I had started putting all our items back into the kitchen after (and somewhat during) our remodel when I realized that our knife block and banana stand/holder didn’t really match. (I always call it a banana hammock, but as I learned from Friends – that is an entirely different thing, and please don’t Google it). Anyways, they were lighter than the cabinets and blended too much into the colour of the countertops (you can sort of see what I mean in the animated image on the DIY Stainless Dishwasher post). Every day I would look at them and think “you guys need to stand out more, it would look so sharp”. So I decided to stain them to match the cabinets, and now they look so much better in our new kitchen!
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I had a wood sample from one of the Ikea cabinet trim pieces we had laying around, and it turns out it was a mixture of the “Traditional Cherry” and “Early American” gel stain (matched using the in-store display, not the label on the cans). I had never used gel stain before, but I figured I’d give it a try! (Reminder: we used the Ikea Akurum cabinet line in Adel Medium Brown).
I took the plain knife block and banana stand and gave them a quick wipe to make sure they were clean. I then removed the banana hook and set it aside for later.
The gel stain recommended having an unfinished wood surface, so I quickly gave them a sanding using 220 Grit Paper. I did start with a grittier paper, but I found that it made visible marks in the wood, which wasn’t good.
I didn’t expect the gel stain to be so… gel-y? I actually thought it would just be a bit thicker than normal stain, but it was definitely more of a solid than a liquid. I mixed about 50/50 of each colour, but it wasn’t an exact science considering I just scooped them out using the mixing stick.
I used the bottom of the banana stand as my colour testing area, and it seemed to look good when I compared it to the Ikea trim piece.
I used a sponge brush for the application process, and it just happened to fit perfectly in the scissor hole on the knife block. I slopped the stain all over, trying to make a somewhat even coat.
The directions on the can said to “allow stain to penetrate surface for 2-5 minutes” then wipe off with a smooth cloth. I waited 5 minutes and carefully wiped off the test area on the bottom of the banana stand, but it seemed to take it off almost completely!
Around the same time, the stain on my stir stick had dried and it seemed like the colour had penetrated much better. I think it’s because this was such a porous surface, and I probably hadn’t sanded my knife block and banana stand enough. (Note to self: sand the wood more next time)
I waited another 10 minutes before I wiped the block and stand, but again, the stain wasn’t dark enough. I slopped on some more gel stain and waited 20 minutes this time before I wiped it off. I repeated the process a third time, then wiped again and allowed the pieces to dry overnight.
While the outside of the pieces were completely dry, there were some thick spots within the knife slots of the knife block that were still a bit goopy (be careful when you put your knives back in the block, they may get some stain on them!). I also screwed the banana hook back in and got some banana “models” for the photos!
So there you have it, a quick and easy DIY project that really adds some punch to your kitchen. And I definitely think that it’s the small details that make your space unique. Besides, knife blocks seem to always come in the same colour, so now it looks like I have custom holders for the fraction of the cost! What do you think about these custom pieces, do they stand out more?
I’d also love to hear about other ways to use stain on kitchen accessories to make them stand out and give them a custom look, let me know your thoughts!