7 Best Wall Colors That Go With Wood Paneling and Trim

Wood paneling was once considered to be the standard of every American home. It was homey, inviting, and the pinnacle of 70s style. Sometime around 1990, wood panels became rare and obscure.

Now, they’re back with a vengeance! But, there’s a catch. Rather than stick to the kitschy look of yore, wood panels are now paired with better colors. Wondering what colors work best with wood paneling? We got the answers for you.

When choosing the right color scheme for a room with wood paneling, it’s best to stick to neutral and earthy colors. The most popular colors include:

  • White
  • Off-Whites
  • Grays
  • Greens
  • Turquoise 
  • Blues
  • Beige/Sand

Creating that perfect ambiance is not always easy, especially when you’re working with wood paneling. Thankfully, once you’ve been inspired by our color combos, you’ll be able to choose the right colors for your home. 

A modern kitchen with wooden paneling and white painted lower cabinet section, A modern kitchen with wooden paneling and white painted lower cabinet section

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Which Wall Color Goes With Your Wood Paneling?

Wood paneling, or even wood trim, has its own unique needs when it comes to design. To make things easier, we are going to show you examples of each top color pairing in action. 


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Contemporary modern house with huge windows, white painted walls, and a wooden paneled accent wall with wall lamps

White is a universally popular color, primarily because it is so versatile. Here, we see how a white room, paired with light (yet warm) wood paneling can make a modern statement. It also happens to be a good way to blend nature with a more techy look.

Most people who use white want to expand the look of their room, and expand it does!


A modern kitchen with wooden paneling and white painted lower cabinet section

Sometimes, white can be too stark for a room. This is especially true if you want to create an inviting kitchen that has a homey appearance. A slight off-white, such as this eggshell cream, works well with lighter colors.

If you love the Tudor look, you can also pair an off-white with a darker wood finish. 


A white themed kitchen counter with white paneled wooden wall and cabinets filled with kitchen utensils

Grays are the new “it” color for home design, especially if you love traditional and modern looks. If you’ve been debating getting some paint on your panels, then this is the color that you want to pick.

Gray can be switched up between the traditional, the country, or the modern. Like other neutrals, it also works with everything.


A reading area of a house with bookshelves books fireplace and old styled chairs

Green is a more traditional color to pair with wood trim, especially when you’re talking about darker wood finishes like mahogany. It’s the type of color theme that you expect to see in an Ivy League school. It’s scholarly, smart, and just a little rustic. What’s not to love?

Many might be surprised to hear that green doesn’t have to be dark to work with wood paneling. Mint green can be a great pick due to its contrast, too.


A semi-circular dining area of a restaurant with blue leather seats and wooden flooring

If you take a cue from traditional interior designs, you probably might have noticed that turquoise and wood paneling is a staple of Southwestern decor.

It’s true, but it’s not just a Southwest thing. It’s a good choice for people who are looking for a more exotic twist in any room. Here, turquoise adds a dreamlike, beachy ambiance against the wood trim.

Though turquoise is great for nautical and tropical vibes, you shouldn’t discount its more royal abilities too. Turquoise with gold or brass adds an exotic, palatial vibe to the home. 


An interior of a modern bohemian themed house with wooden furniture and cream colored couch

Blue is a classic choice when you want to make a royal statement with your wood paneling. In older homes, you might see a royal blue or cerulean hue against cherry or mahogany.

It’s a good contrast and will always give you a sophisticated ambiance. This is doubly true if you pair it with gold.

However, you don’t have to stick to darks. Many interior designers are now choosing to match the shade of blue to the shade of wood. Here, we see a gorgeous contrast with light wood and a light baby blue.


A rustic themed living room with dark painted wooden panels

Beige (or really any sandy color) is a wonderful pick for virtually any type of wood paneling or trim. As a neutral color, anything sandy can be used in a wide range of color palettes as a “booster” color.

It also is a shade that can run the gamut from the traditional to the downright quirky. 

Using beige hues with a slightly golden tone can help enhance the look of wood in a room in many situations. Here, we see wooden trim get that treatment. It looks gorgeous yet modern. 

Is Wood Paneling Outdated?

An old 60s styled television placed to a wooden paneled walls

Wood paneling often gets a reputation for being outdated. It’s easy to see why considering that it’s usually associated with lime green and orange decor from the 1970s.

While wood paneling does have a reputation for being retro, the overall concept is not outdated by any means. It’s all about how you use it. 

As a designer of your own home, you owe it to yourself to break through the typical cliches linked with this trend. Thankfully, we have an article on wood paneling ideas for your home to modernize it.

Is It A Good Idea to Paint Wood Paneling?

A wooden paneled wall painted in white and a gray modern couch next to a small industrial table

Absolutely. Painting wood paneling is one of the easiest ways to modernize a home’s interior. This is especially true if you are not a fan of wood but want to add a little texture to your home.

Painting your wood panels is also advisable if your paneling has been looking worse for the wear. 

Should I Paint Stripes On Wood Paneling?

It all depends on the look that you want to achieve with your painted paneling. Admittedly, having striped walls can be hard to pull off with most designs.

It’s a risky look that can cause a home to look cramped, and because it can be difficult to match your furniture with stripes. However, if you have a strong design concept, it can work.

The general verdict is that stripes on painted paneling are not a good idea for DIY projects. If you want to make this work, choose a professional painter, figure out a good area rug color, and hire an interior designer to help you make your vision pop. 

What Are The Worst Design Mistakes To Make With Wood Paneling?

Wood paneling ran out of steam in the 70s because it’s a design landmine. It’s remarkably easy to make mistakes with this kind of material. The most common mistakes to avoid are the ones below.

Bad Paint Jobs

If you want to paint your wood paneling, do it the right way. Sand your panels, prime them, choose a beautiful oil-based paint color, and give it time to dry.

Badly-primed paint will bleed through. And ample drying time is essential! This is not a simple project, even if it looks like it. 

Retro Color Themes

There’s a reason why people cringe when they see harvest green and orange pairings with wood paneling.

Rather than go for a color scheme that makes you want to break out some platform shoes, opt for fresher colors.

There’s nothing wrong with a little retro, but a whole color scheme is overkill. 

Matching The Wood And Carpet

You don’t need to choose disco colors to make your room look like a bad 70s or 80s home. One of the easiest ways to make your home look pointedly outdated is to pair a brown carpet with dark brown wood panels.

Along with it being a “brown overload,” it’s hackneyed to the point of cringe-inducing. 


Wood paneling is a design feature that can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. It’s all about how you make your room out to be and what colors you want to include with your paneling.

Because people often pigeonhole paneling into the realm of 70s decor, wood paneling is woefully misunderstood by casual design fans. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to jazz up wood paneling in a fresh, modern, and visually appealing way. While neutrals are popular, working with colors like blue and green can work too.

No matter what you choose, it’s safe to assume you’ll have a great look as long as you plan it out.

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