Asked on Sep 07, 2014

Changing stain on kitchen cabinets?

Cindy D.
by Cindy D.
I have 80's kitchen cabinets, with the typical honey oak coloring with an almond colored formica countertop. Hubby loves the wood look. I don't mind it, except that we also have natural wood on the cathedral ceilings, hard wood floors in the living room, stairs, and hallways, similarly colored stain on all of the woodwork in the house is largely orange. Is there a way to just lighten the stain on the kitchen cabinets, so hubby gets to keep the nice warm wood color but I have a different color combo? I'd love to do a white-washed look. I've seen something like that with a wax, I think, but idk if that can be done on cabinets that have not been redone. (I'm trying to work on getting him to appreciate painted cabinets, but I can sense a long road ahead on that.)
Also, if you look in the picture you can see an appliance garage that connects the upper cabinets with the countertop. Is there anyway to take the countertop out without taking the whole cupboard down? It's one piece, and hubby loves his cabinets and doesn't want me to cut it. I'd try tackling a different type of countertop, but I am not up to removing all of the wall cupboards to do so.
q kitchen cabinets staining wood change, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting, Excuse the witch I had just done my sister s Halloween makeup in this picture but you can see the cabinets I am talking about and the color of the trim that is everywhere in my house around the window
Excuse the witch, I had just done my sister's Halloween makeup in this picture, but you can see the cabinets I am talking about, and the color of the trim that is everywhere in my house (around the window.)
  19 answers
  • Therese C Therese C on Sep 07, 2014
    Why don't you try changing just the color of the counters first? There are a bunch of tutorials on You Tube, and they have VERY easy to follow steps. You may just find that it will give all of the change and balance you and the hubby can both love! The black marble is VERY easy to do and makes a dramatic change for the better! After that is done, the hubby will see that change is good and maybe be more open to more changes...very slowly you will win him steps dear, baby steps.. ;)

  • DebLynn DebLynn on Sep 09, 2014
    Try painting/sponging the countertops! Also, change the current accent yellow color to a more strong Navy, Burgandy, or Hunter Green to help ANCHOR the room. The valance over the sink and the floor "Mat" should also help add some Interest!!!

  • Chris Malans Chris Malans on Sep 09, 2014
    the witch is great! made me laugh and LOOK at your post! :) thanks hehee

  • Jill Shiflett Jill Shiflett on Sep 09, 2014
    I would paint them a light color. Not white bc your appliances are white. I had the "orange cabinets" and wood floor. Lived w it for 5 yrs then painted cabinets bright white & changed my counter tops to dark. I should of done it sooner bc it looks so great !

    • See 1 previous
    • Jeanne Garcia Jeanne Garcia on Sep 09, 2014
      @Jill Shiflett Wow, what a change...looks great.

  • Becky D Becky D on Sep 09, 2014
    Too bad she can't just wiggle her nose and do some hocus pocus for nice makeup job by the way. I have the same problem at my house. I hate the cabinets and I'd love to change the doors but the hubby I think sees it as a huge challenge and claims to love it the way it is. Anything we do tackle he is afraid it will look bad so he is hesitant. He is a "Jack of all trades and but a Master of none". One of these days I am just going to take one door and do it then see how he feels about it. If I only do one then I can easily change it back if he's still resistant. I've also considered doing just the panels within the door frames. I just haven't found "the look" I would like yet. Good luck in however you tackle this.

  • Carolinedavis Carolinedavis on Sep 09, 2014
    I agree with @Wanda.ll . I would go darker with the wood. As far as the counter tops go, there are several products- I have seen Rustoleum used here on Hometalk and on pinterest. . That would solve the corner cabinet issue as well. If you decide to go with new counter tops, examine the corner cabinet carefully- sometimes the roll top section is a separate piece and could be removed without removing the rest of the cabinet. Good luck!

  • Jadez Jadez on Sep 09, 2014
    you could change your countertops by painting them out to look like granite. i used a product called giani granite, they have their own f/book page and you can see all the different styles/colors that people have done to their own kitchens. it doesn't cost a lot just manual labor and your imagination, makes a big difference, its a start....

  • Andrea Andrea on Sep 09, 2014
    like your husband, I love wood tones. In your case I would try to darken the stain on the cabinets, change the countertop, backsplash and consider painting the appliance garage. If it can't go (takes up too much space) - neutralize it.

  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Sep 09, 2014
    I like the wood tones myself; but I think if you go darker, it will make the kitchen darker. I don't like to work in a dark kitchen, which I have right now. As an initial project I would paint the counter tops to give your kitchen an updated look. Look at Giani Granite. It's inexpensive and quite DIY friendly. I would also change the valance on your window and the hardware on drawers and doors. These are small changes to give the kitchen a face lift without having a face off between yourself and your husband. Good luck. Please post further pictures.

    • Pagan Raven Pagan Raven on Sep 16, 2014
      @Liliana Wells Exactly! To stain the cabinets darker would make the space seem smaller and cramped. I too, have a small dark kitchen and it drives me crazy to have to work in there. I love to cook, but find myself avoiding it because of the kitchen. If a re-do were in my budget, it would have been done yesterday! I would use a chalk paint on the cabinets, something lighter yet and maybe even replace various doors with ones that have glass insets.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Sep 09, 2014
    You are looking lovely my dear...getting ready for the upcoming Halloween season! There are companies that make a "cover" for counter tops in granite...I can't recall their names but you can google them. They can probably take into account your appliance garage. If you go dark, you might want to look into putting in under the counter lights to give you more light. I like the wood look too because over the years it does not wear as badly and chip and it is easier to keep. One big stain on paint and your whole kitchen is a wreck!

  • I love the Witch she looks good enough to give you the chills Thanks for the share

  • Cindy D. Cindy D. on Sep 09, 2014
    thanks for all your comments. The valance is gone now, and those handles and knobs are the replacements - I took out the brass and almond ones to put these in. The photo doesn't show it, but this kitchen is quite bright - there is a sky light, the window over the sink, one on the wall to the right of that, and a large bay window opposite the kitchen sink. I think I will have to do the countertops first - I do like some of the wood kitchens with darker counters, so maybe that would be enough. We do have under the cabinet lighting. Oh, and new flooring - this has definitely taken a beating in the past 23 years! I actually only have a white stove - the dishwasher and fridge are black, and I like them much better than the almond we had before those died. The white stove was a gift (used) brought in to replace my almond stove, which was dying. It's not permanent, but I just graduated school, so until I get a job, we'll keep using this one. The stove is at the end of the counter, but didn't start out there - the cabinet next to it did. I hated only having about 2 feet of counter space in any direction, so I moved the counter and stove around. The problem right now is that the plug for the stove is not on the wall, it is on the floor - so I cannot push the counter all the way back. Also, I was trying this out first to make sure I liked it, and the hood for the stove is still over the counter because tackling the upper cabinets is too daunting a task for me, and I also don't do electrical stuff. My goal is, once I get a job, to have a handiman come in and change out the upper cabinets and hood and rewire the plug for the stove. Oh, and get a black stove. I just couldn't wait and wanted to work with what I have, or can do inexpensively. I might even chunk a hole in the back of the cabinet so that I can at least fix that aspect of the kitchen, and push the cabinet back up to the wall. I could even get the things out that have fallen back there while I was at it... Has anyone done lime waxing over cabinets that are already sealed, like these?

    • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Sep 16, 2014
      @Cindy D. Why not paint the stove if you hate it now. You can get paint like they use for engines in cars. Or you can have auto place paint it for you. I've seen ref. done this way painted every color you can think of. How about a red stove? Just kidding but an idea if you are going to get rid of it soon anyway.

  • Ceiling Tiles By Us Ceiling Tiles By Us on Sep 09, 2014
    Hi Cindy, If you would like to remodel your cabinets on a budget, check out these beautiful and easy DIY backsplashes. They come in rolls and are made of PVC. I am attaching photos for you so you can see some projects our customers have done restoring bars, cabinets and more. They come in many colors such as white, white pearl, silver, antique copper, and many more. If you are interested contact us at

  • Jane Jane on Sep 09, 2014
    If you like your stove, you can get appliance paint and paint it black to match the other applicances.

  • Anne Ballantyne Blair Anne Ballantyne Blair on Sep 09, 2014
    We had the same question about our appliance garage when we redid our countertops a couple of years ago. My husband VERY carefully cut through where the "garage" joined the upper cupboard. It then lifted right out. The counter guys laid the new countertop; and my husband then put the garage back. At the seam he used some putty that matches the cupboards. It worked out really well and the seam doesn't show at all. When they first put those things in it would sure help if they did it in two pieces :-)

  • Andrea Andrea on Sep 10, 2014
    Another thought as yoyou renovate is open shelving unless you are as messy as I am. :)

  • Kelly S Kelly S on Sep 12, 2014
    We updated our kitchen cabinets by adding hardware and replacing the upper cabinets' doors with ones that have architecture glass in them. Hubby also has to have the natural wood and I definitely need a change.

  • Jane Heath Jane Heath on Sep 15, 2014
    Such good ideas. Thank you. Jane H. Alton, Il.