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needsometips08

Painted white or wood stained? How do you decide?

needsometips08
13 years ago

How did you guys decide if you were going to go white or stained (natural or otherwise)?

I will use both, but have to decide which will go on the perimeter.

I LOVE both white AND wood kitchens! How in the world did you ever decide? What swayed you one way or the other?

I am afraid that stained is 90's cause I will not go dark if it's perimeter. Something equivalent to toffee maple. (For those who saw me ask about walnut, it's in the game still, but barely. I am scared of the risk of it being dark.) But then again, my friends who have kids with white say do not do it cause it gets so dirty with kids - and we have a ton of kids in and out daily.

I really want both. How did you pick!?!

Comments (34)

  • forgottensong
    13 years ago

    What is the wood work in your house? We have stained wood throughout out a saltbox style house. I thought white would look startling and just too modern. We went with a rustic Dillon birch with some knots and moss/mocha glazed cabinets for the glass door cabinets which have showcase wood on the front. I will have a new, bigger window in the kitchen which will be the white plastic instead of stained. The stained window we have now didn't hold up well in back of the sink and dishwasher. I'd go to different kitchen design companies including Home Depot and Lowes where you can see kitchens already made up in white, stain, glaze, etc. We fell in love with the Dillon birch which was a show piece kitchen at Home Depot. I think it matches the style of our house and the other woodwork well. Hardware can also help modernize stained cabinets. Our kd hates white cabinets.

  • teppy
    13 years ago

    the great news is that you love both and todays style is mixed kitchens. i say go with the white perimeters and do the stained island. my kitchen is mixed too, but instead of a stained island, i did a painted one. i feel like the island being the darker color will help hide marks that get made when people are sitting at the island. its a natural congregation spot and takes more hits and nicks. i'm afraid that white would not have looked good for too long in my house.

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  • rhome410
    13 years ago

    I kept loving painted white kitchens, but just felt in my heart that wouldn't be 'me' and I would have a hard time feeling at home in an all white kitchen. Instead I looked for other elements that were speaking to me in the white kitchens that might help me create the same feeling that I was liking in the photos.

    I really appreciate the beauty of wood and have a woodworker dh who feels the same...So wood with some painted sections mixed in worked for us. This gave me the best of both worlds. The laundry and sewing room are all painted, but bathrooms and a little over half the kitchen is wood.

    I have to say that I took on the cabinet door wiping chore the other day, and was glad after just doing the island that I was glad the whole kitchen wasn't cream like it is. I had a hard time getting some dark residue out of the inner corners/seams of the frames on the Shaker style doors.

  • zelmar
    13 years ago

    I feel fortunate that my decision was easy because wood cabinets fit well with the old unpainted trim in our house and white would have looked odd. I love the white kitchens I see in magazines and posted here but I think it's the type of thing that I love seeing in someone else's house but not in my own. A lot of people love the variation they see in their stone counters and I feel the same way about wood. I like seeing the crispness of white in 2D layouts but I like being surrounded by the warmth of wood in 3D.

    I think that staining wood close to the natural color of the wood (or the color it would naturally darken to) and keeping the finish on the wood looking natural rather than glossy helps keep the wood from looking dated when different trends in stains come and go.

  • marcy96
    13 years ago

    I am having the same exact problem! My original inspiration photos were stained wood, mainly light cherry, to give that european country feel. Then I started pulling out pictures of white glazed cabinets as well. I really love both! My kitchen is on the small size so I think the white would open it up some. I don't have room for an island but I am putting hutch cabinets in the dining area so maybe I'll do both. One of my friends did say her white cabinets get dirty from her kids. Good luck with your choice!

  • carolinesmom
    13 years ago

    I've always loved white kitchens and always will. To me, a bright kitchen is the visual equivalent of the morning cup of coffee! But I also love dark hardwood floors and I just love the contrast with whites/creams. After living in the south for years, I now live in the midwest and it can get very gray in the winter months. Our new house under construction has lots of trees and front and back porches and light is an issue. I thought my preference for white would be good to reflect light. Best of luck!

  • rosie
    13 years ago

    It was easy for me because I like cabinets to sink into and be part of the architecture, as if the original crew who built the house built them at the same time as a matter of course. If I had woodgrain walls, I'd have woodgrain cabinets too. To me, cabinets, especially uppers, of a distinctly different finish from the walls look like cabinets attached to the walls at a later date. It's a look that showcases that cabinetry specifically and sets it off, which just has never been what I happen to want.

    Also, contrasting surfaces highlight the lines, whether calm and horizontal or bobbling up and down, of the cabinetry and make the picture more busy. The lines and composition should be very good to do that, otherwise it introduces a tricky issue to the layout of what's really a workroom, which sometimes can only be resolved at the expense of work function. Not at all impossible, as many lovely kitchens show, but just harder to carry off.

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    You all bring up such relevant points.

    My house has natural stained hemlock for the base mouldings and staircase (no crown...yet), but the fireplace surround and mantle is off-white so I can do either.

    I found this picture online and it is pretty much going to be my exact kitchen. The cabinetry, most of the details, and the layout is exactly the same as will be in reno with just one exception - where you see the fridge in the picture is the side of an arched opening leading to the dining room at our house. The fridge is to the right of the sink, and there is a prep sink in the island.

    So this picture showed me what it would be like to have white perimeters. I love it! But I am torn because everything you guys said about wood is so true - the depth and richness and built in look. It just feels so warm in 3D - in a way that paint can't replicate. But white paint is so beautiful and elegant and bright!

    Do you think this kitchen would look just as good flip-flopped with stained perimeter? Would it look outdated? Do you see a way to make it a more equal mix without getting crazy? I will have a free standing hutch on another wall that will match whatever the island ends up being.

    {{!gwi}}

    I do not trust my own design sense (or lack thereof) and my biggest fear is to get done and realize I've created a kitchen that is already old news and doesn't look appealing. I know how unappealing my honey oak is and I don't want to end up in the same boat, different stain a few years post-reno.

  • idrive65
    13 years ago

    The kitchen in the photo is lovely. If it's what you want, don't get overly caught up in what will be outdated -- at some point every trend becomes outdated. Glazes, islands a different color than the rest of the cabinets, oil-rubbed-bronze fixtures, tumbled marble backplashes will someday scream "early 2000's".

    The backlash against honey oak wasn't the oak per se, but the builder's grade flat-panel plastic sided stuff that was everywhere.

  • eastcoastmom
    13 years ago

    {{!gwi}}

    ^^^ Here's another picture - from a past GW thread. I also wrestled with the idea of doing the painted cream perimeters and different color for island vs. all white vs. stain and creme island (and we won't even get into how much I really love contemporary) however the creamy perimeters and cherry islands are just what I kept being drawn to and envisioning. I have also just always liked a bright, light kitchen (and being able to see when something is dirty). On the other hand, a close friend has a dark perimeter, buttercreme island and wood floor and I just love it. Either can be absolutely beautiful.

  • southernstitcher
    13 years ago

    I wanted white but DH put his foot down, and now I'm glad he did. Our house wouldn't look right with a white kitchen - we have exposed beams that are stained as well as all the trim in that part of the house. And I'm not into scrubbing cabinets. DD's bath has white cabinets, and mine will too someday. They do get nasty!
    I learned here that it isn't so much the stain or paint color, but the whole of the kitchen that makes it look dated. The dark stained cabinets people are putting in now don't make the kitchens look like the dark stained cabinets of the 70's at all. And the very lightest honey toned cabinets I've seen don't look 90's either - if it goes with the house, and enough other things in the process were updated. The countertops, floor, backsplash - can tie it all in for an updated look, no matter stain color. Usually it's just the age - the shabbiness of what you have that is the problem. At least it is in my case.

    My cabinets will be just a very very tad bit darker, or richer than they are right now, to keep with the existing beams, which are a medium dark honey tone from the late 70's. We'll be restaining some of the other woodwork to refresh it. I cut that expense of changing all of the woodwork. It's just less headache.

    If you incorporate other elements that are updated you'll be fine whatever stain you choose. Pick what you like that goes with the rest of your house, and don't worry.

    forgottensong -- I would love to see your Dillon Birch kitchen. I wish our HD or Lowe's had a display of those. In the KM pictures, that is one nice kitchen. Please post photos if you can.

  • biochem101
    13 years ago

    As for outdated, my grandmother had a white kitchen, my mother has a dark one. I lived in my grandmothers home until I was 4 so maybe early childhood memories???

    Our house is all dark woodwork, DH and I both like white, so we bought it with the intention of eventually turning everything white. It's been a LONG haul and it's not done yet, but we're getting close. I don't know that we should have taken on such a job but here we are. You just set out with a goal in mind and keep pursuing it.

    In our minds we're making the house "Better", making it "right". LOL! Watch the next person comes along and turns it all dark again! You do it for you.

  • judydel
    13 years ago

    For me the decision was easy. After vacillating back and forth, I made my decision to go with stained perimeter and white island because I thought it would wear better and go better with the stained trim in the rest of the house.

    But a couple of days later I starting crying! I burst into tears blubbering something about how I had to have a creamy white kitchen!! That's how I knew that I should go with white perimeter and stained island. I say make your best decision and see what happens.

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Judydel, that's how I came to my current floorplan. In the end, when it came down to the final 2, I picked the sensible, (debatably) more functional layout - and was in tears so I knew it wasn't right. So I went with the second most functional, which allows me a more favored set of pros anyway.

    I met with the cabinet guy tonight and he is going to bid out the cost of white perimeter and black walnut island. And no tears yet.

    In my case, there just seem to be no good options with the wood perimeter. I don't want the grainy stuff so oak and ash are out. My cabinet guy hates maple with an other-than-natural stain to the extent that he just won't do it since he is at a place in his life and circumstances where he can be picky and choosy about the jobs he accepts (I think it's partly that he is a wood purist and partly since maple doesn't take a stain well, he doesn't want his name attached to it), and I don't want the light stuff so natural maple and beech are out. That leaves cherry and walnut, and cherry is more red than I want, and walnut risks being much darker than I want. Oh if only I could use my favorite woods - alder or pine, both of which are way too soft to be functional with a busy family :-).

    Since I love white kitchens too, it only makes sense to do white perimeters, and then the darker walnut will be just fine in smaller amounts. Plus we will do wood floors. So I think we have a plan...

    Great input on how to decide! It's much appreciated. This forum is awesome.

  • karena_2009
    13 years ago

    As for me, I felt that I had too much wood in such a small area: natural cherry table and chairs, red oak floors, dark cherry entertainment center, and so on, all in an open floor plan. I was also terribly drawn to painted cabinets and wanted to mix and match, so I went with cream colored cabinets for the U-shaped kitchen with black cabinets for the peninsula.

    Good luck on your kitchen project!

  • rhome410
    13 years ago

    Is birch too light? My sister has gorgeous birch floors...Kind of the light-medium and interesting without overwhelming or coarse grain.

    As for soft, we have Douglas Fir with our bunch, and it's holding up fine. We had cherry before, which isn't that hard either, but harder than fir. The vertical surfaces don't seem to get the abuse that horizontal would show. Walnut sounds beautiful, though.

  • katieob
    13 years ago

    Hi.

    Since we began our new home build, this was my plan & inspiration kitchen (Alliern's kitchen):

    But then, I panicked. I was totally stumped about what stools I would use. Also, I was nervous about getting the stain right. I wanted a walnut/alder look, but the island is cherry...I didn't want reddish.

    In the end, I opted for the perimeter & the island to be white (BM White Dove) with contrasting counters (soapstone on perimeter, calacatta marble on island). I plan to get my warm wood fix with mahogany/espresso wood stools and heart pine floors.

    I have little ones (2 yrs. & 9 months) & a big, clumsy lab-so I am gambling with all white. The island overhang is about 24 inches, so at least kicking feet will be avoided.

    I couldn't handle finishing the house & looking at the kitchen and thinking " I don't love that stained island color".

    Now that I've decided (finally), I feel much better.
    Hope you do too.

    Good luck.

  • tzmaryg
    13 years ago

    Check out "Marybet's Finished Kitchen" which was recently (July 13) posted. She did a beautiful stained perimeter with a white island. She says the wood is cherry with a fruitwood stain. It seems to to give it a furniture look without being dark. It is also tied into the look of the house: the doors have been redone with stain. Elegant.

  • southernstitcher
    13 years ago

    Birch is a favorite of mine - and I believe it takes stain better than maple.
    I was opting for alder, and though I don't have a busy family anymore, none of us are gentle people! My cabinetmaker discouraged me from hickory because it's so hard that his source for doors and drawer fronts charges a huge upcharge for the hickory. Then we decided it would be too rustic a look anyway, so we chose alder as our next choice, to get some but not a huge number of knots and a semi-rustic look.
    Please share with me what you have been told about the alder where you know it's too soft for your family. I may need to switch to birch.

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Southernsticher, alder is gorgeous! If I didn't have kids who are not at all gentle with things (I think they get it from their momma!), it would probably be my choice (and I'd just try hard to be gentle with it :-)).

    If you look up the Janka hardness scale - google it - you will see hickory is 1820 and birch is 1220 while alder is 590. The bottom of the scale is poplar at 300 at the softest. Cherry and walnut hover around 1000. I've done the fingernail test with several alder finished cabinet door samples, and you can easily poke an indention into the wood or scratch it with your fingernail.

    Still, if you can be gentle and don't have 6 tornado kids running through the house daily (we are the neighborhood gathering spot for all the kids), I wouldn't hesitate to do it.

    Rhome, I am going to ask my cabinet guy about birch! Thanks for the suggestion. I don't see traditional style kitchens done in it much, but I do like the idea of doing things a little different than normal :-).

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Eastcoast mom, thanks for posting the picture. That kitchen looks so elegant, and it's really reassuring about going with a walnut island. I like the darker look of the island in that picture.

    Rhome, I explored birch and it looks like it won't be the wood for us, and I am feeling pretty comfortable with doing the white perimeter. And importantly, DH really is enthusiastic about the white perimeter and walnut island. Thank you so much for the suggestion about birch though.

    Last question: obviously the kitchen in that photo won't be the exact one we recreate - we will have different backsplash, more glass cabs, staggered depths, probably no corbels on hood, maybe won't even do glaze, etc. I love the sparkly glass mosaic backspalshes so may do that. Do any of you see anything right off the bat that would improve that kitchen asthetically? I realize that style is a matter of personal preference, but I love hearing others ideas if anything jumps out at you!

  • rhome410
    13 years ago

    It seems like you've hit on the right thing if you're leaning that way and dh is enthusiastic...That's great!

    What are you doing for counter? I don't like the glaze in the photo, but that's so personal, as are many aesthetic decisions. Do you have other inspiration kitchens that may help you narrow down what you'll love? Have you taken the Sweeby test so that all of your decisions work together to achieve whatever feeling and vision you'd like?

    Here is a link that might be useful: Sweeby test for determining your kitchen vision

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    For the counter, I am hoping to find a granite that is very calm like the White Princess one firsthouse_mp just found. I love the idea of quartz, but they just keep looking so modern and not warm.

    I am up in the air about the glaze too. I have time to decide that.

    Sweeby test:

    The feel:
    Warm
    Elegant
    Comfortable
    Tranquil
    Homey
    Light
    Traditional yet a clean look  not overly ornate or foo-foo
    Mix of finishes

    I want my kitchen to be a palatte of calm, tranquil, yet striking features that have depth and exude warmth. I want to create a kitchen that feels warm and homespun, yet wrapped in elegance. I want natural sunlight to bathe the space, and warm woods underfoot. I want creamy white to sit side by side with natural wood with brown/yellow undertones. I want the countertops to feel clean and unbusy. I want my backsplash to have a calm and uniform sparkle to it  something that adds zing without clutter. I would like the focal points to be a gorgeous island, a beautiful wood hood, and the archway millwork with the armoire and chandelier in the background.

    Inspiration kitchens:

    {{!gwi}}

    {{!gwi}}

    {{!gwi}}

  • beekeeperswife
    13 years ago

    We decided to paint the perimeter cabinets and add a new island. We also went with a 48" fridge surrounded by 2 new 18" pantry cabinets across from the existing perimeter cabinets. We couldn't decide to paint the perimeter dark, and order new light cabinets, or vice versa. I just kept sitting at the kitchen table staring at the room. Finally, I decided that if the perimeter was dark, then the room would be too dark for me....it would be a continuation of my chocolate walls in the dining room. I also think that since I was going from dark oak cabinets, I kind of knew how that would play with the light, etc. Once I put that first coat of primer on those cabinets, I was in Heaven.

    Hopefully someday soon I will be able to post my finished kitchen here. Good luck to you, just sit and stare at it for awhile--the answer will come to you.

  • jmc2009
    13 years ago

    needsometips08, I love your inspiration photos. Sharb's kitchen has been one of my main inspirations, too. I'm interested in the first inspiration photo, the one with the arch/molding. Is it from GW? Do you remember the name of the poster so I could look it up? Thanks!

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    jmc2009, yep, I absolutely know whose kitchen it is - margieb2 from GW. Margie's kitchen has been my #1 inspiration photo during my entire planning process. My fav kitchen here, which is challenging to pick one since there are so many jawdroppingly gorgeous ones! But there is just something about margies! I am using a lot of her same elements in my own kitchen. (Margie, if you are reading and still on GW, do you mind? I hope not!)

    Here is a link that shows her kitchen from every angle possible: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0722383431827.html

    Enjoy. Kitchen porn at it's finest :-).

  • jmc2009
    13 years ago

    Thanks, needsometips08! Love all the photos and great details. Actually, I love everything about Margie's kitchen. Can't wait to hear details/see photos of your kitchen. We are just in the planning stage here. . .

  • Gena Hooper
    13 years ago

    I have a similar dilemma so I'm following this thread with interest. My husband and I wanted creamy white cabinets with dark counters (and a short light cherry accent run). The kitchen's small and will eventually have wood floors so it would look nice, airy, and classic. BUT we have three kids and two dogs. We're messy. We're outdoorsy. We draw with markers on the kitchen floor. So maybe white isn't smart. So now I'm wondering about light cherry cabinets with a blue-gray painted accent run. Or cherry base cabs with white painted uppers? Ugh!

  • valjoh1
    13 years ago

    I'm trying to figure this out too. I love white cabs but wondering now if I should stain the island or just the bases and if so what color - yikes another decision :)

  • ccoombs1
    13 years ago

    When I was first designing my new house, I envisioned a white kitchen. I guess I had golden oak for so long I was just anxious to get as far away from it as I could. When I started looking at cabinets, my budget would allow IKEA. And I didn't like IKEA's white cabinets. I did, however, love IKEA's espresso colored cabinets and started planning my kitchen around those instead. I ended up going with custom cabinets instead with a dark stain and really do love them. Sometimes when I see the gorgeous white kitchen here on GE I wish I had stuck with my original vision, but these dark cabinets are so rich and classy looking that I am very happy with them.

  • pps7
    13 years ago

    We have decided on white painted cabinets. We're having dark wide plank wood floors and we love the contrast. Also with wood floors and a large wood farm table, I thought the space would look dark and weighed down with stained cabinets. Every time I see a kitchen with white cabinets and wood floors, I love it, so I know I've made the right choice. Now it will take about 10 months for to actually be able to see it. LOL!

  • nonnyx2
    13 years ago

    I have always liked how crisp and clean the white and black kitchens look.
    We currently have black and white kitchen flooring and have both a black fridge and gas range.
    They are fairly new purchases and will be used in our relocated and remodeled kitchen.

    My sister has almond bisque cabinets in her kitchen and they look beautiful in her home.
    I was tempted to do something similar for just a split second then realized it wasn't what I wanted.

    I have never, in our 43 years of marriage, had new kitchen cabinets.
    We have had the same old painted cupboards, which have been a myriad of colors from almond
    to green and yellow then white and blue and lastly to our current white and black.
    Fall has always been my favorite time of year and I wanted a kitchen that reflected that warm autumn glow.
    Understandably we are drawn to wood. It was an easy decision choosing solid Maple cabinets in Wheat
    The color just seemed very welcoming and warm to me.
    I like the clean more modern look of sleek cabinets it is just the the style of doors and drawers I have yet to finalize.
    Yikes! That decision is one that has to be made by tomorrow!
    We will be using a Mineral Jet laminate for the counters.

    Colors and styles are such individual choices. Keep looking and finding pictures of kitchens that appeal to you. Compare them and see if you are repeatedly drawn to one color or style.

    Good luck to one and all involved the the happy chaos of a kitchen redo!

  • needsometips08
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    It really is a hard decision, but usually there is some sort of indicator to the right direction - you may just have to listen hard and dig deep to find it.

    People gave all sorts of good things to clue in on in this thread from just sitting and staring at your kitchen daily and it coming to you over time....to looking at inspiration pics and tuning into which ones make you sigh in wonder.....to just making a final decision one way or another and seeing if peace comes with it.

    For me, I did decide on white with my previous cabinet maker, and I was excited, but still felt very nervous about it. The glaze or no glaze choice was not sitting right at all either. I wanted the warmth of glaze, but not the potential to be dated or the lack of control over how heavy or light it was applied.

    In the end, we switched cabinet makers, and I realized that stained wood really does fit more with our house. That's what all our millwork and window casings/trim are. So that's what we chose (stained birch, actually), and I feel peace about it. There is something about the warmth of wood that paint can't really replicate. Yet, I get my white painted fix too - we have a cream fireplace mantle and surround, so I am adding to that in the adjacent kitchen with a creamy white island, hutch, and columns. I am still toying with the idea of using black or green on the island instead of white...we will see!

    BTW, our kitchen should be completed by the end of the year. Our aim is Nov 1, but I think that's going to be pushing it.

  • glenster_jr
    13 years ago

    I guess this is technically a highjack (sorry), but can anyone give me any info on the picture that eastcoastmom posted (believable buff antique white cabinets)? A link to the original thread would be great, but I would settle for the paint brand and color, too. Thanks.