Oak cabinets come in enough different colors and styles to fit almost any kitchen design. Now, we know that you might be thinking, "Oak cabinets are dated." And while that might be true of the shiny, Shaker-style honey oak cabinets that were popular in the '90s and early 2000s, a light makeover with a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference.
With the right colors, your oak cabinetry can look modern and fit your personal style. The trick is figuring out what hues would work best with your cabinets. As you shop around for paint colors, consider the type of oak you're working with, as well as its undertones and grain pattern. Also keep in mind the size of your kitchen and the amount of natural light it receives. Larger, lighter spaces can stand up to darker, more dramatic paint colors without feeling too busy or closed-in. Darker, smaller spaces do best with lighter colors, but that doesn't mean deep colors are off-limits — you can use them in smaller doses or mix them with brightening elements like light-colored backsplashes or kitchen appliances.
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We did some perusing to help you narrow down your search for the perfect palette. Here are 12 kitchen paint colors that will pair nicely with oak cabinets.
How to Pick the Best Paint Color to Go With Oak Wood
The good news is that there are plenty of paint colors that will enhance and complement oak kitchen cabinets. So where do you begin? Glad you asked. The first step is to decide on a general palette. Ahead you'll find some of the most popular color schemes to choose from.
Warm and earthy
- adds warmth
- makes the room more comforting
- add rustic accents for a Mediterranean countryside look
Light and Subtle
- creates subtle contrast
- makes the room feel more casual
- add pops of blue for a coastal vibe
Dark and Moody
- provides a sophisticated look
- easily create high contrast by adding in bright colors
- cozy and inviting
12 Paint Colors for Kitchens with Oak Cabinets
You can't go wrong with neutrals like black when it comes to choosing a color to pair with wood cabinets. This space designed by Sean Litchfield shows just how striking black paint can be in a kitchen. Use this color palette in rooms with plenty of natural light that won't feel too dark or closed-in.
Get the look: Benjamin Moore Mopboard Black
This kitchen space designed by Nadia Olive Schnack proves that there are no rules when it comes to painting your kitchen. If you fall in love with a shade of lavender when looking at paint swatches, then go for it. Lavender and white make oak cabinets look cozy and rustic, setting the perfect mood for a pot of tea.
Get the look: Valspar Dusky Lavender
3. Sage Green
Oak cabinets with a red undertone look great with all shades of green. Pick an earthy hue like sage green to make a sophisticated statement in a small kitchen. White appliances and open shelving help to lighten up the look, while the hanging basket and exposed spices and grains make it feel warm and lived-in.
Get the look: Benjamin Moore Mountain Lane
4. Electric Blue
Go bold with electric blue walls. These honey oak cabinets have a yellow undertone, which makes blue a natural complementary choice. This kitchen goes all out with a tile backsplash, tasseled wall hanging, and cookware and accessories in bright colors. You can follow suit, or keep everything besides your blue walls simple for a more minimal look.
Get the look: Benjamin Moore Electric Blue
5. Warm White
Most natural oak has a yellow undertone. Pairing light oak cabinets with soft shades like off-white, taupe, beige, or cream will create subtle contrast and a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Just take a look at this kitchen, where everything is light and neutral, including the appliances and the dishware on the open shelves. It's the perfect combination of modern and rustic.
Get the look: Valspar Gauzy White
6. Chocolate Brown
Earth tones, like chocolate brown, pair beautifully with the natural wood grain of oak. Take this kitchen by Avenue Design Studio for example. The dark brown wall color perfectly highlights the dark wood grain in the oak cabinets for a look that is stunning and unique.
Get the look: Sherwin-Williams Chateau Brown
For a contemporary kitchen, pair your oak cabinets with gray like Nordiska Kök did here for a sleek, modern look. The color gray can have green, purple, or blue undertones, all of which will complement the yellow tones found in oak cabinets. Add accents in black and white for more contrast and visual texture.
Get the look: Clare Penthouse
For a fun, eclectic look that will make you smile every time you see it, pair your oak cabinets with a bright shade of teal. Make your narrow galley kitchen appear larger by painting the walls, trim, and ceiling in the same color. Installing recessed lighting also helps, since you won't have to worry about a large light fixture taking up any precious space.
Get the look: Sherwin-Williams Lagoon
9. Hunter Green
The red-toned oak and hunter green paint chosen by deVOL Kitchens makes for a dramatic combination. Because this space also has black wood flooring and a dark green ceiling, brightening elements — like the marble backsplash, cream door and window trim, and natural light — are crucial to keeping it from feeling closed-in. The open shelving and minimal pendant help keep things light as well.
Get the look: Sherwin-Williams Laurel Woods
This clean and fresh look by M. Prevost Design is what kitchen dreams are made of. The navy blue kitchen island pops against the yellow-toned oak cabinets and gives this kitchen a slightly coastal vibe. Accessories like the stack of wood cutting boards and fresh foliage make the whole kitchen feel natural and organic.
Get the look: Sherwin-Williams Revel Blue
11. Pale Yellow
Yellow is pretty popular color when it comes to kitchens. While it may seem tricky to pair yellow paint with orange-toned oak cabinets, Crisp Architects proves that it can be done. The black marble countertops help add depth to the room, while the white trim adds brightness.
Get the look: Benjamin Moore Stanhope Yellow
12. Light Blue
This light blue kitchen is a total showstopper. Going with floating shelves instead of upper cabinets lets the blue shiplapped wall shine, becoming an instant focal point in the room. Natural gray stone countertops and black light fixtures help ground the space, while the yellow dishes tie it all together.
Get the look: Clare Frozen
Colors That Go With Oak Cabinets
Oak cabinets can pair beautifully with a wide range of colors, depending on their undertones. Play them up with bold colors like electric blue, balance them out with a soft shade like light blue or warm white, or give them a sophisticated twist with a deep black or hunter green. Cabinets with pronounced natural wood grain, like the one in this kitchen by Alison Giese Interiors, have a rustic vibe, which you can counterbalance with modern colors and accents or accentuate with a country-inspired palette including lavender or sage yellow.
Here are some of the best paint colors to pair with oak kitchen cabinets:
- Sage green
- Electric blue
- Warm white
- Chocolate brown
- Hunter green
- Navy blue
- Pale yellow
- Light blue