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

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.

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

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KD Boyle

Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

Definitely worth asking for advice and/or getting samples. It does save money, but more importantly for me, it saved time. I ended up using Benjamin Moore Natural Wicker. It’s on off white with warm tones that doesn’t change much throughout the day in an east facing room that doesn’t get a ton of natural light.

Mark Holmes

Monday 27th of June 2022

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.

Janice Wilbert

Monday 21st of March 2022

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


Monday 20th of June 2022

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.


Tuesday 18th of January 2022

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!


Sunday 25th of October 2020

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.

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