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What paint color goes best with oak cabinets?

When choosing a paint color for walls in a room with oak cabinets, it’s important to consider the undertones of the wood. Oak typically has warm, golden undertones. Pairing oak with the right paint color can make the cabinets really stand out and look their best. Cool-toned paints like grays, blues and greens don’t pair as well with oak and can make the cabinets look dull or dated. Instead, look for paint colors with warm undertones that complement the oak. Here are some of the best paint colors to go with oak cabinets.

Warm Neutrals

Warm-toned neutrals are a safe bet for pairing with golden oak cabinets. Look for paint colors like tans, camels, light browns, warm grays, and greiges that have subtle golden, peach or yellow undertones. These colors will bring out the richness of the oak wood grains without clashing. Try pairing oak cabinets with neutral paint colors like:

  • Benjamin Mooretan
  • Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige
  • Behr Cappuccino
  • Valspar Honey Wheat
  • Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray

Lighter warm neutrals like tans, light browns and greiges are especially versatile. They make small spaces feel open and airy. Darker neutrals like camel or brown work well in larger rooms. Warm grays nicely bridge the gap between brown and gray for a sophisticated look.

Yellows and Golds

Since oak cabinets lean golden, pairing them with yellow or gold paint brings out their richness. Mustard yellow, goldenrod, buttercream, peach, gold and other golden-toned paint colors complement the warmth of the oak wood. Try pairing oak cabinets with sunny paint colors like:

  • Sherwin-Williams Crisp Linen
  • Benjamin Moore Golden Straw
  • Valspar Illuminating
  • Behr Cinnamon Toast
  • Benjamin Moore Goldfinch

Lighter yellows and golds keep things fresh and contemporary. Deeper shades like mustard and goldfinch make for a bold, dramatic accent wall. Limit deeper yellows to accent walls so they don’t overwhelm the room.

Reds and Oranges

Looking for something more vibrant? Red and orange paint colors also pair beautifully with golden oak. The two tones bring out the best in each other. Try oak cabinets with paint colors like:

  • Sherwin-Williams Fireweed
  • Behr Canyon Sunset
  • Valspar Fiery Red
  • Benjamin Moore Caliente
  • Sherwin-Williams Optimistic Orange

Clear reds and oranges as well as warm terra cotta and clay shades all complement oak’s golden tones. Use brighter shades like fiery red and orange as accents. Softer reds and terra cotta shades can be used on main walls without overwhelming.


Contrary to popular belief, green and oak can pair beautifully together. The key is choosing the right undertone of green. Cool-toned greens and sage hues don’t pair as well with oak. Instead, look for greens with warm golden, olive or mossy undertones. Try pairings like:

  • Sherwin-Williams Evergreen Fog
  • Valspar Olivine
  • Behr Golden Gate
  • Benjamin Moore Golden Moss
  • Sherwin-Williams Mountain Sage

Warmer green pair well with oak’s golden tones. Lighter warm greens like olive and moss work well. Deeper forest greens can overpower oak cabinets if used on all walls, so use them sparingly or as accents.

Avoid Cool Tones

While warm paint colors complement oak beautifully, cool-toned colors like grays, blues and purples don’t pair as well. Cool paints can make oak cabinets look outdated or mismatched. If you want to use a cool tone, look for warm undertones instead of stark cool tones. Soft warm grays, greige blues and mauve-gray purples pair better than icy cool shades. Avoid pairings like:

  • Sherwin-Williams Rain
  • Valspar Baltic Blue
  • Behr Silver Drop
  • Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
  • Sherwin-Williams Online Blue

If you have your heart set on a cool paint color, consider warming up your oak cabinets by refinishing or staining them a darker espresso shade.

Accent Colors

Any paint color can work well with oak cabinets if used sparingly. While cool tones don’t pair as well with oak all over, they can make great accent colors. Try accent walls or trims in shades like:

  • Sherwin-Williams Naval
  • Valspar Rainstorm
  • Behr Deep Sea
  • Benjamin Moore Gentian
  • Sherwin-Williams Passive

Deep cool accent colors make oak cabinets really pop. Just keep the accent color to one wall or 20% of the room. Warm neutrals, yellows, reds or greens make up the main wall color.

Lighting Considerations

The way a room is lit can impact how paint colors appear alongside oak cabinets. Here are some lighting tips:

  • Opt for warm white or soft white bulbs (2700K-3000K). Cool fluorescent lighting washes walls out.
  • Layer lighting for dimension – overhead, accent, task lighting.
  • Use dimmers to control light levels.
  • Add lighting above and inside cabinets to highlight them.

Strategic lighting brings out the beauty in oak cabinetry and chosen wall colors.

How Sheen Impacts Color

The sheen you choose for your wall paint also affects how colors look next to oak cabinets. Here are some pointers:

  • Flat or matte paint absorbs light, muting colors. It camouflages walls but makes cabinets pop.
  • Eggshell has a soft glow, balancing color vibrancy and mutedness. It’s ideal for most rooms.
  • Satin has higher light reflection for bolder colors. Use it for accent walls.
  • Semi-gloss and gloss amplify colors. They’re best for trims and ceilings, not full walls.

In most cases, eggshell is the best sheen for walls next to oak cabinets. It balances light reflection for color vibrancy without overwhelming the room.

Pulling it All Together

When choosing wall colors for a room with oak cabinets:

  • Look for paint undertones that complement oak’s warm golden tones – warm neutrals, clear yellows, reds, oranges and warm greens
  • Use deeper shades sparingly, especially on main walls
  • Soft muted warm tones and lighter shades of yellows and greens are safest
  • Use cool tones only as accents
  • Eggshell finish balances mutedness and vibrancy
  • Add plenty of warm white lighting to showcase walls and cabinets

With the right warm paint color and lighting, your oak cabinets can really shine and become the focal point of your room. The colors you choose for the walls, trims and accents support and enhance the built-ins to create a cohesive, pulled-together space. Use the suggestions above to find a color scheme that highlights your oak cabinetry while creating an inviting, contemporary room.

Full Room Inspiration

For additional inspiration, here are some examples of stylish rooms that combine oak cabinets, complementary wall colors, and thoughtful lighting:

Warm Neutrals

Paint Color Room Description
Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige Kitchen This light tan with golden undertones makes the oak cabinets glow. White subway tiles and open shelving keep things airy.
Behr Cappuccino Dining Room The warm light brown walls bring out the oak table’s richness. A bright white tray ceiling ups the elegance.
Valspar Honey Wheat Bedroom This soft neutral complements the oak bed frame and other wood accents in the space.

Yellows and Golds

Paint Color Room Description
Sherwin-Williams Crisp Linen Kitchen Buttery yellow upper cabinets pop against the oak base cabinets. White counters balance it out.
Benjamin Moore Cinnamon Toast Living Room This muted golden shade makes the oak built-in shelving a standout. Blue accents provide contrast.
Valspar Illuminating Bathroom A golden accent wall brings warmth to the oak vanity. Crisp white adds spa-like vibes.

Reds and Oranges

Paint Color Room Description
Sherwin-Williams Fireweed Dining Room This bright fuchsia makes a bold accent behind the substantial oak table. Grounding black finishes anchor it.
Valspar Fiery Red Kitchen The vibrant red island complements the oak cabinets and stainless steel. White perimeter cabinets balance it out.
Benjamin Moore Caliente Living Room This warm terra cotta complements the oak media center. Neutral tones keep it sophisticated.


Paint Color Room Description
Sherwin-Williams Mountain Sage Kitchen This warm green accent wall highlights the oak cabinets. White shaker cabinets and marble counters brighten up the moody hue.
Behr Golden Gate Bathroom Olive green walls flatter the golden oak vanity while white details keep it serene.
Benjamin Moore Golden Moss Bedroom This muted green accent complements the oak bed frame without overwhelming the small space.


Oak cabinets offer timeless warmth to a space. Choosing wall colors with golden, olive and terra cotta undertones brings out the best in oak woodgrains. Steer clear of cool grays and blues, which can clash. Instead use warm neutrals, sunny yellows, spicy reds, and earthy greens to make oak cabinets the star. Thoughtful lighting and paint finishes complete the look. With the right color scheme, your oak cabinets will look fresh, contemporary and full of rich character.