No, you are not stuck with white laminate cabinets. When we moved into our house almost 8 years ago I wanted an all white kitchen. This was very much the trend back then. Homes were advertised as having "white kitchens". We moved from a very dark, boxy, log cabin. Everything in the cabin was wood or brown. So, when we were looking for a new house I was dead set on an open floor plan and a "white kitchen". I got my wish. After 6 years of living with my "white kitchen" I was ready for a little drama, a little warmth and intrigue. I scoured home design magazines and watched HGTV looking for inspiration. I settled upon a tobacco stain look for my kitchen cabinets. Paint products have come a long way in the last couple of years. Everyone told me that you couldn't paint over laminate cabinets. I am here to tell you that you can paint them and that with a little elbow grease or the right painting contractor you can have a whole new look and feel to your kitchen without a huge investment.
The first step is to thoroughly clean the cabinets with a degreaser. Years of cooking in the kitchen can build up layers of grease on your cabinets. You need to clean that off or the paint wont stick. Remove and label your doors so you know where to put them back when you are finished. Next you apply a really good primer. There is a product called Prime Etch that is a saviour for laminate cabinets. Next apply your base coat. Then apply some tobacco stain glaze in the corners and grooves of the cabinets. Let dry and apply a top layer protective coat like a non yellowing polyurethane. Make sure not to skip this last step. Kitchen cabinets take a lot of abuse. To ensure that they stay looking fabulous for years to come make sure you give them that final layer of protection. This project will cost about $500 if you do it yourself. If you hire a faux painting contractor the price will start at about $2500 depending on the number of cabinets in your kitchen. So for about a fifth of the cost of new cabinets you can transform your kitchen. Don't forget to change out the cabinet hardware for a complete up to date look.