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No matter what wood you choose for your kitchen cabinets, you should decide how that wood will look once it is stained. You can choose to darken your cabinets—and sometimes even lighten them—by the finishing stain you choose. You should also ask your consultant at Armstrong what woods take stain the best. More porous woods, coupled with stains, do not work well. Three current, popular woods for kitchen cabinets—birch, maple and ash—all take well to both light and dark stain colors. Oak wood, also in the same price range, used to be quite popular. It's still a good wood choice for cabinets but is more identified with older styles.
When picking a stain for your wood cabinets, you want to pick a good contrast between the other elements in the room such as flooring, wall tiles and your counters. Picking countertops and cabinets that are both quite dark can make a room seem uninviting. Pairing wood and other elements in a kitchen is like pairing food and good wine. They should complement each other so the best qualities of both stand out. If you choose a rich wine with too rich a meal, the palette is overwhelmed.
The same is true of wood cabinets, stains and items like countertops and flooring. Popular wood stain choices right now include extremes—chocolate browns or paler shades. In general, lighter shades open up a space while darker shades bring the walls in. But if you follow simple design concepts you should focus on what you like rather than trends as your kitchen cabinet installation from Armstrong will last many years.