Kitchens are one of the hardest to plan rooms in your home, especially when it comes to matching colors to the wood stain you want to use on your cabinetry. Natural wood stains never go out of style, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Trying to work with a wood such as oak can be particularly taxing, especially when you are trying to go for a timeless look. So, what works with this gorgeous wood stain?
There are several colors that you can consider using for a fresh take on oak cabinets. These include:
- Mint Green
- Stone Beige
- Black + White
- Lime Green
- Light Peach
Trying to find that one perfect shade for your kitchen’s wall and accessories can be rough when you have oak cabinets. This is especially true if you want to avoid your kitchen looking dated. Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Table of Contents
- What Are The Best Colors To Pair With Oak Cabinets?
- Are Oak Cabinets Outdated?
- Related Questions
What Are The Best Colors To Pair With Oak Cabinets?
Kitchens can be funny things, especially when it comes to color combinations. What works for one particular kitchen won’t work with another—at least in many cases. That’s why we decided to do a massive roundup. Since we already have an article about the best granite colors for oak cabinets, we are also going to focus on the colors for walls and kitchen accessories here. Let’s check out the nominees!
If there was ever a wall color (or kitchen color) that would be considered truly timeless, it’s white. White doesn’t just go with everything, it basically acts as the “glue” that keeps most interior designs together. It brightens up a room, works with every type of decor you could imagine, and also helps make your kitchen look a lot larger than it really is.
Saying that white is a great kitchen color is an understatement. It literally never goes out of style simply because it’s so darned flexible! If you’re looking for the safest bet, or just a trim color that works with oak, this is it.
2. Mint Green
Mint green offers a new take on a pastel color palette. Mint green is a unique color to find in a kitchen, which is why you never have to worry about it being dated or hackneyed. Since it’s a lighter color, it also opens up the room a bit and helps bring in the light a little more. This makes it an ideal pick for smaller kitchens.
Here, the designer contrasted the oak and dark mahogany floors together, then used the mint green to help work the look a little bit better. The end result is a fresh-looking thing.
Grey, being a neutral color, will go with virtually any colors you may choose to stain or paint your cabinet. This includes going with something as bold as a honey oak. This kitchen shows how a medium-dark grey can help tone down the overly yellow tones of oak wood in a beautiful, approachable manner.
This is one of the few ways to make grey look modern without causing your home to feel lifeless or cold. We’re totally digging this look. Grab some paint and get started. You won’t regret it.
4. Stone Beige
Stone beige is both a texture and a color. It’s the look of bricks that have been painted with a German schmear (also known as a light coat of whitewash). While there’s a little bit of rosiness, it’s textured and also has a certain greyishness and beige-ness to it. The end result is something that feels pointedly old world without it being overdone.
The best way to explain stone beige’s effects is to look at photos of it in finished kitchens. This kitchen ended up looking like it’d be at home in an older kitchen in Europe. It’s easy to see the allure, don’t you think?
5. Blue Grey
Blueish greys are one of those color families that people often ignore when they’re working with a kitchen, but shouldn’t. This color combination is modern and trendy, but also helps tone down the boldness of the yellow undertones found in a typical oak cabinet setup. It also gives the kitchen a seafaring vibe.
With that said, this color combination is not for everyone. Some people might find it to be a little too “17th-century lighthouse keeper” for their taste. It’s up to you to figure out whether or not it’s the right type of “bluetral” for you.
With most of the colors on our menu so far, we’ve worked pretty hard to try to balance out the sometimes-shocking look of oak cabinets. It’s a very bold color, after all. Goldenrod, like this one here, is a good way to actually bring out the pretty gold look of high quality oak. The yellow tones actually can help spark hunger and make your kitchen feel more inviting.
While this is a little more traditional compared to a lot of the other options we’ve discussed, it’s still something that works. That’s why it’s a (kind of) classic look.
7. Black + White
Alright, this is actually more of a color palette to accompany your oak cabinetry, but bear with us. This is a super modern look that can breathe fresh life into kitchens that have oak cabinets. The reason why it works is the contrast. No one expects to see black cabinets or accessories in an oaky kitchen, but there you are.
Black and white is an edgy way to modernize your kitchen without having to paint your cabinets. Since both colors are true neutrals, they also work with any other fixtures that you want to add to your kitchen.
Beige is one of those colors that you will either love or hate when it comes to working with oak cabinetry. Many people feel like this look has run its course during the 2000s and find it to be hackneyed. Of course, not all of us feel this way. The slightly warm color of beige works beautifully with oak’s yellowness.
The truth is that beige has a certain inviting look to it that makes it a perfect match for a room that’s as entertainment-heavy as oak. Since it’s such a homey color, you can always expect to get contemporary decorations that make your room pop.
9. Lime Green
Looking for a little more of a tropical vibe? Maybe you’re a fan of 70s decor, and want to have a throwback? Believe it or not, a little lime won’t be a total disaster here. The yellow undertones in lime’s color work well with oak, all while giving you a retro, coastal appearance to your home that looks pretty darn snazzy.
If you want to go for this look, be forewarned. It’s very easy to make this wall color go south if you don’t have a way to modernize your kitchen. And above all? Don’t go full 70s and pair it with harvest yellow!
10. Light Peach
Light peach is a surprisingly versatile color for a kitchen wall, especially when you’re working with oak cabinets. The lightness of the color helps keep your home looking bright, while the rosiness of the peach gives your room a warmer appearance. The yellow of the oak matches with the golden undertones of peach, making it a doubly awesome pick for your kitchen.
Much like lime green, light peach has a tropical vibe to it in most situations. However, that doesn’t mean you have to keep it tropical. You can do it up in an Italian or Mediterranean way in a pinch, as long as you have the right decorations for the job.
Red is not the type of color that most people assume will work with oak, but hear us out. If you have a lighter oak finish like the one in the photo above, it can be a great color. This kind of red is provocative, bold, and yes, works well with the look of oak stains that are light. It offers up a nice contrast against the wood stain, too.
With that said, red isn’t exactly the best color for small kitchens. If used incorrectly, it can make your kitchen feel cramped or even downright tiny.
Are Oak Cabinets Outdated?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that they have a stigma for being a very old fashioned look to have, but that they can be paired with the right kitchen design to keep them modern. The stigma of being “so 80s” or even “so early 2000s” is why a lot of people tend to want to pay someone to have their cabinets replaced or painted.
If you have oak cabinets, I’ll say this much: you have your work cut out for you. Keeping your kitchen looking modern will prove to be a pretty difficult task if you choose to keep the stain intact.
Should You Paint Your Oak Cabinets?
Honestly, it might not be that bad an idea. Oak cabinets are very hard to pair with most colors and even harder to give a modern edge to. Most interior designers can’t stand this wood finish because it’s so hard to work with in a contemporary setting, so you’d be forgiven if you decide it’s better to paint it up.
The cool thing about painting your cabinetry is that you have a lot of colors to choose from. In fact, it’s a downright infinite selection. And, whenever you get bored of a certain color, you can always change things up with a new layer of paint. Personally, we’d suggest painting cabinets white because it’s a timeless look that never quits.
Are There Any Alternatives To Painting Oak Cabinets?
It can be pretty hard to deal with painting your cabinets, especially if you want people to see that you have real wood cabinetry in your home. You can still change up your stain by getting a gel stain to apply on your cabinets. This can turn your cabinets into a darker hue, often in a bluer shade.
Gel stains are easy to use, dry fast, and also come in a wide range of different colors. If you’re looking for a way to modernize the wood look and also keep the wood’s patterns in the forefront, this is a great way to do it.
What age group prefers oak cabinets?
If you were hoping to hear that oak cabinets are cool with the younger crowd, we have some bad news for you. This is not a youthful wood stain. Studies show that the age group that is most likely to prefer oak stains on cabinetry are 70 years and older. If that’s the crowd that you want to impress, by all means, keep that oak stain.
Otherwise, you may want to try a more youthful look for your cabinetry. We suggest virtually any other stain.
What metals go well with honey oak?
Honey oak can be a demanding wood stain to pair metals with, but it’s not impossible. The most popular options include brushed silver, an oil-rubbed bronze, or black. The important thing to remember is to avoid using brass, rose gold, or golds when you are trying to outfit a kitchen.
Gold-based colors tend to play up the yellow color of the oak wood. This can make your entire kitchen feel a lot more overdone, or even pass into the territory of being visually painful. The idea is to achieve balance, not overkill!
What should you clean your oak cabinets with?
A regular wood cleaner will be more than enough to clean most messes off your oak cabinets. If you ran out of wood cleaner and need to wipe down your cabinets, make a mixture of one part water and one part white distilled vinegar. Dip a rag in this, and wipe down your cabinets. This will usually be strong enough to remove stains without actually harming the finish.
It’s worth noting that a 50/50 water/vinegar mixture can be used to clean almost any type of wood, not just oak. It’s a good thing to have around.