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Choosing the right paint color can bring a tired room back to life, and can make an outdated kitchen with honey oak cabinets look updated.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 But now, that orangey look is a bit outdated.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

For some other paint colors that go with natural wood, check this post out!

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.

If you want to update your kitchen without replacing your honey oak cabinets, check this out!

Adding cabinets of a different color is a great way to compliment your current wood cabinets. Have a two toned kitchen is called a “tuxedo” kitchen – and they are highly desirable. According to Zillow, homes with tuxedo kitchens can sell for as much as $6000 more than comparable homes.

Check out how I added gorgeous white cabinets on a wall in my kitchen, as an accent to my oak cabinets.

Lily Ann Cabinet Review

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.

Want more paint color ideas? Check out the best colors for wood trim!

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

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Wall Colors for Honey Oak Cabinets

This Post Has 40 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! :).

  9. Hi Lauren,
    Thanks for writing such a helpful post. Definitely gave me a lot more color options for our kitchen. Our kitchen looks pretty much like the picture of the kitchen painted with Rainwashed but we have uba tuba granite instead of the lighter countertops. Do you have any color suggestions that would work well with a dark granite and oak cabinets? Would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

    1. Hi Chris! I’ve seen a color like Worldly Gray or Repose Gray used in a kitchen with oak cabinets and black granite and it looked amazing. Any of the light colors listed would go well with dark granite though. Black is a neutral, so it is very versatile. Other options are Tradewind or Silver Strand are pretty options also. Good luck Chris!

  10. We have builders grade honey oak cabinets. We are painting walls with accessible beige throughout the house. I would like suggestions on countertop colors and vinyl plank flooring. All of the trim around windows is white. I was thinking black matte looking counter or dark steel gray. I like the weathered gray/brown farmhouse looking floors but I think it may clash with the cabinets being an orange hint. It’s an open kitchen that is focal walking through the front door and opens to the family room so a lot of space and light.

    1. Hi Alisa! You could definitely do black countertops. I’ve seen it done with honey oak cabinets and it looks nice. You could also go with white. I would just steer away from anything that has more orangy tones in it, as this will accentuate the orange in the cabinets. On the floors, you could try a darker wood that has warm undertones (but not necessarily orange). I love the gray/brown weathered farmhouse flooring as well, but I agree that it may be hard to get it to work with the cabinet color. Grays are typically pretty cool colors, so I think that a warmer toned wood floor will coordinate better. We have very orangy floors in my current home, and when we updated the banisters I chose a dark but warm stain color to coordinate with, but not match the floor. The color is similar to Brown Mahogany, by General Finishes. If you love the grays, you could also consider using a gel stain to change the tone of your honey oak cabinets. It is easier than you’d think, and doesn’t require too much prep. Here’s how I did it in a previous home. Hope your kitchen remodel goes well!

  11. I have beautiful Honey Oak cabinets. I’m getting new counter tops and will be painting the walls. My new appliances are brushed stainless, trim is white now and was wondering what type and color counter tops and if Balmy would be a good color choice for walls.

    1. Hi Sandy! Any of the variations of white countertops are super in style, and would look really pretty paired with your cabinets, new appliances and painted trim. I’m excited for how the kitchen turns out!

  12. Lauren, hi, thank you for having the vision for color matching.
    Help, please.
    We are getting ready to sell our house and it was mentioned we change our kitchen color from the 90s yellow/gold to like a Tony Taupe, what, whats that color? I’m all confused.
    Well we have several colors going on in our house that I need an expert, you, hopefully you can help.
    Currently we have these “like” colors in our home,
    Sw6793 Bluebell (Family Room)
    Sw6462 Green Trance (Foyer)
    Sw6912 Glisten Yellow (Dining and Living Rooms)
    In the kitchen, we have the lighter oak cabinets, black granite top counters (tan/brown specs in it), black appliances, reddish/brownish like rust colored tiled backsplash (it matches color found in granite countertop), and to top it off, Brazilian Cherry Hardwood Floors. Help.
    Could you please provide us with some color options, so that new buyers would say Wow, pretty kitchen.
    Another question, if the mud room is off the kitchen and in sight when you are in kitchen, what color do you recommend for this room?
    Look forward to your response.

    1. Hi Sunny! It sounds like you have a lot of colors going on in your house right now, which is good if you love color! For selling a home though, its always best to stick with neutrals. So, for the rooms that you’re looking to paint, I would suggest painting them a light neutral shade, such as Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray or Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. Since you have several other colors going on in the house, I would probably stick to the same color in the rooms that you’re planning to paint. Both Edgecomb Gray and Agreeable Gray will go nicely with all the colors you listed, and will help provide buyers with a neutral backdrop for their own vision for the home. Tony Taupe is a fine color, but for selling a home, browns are sort of “out”. Greiges or warm grays are what is appealing most to current buyers. Good luck with selling your home!

      1. Lauren, thank you so much, you hit the nail on the head, the Edgecomb Gray is perfect! This color also looks good against our stone fireplace. I knew I could count on you, the expert. We painted all 4 bedrooms upstairs with Balboa Mist. So hopefully we are set and our home sells. I look forward to our new home and seeing what paint colors will look the best.
        Again thank you Lauren.

        1. You’re so welcome Sunny! I’m so happy that Edgecomb Gray worked for you. It is one of my favorites right now. Good luck with the sale!

  13. Hello. My kitchen and living room, plus a small hallway all merge together. Kitchen has orangish wood floors, living area light beige carpet and continues through rest of house, minus the foyer. I’m very tired looking at beige-yellow walls. What can I do with paint to help resolve my problem? (kitchen has dark marble counters). In advance I want to thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Patricia! My situation is similar in this home – orangy wood floors, light beige carpet. I just painted the walls Edgecomb Gray and I LOVE it. It is a great neutral that has a bit of gray in it along with beige, but no yellow. Having a greige color without yellow will help to make your home look more modern too.

  14. Lauren- I love this post, we just replaced our carpet with vinyl plank flooring and now I need to paint my open living room/kitchen/foyer and three bedrooms. But we have this honey oak trim from when we built in 2006. I hate orange, and I have a hard time reading it, but I need to hear it! So I am looking at rainwashed, cucumber, drift of mist and I will check out Grecian ivory too. But I wanted to know what you thought of Spinach white, I feel like it’s just a little lighter than cucumber? I love green so I’m trying to sneak that in, but want everything to flow. I’d like to try balmy in the master, but we have a dark like walnut bedroom set which really clashes with the honey oak trim. Would balmy work with darker wood as well?

    1. Hi Sarah! Spinach White is really pretty! I love that it is more muted, but will still look green on your walls. I think its a great choice, and it is a much more “in style” color than Cucumber is! Balmy is a great color too, and will definitely go with your darker wood. If you’re looking for colors that will go together, I would consider Balmy or Rainwashed (but perhaps not both unless the rooms cannot be seen from eachother), Spinach White, and Drift of Mist or Grecian Ivory (if you want A LOT of light). That would give you a blue, a green and a neutral that will all coordinate.

  15. Lauren,
    Looking to update my family room that has honey oak trim and cabinetry, from a darker tan to a lighter neutral. I’ve tried BM Manchester Tan, which didn’t go with my fireplace brick, and Edgecomb Grey, which I liked, but was worried wouldn’t flow with the rest of my warm neutral tones when we eventually replace all of the carpet. Any thoughts on BM White Sand with honey oak trim?

    1. Hi Pam! BM White Sand will be beautiful with honey oak trim! Good choice!

  16. So I read your article and decided to try Balmy for our spare bathroom with honey oak cabinets. I plan on changing the vanity at some point but it’s not in the budget. We had a really ugly dark tan in that bathroom from previous owners. I wanted something to brighten the room up a bit. I LOVE how much balmy goes with those cabinets and brightens the whole room! I’m seriously in love with it! It’s such a calming peaceful blue. Now I want to try some of the other lighter colors listed in our kitchen and upstairs bath! Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you love Balmy! It is such a pretty color! Thanks for letting me know – I appreciate you coming back to comment!

  17. Hi Lauren, I am hoping you can help me. I have oak kitchen cabinets, orange/oak trim around windows and baseboard and recessed fridge. We have cathedral ceiling in kitchen that has a orange tone wood staircase that goes up to the loft living room. Cedar is half way on upper walls. The floor is a darker oak. There is so much wood and the house is very tiny but cozy. The kitchen merges into a small dining area. The walls in these two areas currently have a mustard yellow. These rooms also face the West. It feels so dark and I would like to lighten it up. I’ve been reading about undertones of yellow, pink, blue and green. It can be so confusing. I have looked at creamy, divine white, dover white, steamed milk. I would like to downplay the orange tone in the wood. What colors would you recommend? I have never had such difficulty in picking a color. Stressed out, please help, Lori

    1. Hi Lori! Since you have so much wood in the rooms, and wood brings brown and orange tones, I would take a look at Creamy and Dover White. Steamed Milk and Diving White have a bit of yellow in them, and would look nice, but won’t necessarily downplay the orange. Creamy and Dover White have a bit of gray in them, and will pair nicely with the wood. I think you’d be happy with either! Don’t stress :). It’ll be beautiful when you’re done!

  18. Hi Lauren i have honey oak cabinets and was thinking of painting natural spring water. Do you thonk it would look nice .
    Thank you

    1. Hi Mimi! Yes I think that would be very pretty!

  19. Hi Lauren I have red orange oak cabinets, trim and baseboards in my whole house. I want to take away from the orange and red tone in my house to much!!!! Would a gray neutral color do that such as agreeable gray, balboa mist, classic gray or light pewter? I like green undertones not a fan of blue. Would you suggest any of there colors.

    1. Hi Carol! Yes, a gray neutral will definitely help! I agree with you – green undertones will work better than blue undertones to downplay the red/orange. So, Agreeable Gray, Revere Pewter, or Balboa Mist would be great choices!

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