How to Pick the Right Paint Color to Go with Your Honey Oak Trim and Cabinets

 I often get calls from homeowners who are struggling to pick paint colors that go with honey oak trim. Here in Des Moines, many of the houses built in the 1980s and 1990s and even 2000s prominently feature glossy, lacquered, honey oak trim. The prospect of painting all of that wood trim, whether it’s your own time and labor or paying a professional, can be daunting. (Update: We just had the oak trim painted in our new house, and it cost a small fortune, but it was so worth it!)

But, maybe you don’t want to paint the honey oak trim or cabinets. Some of my clients actually prefer the look of natural wood. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Honey oak trim can be quite beautiful.

Tip #1: Honey Oak is Orange

Crisp Architects

The most important thing to understand about honey oak is that it has a color, and that color is orange, probably yellow-orange. When you are selecting paint colors, furniture, and accessories or, more importantly, fixed elements like countertops and tile, it’s very important to keep asking yourself: “Does this look good with yellow-orange?”

Tip #2: Go Light and Creamy

Wayne Windham Architect Cassique Residence
Wayne Windham Architect

I recently met with a couple who were totally stumped as to what paint color they should choose. They had honey oak cabinets in their kitchen and honey oak trim throughout the entire home. I recommended that they paint the walls a creamy white or pale gold, which would be a drastic improvement from the stark builder’s white that they had been living with for eight years.

For their kitchen backsplash, I suggested two options of marble subway tile, both of which included some golden veining

Tip #3: Choose a Green-Gray

Landis Architects Washington DC Craftsman Home Oak Trim Paint Colors
Landis Architects

Other paint colors that would look beautiful with honey oak wood trim are warm grays with green or bronze undertones. In bathrooms and bedrooms, blue-greens can also look lovely.

Stay far away from any beiges with cool-pink undertones and grays with true blue or violet undertones.

If you have a hard time understanding the undertone of a light neutral, look at the darkest swatch on the strip. You can usually see the base color more clearly.

Porch Front Homes Colorado Honey Oak Trim Paint Colors
Porch Front Homes

Tip #4: Hire a Professional

Whitten Architects

Many people struggle to pick paint colors with wood trim. If you are challenged by color, know that you are not alone. Paint is often touted as a quick and easy solution for all of our decorating woes, but there is still significant time and money involved in painting even one room, let alone your entire home.

This is the best time to call a professional for a color consultation. A good designer can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in bad decision making.

More Posts Like This

How to Select Paint Colors for Honey Oak Trim

Do you have honey oak trim or cabinets in your home? If so, how did you embrace it?

Do you live in the Des Moines area and need help making your home feel more like you? Get in touch to schedule a consultation.

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69 thoughts on “How to Pick the Right Paint Color to Go with Your Honey Oak Trim and Cabinets

  1. Thank you SO much, this helps immensely! Although I do think I’m okay with color I was not seeing the orange in the honey oak. Which also explains why I have been frustrated with my decorating- I am a cool color beach kinda gal who has not used any orange at all. I am now hopeful about this house!

    1. I have white kitchen cabinets and honey oak trim and medium oak flooring. What would be a good wall paint color??

  2. Do you know the name of the paint color in the first picture of the kitchen? 🙂

    1. I checked on the Houzz page for the photo, and it looks like it’s Benjamin Moore Desert Twilight 2137-40.

    2. What paint color is used in the picture for tip #3?

  3. I too have a house full of orange-y oak and am looking for a paint color to help the oak blend in a bit more. Do you have any favorite pale gold paint colors or warm grays that you recommend or use often with oak? Thank you!

    1. Recently, I’ve used BM Manchester Tan with oak and really like it. It’s a very pale beige with gold undertones. I’ve also used Revere Pewter and thought it worked well. You could also try Pale Oak.

  4. We also have honey oak trim throughout our home and the walls are painted and oatmeal beige. I am looking for a color to paint the kitchen cabinets that would compliment the oak trim. Any suggestions?!

    1. White Dove is my go-to color for cabinets and trim.

  5. “I think other colors that would look beautiful with honey oak are warm grays with green or bronze undertones” – can you give me some examples of some of these grays? We have honey oak trim in the whole house and honey oak cabinets in the kitchen – looking to move away from our current creams and tans. Thanks!

  6. Can you please share the white/cream paint color of the second kitchen? Thanks:)

    1. I am also curious about the color in the 2nd picture. It would go perfectly in the house I just bought.

      1. Hi Shannon, I’m not sure…but if you click through the photo to the Houzz link, you can ask the architect through that platform.

  7. Just bought a new house with honey oak trim and doors throughout the whole house. The walls are beige now and I don’t care for it at all. My kitchen cabinets are cherry wood. What color gray paint would you suggest to paint all through the house?

    1. Hi Amy, it definitely depends on the undertone of the cherry as well as the other elements in the space like your floor, the countertops, and the backsplash. I’m working with a client now who has all cherry trim and cabinets. The trim is an orange stained cherry, and the cabinets are definitely more purple. I have had a terrible time selecting a good color because the two stains don’t look great together to begin with.

  8. We just bought a house with this trim and flooring throughout. I am not a fan of warm colored walls, do you feel that if I painted the walls a cool, light grey color that it wouldn’t go well with all the warm trim? Thank you!

    1. Hi Julia, so cool is a relative term. You should be looking closely at the undertones of the color. I think your best bet is to choose a gray with green undertones and avoid any with pink, purple, or blue undertones. Grays don’t tend to have yellow undertones – that would be what we call beige.

    2. Have Honey oak kitchen and floors. My whole house has honey oak- doors, windows and trim. Painting them all can be expensive. What do you suggest?

      So we will keep oak most probably. What sherwin williams colors would suit the walls? Want to move away from beige or green. I like to stay on lighter side with LRV of 55 or high, except for accent walls. Want to have one color all around house with some accent walls.

  9. We are embracing the honey oak trim in our house but have some trim that needs to be replaced. Do you happen to know the stain color/brand that was most commonly used on this trim? Also, we painted a wall in the basement SW Needlepoint Navy and it really looks beautiful with the trim!!!

  10. Useless post. Does not even give the names of the paint colors?

    1. Hi Mike, I’m sorry you feel the post was useless. The point was not to provide exact colors. It was to explain how I go about finding the right color to work with oak trim and cabinets. Recently I selected SW Grecian Ivory for a whole home with oak trim using the information I wrote about. It’s a creamy color with a yellow green undertone that complimented the oak trim and floors and the greenery outside.

      1. I have oak laminate flooring throughout the house (except kitchen and bath.) I live in coastal town north of Boston Massachusetts. After a lot of pain my samples and experimenting with paint color (and a large entire north facing living room.) I went with Open Air by Sherwin-Williams for the wall color and Greek Villa for trim. If I were to change it, what would you suggest? I am thinking perhaps Veranda Ivory by Valspar or Cancun Sand by Benjamin Moore for walls and keeping
        Greek Villa for trim. Any thoughts?

  11. Curious as to why you say no blue undertones since orange is blue’s complementary color on the color wheel. Is it because the blue will make the orange stand out more?

    1. I know it’s weird, but for some reason it just doesn’t look great, especially if the blue are really cool or gray. As soon as the blue veers more towards purple than green, it starts to feel off. You would think pinks would look good too as an analogous color scheme, but they don’t work either.

      1. I have Aloof Gray in my bathroom with orange/golden oak. It does cause the oak to stand out, but I really don’t mind it. It’s a really pretty color (in the bathroom) Maybe because it’s not a giant kitchen or LR?

  12. We are in the process of updating our house that has honey oak trim. Our dining room has an oak chair rail. I was thinking of using SW Perfect Greige and Ghost Pines in the dining room. And using SW Adler Grey in the rest of the house. I am wondering what your opinion is of those colors in combination with honey oak trim.

  13. Found your post so helpful. Just moved into condo with all honey oak cabinets, trim, doors and searching for the right paint color. Decorating does not come easy to me and have been reading, reading, reading.

    We only have Sherwin Williams around here so will try SW Grecian Ivory.

    Nice response to Mike’s post; you have been extremely helpful . . . and I have been on many sites researching. You write in a manner which is easily understandable for design challenge individuals!

    1. Hi Kimberly, I’m glad you found it helpful! One of these days, I will do a roundup of actual colors that look great with Honey Oak. But, it’s so subjective and dependent upon the fixed finishes. In my own house, we had lots of oak and still do in our master bath and kitchen. The previous owner put a stain on the oak in our bathroom that veers more red. So the same colors might not work with that exact oak. I do love the Grecian Ivory and I think it’s worth exploring. Natural Choice is another one you could look at too if you want something that reads a little like white but not stark or cold. Also, we did Revere Pewter in the lower level of the same house with the Grecian Ivory because it worked better with the stone, countertops, and carpet. Looks great!

  14. Hi I have been searching for kitchen colors and iam confused I have my first home and it needs up dated paint I have all white doors and trim my cabinets and floor are oak right now my kitchen looks yellow paint but it was really a beige want to brighten it up with different color any suggestions I was leaning towards a blue grey or grey blue maybe I need to wrap this project up lol have to many samples on the wall help

  15. I have honey oak kitchen cabinets and all trim throughout, a beige countertop, black and silver appliances.
    I wanted light blue walls but nothing is looking right with the swatches I have. I saw you said blues won’t work (I’m bummed). I have pale/medium yellow walls now that I hate but I want a color other than gray or cream. The kitchen is the only room that doesn’t have white walls. Are there any other colors you can recommend?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Margaret, you can do a blue but the trick for honey oak is to do a blue-green. And it should have a touch of gray. Sherwin Williams Sea Salt comes to mind. It’s one of my favorite blues.

      1. Ok, that gives me hope for blue walls! Thank you!

        1. Agreeable Gray has a lot of blue undertones, maybe that would work?

          1. I think Agreeable Gray has more of a green undertone than blue. It helps me to look at the darkest color on the strip to identify the undertone.

  16. Hi!
    This is very enlightening posts-I’ve been looking at my oak kitchen & trim all wrong! My question is about flooring- I have beautiful oak wainscoting in a medium rich tone in halls, dining area while the kitchen is honey oak. Once we got all wallpapers down, the woodwork is gorgeous & I plan to keep it, the problem is 4 different floorings with laminate, carpet & oak. I’d like to update but have NO idea what I should be looking at. Color, wood texture, tile ??? What would your recommendation, thanks!

  17. Hi!! I loved reading g your article. I was looking at Benjamin Moore palest pistachio or sea foam with our honey oak. Just wondering what your thoughts on those colors? Thanks!

  18. Love the bedroom with the light blue-green wall color. Do you know what color paint that is?
    For kitchen and dining room, I’ve used Sherwin Williams Believable Buff with the orange oak woodwork. It’s a nice, pleasant, almost a golden color and blends well with surroundings. Accent wall in kitchen is SW Sierra Redwood which picked up some of that color in our tile floor. A nice balanced look. And I did use an interior decorator who came up with the paint colors.

  19. I’d love to hear your recommendations. I’m wanting to paint my honey oak kitchen cabinets white this summer but I have too much of the oak trim to paint that as well. It’s throughout our entire house. We also have a white .. VERY WHITE ceramic tile floor in our kitchen that will need to be kept for awhile. The counter top is a light grey laminate that’ll be kept for a bit as well. I’ve accented with large dark grey area rugs in the entry and kitchen area to break up the WHITE floor and would like to also change the walls to a greige of some sort as well but one that tends more toward a grey than a beige. Is that ok with the honey oak everywhere? SO THANKFUL of any input!!

  20. Thank you for this information, it’s most helpful.
    I have a den with honey oak chair rail, crown, and baseboards, two beams that are a lil darker, and beadboard below the chair rail. Any suggestions regarding the beadboard? I think I’d like it to “blend in” with the chair rail and baseboards. Thank you!!

  21. Would repose gray look good with honey oak trim and flooring and my cabinets are maple but the same coloring as floor and trim

    1. Repose tends to be a gray green but it’s not as warm, relatively speaking, as Agreeable Gray or Worldly Gray. It has less green in it than they do. You can test it out and try it in your light, but it’s worth considering.

  22. Hi, We have all honey oak cabinets and trim, and are now installing a grey/tan tone hardwood floors- what color do I paint the walls, we are looking to paint the entire house, right now its a cardboard brown, to much brown! what color do you suggest

  23. We are in the verge of remodeling our kitchen and have initially picked out maple cabinets with a husk finish and then the island would be briarwood finish since my husband does not like white or painted cabinets. Flooring is yet to be agreed upon. What color for walls would you recommend? We have Mountain Haze green now and my family is sick of it.

    1. Hi Alison, thank you for your comment. I think this is far too specific for me to be able to offer advice via a comment. I would need to see actual samples or photographs that you took of the wood finishes as well as countertops, backsplash and flooring in order to recommend a specific paint color. I always pick the paint color last, so you should wait until you have the rest of your finishes selected before you try to pick one. Especially the flooring and countertops.

  24. Hi,
    I have an entry hallway with oak trim (it’s throughout the whole house) with dark wood floors. It’s a yellowy cream color now (the same throughout house also). I don’t mind it but wanted to add color. My only concern is the hall has one side of mostly doors (a bathroom door, closet, and bi-folding washer and dryer) which are white. The hall ends at a breakfast nook. Please give me some advice because I’m truly torn at whether I should paint or not.

  25. In the second pic. with the staircase
    Do you know the wall color ?

    1. I looked at the photos on Houzz. Several people have asked, but the architect has not responded.

  26. I have honey oak cabinets and trim. I would like to paint my open living room and kitchen gray to update my home. I have hunter green countertops that will have to stay for now. Do you think mindful gray or worldly gray would work best?

  27. Any thoughts on how Benjamin Moore White Sand would look with honey oak cabinets and trim? We want to paint our dark tan family room a lighter neutral color. I’ve tried Manchester Tan, which didn’t go with our fireplace brick, and Edgewood Grey, which I liked with the fireplace, but didn’t seem to flow with the other neutral paint colors in our house. Any help would be appreciated!

  28. Jillian, I see this original post dates back a few years and yet your answers are very helpful and pertinent today as I try to figure out paint color(s) for the home we will soon move into, which has all honey oak trim and cabinets. I have painted a few samples on the walls and you are correct about the grays with green undertones. I have written down some of your paint suggestions and will take them into consideration. My question relates to the cabinet hardware and a possible backsplash color. Currently they have a darkened brass decorative 3″ pull with a bronze backplate. This looks ok with the cabinets but I want a “face lift”. The faucets are chrome and our appliances are white. What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Elsie, I’m glad you found the advice helpful! With the oak cabinets, I do like dark bronze as an option, but not so much with chrome. If you could switch your faucet to stainless steel, that would be much more neutral. Black is generally a good option to coordinate with chrome.

      If you’re going to ignore the chrome for now, which is fine as long as you don’t have chrome lighting as well, the dark bronze would work well. Top Knobs also has a finish called Sable that I really love…it’s a really dark bronze, almost black, but it doesn’t have any copper rub through. Satin or polished nickel would also look really pretty against the oak.

  29. Hello,
    Your site has been very helpful. Hoping I can get some paint colour suggestions. I have honey Barrazati kitchen cabinets (orange tone)and beige backsplash and porcelain tile floor. I also have black counter tops. We prefer to stay away from any green paints. Can you recommend any Benjamin Moore paint colours that will go well with the above?

  30. Hi Jillian. I have honey oak cupboards and trim. I would like to paint my walls Behr Allabaster and cupboards a sea foam green with a hint of grey and leave trim oak. Countertops newer white corian with a very faint swirl of grey/tan. Your thoughts?

  31. Hi! Thank you for all the helpful info. I have a smallish bedroom with honey oak furniture. I’m thinking a green color or a navy blue. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Hi Kathleen – I like to only use true colors if they’re going to be repeated in something else in a room like bedding or art work, a fabric on a pillow, or an area rug. Otherwise, they can feel a little off. I haven’t specified any really need colors for walls in quite a while, but I know Hale Navy is a popular deep blue. Sherwin Williams Naval is also a nice dark blue I’ve considered for cabinetry.

  32. Hi! Looking at White Dove for my textured walls (southwest Mediterranean home) and I have orange toned trim. I see many say it’s recommended for trim, do you like it on walls? And with warm fixed elements? Thx!

    1. I actually painted my whole house in White Dove, and I think it looks great in the areas where I still have oak trim and cabinets.

  33. i have house full of honey oak trim and cabinets, AND dining room floor. i want to repaint the dining room, i was thinking more of a blueish, but reading reviews it sounds i should do a green grey blueish. help! in a magazine i saw benjamin moore woodlawn blue, that was pretty, i just don’t want it to look to baby blue or sea green. i tend to like darker colors but at the same time our house is lacking in sunlight. So…, thoughts???

  34. I would like to paint my kitchen in either yellow or blue. I have honey oak cabinets. Can you suggest some colors
    Thank you

  35. I also have honey oak kitchen cabinets which really need to be resurfaced. I am attempting to do this myself. I’ve really liked the blue/green/grey color (like oceanside). I’m thinking of keeping the top cabinets the honey oak and painting the bottom and island with the oceanside. They are separated. I would also leave my side cabinets untouched as they are newer and in better condition with the oak. Do you think this combo would look good? I have searched for a honey oak stain, but cannot find it by that name. Would you know the current color name? Would it be summer oak, or butterscotch oak..depending on the brand?

  36. I don’t know if you can stand one more question :)… I’m painting an accent wall behind two twin beds with honey oak headboards. The wall will be a gallery wall with thrifted frames (picture big, medium, small…gilded, thick, thin, etc, eclectic— balanced with fill-in black ikea frames) filled with photos. I want a dark wall but can’t go too dark because of the black (thin) frames. Thoughts?

    1. It depends on so many other things like your bedding and your carpet or floor color. However, without that information, I’d probably go with a dark neutral with a green undertone or some warmth to it. Like Sherwin-Williams Iron Ore for example. It’s super dark but warmer than black.

  37. I think that “antiquity” by Benjamin Moore is very close to the lovely color in the first kitchen photos. We are planning to use it in our new home that has a lot of honey oak.

  38. I have Early American oak cabinets and trim throughout my house. I am updating my kitchen and wanted to paint my cupboards a blue-gray but don’t know if it will blend with my oak trim and table. Can you please advise?

  39. I have a house with honey oak wood throughout the entire house…cabinets, wood trim, and all doors. I’d like to paint All of the ceilings throughout the house a shade of white, and all walls the same color, one that will compliment the honey oak wood. Will you please recommend what color of paint would look best on the walls, and what color hard surface flooring I can choose? The house has lots of natural sunlight.

  40. Hi! I am late to the game but am right now repainting my 1980s Kansas City area house and leaving the honey oak wood paneling in the living room, bookshelf in the den and trim/doors in several adjacent rooms. I wish I would have found your blog sooner as I have been agonizing over what paint and flooring colors will match. We ended up with SW Creamy in the den (I will paint my living room the same, leaving the honey oak trim, if my husband ever lets me…) and SW Crisp Linen in the hallways and kitchen. The former is in the same line as Canvas Tan but lighter. I love how rich it looks. The latter is very light and is slightly yellow in low light (looks more khaki in a very sunny room) but still quite “crisp” and “clean” which makes the honey oak pop without adding to the orangey-ness. p.s., We ended up with a red/orange/brown colored walnut floor (LVP). I look forward to checking your blog for more great ideas!

  41. I have orange honey oak trim and am thinking of getting sage green cabinets. Would this work?

    1. We have SW svelte sage on our bathroom walls and it looks fantastic with oak trim so I don’t see why it wouldn’t look nice on your cabinets.

  42. Last year I repainted my house, the interior of my house is mainly made of wood, I chose gray for my house, it’s amazing that it goes with many and gives a new background to the house. , which complements the color of the wood and provides warmth.

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Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

About Jillian

Welcome! I’m a Des Moines based interior designer, boy mom to one, avid reader and always aspiring artist. I started this blog when I moved to Iowa in 2008. Currently, I write about life in Iowa, personal development, and my creative journey.

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