Kitchen Paint Colors with Oak Cabinets

Welcome to our kitchen paint colors with oak cabinets guide including best paint colors to use with dark and light oak wood cabinets together with the perfect color schemes for your kitchen.
kitchen with an island light oak wood cabinets and viking appliances Breathing life into the kitchen is a breeze if one is wise enough to choose the right paint color. Unfortunately, it can be challenging if one has oak cabinets.

Many homeowners love oak in their kitchens because of its unique grain pattern, affordability, and cabinet fabrication ease.

Replacing their kitchen oak cabinets is out of the question. The only way they can breathe life into their kitchen is by painting it new. 

The question now is what kitchen paint colors with oak cabinets homeowners should use? Let us find out.

Paint Colors That Go With Oak Cabinets

As mentioned, many homeowners love oak in their pieces of wooden furniture because of its grain patterns. It also brings more color to any room than any other type of wood. 

Oak brings a warm orange color to the kitchen, except for White Oak. Most of the kitchen cabinets use honey oak, turning the kitchen into a cozy place. 

The paint colors one chooses must coordinate with oak’s orange hint or downplay it a little bit. Hence, one can pick a color that harmonizes with the orange undertone, such as red and yellow. 

Unfortunately, having these colors in one’s kitchen can make the room seem so loud and obnoxious. That is why many kitchen interior decorators say the safest route to enhance oak qualities is by neutralizing or toning the orange hint a little bit. 

Any color on the opposite side of the color wheel should help neutralize the warmth of orange. Popular choices include the following.


Kitchen with oak cabinets white painted walls high ceiling No other color can neutralize orange better than white. Homeowners can opt for textured white paint to add elegance to their kitchen while complementing oak’s beautiful grain patterns. 

White is neither cool nor warm, but it can brighten up any living space, including the kitchen.

Warm Beige

traditional american kitchen with warm beige wall paint stainless steel appliances and vase with flowers on the island countertop

Any cream color will work to downplay an orange’s warm glow. Beige still has a warm tinge but will not compete with the orange hue of oak wood kitchen cabinets. When painted on kitchen walls, beige will convey a general sense of warmth without overpowering the eyes’ ability to focus on the oak cabinets.


This color is opposite orange in the color wheel, making it an excellent neutralizing tint. One can pick Aqua because it has a softer tone that compliments oak’s dark grain patterns. 

If one wants something darker, Charcoal Blue and Ash Blue are popular choices. There is also a light version of Navy Blue. 


The different shades of gray are always excellent orange color neutralizers. They tone down the color’s warmth while adding character to the kitchen. 

modern kitchen with gray wall paint oak wood cabinets and stools at the island

Light Gray is always an exceptional choice, although Greige (a blend of gray and beige) is not far behind. 

Light Purple

Lighter shades of violet or purple can also make excellent color options for oak cabinets. These pigments have a bluish-reddish tinge that can complement the warmth of orange without bumping it up several notches further.


Moss or Earth Green is a great paint color to have in the kitchen, especially with oak cabinets. It has an earthy tone to it that blends well with the orange-brown hue of oak cabinets.

beautiful traditional kitchen with hardwood floor oak wood cabinets light green wall stove and oven

Lighter greens are always welcome in the kitchen, particularly if one has dark-colored oak.

Kitchen Paint Colors With Light Oak Cabinets

The best paint colors for kitchens with light-colored oak cabinets are those with a darker tone. The pigment must provide a contrast, depending on how lightly colored the oak is. 

For example, if one has an oak cabinet with a natural finish, it would be best to use light gray, greige, aqua blue. These paint colors will complement the oak’s natural grains, providing continuity with the pattern as if the cabinet is a natural part of the kitchen walls.

However, if one has an oak cabinet with a golden finish, a better option will be lighter paint colors. One can paint pure white on the kitchen walls to provide a dramatic background to the dark lines of the oak’s grain.

Another option is to use textured white or off-white paint, such as beige, soft pink tulip, or cream. These colors will complement the darker hue of the oak cabinet. See more dark wood kitchen cabinets here.

Kitchen Paint Colors With Dark Oak Cabinets

Dark-colored oak cabinets will do best with paint colors of lighter hues. One can try cream, beige, light gray, or pure white to soften the warm glow of dark oak.

modern kitchen with hardwood floor dark oak wood cabinets and granite counter tops

Homeowners can also pick a pastel yellow or a soft burgundy color to complement oak’s orange hue. Both colors are naturally warm but are more on the softer side of the chromatic scale. 

They will not compete for attention, allowing the oak cabinets to retain their importance in the kitchen.

A creamy and soft pastel pink tulip should blend beautifully with dark oak’s reddish undertones. It still has an orange tinge, complementing the lighter colors of the oak grain.

For a more spectacular kitchen, one can try applying ripened tomato red color. It is lighter than burgundy, matching well with the oak grain’s dark lines.

Kitchen Color Schemes With Oak Cabinets

For this question we asked interior designer Danielle Porter for her favorite tips for color schemes that go with oak cabinets and here’s what she had to say:

With the variety of wood grains, colors, and tones available – oak is one wood species that has managed to stand the test of time. With an innate hardness, oak is known for its durability.  The ease that it will take a stain and the variety of looks you can get based on the cut, allow it to flex to a multitude of design styles. 

As versatile as it is, after reaching its height of popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, oak has generally been seen as a traditional wood option, however, it’s making a comeback thanks to modern stains, panel styles, and interior design styles and aesthetics.

Whether you’ve chosen oak for your kitchen, or you’ve been “gifted” it by a previous owner and want to make the best of it until you can invest in making it truly your own, there are many ways to upgrade your kitchen simply through paint and accents to make it feel like new.

Choosing the right finishes and colors to complement your oak cabinets can be tricky if you are selecting things one at a time, but looking at it as a holistic space can make a big difference. 

Below are some recommendations on how to create the best palette for your kitchen when working with oak cabinets.

When it comes to palettes, knowing exactly what you’re working with is key. Natural oak tends to pull anything from light beige to yellow and even brown to red – so having your exact sample is an important part of the design process. Likewise, if you’re planning to stain oak, always have a finished sample available to match colors to.

Some of our most recommended color schemes with oak cabinets:

Earthy + Natural. Tones like beige, taupe, and cream can create a soft, natural atmosphere in your kitchen.  The great part is that they work with both light and dark tones of oak. 

Cool, Calm + Collected. For those that like a cooler, more modern approach who might be just getting by with oak cabinets – give it a go and commit to soft and subdued shades of gray or blue.  They’ll create contrast, particularly when paired with a crisp white / cream base.

Bold + Modern. Because of oak’s natural neutralness, bringing in pops of color to your kitchen can be a simple way to create an impact moment in your home. 

Shades of red (or burgundy), green (think hunter green), or yellow (sunshine yellow) can all work well – just use them sparingly and with a neutral complementing color so as not to overwhelm the space.

Kitchen Colors, Lighting & Finishes with Oak Cabinets

Once you know which style and aesthetic is meant for you – there are other important factors to take into account as you select the exact colors to adorn your home. 

Consider Your Countertops. Aside from your cabinets, the countertops take up a considerable amount of space and can be a great neutral balance between the walls and cabinets themselves. 

Whether laminate, natural stone, or man-made stone like quartz – there is a multitude of options meant to coordinate well with oak.

Balance your Backsplash. Because the backsplash is in the same visual plane as your walls, it’s important to create balance and ensure the two are complementary.

Keep it Lit. Lighting is crucial – not just where they are placed and the style – but the color temperature.  The lower the color temperature, the more reds, yellows, and warm tones the light will pull into the space – the higher the temperature, the more blues, and cool tones.

A good rule of thumb is about 3000-3500 K is ideal in a home environment – we recommend going between 3500 and 4000 K in a kitchen where it doesn’t just affect the  aesthetics of your space – but your food too!

No matter which direction you want to take your kitchen in, there’s a way to make it work with oak cabinets.  If you take the time to consider all aspects as a whole, you’ll be able to bring it all together and create a beautiful and functional kitchen that is cohesive with your oak cabinets and reflects your personal style and taste.

light brown kitchen cabinets and white appliances in the kitchen room

Kitchen cabinets are not the only things homeowners must consider when painting the kitchen. It would be wise to look at the kitchen’s totality, including the fixtures and appliances, to determine the best possible color scheme.

For example, if one has stainless steel kitchen appliances and white or light oak cabinets, painting the kitchen walls white or dark bluish-gray will be a great choice.

If there are red oak cabinets above stainless-steel appliances, an excellent color choice will be cream, beige, light gray, or aqua blue on the walls.

Households with black kitchen appliances should consider painting their kitchen walls in off-white or very light gray colors. One does not want to paint the room in another dark color because it hides the accents of the kitchen’s different elements.

Conversely, if one has white appliances, the kitchen walls should come in dark colors. For example, dark blue paint will look nice in a kitchen with white appliances and honey oak cabinets.


Choosing the right kitchen paint colors with oak cabinets requires understanding the wood’s unique color attributes. One can complement it by using a paint color several hues lighter or darker than the base tone. 

Or, homeowners can also use cooler shades to neutralize the natural warmth of oak wood’s orange tinge. 

For more related ideas take a look at our gallery of the best kitchen paint colors to put together a cohesive design you’ll love.

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