I'm refinishing kitchen cabinets of about 1981 vintage. They are apartment grade stuff in a condo. Most neighbors have thrown in the towel and painted theirs. They had the original finish and were varnished a medium brown color. The frames and doors are of different wood. The doors are some kind of oak veneer that looks like plywood. The frames are of solid wood but not oak. I refinihsed the doors last summer by stripping, sanding, restaining, painting the edges and finishing with satin polyurethane. The results look pretty good although I would have preferred a bit darker. I was trying to match the old tint.
The real problem I have is with the frames. I've stripped and sanded them and applying a prestain wood conditioner to the bare wood. But upon staining with the same stain as used on the doors, I noticed the stain barely taking to the wood. In some areas the stain was even beading up. I'm used to wood sucking up the stain. This was aggravated by the color of the bare wood varying between different pieces. It looked like they mixed different wood species in building these frames. The original finished showed these variations which I didn't like. So I thought darker frames would look more even. So I switched to a much darker stain. The results were still uneven and blotchy. So I restained and this didn't help. The wood has taken all the stain it will take and another application does nothing. So I decided to try a dark tinted polyurethane. This seems to be working good but since I'm painting it on, it's tough to avoid streaks. But painting in the grain direction hides the streaks in the grain pattern. A second coat has evened out the appearance more. A third will be applied.
Eventually the cabinets will have frames noticably darker than the doors. I think this won't look bad as long as the frame finish comes out even. Its hard to get the same finish between different woods. Also the design is pretty simple, all flat surfaces and the doors are not full frame. But some people think it will look like crap due to the different colors, like I'm violating some law in cabinet refinishing.
Has anyone out there used different colors between frame and doors? Did it look OK? I don't think its done that often.