Every week, I receive emails and comments from people who need help picking wall paint colors to work with their honey oak trim and cabinetry. A few years ago, I wrote a post on how to go about choosing paint colors for honey oak trim, but I didn’t provide any specific paint colors.
So far in this series, I wrote about five light neutrals from Benjamin Moore that look beautiful with honey oak trim and six light beige neutrals from Sherwin-Williams that work well with medium to light honey oak trim, cabinetry, and flooring. In part three of this series, I am sharing three light grays from Sherwin-Williams and three pale yellow-green neutrals.
Here in Des Moines, there are thousands of homes built anywhere from the 80s through the early 2000s that still have honey oak trim, built-ins, paneling, and cabinetry. Sometimes, we will paint them white, but often it can be cost prohibitive. And sometimes, my clients like the natural wood oak, because it can be very beautiful, so we keep it.
As in the previous two posts, I chose the same two spots in our home that still have honey oak trim or cabinetry and photographed large swatches of the five colors next to the wood. These photos might not be very exciting, but they demonstrate these five colors in different exposures with varying shades of honey oak.
The set of photos taken by our kitchen cabinetry get northern light, and the set taken by our stair railing get more southern light. I took these photos around 9:00 in the morning here in Iowa. In the set of photos by the cabinetry, I also included a small piece of oak trim with a light stain for another variation on honey oak.
All of my walls and trim are painted Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17, so that is the background you see behind the paint swatches. White Dove has a touch of cream and a touch of gray. I think it looks beautiful with honey oak if you have the right home for white walls.
Skyline Steel SW 1050
Sherwin-Williams Skyline Steel is a warm light gray found in the Timeless section of the Sherwin-Williams paint deck, so it is easily overlooked when searching for colors to test.
It’s on a strip with other gray paint colors that aren’t the same hue, so it’s undertone isn’t easily understood at first glance. After comparing it to some other other popular Sherwin-Williams light grays, I concluded that it’s more green than Agreeable Gray and less green than Useful Gray, which can go quite green in the right light.
For lightness, it’s somewhere between the first color on the strip and the second.
Agreeable Gray SW 7029
Agreeable Gray is a very popular Sherwin-Williams light gray, the lightest color on its strip. It’s a good substitute for the ever popular Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.
Anew Gray is one shade darker. In my Winston Circle project, we used Anew Gray in the master bedroom and Agreeable Gray in the master bathroom. We used Anew Gray on the whole lower level.
Agreeable Gray has warm bronzey undertones that complement the yellow orange in the oak. If you must pair your honey oak with gray walls, Agreeable Gray is a good place to start.
Useful Gray SW 7050
Useful Gray definitely has a green undertone. If you compare it to the strip with Agreeable Gray, it’s even more obvious that it leans more strongly towards green while Agreeable Gray leans more strongly towards yellow.
I think your lighting situation and the particular tone of your honey oak will affect whether or not Useful Gray is a good choice.
Dirty Martini SW 9119
The next three colors all look better with honey oak than the previous three. So many people email me asking for gray paint colors that look good with honey oak, but the best wall colors for honey oak are not gray.
First up, Dirty Martini. I love the name as this is my cocktail of choice, preferably with blue cheese olives and made by my dad. You can find this color on the next strip over from Ramie and Rice Grain, which I covered in my last post.
Dirty Martini is the lightest color on the strip. It’s a really pretty light yellow with a drop of green and a drop of gray, which makes it read more neutral than a true yellow. I can imagine that it would make a room feel like it was glowing and look beautiful with creamy whites.
Cargo Pants SW 7738
Cargo Pants is a greenish beige that is on a strip in the Timeless section with a selection of other greens. I mention the location of the colors in the deck because the bulk of the Sherwin-Williams deck is organized by undertone. Most of the strips are organized from lightest to darkest gradations on the same hue.
The Timeless section is not organized this way and so it can be harder to understand the properties of the colors when they are in this section.
I loved Cargo Pants next to the honey oak. I thought it felt very harmonious, natural, and fresh.
Polar Bear SW 7564
My last color selection for this post is Polar Bear SW 7564. You can find Polar Bear on a strip in the Whites and Pastels section. It is a very light shade of yellow with a touch of gray. In my photos, you can see that it’s only a little deeper than the Benjamin Moore White Dove on the walls.
If you had trim or cabinets painted White Dove, this would be an amazing color to choose for an all white look that didn’t feel cool and gave you a little bit of contrast.
I put together a comparison chart with both the northern and southern exposures so you could easily see how they compare. I think it’s also more noticeable how different conditions affect the light when you see them together.
In the comparison photos, you can see the warmer neutrals look better with the honey oak than the gray. If you have honey oak trim, you should embrace it and not fight it or try to make it work with the all gray trend.
Remember, this post only addressed how these colors work with the wood tone. You still need to consider any other fixed elements in the room such as tile, countertops, stone, or any upholstery, drapery, or rugs that you don’t plan to replace.
Saturday 29th of January 2022
I have honey oak cabinets and just put in new countertops that are several colors of gray and white. Having a difficult time on what color would bring it all together. Any suggestions?
Thursday 11th of November 2021
I also have honey oak cabinets, trim, closet doors EVERYTHING!!! Not into gray..HELP??
Wednesday 10th of November 2021
This is a great post. I've been fretting about and collecting samples of colors for months now. So thoughtful to picture morning light from north and south. This is very helpful and glad I happened upon it.
Friday 29th of October 2021
Hi, I am painting a rec room that has golden oak trim as well as golden oak furniture and a brown sofa. I am struggling with a paint color because there is next to no natural light that comes in. Do you recommend a lighter warm color such as Polar Bear or a little more color, such as Cargo Pants. Any help is appreciated!!
Saturday 2nd of October 2021
Thanks for this article! Any suggestions that match honey oak floors and trims that are not beige? I’m not so into the grey trend, or beige.
We just move to a suburb in Chicago from LA. We’re musicians and love a combo of modern (clean lines, airy spaces, bright colors, but love wood) with boho elements.
I found SW Creamy for our living room, family room and office, SW Denim for an accent wall in the living room, and SW Mauve Finery + Thistle for the bedroom… but don’t know what colors to pick for the foajé and grey dining room/kitchen which has Mexican tile floors, and the dark connecting stairway between the floors.