11 Great Kitchen Paint Colors for Oak Cabinets

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The type of oak and the stain used on the cabinetry are important factors to consider when selecting paint colors for your kitchen remodel. When the wall color competes or clashes with the wood cabinets, it can create a chaotic look that feels unwelcoming. Now, we know that you're probably thinking, ​"Oak cabinets are dated."​ And while that might be true in some kitchens, the truth of the matter is that in most situations, the offending culprits are usually the surrounding palette. With the right colors, your oak cabinetry can look incredibly modern. The trick is figuring out what hues would work best with your oak cabinets. But no need to worry — we're here to help, with some great ideas and a few paint colors that will work beautifully.

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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 for your cook space. Ahead you'll find some of the most popular color schemes to choose from.

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Warm and Earthy

Earth tones pair beautifully with the natural wood grain of oak. Muting a color with gray lowers the saturation, giving it a subtle warmth that feels comforting. When selecting a palette, look for colors of the same intensity to create a harmonious and balanced design. You can't go wrong with timeless and sophisticated brown, beige, greige, or gray wall paint colors, as proven by this Scandinavian kitchen design from Nordiska Kök.

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Typically, you might find oak cabinetry in farmhouse or rustic spaces, however, the natural wood can work in modern interiors just as well, especially when paired with earth tones.

Light and Subtle

Most natural oak is a light to medium yellow-tinged wood. Honey oak cabinets are slightly darker with orange undertones, and red oak has a slight red tinge. Light oak paired 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 culinary makeover by Chris Loves Julia featuring white and oak-inspired cabinetry from their Semihandmade line, white appliances, and lots of natural light. On the other hand, bright white and light blue kitchen walls will lend a nautical or coastal feel.

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For a modern, contemporary look, go with light gray. Gray can have green, purple, or blue undertones, which will all work well with the yellow tones found in light oak. When considering beige walls with oak cabinets, pay extra attention to the undertones — yellow and orange will clash with pink-based beige, making the wall look muddy or dingy. Opt for a shade of beige with yellow, orange, or green undertones instead to pair with oak cabinetry.

Dark and Moody

Charcoal or gun-metal gray with dark blue or green undertones make oak cabinets look au courant and sophisticated. For high-contrast, use a deep shade of the complementary opposite to yellow or orange, such as eggplant or aubergine. A dark, muted shade of purple will add a mysterious elegance to the kitchen. Or, bring out the orange tones of honey oak with a dark navy blue wall, and complete the dramatic look with leather upholstery. We love the muted shade of dark green that deVOL Kitchens paired with the medium oak cabinets in this setup. The combination is moody but cozy and inviting.

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Tried and True Tones

It doesn't get more timeless than mother nature. Look to the outdoors when selecting your color palette and go with a lovely shade of green. Lighter hues such as sage or olive pair beautifully with yellow oak or any other wood trim you have in your kitchen space. For example, interior designer Heidi Caillier paired golden oak cabinets with a subtle pistachio green in this midcentury cook space, and the result is absolutely gorgeous. In a setting that leans more rustic, mix light oak with classic white or pastel hues of blue, pink, or green. Muted shades of blue, teal, terra cotta, or mustard yellow will provide an elegant, but earthy backdrop. Complement rustic oak pieces with dark evergreen, rust, gold, or burnt orange.

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11 Paint Colors for Kitchens with Oak Cabinets

We did some perusing to help you narrow down your search for the perfect palette. Here are 11 kitchen paint colors that will pair nicely with oak cabinets.

Deeper Hues:

Farrow & Ball Tar

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Glidden Knight's Armor

Benjamin Moore Barista

Behr Hacienda Blue

Sherwin-Williams Talipot Palm

Lighter Shades:

Farrow & Ball Wimborne White

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Backdrop Moonlight

Valspar Warm Summer

Backdrop Road to Todos Santos

Benjamin Moore East Lake Rose

Behr Fanciful

Consider Appliance Color

Before making your final decision on paint colors to go with your oak cabinetry, you'll also want to consider the color of your appliances. For instance, stainless steel may look better with cooler tones or paler shades, like a mindful gray, but will also work with dark grays and black. Pure white can work with almost any appliance color, but you might want to match the white paint with your appliance for a cohesive finish. Black appliances work really well with deeper colors. And if you have an appliance in a fun color, like a pink refrigerator or a yellow range, consider going with a neutral paint color on your walls.

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references & resources

As an Emmy Award winning creative director, writer and producer I have worked on content for brands like Disney, BravoTV, TBS, Universal, E! and MTV. But I mostly love rearranging furniture and repotting plants at home.