Once I got the idea in my head to revamp the kitchen in our new house, I knew I had to take the time and figure out exactly what I wanted. So let's walk through those decisions.
Paint vs. Stain
The first question to as is what are your cabinets made of? They need to be WOOD. If they aren't at least solid wood with wood panels in the middle (like mine), then you can't stain them. Sorry. Consider painting (I'll be going a tutorial soon about painting laminate surfaces, so if that applies to you, stay tuned). If your cabinets ARE wood, you're in business.
Color of Stain
What do you want for your kitchen? Is it dark and cramped? Consider a lighter stain. My kitchen/dining/family rooms are one big long area with lots of windows, so I was safe on using a darker stain. I also wanted the kitchen to look warm. Plus, I have a thing for darker reddish wood. :)
I would definitely recommend giving your kitchen a fresh coat of paint to match your fresh new cabinets. I'd also recommend waiting to choose your paint color until you have your sample drawer front stained (more on that in the Staining portion of this series). Then lay your chips against the sample IN your kitchen in the morning, and watch how it looks throughout the day, as the light changes. (And if you have fluorescent lights in your kitchen....my sincerest condolences.)
So here is where you really need to think about the style you like, both in terms of the finish and the form of the hardware. Something sleek and modern? Silver, with clean simple lines. Vintage chic? Maybe pewter or oil-rubbed bronze with plenty of detailing. There are LOTS of choices to be had. My style is probably closest to country (though a sleeker, more edited version of country, I like to think), so I opted for highlighted oil-rubbed bronze hardware.
The same applies to the molding (if you're going to attempt that). Craftsman style? Then plain. Country? Maybe egg and dart, like I opted for. Lots of choices. Go browse the hardware store.
Sheen is what we are concerned with here. More sheen is generally a more modern look. And the more the sheen, the higher the need for precision verging on perfection. I opted for the lowest sheen, Satin. And it is plenty glossy, if you ask me.
Okay, onto the shopping lists. If you plan on tackling this project as guided by my words of wisdom...I highly recommend reading every part of this series before you even go shopping. I'll do a recap of the shopping list with every section. Oh, and the items linked are just to give you the idea.
Stripping/Sanding shopping list:
Stripper (maybe...more on that later)
Hand sander (if you don't have one or can't borrow one)
Sandpaper, coarse to medium grit
Sanding sponges, coarse to medium grit
Emery nail files (trust me on this one)
Staining shopping list:
Dish soap (if you go with oil-based...I'll explain later)
Mineral Spirits (ditto)
Paint stirring stick
Paint stirring stick
Drop cloth of some kind
Polyurethane shopping list:
Pulls (make sure you count and recount!)
Hinges (if your old hinges don't match your new hardware)
Drill (consider renting if you don't own, can't borrow or don't want to buy)
Cardstock (to make template for drilling holes)
Screwdriver drill bit
Miter saw (rent, borrow or buy)
Next up, Step Two: Stripping/Sanding...