Best Wall Color For Oak Cabinets

Written by Kelly on June 10th, 2012

One question I seem to be asked frequently from readers is “What color works best in a kitchen that has oak cabinets? I cannot/do not want to change my cabinets at this time.” Which color would you suggest?”



All woods have undertones. Oak has yellow undertones that we need to be aware of. If you want your cabinets to ‘pop’ off the wall, then I would suggest a  blue or violet color which is the complimentary (across the color wheel) color of yellow. But most people do not want their cabinets as the main focus of the kitchen.

I also feel blue in a kitchen gives you more of a country look:

google image

As I posted in my blog Best Wall Colors for Stained Trim , I typically do not like to suggest using a white paint with lighter wood cabinets for a few reasons. One-white has different undertones that do not always work with the yellow wood. Secondly, I personally do not like the look with no contrast since it looks a little too pale for me.

David Easton

Yellow seem to be the color of choice for many people that have lighter wood cabinets. Yellow might work but my but only concern with yellow is that this color doesn’t really create any personality in the room. Without any contrast, the room tends to look a bit too boring for my taste.


So, what is my suggestion for a wall color when you have oak/light cabinets?


green 005

So green is my first choice when looking for a great color to work with oak or light wood cabinets. My color advice is based on working with oak cabinets. The floors or countertops were not taken into consideration for this example.

Do you agree  green is the best color for kitchens with oak cabinets? I also like a few terra cotta colors but that is for another day! Comments?

1/2015 New:  Here is a link to a new kitchen design with oak cabinets, here.

Here is the terra cotta post if you would like to see other options: Great Wall Color For Light/Medium Kitchen Cabinets

You can see more color ideas here.

If you need help choosing the perfect paint color for your home, contact me today.

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37 Comments so far ↓

  1. Victoria says:

    What is a good color for the bathroom? We have double sink with light oak cabinets & white counter top. I want to have country/rustic things hanging up. I can’t decide on a color, all help is appreciated. Thanks

  2. Donna says:

    Looking for the color number in the very first picture at the top it looks like a grey/green with the oak cabinets. Thanks.

  3. Susan says:

    can I use oak baseboards next to dark brown flooring?

  4. vicky says:

    what color is the green paint in the very top kitchen picture on this page

  5. Kelly says:

    Hi Caron. I would go with a black countertop. It will update the kitchen especially with the stainless steel appliances. Good luck!

  6. Caron says:

    We have a deep red wall color with golden oak cabinets and a light colored counter top. We are changing the white appliances to stainless steel. One wall in the kitchen is the green color you have above. What color counter top should we go with? Thanks for your help!

  7. Neva Abbott says:

    I’m getting new honey oak cabinents, I’ve picked out butterfly beige counters in granite which have combined colors in it of beige, Gray Brown, black, little white too. The floors will be white sea salt tile. I am so frustrated about what color to have the walls painted. The kitchen and den are open to one another. Can you suggest a wall color. Thaks

  8. Kim says:

    I have oak cabinets w dark brown granite counters tops.
    I have yellow now and I’m sick of it. Any suggestions???

  9. Tracy says:

    Thanks for you comments. I am getting ready to repaint my kitchen, which is now red and I love it, but it’s been up a while and my kitchen just needs a refreshing color. My cabinets are oak and I love them, so painting the walls was my solution. I love the greens and was considering it, but after seeing your photos, it’s the color I’m going with!!

  10. Dawn says:

    Hi, Kelly! I am loving the Ben Moore Agave green, and I’m planning to paint my kitchen, dining, and living room soon. I have a home built in the 50s and all of the cabinets and trim are honey oak. My husband doesn’t want me to paint the cabinets or trim, and I’d been having a lot of trouble choosing a wall color to work with the wood floors and trim. (For a while, I had about 40 paint swatches attached to the wall as I tried to decide!….lol) The photos are what sold me on this color. I wish you’d post some photos of living rooms with wood trim, wood floors, and green walls. I’m trying to choose accent colors, etc. I love your suggestions and your site!

  11. Lea says:

    We just ordered oak shaker cabinets and the color is not red-golden, rather a slight green tinge, in my opinion. What color should I paint my walls in this case?

  12. Rebecca says:

    I have med. oak cabinets, colbalt blue back splash, and white counter tops. What color would work well on the walls?

  13. Kelly says:

    Did you take a look at Ben Moore Agave AF-420. This green works beautiful with oak wood.

  14. Hazel hume says:

    Have oak cupboards,and want to know what colour to paint the walls. Oakmtable and chairs and oak china cabinet. Kitchen is small,wandering if you could help me

  15. Gunner says:

    What to do with honey oak cabinets and deep dark green countertops?

  16. Sheri Weber says:

    What color green is in picture #8? I have the golden color stained oak cabinets and was thing of a going to a red or green..

  17. Tom Slaiter says:

    Lovely colours, the blue and light oak looks really good with eachother!

    Thanks for the post :-)

  18. staceybeck01 says:

    Thanks for the help! I want custom cabinets in New York and was thinking oak, but I didn’t know how much they went with. They can actually go with a lot, who knew?

  19. Debbie says:

    Love your blog! Need help. Just moved into a home that has been completely renovated, although not my choice. We have refinished golden oak cabinets, venetian gold granite, large blue/gray slate tile back splash with blue/gray vinyl floor. Too much to change, so kitchen will not be redone for a couple of years. I love the green idea but afraid it will clash with tile, etc. Any color suggestions? Thanks!

  20. Kelly says:

    Thanks for making my day Christine!

  21. I just put in the black granite with my oak cabinets, and it looks fantastic! I’d thought about staining them darker but decided against it. VERY GLAD I DID!! I couldn’t decide on a gray or green paint, so I chose one called Anonymous. It’s got gray and green tones to it depending on the light. Thanks for your blog!!! It helped so much!

  22. Kelly says:

    Hi Hope!
    One of the first colors that popped into my head is a shade of blue. But will it work with your furnishings? Or gray is another color to look at too. Or even an off white would work.
    Hope this helps!

  23. Hope says:

    I was considering BM Monroe Bisque for my great room but, after reading your article, I’m having second thoughts because I have a nine feet-wide oak wall unit in the greatroom. I have an open concept floor plan and I already painted my kitchen (creamy white cabinets)BM Georgian Green. What other color can I use as an overall color (great room, hallways)?

  24. Kelly says:

    I agree Linda. Just have to be careful of the gray undertones with the yellow and orange.

  25. Linda V says:

    What about grey. Some yellows and oranges look great with a backdrop of grey. Being the latest neutral it brings a modern feel to the room. Have just painted all the exterior windows, doors and trims on our house which is an orangey brick.It looks so fresh now.

  26. Kelly says:

    Yes, there is a lot of orange in the oak. Try the green, I think you will like it. Thanks for writing Carolanne.

  27. carolanne says:

    I have always thought of oak as more orange than yellow (if you try to find the colour of oak cabinets with a paint deck it will be the oranges that will match… I find it funny when clients say they do not like orange but want to keep the oak… I’m like your cabinets are orange we must consider them with the rest of your room (livingroom off the kitchen) the look I get is oh my..oh ok…I will have to check out the greens, interesting post…

  28. Luci says:

    I like the Hillside green a lot Kelly! Maybe a little too vibrant for some in which case more of a pale blue/green might work. And yes, stay away from yellow when you have oak cabinets!

  29. Kelly says:

    Thanks Linda! A fresh and clean kitchen- love!

  30. Linda says:

    great suggestion Kelly. I get asked this same question all the time as well. I think green always looks fresh in a kitchen.

  31. Green is perfect with yellow and orange undertoned wood – couldn’t agree more!

  32. Kelly says:

    Did you see the clean greens Sha? They do not look country to me! If we were talking Hunter Green- I would agree with you. You don’t like green? So many beautiful shades of green out there!

  33. Kelly says:

    Thanks Nancy! I love fresh green and white together. Beautiful!

  34. Kelly says:

    I know Sheila! But not everyone wants to change to white. Or they want to paint the cabinets but cannot.

  35. sha says:

    i don’t get the luv for green? lately that is all designers recommend. what about us modern folk? green seems so well. country?

  36. I do like the green with the oak cabinets. The colors you selected look fresh and really lift the room as compared with the whites and yellows. I have white cabinets in my kitchen and went with a green as well!

  37. I do agree, definitely! Love green, so I’m an easy sell… but I’d be an even easier sell to paint out those oak cabinets ;-) Great article, Kelly! I’m loving all your tips!!!

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