embellishments
I bought my log cabin home 7 years ago. The previous owners had a love for oak - I DO NOT! I had never liked them, but it was not in my budget to redo my kitchen. (although, SOMEDAY I promise I'm going to get my granite!)
Prior to this home, I lived in a brick colonial and my taste has always been the cherry, mahogany, queen anne, etc styles. I now have a mixture of woods in my home, but mostly are still those traditional style furnishings. So, when I wanted to redo my cabinets with a mahogany stain, I knew it would fit in ok.
This was our kitchen when we first moved in and then right before I started the makeover
I did some research and came up with General Finishes Mahogany Gel Stain to use.
I took off all of the cabinet doors and taped off all areas.

Make sure you have some sort of numbering system so you know which ones go where when you go to put them back on.

I laid out a huge tarp in my basement and took them all down there. I sanded just a little - no huge amount of sanding, just got the shine off and in the grooves. Then, I used Lysol dual action wipes to clean them all off.
I used a rag and wiped the gel stain on and wiped off any excess. I actually used a white tube sock and put my hand inside so that I could get into the grooves well. You might also be able to use a foam brush. I made sure the streaks were off as I went - you don't want any streaks to dry because it will show up! Just feather it out.

It took two coats to get the color I wanted. I didn't want to go to dark. Btw, after the first coat, you might think OH NO, but be patient, that next coat makes all the difference!

I finished them all off with a few coats of General Finishes Satin Poly top coat.
I know that trim around the window has to change, and I'm waiting for my dishwasher to DIE so I can upgrade to stainless!
I hope these pictures - although not the best quality - give you a good idea of the transformation!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 7 questions
  • Linda Linda on Sep 04, 2019

    If the cabinet are the old oak and have already been stained and varnished, can I re-stain over the current varnished layer or do I have to strip it first?

  • Donna Baker Downs Donna Baker Downs on Sep 29, 2019

    Did you sand before using the gel stain?

  • Candace Candace on Jul 19, 2020

    I love the look of your cabinets now. I have hour original color now and have been trying to decide if I shoild paint or coat. Can you please tell me an approximation of how longer it took you to do this project?

    Many thanks!

Join the conversation
4 of 115 comments
  • LK LK on Dec 19, 2018

    I used Thomas stainless steel paint on my dishwasher and it came out great! That could be an idea to turn the white dishwasher to steel, and quite easy to do.

    • Reen Reen on Jun 14, 2019

      I suggested to a neighbor that thin sheet metal would give him the look they wanted - easy! Looks great + can't tell it was ever different!

  • Deena Lancaster Deena Lancaster on Dec 26, 2018

    Just a suggestion really about the dishwasher. If yours has the thin decorative front panel that can be removed, use a a silver tone “metallic “ contact paper. Or replace the entire panel with a small sheet of “ceiling” punch tin. If you get lucky you might find vintage tin at a flea market, but there are backsplash strips that imitate the punched tin.

    • M&M Embellishments M&M Embellishments on Dec 30, 2018

      Thanks for the response, Deena!! I actually did this project a few years ago, and my son bought me a new dishwasher last year for Christmas!!!! But I appreciate your response!!!