Gel Staining Kitchen Cabinets

I'm excited to write this post for one reason and one reason only - it means this project is officially done and I can have my kitchen back! There were moments during this project when I really questioned whether or not we may ever have a tidy, organized kitchen again. If you remember my post from awhile back, I recently repainted our bathroom cabinets. I was really happy with the way they turned out, so I decided to set a loftier goal for myself - the kitchen cabinets. Mind you, I started this project over a month ago, and our kitchen has been in a state of chaos ever since. The only upside of having a dysfunctional kitchen is that you can order in take-out five nights a week without feeling guilty (the other two nights you eat out of course). However, although I've been enjoying my weekly Spicy Tuna Rolls, I was ready to have some normalcy back in my life. 

As much as I love the all white kitchens you see these days, given the style of cabinets we have, I thought painting our cabinets white may give our kitchen a sterile, hospital feel. So, I took the extreme opposite route, and decided to go with a Java colored stain. Awhile back, a friend of mine introduced me to the gel stain product by General Finishes. I'd been eager to try it out ever since and figured this was the perfect opportunity. Given the fact that we have laminate covered cabinets, I was a bit skeptical as to how the gel would work, but I decided to give it a whirl anyways. Here is the comparison after one coat.

Hmmm...not exactly the rich Java color I was going for. Around this time I decided to check out the manufacturer's website for tips and suggestions. Turns out, they explicitly state that this product isn't recommended for laminate surfaces. Well, I wasn't going to let some silly little manufacturer's guidelines deter me - oh no - I was now even more determined to get the Java colored cabinets I've wanted all my life (or for at least the past 15 minutes). The website mentioned something about an option of using a painting technique. The wheels in my head started turning. Could I treat this stain like a paint and make it adhere to the doors somehow? Now I am well aware that you aren't supposed to stain over paint, but at this point I was willing to try anything. So, what about if I first primed the doors and then painted the gel stain over it? I went for it. I used the same Gripper Primer I used on the bathroom cabinets, then proceeded to paint the gel stain over it.

Here are the Before & After results:

It definitely give the room some serious contrast. Before, I never liked the way the cabinets and floor were the same shade of wood. 

I think it also coordinates much better with the granite counter top. The rich colored cabinets help to pick up the black specs in the granite.

Although it's a modern look, the dark wood still gives off a warm feel.

I also switched out the hardware to match the new hardware I used in the bathroom. They make much more of a statement than the old pulls. (I actually did this before I took the Before pictures, so you can't really see the impact of the new hardware).

I think whenever you do projects like this, it's a good time to re-assess some of your current decor. Over the years I have slowly been transitioning our house from rich browns and reds to bright greens and blues. This project gave me the chance to finally purge the remaining old decor and bring in more brightly colored decor. 

All I can say is our next house better have my dream kitchen, because I am officially burnt out with painting cabinets (at least for the next month)!