Although in high demand in the late 1980s, pickled oak cabinets have lost their allure for homeowners and are a sure since of an aged kitchen for potential buyers. If you are stuck with the pickled oak design, or happen to love what you have, there are ways to complement or camouflage the cabinets with the right wall paint color. The color can blend or offset the pink undertones of the cabinets and allow the eye to see the wood cabinets in harmony with the overall look of the kitchen.
Taupes and Browns
Begin with the tans and browns. Avoid any pink-based taupe when selecting the color. Keep the undertones cool to draw out the similar neutral colors of the cabinet doors. Typically a taupe color with the word "sand" in the name will contain the right hue. Take a sample home from the paint store, and look at the color in your home's lighting before making a commitment. When using the neutral light brown or taupe, change the cabinet handles to a darker color, such as an oil-rubbed bronze. Avoid gold handles as the color and shine will become the focus of a neutral room.
Cream and Yellows
Light, soft colors will keep the hue of the cabinets flowing in the space. A creamy ivory will bring in a little pink or yellow depending on the base of the color. To add a little flush of color, go with a very faint pink base. You can bring out the warmth of the wood with a yellow tint. A bolder color with the same cabinet hue can be used to make a bigger impact if desired. A rich yellow with a buttery look will warm the pickling in the cabinets and keep the pink at bay. Avoid going too pastel in the ivory or yellow. You want to keep the tones subtle and the hue warm.
A punch of color that can warm and brighten a room at once, sage is a safe choice to combine with any pickled oak cabinets. Sage sits between blue and green in the color wheel just as pink sits between red and orange. They both exist by lightening the complementary colors. Choosing sage will not bring out the pink in the cabinets but rather will complement all the colors within the pickled oak as a whole. Keep the room light by adding white trim, which pulls the look together.
A brown marbled granite brings out the best in pickled oak cabinets and can be transferred into a pretty wall effect through rag rolling. Choose two or three browns from the same hue card at a paint store. On a card of five colors, select the top, middle and bottom. Use the middle color as the base and accent by using a rag to roll on a light layer of each of the other colors, one at a time. Additional paint effects that complement the cabinets include glazing, crackling and light patterns. Keep the color patterns within the recommendations presented and the effects within the same hue card. Avoid closing in the room by keeping a simple neutral color on other walls.