Pickled Oak Cabinets
July 7, 2012
Hi Everyone,
We are a young couple who have recently purchased our first home. The home is only 12 years old and was purchased from an older couple who built the home. The issue we are having is decorating our open living kitchen-family room. The dilemma that is making it so difficult are the pickled oak cabinets. We don't want the paint colour to enhance the pink hue of the cabinets. Any suggestions would be great, we don't have the financial means to redo the cabinets at this time. Our living room furniture was a gift and it cream coloured leather couches and the floor is off white carpet. Any paint colour, drapes suggestions, pillow or inspirational photos would be appreciated..This photo is the previous owners furniture and the wallpaper has been removed... Thanks!
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
I think you really need to paint the cabinets. Otherwise they're going to dominate and dictate your entire decorating scheme. Since the counters are light, i'd suggest painting them in a medium grey tone to add weight and give them a completely new look. I can't tell if there is any backsplash, but I would add one. Take the little curtain off the window and replace it with a fabric roman. That would be a good start!
6 Likes    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Cynthia your suggestion is perfect and I love your sample photos. I particularly like the 2nd photo. I think if you paint these cabinets in that color family you will be so much happier with the design of this space.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 10:05PM
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
I was a bit tired last night so I didn't give you any colour suggestions, etc. If you like the grey cabinet examples I posted, I can give you some actual colours to try. Pittsburgh Paints 506-5 DISTANT THUNDER for the cabinets and 411-3 FRENCH GRAY LINEN for the walls.

216-1 CANDLELIGHT BEIGE is a nice white with some warmth so I think it would go with your cream furniture and carpet and countertop, but you need to check it in the room before you buy it. Hold the paint chip sample next to the other two colours and see how they look together. Some will be obviously wrong and others will complement each other.

With these colours you will have a nice natural grounded space--stoney grey and fresh grey-green. You can expand this range into your artwork, pillows, drapes, accents by choosing grey-blues, olive greens, and even shots of orange-red and/or greenish-yellow for small accents.

I wish I could take this to the next level and do a design scheme for you with plans and fabric samples! Certainly if you're interested I could do that! But in the meantime, you have a nice project for updating the kitchen. Please let me know how that turns out. I hope you'll be very happy putting your personal stamp on your new home.
2 Likes    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Hi- I think the grey would look great, too... as would a warm white. Because of the traditional profile of the doors, I'd stick to fairly classic neutral colours. You could also do a combination of greys- light on the uppers, dark on the lowers or grey and white in a similar way. Painting the cabinetry yourself or having them sprayed is a good option, especially if the cabinets are in great condition. Updating the hardware and the lighting will also have a huge impact. Because the space is open concept, I'd paint the space all one colour. It looks like the previous owners stopped the kitchen paint colour at the end of the cabinets.... looks odd. Depending on the rest of your space, you can add a pop of colour on an accent wall.
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Cynthia Taylor-Luce
Interesting ideas, Chandani, but I wouldn't recommend the two-tone look here. It would draw too much attention to the fact this isn't a new kitchen. It's also a bit trendy. I think it would be more interesting and more aesthetically pleasing to add a nice backsplash in a light colour that blends with the countertops and some undercabinet lighting if there isn't some already.

Great point about the hardware! Before you paint, fill in the holes left by the old cabinetry so you are not locked into the same size/configuration of handles/knobs.

Definitely paint the open concept room all the same colour--I think the owners said they removed wallpaper, which accounts for the difference in wall colour!--and enjoy the unified feeling of the room. Without seeing the rest of the space, I wouldn't advise an accent wall, although that could work depending on what's on the other walls and how they balance the weight of the cabinetry in the kitchen.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 12:20PM
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Definitely fill the holes from the hardware before painting the cabinets. I made this mistake and it was either use something that fit the holes or start over.

It will be hard to hide pink without painting over it but if painting them is out, go to the paint store, bring home samples and hang them on the cabinets. You will be able to see which ones look best. I lived in a very old house once with a mustard fridge (aka The Mustard Monster) that had to stay, and we found out the best way to hide it was to paint everything the same shade of mustard. We broke up the all mustard with one wall of striped wallpaper that was wide white stripes with a lighter shade of the same mustard. Of course this was a separate room and not the open plan you probably have.

Good luck with everything!
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 1:50PM
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Whatever you do, bear in mind that painting kitchen cabinetry is a HUGE undertaking. You must pay attention to the details! Make a sketch of the kitchen, number each drawer and each door on the sketch (you'll be VERY glad you did this) and put a bit of painter's tape with the number on a hinge or on the back of the drawer as you remove it. SCRUB them with TSP and rinse. Oil and grease from years of cooking and handling them will absolutely ruin the paint. It will eventually scratch and peel off. Find a good site with detailed instructions for painting cabinetry. You can do a section of the kitchen at a time so it won't all be out of commision at once.
4 Likes    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 1:56PM
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What is a good site for instructions on painting kitchen cupboards? Should they be sprayed or rolled? Oil?
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Painting your cabinets and updating the hardware is an option. I did it in my old house and while I was happy with the results, it took a lot of time and energy and left me wishing I'd just gone ahead and installed new cabinets!

I recently downsized and moved into a 600 sq. foot rental apartment with pickled oak cabinets in both the bathroom and kitchen. I hated them, esp. next to the fleshy beige wall color and carpet. I didn't have the option (or desire!) to paint the cabinets. Instead, I worked with a great color specialist at a Benjamin Moore paint dealer to find wall paint that would distract from the ugly cabinet color. I ended up painting most walls in the apartment a nice greige color to highlight my colorful art, but to create contrast with the pickled oak I painted the areas around them in warm colors (Lazy Afternoon, a medium purple, in my bathroom and a lovely teal, Seaside Resort surrounding my cupboards). What a wonderful, inexpensive alternative. I absolutely love the cupboards now.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Hi. Your post caught my eye. We just purchased a home built in the 90's and it was also pickled oak. We painted it white...Benjamin Moore White Dove to be exact. We couldn't be happier and I can't tell you the difference it made by painting them and changing hardware. At least your floors aren't pickled too. :) We ended up staining ours with a nice result. Good luck!
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 3:35PM
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I know that painting cabinets isn't a small job, and you are probably feeling overwhelmed because you only came here to ask about a wall color, but I have to say I wholeheartedly endorse Cynthia's point that if you don't paint them you are going to be designing your whole room around cabinets you don't like. Unfortunately, that pickled oak really dates the kitchen, and I think you will be SO much happier with painted cabinets. I think using one of the various grays that Cynthia suggested or a nice off-white (I too love White Dove--it is the perfect cabinet color) would look beautiful.
2 Likes    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 3:46PM
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We have pickled maple cabinets. I love the style of the cabinets but as you noted the color is dated. My husband cringes at the thought of painting the solid wood. Has anyone tried to strip and re-stain with any good results?
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Hi jenwren,
Here's a DIY guide on stripping and staining pickled maple cabinets: http://diyguides.dremel.com/stain-pickled-maple-cabinets-2510.html
I think pickled maple is a bit easier to work with than pickled oak because maple doesn't have the strong grain that characterizes oak. Even stained a darker color oak often looks dated, whereas maple is more versatile. So maybe you can make your husband happy and stain rather than paint. But IMO, bilodo's pickled oak ones should be painted.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:11PM
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HI -- First thing to do is paint the cabinets - Pratt and Lambert - Clove Dust # 11 - 30 It's a great color for a young couples kitchen.Add some new handles and pulls in chrome. Then just paint the rooms a warm white like Benjamin Moore paint Cloud White CC - 40 . When funds allow find some new modern light fixtures.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Lisa Ward
I actually like the cabinets. I would change the counters to dark quartz, use more substantial bar stools, change the table to a small rectangle change the chandelier and put this fireplace in middle of the two rooms. I would use a monochromatic theme varying textures for interest
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 6:29PM
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Most of the suggestions here are to paint the cabinets which I gather you aren't prepared to do at this time. I would leave them as is until such time you are ready to tackle such a project. In the meantime, select a colour palette that you like and stick to it throughout the open space. You can incorporate it in table mats, wall decor, toss cushions, etc. A neutral grey would be a nice wall colour but avoid any neutrals with a yellow base which will emphasize the pinkish tones in the cabinets.

Best of luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:03PM
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And, congratulations on your new home - nice open space!
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Thank you everyone for your comments!!! This has helped so much! So many decisions to be made in such little time! I am sure we will post photos of other rooms soon and we will make sure to keep you updated on our kitchen-living room!!!
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Dont be afraid to paint the cabinets, it will take a bit of time and attention but well worth it. I have painted my cabinets in both kitchen and bath. They key is to prep. Remove the doors remove all hardware,(place the hardware for each door/drawer in a marked baggie so that they go back exactly as they were removed) and take the drawers out. Prime as suggested by the paint store (bin or Kilz) and when you are ready to put on the "color coat" use the white foam rollers, they are small and non pourous and the finish dries smooth and perfectly. You will need an excellent quality brush for the "carved portion", so that the paint is applied smoothly.You can have this done in a weeks time after work. I did mine in the basement make sure no dust or dog hair! I laid them out on 2x4's (railroad track fashion it is much easier to paint on a raised surface) to prevent the edges from accumulating drips. After priming both sides. Paint the insides first with the color coat, this will take two coats let dry completely between I suggest at least 24 hrs. Use a clean dry roller w each coat. You can wash the rollers between coats as long as it is completely dry when you use them. Once the insides are completely dry (hard) flip to the exterior. Let each coat dry completely. The paint needs to "set". Just like a fresh manicure! Patience will pay off here. Make sure your paint department understands your goal.
Congrats on your new home!
4 Likes    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 7:53PM
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Norcon Home Improvements
IMHO pickled oak is a disgusting colour to stain perfectly good wood. ;)

Now when it comes to your home, you want to do it right. The first time. Which is where patience comes in, as you'll need to wait until you can afford to do it right- the way you really want it. Otherwise down the road you'll be kicking yourself for cheaping out.

The amount of work involved in stripping the oak down to stain it a new colour is not worth it, you'd be cheaper to just buy new doors.

So really you're left with painting the cabinets a solid colour. Which really isn't bad though. If you paint them a shade of white, then you're not limiting the room to anything- you can change the counters and wall paint colour to whatever you want.

Ideally you'll want to have the doors professionally sprayed with a durable lacquer cabinet paint. Stop in to a couple local custom cabinet shops and ask for a price per door, if you deliver them and pick them up. If you find a small shop, they might take your job. That done, you'll still need to paint the face of the cabinets and the side panels with your own paint that's been matched to be the same as the doors.

If you choose to paint it yourself, make sure you clean any oil residue off the doors, and scuff sand them well so your new paint sticks well. Use a good primer like Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start, and a high quality paint and a good roller, like the new microfibre mini rollers you can get now. There is no reason to go to an oil paint, it's messy, hard to clean, and with today's acrylic technology, just doesn't stand up to water based. Go to your local Benjamin Moore store if you want proper paint products and advice.

From what I can see, your countertops are a light coloured laminate, so once you've painted out your cabinets, you can always later on change out for granite and put in a backsplash, as your budget permits. If you like the countertop that you have now, then go with a grey cabinet colour like Cynthia suggested, and use the wall colour and backsplash to tie it all together with the floor.

Good luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Hm, true, you've only just gotten this home and you'll have a LOT of things to do before you're ready to tackle cabinetry. How 'bout this, then: I've dealt with clients who have this pinkish color and hated it. If you're not prepared to paint it, negate it. Pink is the tint of red. Red's opposite is green. If you paint the kitchen a nice sage (as we did in her kitchen), the cast light will strip out a lot of the pinkish tone. Since your kitchen is open to a very large space, there'll be a lot of cast light from that room too. Keep your wall tones in the muted, cooler tones like sage, taupe, etc. and avoid blues and anything terra-cotta, peach, etc. (Color reflects from EVERYthing, just look at the shadows of colorful things in your home.)
There are a lot of pros on here, apparently, which is great! (I have a degree in art and did decorative painting and faux for years, if it helps my cred.) So, to reiterate: If you can't paint the cabinets right now, neutralize them with the wall color - and don't forget the ceiling! Get some wall color samples, paint them next to a cabinet, live with it a bit and see what you think. If you get up first thing in the morning and find yourself always gravitating to one, it's the one. (Be aware that a tiny paint sample is nothing like a full room of color. If you're painting a very large expanse, you might get the paint a shade or two lighter than you think you want it.) Add warm tones to the space with pillows, candles, glass, tchatchkes, etc. Good luck and congratulations on your first house!
3 Likes    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Susan Neslony_Candy
Keep it simple.... look at this.... the floors are dark, the dark gray tile is a nice contrast to the light cabinets.... and the bamboo island warms it up... If you cant afford tile, think paint. Buy the good stuff and do a similar color. Go get some color samples and put them on the walls next to the cabinets, and whatever else you have ot coordinate with. Rustoleum makes a cabinet resurfacing product that gets great reviews. You may not want to do all the cabinets but just changing the counters helps alot! :) Have fun! http://www.houzz.com/discussions/140638
    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:28PM
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Here's how color works: its opposite strengthens the color. THerefore, if you paint the walls the opposite color (according to the color wheel), it will intensify those "pink" cabinets. Painting the walls a red-based color will make the cabinets look less pink. I know: sounds like it shouldn't work.

Suggestion: whatever color you think you want, buy samples and paint the wall next to a cabinet. No 2" color chip is going to tell you enough, and it will look totally different when you paint it in your lighting. Look at it for a couple of days in all light. You might try shades of beige with a pink tone, brown, taupe (now that's a color with a zillion shades!), apricot (there's a color called "Light Copper" that is actually a pale apricot that changes from that to gold to buff according to the light; I once painted an entire house that color and every room looked different.), a "pink-toned" gray. Greens and blue tones are going to accentuate the pink.

If it will be 2 years till the budget allows you to change the cabinets (been in my house 2 years, and I'm only now finishing the outside painting! Of course, I'm doing it all myself.), paint and plan on repainting afterwards. Congrats on the new house and good luck! It will be gratifying and satisfying to create your own space.
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 3:36AM
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First Impressions
I just had cabinet doors painted and hated them. $300 I pulled them and replaced with new. $1800 for doors. I think the suggestion to paint the walls a color to tone them down like the sage was a good idea before you face the expense with the cabinets.
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 4:57AM
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Girl Meets Lake

Here is a link to a before and after of pink pickled kitchen cabinets. The cabinets were glazed white not painted, which is a little easier and less time consuming. http://chiconashoestringdecorating.blogspot.com/2010/02/kitchen-before-and-after-featuring.html.

If you have the same pickled cabinets in a bathroom ot laundry room, I would try painting or glazing those first. This way you can do an area that is not so daunting
and improve your skills before starting on a such a large project. You might also be able to save money by doing all the prep work yourself and hiring a painter to just come in and spray the cabinets.

Good luck.
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 4:59AM
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Some pictures of wall paint colors with pickled oak cabinets. Personally, I'm not convinced by either of them.
Opposite color theory: pickled oak cabinets with green-toned walls: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0913552731714.html
Similar color theory: pickled oak cabinets with pinky beige-toned walls: https://twopeasinabucket.com/mb.asp?cmd=display&thread_id=3095657
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:08AM
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If not sure about painting get an estimate for resurfacing which is half the price or more and they will look like new and you can pick our anything you want. I have had many friends do this. If you don't have the resources to do it now at least you will know the cast and make a decision whether you want to save or start painting. Goggle cabinet resurfacing in your area. Granite transformations does it now as well but I would look at competitive prices.
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:28AM
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if you do not want to paint the cabinets - I think the best to make a change on the walls of the kitchen..to paint the walls to a darker color will particularly change the effect of your kitchen..As you said your furniture and carpets are cream/ivory my suggestion would be a antique color to paint your walls, plus would be nice to change your lightining to a different mode..like a black/grey more industrial look...
alsob adding may be changing only the island color... island would look unexpectionally different if you could change its color to a more blue/grey color way...
would like to see the final sıtuation of your kitchen/open living room

good luck !
1 Like    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:50AM
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A different consideration on "Here's how color works". (Sorry, but I love color theory!)

It reflects everywhere. Color in light doesn't work the same as colors in paint. (It's why Photoshop and Illustrator have R(ed)G(reen)B(lue) color profiles for web applications and C(yan)M(agenta)Y(ellow)(blac)K color profiles for print work.)

It's true that if you paint scarlet and brilliant green side by side, you get Van Gogh's "The Night Cafe", jangling and intense as it is. (Google it. It's neat how those colors increase the uncomfortable feeling of the painting.) The colors are adjacent on a flat plane and they seem to push at eachother. (You see it a lot in art from the 60's too. Discomfort was very in.)

In a 3-d environment (the kind I live in, personally) you also have the element of cast color. The colors of reflected light are often forgotten when people are decorating.
There is color in the reflections and shadow from everything in the room.
If you put a green light bulb into a room, anything that is red looks black. They don't intensify eachother, they cancel. When you paint an entire room in one color, it has a huge effect on the perceived color of the contents of the room.

Warm tones like terra-cotta on the walls will intensify the pinkish shade because they'll reflect onto the wood. When you paint a section of wall next to a cabinet door in an area with a lot of light, step back and look at the cabinet with UNFOCUSED EYES, don't see your cabinet or your paint, just see COLOR.
Observe the colors that are cast onto the wood and that are reflected in the finish and how that color affects the wood's perceived color.

The cast color of a grey, a silvery sage or neutral brown paint over the cabinets will tend to neutralize the pinkish shade in them. It won't be gone, mind, just neutralized a bit. When you MIX opposites, what do you get? Grayish, brownish, muddy colors. It will not make the peach tones more obvious, it will quiet them down.

Avoid pinkish browns. A lot of taupes have pink undertones and they'll really pull up the pink in the cabinetry. As was mentioned further up, work with a paint professional to choose a color. This is a pretty common problem.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:37AM
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Go to the Search bar and put in 'pickled oak cabinets'. I just did and while most are nothing like your cabinets, I did see 3 or 4 that were identical. Seeing the photos and maybe exploring more in the designer's portfolio of the same house might give you some ideas.
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:52AM
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p.s. By sage, I don't mean olive. Yech. That would, indeed, be painting opposites together. I mean something more like C-114 in this swatch set:
    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 12:03PM
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I just stumbled on this thread and read a few of the top suggestions, but not all, so forgive me if I'm redundant.

We have exactly the same cabinetry in the house we bought, only with pink tiles to boot!!

After a few different colors on the wall, the color that we found most negated the pink was Benjamin Moore Texas Sage 1503. I'm attaching a photo below.

One thing to keep in mind about painting the oak cabinets is that, since oak is so grainy, you will likely continue to see the grain once painted. This may or may not appeal to you. We are still undecided about what to do about ours (redo the kitchen entirely vs. paint the cabinets vs. reface the cabinets). Until we decide that for sure, plus get our ducks in a row, we're just living with the cabinets and I've actually gotten to the point where they don't bother me as badly as they did in the beginning (20 months later).

The best advice is to take things somewhat slowly and don't jump into any decisions fresh out of the gate, or you may regret it later on. Paint on walls is easy to change but having to change a cabinetry paint color would be a nightmare!
3 Likes    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 1:16PM
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We had sold our house a few years back where we had redone the kitchen 20 years prior in a pickled finish with brass hardware and rose laminate countertops. I know, I know. I loved it 20 years ago. The new homeowners didn't want to spend the money on new cabinets so they redid the countertops, changed out the hardware and installed a backsplash. Quite a different feel from what we had fo all those years. I wouldn't say that the black appliances are my favorite but that's a matter of taste.
1 Like    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Hi, I happen to have the same dilemma with the pickle finish (pinkish) cabinets in the kitchen. But, on top of it, the wood flooring has the same finish. I like cleaner lines and more modern looks. The counter is light in color as well. I do not know what to do. I like white cabinets, but I dont believe that is an option. What do you think? The walls are deep burgundy now, I need to change them. Please, any suggestions.
    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:52PM
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