by Megan Wild

There’s excitement that comes with designing your own kitchen, but there’s also a bit of trepidation: how can I be sure that everything is going to look great?

One of the biggest choices you’ll make is what color to stain the wood in your kitchen. Whether you’re considering the floors, the cabinets, or both, you want to ensure that your colors go together and will be a stylish choice for years to come.

To make the decision easier for you, we’ve gathered six of the top tips when it comes to choosing the stain(s) for your kitchen. Read up, grab a paintbrush and get ready to transform the look of your home’s culinary centerpiece into a place you love to be — and, of course, a place you love to look at. 

1. Consider the Wood Type

Perhaps you’re not renovating your kitchen from the ground up, but working with pre-existing cabinetry and flooring. If so, you’ll want to figure out what type of wood you have before you stain it. Most notoriously unsuited for staining is oak, as it is extremely porous. The stain will soak deep into the grain, and you’ll end up with shine-free woodwork. You’re much better off staining maple, birch or cherry varieties, as these have much slimmer grain and appear shinier post-stain.

If, of course, you can’t replace your oak cabinets or floors, you might consider other options. Paint, for one, can transform the look of these cabinets, too, without the dull effect stain would have.

2. Envision the Rest of Your Finishes

You should never start staining before you’ve figured out everything that will be part of your kitchen renovation. Creating a vision board, of sorts, will help: match your stain with your countertops, backsplash, countertops, etc. before you even start prepping to stain. That way, you aren’t left disappointed or in need of a new shade of stain after you install everything.

3. Ask Everyone What They Think

Okay, you don’t have to quiz everyone in your life as to the stain you should choose. But, once you’ve decided on all of the elements you want in your kitchen, ask others for their opinion as to the stain that looks best. This especially applies to those you live with who will have to look at the new design scheme every day too. They might have input or advice that will make your plan turn out even better.

wood stain

4. Make Sure You Have a Finished Sample

When you paint the walls in your home, you probably brush on a test swatch of color. One or two coats, directly onto white walls and voila: you can see precisely what the color looks like throughout the day and decide whether or not it’s right for your space.

The same does not apply to a stain, unfortunately. There are many more steps to staining: you’ll have to sand the wood down, put down a primer and multiple coats of stain and then seal it all off with a finishing coat that leaves a bit of shine. If you only test a scrap piece of wood with  stain and stain alone, the look will be completely different than a completed staining project. Make sure you apply all test layers to get a better idea of what your woodwork will look like post-stain. 

5. Let the Light In

As you do when testing paint samples, make sure you look at your potential stain samples throughout the day. Do you still like the hue when it’s flooded in natural light, or do you only like it at night under the glow of your overhead lighting? You’ll want to find a shade that looks perfect around the clock because, you know, you never know when you’ll be in the kitchen whipping up a tasty treat.

wood stain

6. Toss Around Stain-Free Options Too

Although stain is your number one choice, it’s not the only option when it comes to updating the look of your kitchen. In fact, some of the most stunning cabinet makeovers don’t involve stain at all.

We already mentioned paint as an option for transforming oak cabinets, but it can look incredible as a means for revamping just about any type of wood. You can completely repaint or try an aged, shabby-chic effect for something more unexpected. Other homeowners have removed cabinet doors to create open shelving or added glass to create showcase cabinets — the possibilities are endless, and they neither start nor end with stain.

Of course, stain is your first choice and a viable option in most cases. So, choose your materials, roll up your sleeves and start staining- you have a kitchen to renovate.

Are you looking for a new home in the Triangle? Check out Caruso Homes, and get a kitchen just like the featured one above! 

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