Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog: Shot of Espresso {DIY Dream Kitchen}

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shot of Espresso {DIY Dream Kitchen}

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Source: Houzz.com with credit given to the designer in lower right hand corner. Notes/arrows added by me w/my fancy schmancy iPad app.

What do the above kitchens have in common other than the fact they are not in house?

I’ll give you a hint: they’re tall, dark and handsome.

Espresso cabinets.

Lurve.

Oh my sweet kitchen heavens, dark cabinets to me are like a cupcake covered in the most divine chocolate glaze ever. And the shiny hardware is the equivalent of sprinkles. Glorious shiny sprinkles.

I covet thee.

Actually, covet might not be a strong enough word. It’s always been a dream of mine to have dark espresso cabinets. However, I’ve watched enough HGTV to know that my first home wouldn’t be my dream home, so these are the cabinets I currently have (with the previous owners stuff still in the picture).

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Oak. Lotsa oak. I hate it. Don’t get me wrong, the cabinets are fairly new, and they’re super tall up top and I am so grateful for all the space they offer us. However, I’d love them more if they were prettier.

I sound like a mean teenage boy, right? “I like her, but only if she were brunette.”

But yes. That’s how I feel.

What to do? Well, my plan A was to win the lottery and build my dream home, but since that isn’t panning out, I need another plan. A realistic one, perhaps? Sure. Yeah.

Therefore, I did what I always do and went to google after watching way too many episodes of I Hate My Kitchen on DIY Network. Dangerous, I tell you, when I watch that stuff all day. I get too many ideas. Do you all do that, too? Well, I came upon a fantastic forum featuring lovely people who have done exactly what I want to do. The queen of them all is Celticmoon. If I could meet her in person, I’d probably say, “I’m not worthy!” and bow down.

Here’s her before & after. Can you believe that’s the same kitchen? I wish she had bigger photos to share, but even in these small ones you can tell a MAJOR difference. The biggest change? The cabinets. Not literally, but just the color since they’re the exact same cabinets. GORGEOUS. You can ooh and aah her photos here and see my instructions right over here. WOO!

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Now my DH isn’t onboard with me going at it and trying it on the kitchen cabinets right away, so we agreed I’d try it on the bathroom vanity first. So I took a drawer, followed her instructions with a few modifications and here are my results:

Vanity before:

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First coat:

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Second Coat:

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Third & final coat + hardware:

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SQUEE.

Isn’t it just what I wanted? Yes. So, what’s the point of this post, then? I think I need some reassurance that it looks good and that I am not going to ruin my kitchen. I’ll be honest, the price is right and the time/work effort is low. The prep of the door took 2 minutes and to apply each coat took 2-3 minutes tops. That’s a total of 10-15 minutes. The longest part of this process is waiting 24 hours for each coat to dry, but that’s cool.

Supplies: To do my entire kitchen it’d likely cost about $100 worth of supplies for all the 30 cabinet doors, 10 drawers + cabinet frames & molding.

Time: If I do this during spring break from March 10th-18th, I could conceivably revamp my whole kitchen in a week including the 2 poly coats to protect the cabinets. Also, the weather will be more normal at that time, so I could wait 12 hours between coats instead of 24.

Value: Is it a good value to do this? Do buyers like espresso kitchens more than standard oak ones?

Hardware: We already have the pulls we want for the 10 drawers, but we would need 30 new cabinet knobs at about $2 each (I found some I love on eBay).

Backsplash: We’d need a light, bright backsplash to make it all really snazzy and not too dark. I am hoping we could get the backsplash done for around $500 or less. Maybe white subway tile?

Lighting: We already replaced our old fluorescent box light with a satin nickel track light that is stunning.

TOTAL COST: $700ish for a total new look for our kitchen cabinets

Good investment? I think so. I hope.

Would this be a tutorial you all would be interested in? I plan on documenting the whole process to hopefully inspire others to get rid of the oak, if you wanna.

UPDATE: My DIY tutorial has been posted here with lots of instructions!

94 comments:

  1. I think you should do it. It looks fantastic and so much better than the light oak.

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  2. Wow! Looks great! I think you should do it! Heck, after seeing your pics, I want to do it.

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  3. Looks great. I would love to do something like that to my cupboards but considering I have oak trim throughout the home, I don't know how it would look.

    Go for it and cannot wait to see the finished project.

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  4. I think the light oak cabinets are becoming more and more outdated. That espresso look is more modern to me, so it would be worth it.

    And now, you have the gears in my head turning to redo our oak cabinets. Yikes. My poor H. LOL

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  5. They look fantastic stained! I would so go for it! I think dark wood is timeless and will look great!

    And let me say, your kitchen is lovely. It is such a great shape and set up! Lots of potential.

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  6. love it. do it. I have oak and I don't want oak anymore. Lots of hard work but then lots of pride in your kitchen!!

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  7. WOW!! As I was reading and scrolling I was amazed at that 1st drawer. That's incredible! Your change over turned out very nicely. I totally think you should head into that kitchen and dive right into that cabinet project!!!

    YOU GO GIRL!!!!

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  8. I love the dark stain way better than the oak! I think you should go for it!

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  9. I LOVE the dark wood!!!! It's gorgeous!!! Now my gears are turning because I really want to change my cabinets but they are ugly 80's style with white laminate AND ugly oak trim. The laminate is the worst part. Hmmmm.....

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    Replies
    1. I have the same kind of cabinets. I redone mine by replacing all the cabinet doors and drawers I found replacement ones at a local flea market.
      Save the cost of new cabinets it was some work but well worth replacing the
      doors.

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  10. I definitely think the darker color is more your style! The lighter cabinets scream country kitchen which comes no where near Monica! ;) I say do it!

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  11. OMG I am so doing this in our house. Our cabinets are the same yucky oak, but the will look fabulous (like yours) with a makeover :)

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  12. And yes- I would love a tutorial!! Can't wait to see what the finished product looks like in your bathrooms/kitchen!

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  13. That would make a sexy kitchen! I love light kitchens, while my husband would love one like this. I can't wait to see more!

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  14. Yes, yes, please to the tutorial!! We're drowning in oak over here! :)

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  15. Thank you SO much for posting this! I have been wanting to do exactly this for 7 years but couldn't find the right tutorial. The results are FAB!! Yay! Can't wait to see your entire "new" kitchen!

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  16. I would love a tuitorial on this I just bought a home and need to do this!!!!

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  17. WOW! I Love this and I totally want to do it!! NEVER thought of that! We have oak everywhere in our house!

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  18. I just saw this on Pinterest. I too have 'orange' cabinets in my bathroom and kitchen which I am dying to change. Reading your step by step instructions have convinced me to try - with my bathroom at least! Ordered stain and topcoat from Amazon, can't wait for them to arrive. THANK YOU!

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  19. I used this technique on my bathroom vanity, and it's amazing. I used java 2 coats and then topped it with georgian cherry and then 3 coats of poly. I used the foam brush technique, not the sock. For some reason, that just didn't work for me. I will be starting my kitchen soon--lots of work!

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    Replies
    1. How did the blend of java and georgian turn out? Do you have any pictures? I want to try this on my oak vanity but think the java will be too dark for me.

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  20. What a great tutorial. :) I found this on pinterest. I'm excited to be your newest follower. Megan

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  21. Hi Monica,
    Have you done your kitchen yet? I am curious how it turned out:)

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  22. we ordered the exact same stain you used after reading this article. I am doing mine over the course of the next week or two thanks!!

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  23. Go for it!!
    I actually did this in my kitchen a couple of years ago - it looks like a brand new kitchen.
    It was definitely worth the effort.

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  24. Okay, just ran across this on Pinterest, (I'm always late to the party) and absolutely love it. I can't wait to dig around your blog to find the kitchen!
    http://kamsmomusa.blogspot.com/2012/06/pallet-kitchen-island.html

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  25. I am in the same boat as you with the oak. I absolutely hate it. We are getting new granite countertops, new flooring, and a black splash...but I cannot justify replacing cabinets when ours are wonderful wood and not very old. I have been looking at the Rustoleum Cabinet Restoration system. I love the dark expresso finish, however, I have had real estate agents (a couple) that it is not wise to go with dark wood because it goes out of style fast and can be a factor if ever selling your home (and hopefully I will not be living in this house longer than 5-7 more years). I have had white cabinets before at our old house and although they were beautiful, every single thing showed up...I am thinking of doing a pickled off white (pickled doesn't seem to show every drop of dirt/grime like white lol)now, but I haven't decided for sure. It's tough to make these decisions.

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    1. I recently did Monica's technique in my bathroom and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. But I think you're right.. I don't want to go that dark in my kitchen, as I've heard it's a fad that will soon go out of style also. Besides, I want my kitchen to be bright and cheery, and am thinking of doing my kitchen in an antique glaze, similar to pickled, but not as light/pink as pickled oak looks.

      I just have to comment again about this technique here.. it's perfect, and durable. Everyone thinks I got new cabinets. I plan on doing all my bathrooms with the darker stain. It's just gorgeous, and even better in person. If you're thinking about doing it, DO IT! It's simple. Hardest part was the sanding, and that didn't even take long. The waiting is murder though. lol

      Thank you, Monica, for sharing your tutorial with us!

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    2. I rent my home and wish I could do this to the cabinets, but I have a light oak dining table and chairs that I want darker. Think this would work on the table and chairs? And I have bar chairs too. Hopefully the contrast in woods will add color to the house

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  26. I LOVE the look of the dark cabinets. I have oak as well, light oak though and it looks yucky and yellowish. a lot of my friends are getting new cabinets and I can't justify the cost. I have been wanting some ideas and help to try mine and you are an angel for posting all this info. I can't wait to try it! I plan on trying it but leaving it closer to coat 2 so it is darker, but not so dark (or I may try a different shade). Love it and I will repin you from a friend. Thanks!

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  27. Thanks! you are right about the non-feed back..... and very much appreciated, The cabinets are wonderful!

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  28. From my personal experience of wanting to buy a house. I want the dark, not the oak.
    Do it! It looks beautiful!
    Saw this from pinterest.

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  29. So glad you did a tutorial! Off to check it out :)

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  30. i just did this in my kitchen and bathroom. it looks amazing

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  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I saw your tutorial and just finished my kitchen cabinets. It's just what my kitchen needed for a new look for just pennies compared to brand new cabinets! This was an amazingly easy process...long- but easy! I am in love!

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  32. Thank you for posting a tutorial on this!!! I found it on Pintrest and feel the exact same way about my oak cabinets in our home. Yucky!!! But now I can afford a change. :) Thank you!!

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  33. Well, I just ordered my gel stain and top coat from Amazon. I have never done anything like this before but you have inspired me. I have oak cabinets in baths and kitchen so will try the smallest bath first. I plan on taking before and after shots so once I am complete, I will share.

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  34. Found you on pinterest and I am really looking forward to trying this gel staining process. We're in the midst of a bathroom remodel and I want to do this on my vanity. If I like the results I will likely attempt the kitchen next!

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  35. Now I want to do this on all the light wood in my house!!! I think my hubby might kill me though if I even suggest it!! Thanks for the tutorial though!

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  36. That looks amazing! I want to run out and do my bathroom vanity now! I wonder if my hubby would notice?

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  37. I did our hallway guest bathroom last year. I have been lagging to do our master bathroom and kitchen cabinets. The best time to do this is in the summer cause, it dries so.... Much faster! I have basically the same cabinets. I like in a newer home and I hate the oak cabinets and gold fixtures. Bleh....

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  38. Do it! You did a fantastic job, and we all cannot wait to see the results. Also, dark wood is in! Who knows, maybe after the redo THIS will become your dream home :) Good luck!

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  39. Just came across this via Pinterest and it's the perfect timing! I purchased some furniture for my sons room off of Craigslist with the intention to paint it black, but I LOVE this idea SO MUCH better! I cannot wait to do this. I also have cabinets in our master bathroom (oak) that I would love to do this too as well. Thank you SO much for the tutorial!!!

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  40. If you are brave enough to do the staining, you can totally do your own backsplash. It's easy. You spread on mastic adhesive with a trowel and just stick them up there. Wait and grout. I have done my kitchen with a carrera mini-brick and both yellow brick fireplaces in my house with Italian tile. It's messy, but not difficult. And it was CHEAP. Lots of tutorials online if you are nervous.

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  41. I am just starting the poly coat and I will have a new and improved bathroom. Thanks so much for the tutorial. The went with the General Finishes brand, I had to order from Amazon. I really think that product is great!! Never knew about Gel stains before your tutorial.

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  42. LOVE THIS! Have bookmarked your page and will be re-doing my oak main bath as my next project! Assuming I can find the stain up here in the Great White North!

    THANK YOU!!

    Wendy
    Kitchener, ON

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  43. Does this work on laminate? Our cabinet's are cheapy and I don't believe are real wood so wasn't sure it would work on that. Any ideas?

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  44. I love it! Our cabinets have an awful white pickled oak stain... In my old house I use to cook all the time, now I can barely stand in our kitchen without itching for a sledge hammer. Do you think it'll work for those too?

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  45. Wow, I wish I had seen your blog before I did hours of priming and painting laminate vanity cabinets. 10 times the work for a similar result! I'll definitely be saving your blog for future reference. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

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  46. LOVE IT! I am in the progress of remodeling our guest bathroom and wasn't going to touch the cabinets till I read your post. I am so giving this a try. Stunning!

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  47. Has anyone bought the product anywhere else besides Amazon?

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    Replies
    1. I found it at Wood craft. If you google it, you can see where to buy it in your area. They do not sell it at Home Depot or Lowes.

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    2. There is a place in northern va called Bare woods furniture, they sell it there. I just went to the general finishes webpage and did a "retailer" search.

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  48. Awesome! Thank you for putting all the details on here! :-)

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  49. Do you think this will work on maple cabinets currently painted in whitewash finish?

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  50. Do you have a final picture so we can see your success?

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  51. I think they look great!!! I'm getting ready to do mine. I just put the first coat on a spare cabinet door. I need to practice first. So far so good.

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  52. I'm a real estate agent and I can tell you in the area I live in (Northern Virginia), light oak anything is the kiss of death and has been for quite some time. You don't see oak cabinets in new construction homes here much anymore, but I do occasionally see homes with the honey oak flooring. Buyers do not like it and it affects days on market and the price. I would say if anyone can successfully pull off this project, you would definitely attract more buyers.

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  53. I'm a realtor in Utah and while oak really dates a house; I see a strong trend toward light kitchen cabinets ie painted off white with a glaze, etc. I would recommend checking out the kitchens on Houzz. The majority of the kitchen cabinetry there is light. Dark cabinetry isn't out of favor to most buyers here as of yet but I know my high-end buyer clients tend to feel the dark cabinets are dated. Bathrooms are a different story however. I think your experimental cabinetry staining and the updated hardware in your bathroom look awesome!

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  54. I love your website .. Gives me so many ideas and inspirations !!! Thanks for sharing your passion!!! I will love to see the pics of before and after of your kitchen, and of course the step by step of the project !!!
    Thanks for being a such inspiration for so many people.
    God bless you !

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  55. Safety Sheet for "General Finish Gel Stain"
    http://www.generalfinishes.com/sites/default/files/file_downloads/MSDS-Oil-Base-Gel-Stains-020411.pdf

    Surface Prep for "General Finish Gel Stain"
    "Do not use tack cloths which contain linseed
    oils."
    http://www.generalfinishes.com/sites/default/files/file_downloads/Tech-Data-GF-Gel-Stain-&-Topcoat-061810.pdf

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  56. Wow, I never thought of this! I was considering painting my 1980's oak cabinets white but now...the gel stain looks quick, easy and totally contemporary. Now, to block drying time on my calendar... :-) Thank you so much for sharing this!!

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  57. Darker is better! We reno'd our kitchen last year and I am kicking my own hiney for not going darker! But, after seeing this I think "yes please!". Dark cabinets, stainless and black appliances and bright backsplash! Go for it because I want that tutorial lol!

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  58. Hey go for it! When you are finished can you come do our kitchen????
    ______________
    London Deco

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  59. We completed this project in our kitchen and out looks fantastic! The only problem it's the lingering smell! Ours been dry for weeks and out still smells! Has anyone else had this problem and if so, how long before the smell went away??? :/

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  60. I am so glad I found your post!!! Thank you thank you thank you! We just bought a new house with these awful cabinets and I was choking at the cost of having to replace them. But now I don't have to! You are amazing, thank you again for posting the "how to". We will be doing this ASAP!

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  61. Thank you for doing this! I'm so excited to get started! Our whole house is that honey oak -yuck! I'm starting with our bed! You are awesome for sharing this step by step for us DIY-challenged folks!

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  62. It's crazy- I just googled "I hate oak cabinets" because there is a house we are ooking at that has oak cabinets- and your blog was the first one to come up on google! and I was like, "I KNOW HER!" So apparently I know someone famous! :)

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  63. Love your blog! Thanks for the inspiration! I think I'm gonna tackle my kitchen cabinets...maple stained cherry....

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  64. My aunt just called my honey oak cabinets a "grandma" kitchen, so now I'm looking at espresso. Thanks for the tutorial! Post pics when you finish your kitchen!

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  65. Thanks so much for sharing! We're looking at houses, and I'm pretty sure the next one we buy will have an ugly kitchen. I'll be ready to tackle those cabinets because I have a honey oak dining table I'm going to practice on soon!

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  66. I have been contemplating this project for a while now. I really want a blackish dark brown finish. Can't decide if this is the color I am looking for or now. Is it at all red? It's hard to tell from pictures as monitors can give different colors. Thanks for you help! Very excited to try!

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    1. We just finished our 3rd coat and are waiting to put on the poly. It is a very, very dark espresso brown. It isn't quite black, but very dark brown, and not red at all. However, it does have a red hue during the 1st and 2nd coat because the oak is still peeking through in spots. Once you get it completely covered, there shouldn't be any red.

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  67. Wow! What an inspiration! I'm about to apply the poly to my bathroom vanity (my DH was not on board until he saw the loveliness that our vanity has taken on), then I will complete the other bathroom vanity, then I am on to the kitchen. If I can do it, you can certainly do it! You go girl and post pics when you do. Spring break is coming!

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  68. I'm sooooo happy I saw this! I have three bathrooms and a kitchen with those oak cabinets. I've wanted to do something with them for six years now, but wasn't sure what I could even do myself...aside from getting new cabinets or refacing, which is NOT in the budget. I'm printing out your "how to" now and will be starting on this soon!! Thank you for sharing!

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  69. Did you also have the "fake" kitchen sides of your oak cabinets? Guessing they turned out ok?

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  70. Forgot to ask, do you have any "after" pictures of your kitchen?

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  71. Love this idea and kudos to you, Monica, for not only doing a great job, but for sharing! I have a question that you or maybe a reader has the answer to: Does this stain come in and work as well in other shades/colors? Don't get me wrong, I love the espresso, but I'm thinking of different wood furniture I might use it on and I have an idea using two different colors for a table and chairs set.

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  72. I was afraid the espresso cabinets were going to be a fad, but I absolutely LOVE THEM and will be doing my bathrooms this way. I unfortunately was unaware of gel stains amazingness before starting my montrosity of a classic oak and wallpapered kitchen and am currently halfway through doing them a more classic cherry color the oldfashioned (and soul-sucking) way with regular stain. I of course, already bought regular stain for the bathrooms, but will likely suck up the $10 loss and get a gel stain. I think you should totally go for it, because even if it is a fad color, you'll love it while you're there.

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  73. Could you do this on a desk made of pressed wood?

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  74. DEFINITELY DO IT!!! Dark cabinets are IN and almost everyone I know is not winning the lottery anytime soon but swimming in oak cabinets, wanting a "cheap" but quality fix and freaking out about ruining their cabinets, too. Sounds like all too many in the same boat as you. I'd read it over and over until I finally convinced myself to do it too!

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  75. DO IT! It is such a rich looking finish! I do not believe this dark finish will every go out of style!

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  76. I am truly in love with this kitchen. Cabinets are playing their role perfectly with the decor and kitchen. All this ideas definitely gonna help those who are looking for kitchen remodeling. At some time you all of us need Combination Ladders to reach the desired height to get stuffs.

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  77. Thank you so much for posting this! We have purchased the stain (Lee Valley Tools in Canada can't keep it in stock, you probably have something to do with that! LOL) We're going to start with a storage cabinet we're building in the basement but plan to do our dining room suite after that!

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  78. I have been looking the World Wide Web for this information about regarding Kitchen Cabinets Miami and I want to thank you for this post. It’s not easy to find such perfectly written information on this topic. Great Work

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  79. Hoping you'll notice this comment! Do you intend to do all trimwork in your house as well so everything matches?

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  80. I just ordered off amazon! thank you!!! I can't wait to do this my office desk (dark stain on top with white hutch and bottom as well as my kitchen table!

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  81. I want to paint my kitchen because the cabinets are FIFTY years old and wow do they need help. Thanks for the great ideas.

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