You can use various types of antique cabinet finish to revive dull, stained cabinet door surfaces. You can learn more about several ways to antique your kitchen cabinets to restore and brighten their appearance.
Apply Light Paint then Dark Stain
Clean your cabinet doors of as much grease and grime as possible. Remove the cabinet hardware and paint on a primer over the surface. Paint the doors in a lighter color than they were previously, and then add dark stain around the areas of the doors that would normally show wear. These areas will include around the door handle, the outer and inner edges of the door, and near the hinges.
Apply Raised Molding and Dark Stain
To add elegance to flat doors while aging them with an antique finish, cut lengths of 1/2-inch crown molding and miter them at the corners to make a raised frame in the center of each door. Attach the molding with brad or finishing nails and paint the door in a light color as above. Add the dark stain around the edges of the crown molding and near the door handle and hinges.
Apply Crackle Finish
Crackle finish simulates the drying process of paint as it ages. While it is not a finish that suits all decors, it can be quite charming in a country kitchen or your kitchen space at the cottage. Clean and prime the surface of the cabinet doors, and apply the paint color that you want to appear through the crackle. Allow the paint to dry then apply the crackle finish. Finally, put the top coat of paint on in a different color from the first base coat. The last coat of paint will crackle instantly when it comes in contact with the crackle finish. You need to work quickly to get the final paint coat on before the crackle finish is completely dry for the best effect. Coat the cabinet doors with clear polyurethane to protect the crackled paint finish after it has fully dried.
Antique Cabinet Finish
You can also apply a specially designed antique finish right over your cleaned cabinet doors. There is no need to prime or sand before applying. It goes on in 3 main steps - the glaze, a stain, and then after sanding, a topcoat. Clean the cabinet doors thoroughly of all grease and stains, and wipe them to dry. Remove the door handles but leave the doors on the cabinets. Mix the glaze with a small amount of stain for a subtle change of color, using a medium stain like oak or cherry. For dramatic aging, choose a mahogany or black walnut stain formulation. Use a wide brush to put on the antique glaze. Apply the glaze generously and wipe off the excess in the areas you want to retain original color. Leave more glaze in the areas you want to appear darker. Allow the glaze and stain mix to dry overnight. Sand the surface lightly with 120-grit fine sandpaper, and wipe off the sanding dust with a damp cloth. Apply a final coat of clear polyurethane to protect the antiqued finish.