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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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Monday 11th of December 2023

I have the orange tone, honey oak trim and doors with white countertops and backsplash. Is there any light or whites that would go with this?


Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

I realize this is a very old post but I'm wondering if you can suggest specific SW colors for me to look at? I have a house with all (very orange) honey oak hardwood floors. The walls now are many different variations of orange! Burnt orange, peach, pale orange. All just not my style. We are struggling to find a paint color. I personally love SW Sea Salt but it doesn't seem to look right in here. I'm not sure if it's because it is next to orange or peach but it's not good. I also cut it 50% but that's not working. Any suggestions?


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

Hi Jenifer, I'm not able to give specific advice via the blog. There's so much more nuance to it than that. I can tell you that cutting Sea Salt by 50% is going to make it more pastel. I don't think that will stand up particularly well to a strong honey oak. Sea Salt itself might not be working due to the lighting.

Wendy kwSny

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Hi, of all the colors you have shown, I have to say that one color is surly lived in Texas and so Orange is very popular so I went ahead and embraced it, it came out fabulous..I wish I could insert a picture here to show you


Saturday 19th of August 2023

Hi Wendy, good call. Orange hues in a variety of shades would work well with honey oak too.


Sunday 6th of August 2023

So, we have a LOT of honey oak cabinets in a house we're purchasing in TX. The counter tops are tan, orange & black marble and we want to keep them. Lightening the orange/tan walls with the Natural Choice will look good I think, but what light green would/could I paint the base of the island (same marble top) in the middle of the kitchen to break up the honey oak cabinets all around the kitchen? Thanks in advance

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.

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