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My New Kitchen Island: Staining Oak Cabinets!

One of the things I disliked the most about this kitchen was that it is a sea of orange-brown oak.  The cabinets, the island, the shelf, the floor.  ALL OAK:

The white appliances and bad lighting wasn't helping much, but even replacing those and adding cabinet hardware wasn't enough to save the kitchen from its "over-oakiness"

At first I considering painting the island (like I did in the laundry room, bathroom and fireplace built-ins.)  Then I thought about how much i ADORED how the oak stair rails came out after staining them and decided that was the route I was going to take.  I'm glad I did:

All the real wood lovers balk at the idea of painting hardwood, and because the island was made (mostly) of real oak, I thought this was a good place to use stain.   I love how it came out:

I used the exact same technique I used on the stair rail. (Basically sand, sand, sand.. a couple coats of Minwax Ebony Wood Stain.. and a couple coats of Poly. The full tutorial is here.)  

 It was actually easier than painting since you don't have the headache of worrying about brushstrokes.   I went really really dark, but you can still see the grain in the wood:

I am really really pleased with the transformation.  Now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the cabinets! 
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Now help me decide how to deal with the rest of the cabinets!  I have a few of my ideas in THIS post.  Please drop by and tell me which ones you like the most!

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