Wall Colors for Honey Oak Cabinets

Choosing the right paint color can bring a tired room back to life, and can make an outdated kitchen with honey oak cabinets look updated.

Honey oak cabinets were so popular in the 90s. If you had honey oak cabinets… you had arrived. But now, that orangey look is a bit outdated. One way to really update your kitchen, even with those honey oak cabinets, is to paint it.

A note about color…

When choosing a wall paint color it is important to remember that honey oak cabinets bring more of a “color” to a kitchen than other wood cabinets. And the color they bring is orange. Your job in choosing a paint color is to pick one that downplays the orange, but also coordinates with it.

These paint picks, from Sherwin Williams, are a great place to start finding your perfect shade to pair with your honey oak cabinets.

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Here are 5 amazing paint colors to go with honey oak cabinets.

1. Steamed Milk (SW7554)

Steamed Milk, by Sherwin Williams, is one of my all time favorite paint colors. It goes with everything.

Several years ago, I moved into a home that not only had honey oak kitchen cabinets, but also had honey oak moulding. I immediately painted the walls with Steamed Milk, and it was like a breath of fresh air. Here is a picture of the kitchen with Steamed Milk on the walls.

Wall Colors for Honey Oak Cabinets

In case you’re interested, we updated this whole kitchen on a shoestring budget. Check out what we did and the after pics here.

2. Rainwashed (SW6211)

Rainwashed, by Sherwin Williams, is the perfect bluish green color to coordinate with your honey oak kitchen cabinets.

It is very similar to Sea Salt, one of Sherwin William’s all time most popular colors. Rainwashed is better with oak cabinets, though, because it has a little more blue in it than Sea Salt does, and downplays the orange in the oak instead of accentuating it.

Rainwashed is such a pretty shade that, not only did I use it in my kitchen, I also chose it as one of the best blues from Sherwin Williams.


You can check out more about Rainwashed here.

3. Cucumber (SW6722)

If you’re looking for a green that has a little more pop, check out Sherwin William’s Cucumber paint.

If you’re someone who likes a little bit of color on your walls, this shade will do the trick. It is bright enough to make a statement but also subdued enough to blend easily with multiple types of decor.

4. Charcoal Blue (SW2739)

Charcoal Blue, by Sherwin Williams, goes great with honey oak cabinets. In fact, any dark, almost navy blue will go great with your oak cabinets.

The smokey dark blue color pairs so well with the orangey tone of the wood. Be warned though, this is a dark color. It will make a room without many windows or lights feel smaller. This color would go best in a kitchen with lots of natural light.

5. Balmy (SW6512)

Balmy is an amazing light blue!

It has a little more depth than a powder blue, and almost feels like a SUPER light navy. If you like the Charcoal Blue color, but don’t want to go with a color that dark, this Balmy is a great pick for you.

It is also one of Sherwin William’s top paint colors for beach homes and coastal style decor.

6. Dhurrie Beige (SW7524)

Sherwin William’s Dhurrie Beige is a greige that leans towards brown instead of gray.

Colors to go with Honey Oak

This warm beige is a good coordinating color for honey oak cabinets. Since it is a neutral, it goes with most decor. Against white trim, it is dark enough to make a statement.

Choosing the right paint color for honey oak cabinets makes all the difference.

Hopefully these paint colors will inspire you to paint your kitchen to really update the look.

If you want to check out these colors without actually painting your walls yet, be sure to pick up some sample paint squares from Samplize. These 12×12 adhesive squares, made with real paint, can be easily applied to your walls to see how each paint color will look next to your shade of cabinet. When you’re done, you just pull the square off, leaving your current paint color intact until you’re ready to paint! Oh, and right now you can get $5 off your first order – that’s almost like getting one sample square for free!

Another easy way to update your honey oak cabinets is to change out the hardware.

Get rid of those gold pulls and knobs (which are actually back in style!) because they pull more orange into the kitchen when you have honey oak cabinets.

Instead, pick up some black or bronze knobs and pulls, as they help to neutralize the orange that your eye sees in the wood. Here are a Bronze Bar Pull and a Black Cup Pull to inspire you! I’ve personally used the Cosmas brand and they are a great quality product.

Other Resources to Help You Paint Your Kitchen

If you need help painting your room, check out this painting guide, where you can learn all the tricks and tips to painting a room easily.

And, make sure you choose the right paint sheen for your kitchen. You need one that is both durable and scrubbable, since kitchen walls tend to need wiped up a lot more than other walls in your house.

While you’re at it, take a look at this whole house color scheme to go with your new kitchen wall paint!


Choosing the right paint color to go with your honey oak cabinets is important in updating your kitchen, but it is most important to choose a color that you love!

I hope this list inspires you! And remember to check out the painting resources to help you as you go.

Pick up everything you need to paint your kitchen here! House Painting Essential Supply List

Choosing a Wall Paint Color for your Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Wall Colors for Honey Oak Cabinets

Wall Colors for Honey Oak Cabinets

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Painting walls with steamed milk.
    What color to paint kitchen cabinets

    1. Hi Sharon! It completely depends on your preferences, but if you want the white kitchen look, Alabaster would be a nice color. Gray cabinets are also in, and Gray Matters is a popular color choice. Or, you could use a stain to change the shade of the wood. I did this in a honey oak kitchen and it made a big difference. There is minimal sanding, and no stripping. It’s like painting them a stain color that goes over your current stain. It’s a pretty easy DIY – definitely easier than painting them and getting a perfect paint job! Good luck, whatever you decide!

  2. Just finished painting my kitchen with oak cabinets with the Rainwashed color. It is an absolutely awesome change to my room. I think the color draws the eye away from the cabinets, which is exactly what I wanted.
    Thank you for the suggestions.

    1. Hi Jill! So glad to hear that Rainwashed worked well for you! I love that color – and have used it in a light wood kitchen as well. It is perfect for updating the look without being too much of a color, if that makes sense. Enjoy the new look of your kitchen!

  3. Hi Lauren. My cabinets and trim lean toward the medium oak color, more brown(and sometimes orange) than honey but definitely not dark. I can see a lot of grain as well. Also I have a light ceramic tile floor, whitish with some tan and gray in it. What paint colors do you suggest?

    1. Hi Joann! Your cabinet color sounds very similar to the one in my home. We haven’t updated the kitchen yet (too many projects!), but when we do, I am thinking about these colors to match medium oak cabinets: Agreeable Gray (its a greige and would probably look great with your floor), Rainwashed, Westhighland White, or maybe Silver Strand. As a general guide, go with a warm color, but not an orangy one, as an orangy color will highlight the orange in the wood. I’m actually loving the color cabinet you described right now! Paired with the right paint and some updated handles, you can really make it look in style. I’d love to hear what color you decide on!

  4. We have super orange maple cabinets that are similar to the oak and the walls are Macacdamia by Sherwin Williams And it compliments the cabinets well.

    1. That sounds really pretty, Melanie! Thanks for posting!!

  5. Can a gel stain be used over oak cabinets that have been sealed with oil based polyurethane?

    1. Hi Sandi! I used gel stain on my cabinets, which I’m 95% sure were finished with an oil based poly. Gel stain is an oil based product, so it should go over anything. You typically run into trouble when you put a water based product over an oil based one (but here it would be an oil product over an oil product, so you should be fine). Of course test it in a small spot, but I am pretty sure that it will work fine! Check out this post on gel stain if you’d like more info on how to use it.

  6. Lauren,
    I am in need of your advice. My living room (20′ x 40′) has honey oak floors, honey oak plank ceiling and natural oak crown molding, window/door trim and 6″ baseboards with beige walls! It’s orange overload. We do not want to paint the ceiling or restain the floors, but are leaning towards painting all the trim . crown molding white – possibly even a shiplap treatment on one one the short walls to brighten up the northwest facing room. Any color suggestions for the walls to “de-orange” this room?

    1. Hi Audrey! I’ll be that room was absolutely stunning when it was made – all that woodwork! Sadly, as you know, the honey color of the wood hasn’t stood the test of time like some other shades have. I think painting the trim is a great idea. It’ll break up some of the orange tones in the wood and will make the white trim and crown molding stand out instead of the honey color. I had a home with honey colored floors and painting the wood trim made a huge difference. I might start there and see if you still think a shiplap wall is necessary. I fear that it make be overpowering to have shiplap planks on the walls and a planked ceiling. A great wall color to go with honey colored wood is Anew Gray. Since it is a greige color, it is very in style right now, and will draw your eyes away from the orange color. I think that a light color like Steamed Milk will actually accentuate the wood, as the darker color of the wood will draw your attention to it. A darker color like Anew Gray, highlighted with crisp white trim and molding, will make the room look up to date. Good luck!

  7. Lauren:

    All my rooms except the great room have dark wood trim, including the columns. I am not a fan of dark trim but my house has so much trim that I don’t want to paint. The window trim, baseboards, around the ceilings all have the dark trim. Any suggestions on a paint color? A color I can use throughout. Not a big fan of gray.

    1. Hi Mary! I’m working on a post about this right now! But, in the meantime… A white paint looks really gorgeous with dark wood trim. It is a very classic look, but is also very popular right now. Greek Villa, Aesthetic White, or Creamy would be good choices. For actual colors, a medium blue (ex. Smokey Blue), looks very stately. A light green such as Sea Salt or Comfort Gray would be very pretty. Watery is also a great shade that would go well with dark wood. One of the whites or Sea Salt are your best choices for a color you can use throughout the whole house, as they are neutrals. I hope you find a great color! I know that white trim is very popular right now, but I think that dark wood trim can also be very pretty!

  8. I love the way you don’t bash people’s existing cabinets. Fashions change constantly and just because something has been declared “dated” doesn’t mean it’s ugly. I love your suggestions on how to work with what you have. I have maple cabinets that changed from light, neutral wood to a red/dark yellow honey over time. The finish did not hold up and the bare wood seemed to be exposed in places so I couldn’t leave them as they were. I painted them white. It is not a job for the lazy. You remove doors, sand, prime do a few coats of paint and a couple of coats of non yellowing sealer. It will still chip a bit because that is life. I kept the leftover for touchups. I was told that maple does not accept stain well because it is such a hard wood so I painted. I don’t like to see designers ridiculing honey oak cabinets or any styles that were the “must have” of times past. The things these Trendy Wendys say you MUST HAVE today will be ridiculed by them in a few years. You are fantastic and I love your color suggestions!

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! I completely agree with you. Styles go in and out so quickly – often times just so that we all have to buy new things, it seems. Plus, those older type cabinets are so much of a better quality than the ones that I would replace them with (because solid wood cabinets are expensive!). I’ve painted my kitchen island before, and did the same process as you, and it is time consuming. I’ve also darkened existing cabinet stain with Polyshades, making it a more “trendy” color. I love any of the options, because style is a personal choice! Thanks for your comment! :).

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