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What Color Kitchen Cabinets Go With Knotty Pine Walls?

Kitchen cabinets take up a lot of room in the kitchen, making their style very crucial for the overall home. So, you might be wondering what color you should choose for knotty pine walls, which are unique compared to most wood and require special consideration. So, we’re here to tell you what the best colors are to use for your kitchen cabinets when they’re fastened to knotty pine.

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There are several colors you can use for your kitchen cabinets to pair nicely with knotty pine walls. Because knotty pine is a species that highlights its knots and is also traditionally warmer in color, you can coordinate your colors around these two elements:

  • Yellow and red to agree with the warmth
  • White and gray for neutral safety
  • Brown, green and blue to reinforce nature
  • Black to contrast nature with modern appeal

Upper cabinets in the kitchen are at eye level, so their color has an even bigger impact than most fixtures. And while any style will boil down to personal preference, certain colors work better than others with knotty pine. So, keep reading to learn what colors are best and how to change the knotty pine itself.

A kitchen with knotty pine walls, What Color Kitchen Cabinets Go With Knotty Pine Walls?

How Do You Brighten Knotty Pine?

While knotty pine wood doesn’t always need to be warmed up, you can sometimes find it in a deeper brown than usual. Or, you may want your kitchen to really shine, and natural wood walls don’t always do the trick. But your cabinets can use colors that compensate for that since they’ll be covering so much of the walls.

You can use yellow and red cabinets or even neutral white to increase the temperature of your knotty pine walls. Kitchens also tend to use a lot of white in the room anyway. That’s because it makes the room feel more spacious, too. The room feels more open and bright without becoming overwhelming.

The floor is often used this way too, so you can read the post What Color Floor Goes With Knotty Pine Walls? if you don't feel like you need to change your cabinets.

Yellow and Red to agree with the warmth

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Most of the time, knotty pine wood is used for its yellow and orange tones, beneath the surface and on it. This brightness rarely feels overwhelming, because all of the knots temper the sharpness. The natural style itself makes the knotty pine feel less sharp, and more like subdued lumber.

So, you can freely use bold yellows and reds for your kitchen cabinets without washing out the kitchen. It is often best if you make sure to keep the cabinets within two to three shades of the knotty pine’s color. This allows you to let the fixtures agree without creating an identical, redundant scene.

Although it might seem a little too bold to make your cabinets yellow or red, they can match with kitchens because the room is always intended to be more flowery, bright, and airy. Otherwise, you might find yellow and red used for interior design styles such as dusty Santa Fe or striking Abstract scenes.

You can read the post "How To Get A Smooth Finish When Painting Kitchen Cabinets" if you feel like doing the job yourself.

White and Gray for neutral safety

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White and gray are both neutral colors, which means they do not have any true color and will partner well with just about anything. However, white has a brilliant look and hot temperature because of how reflective it is. So, you can make your kitchen cabinets white to add to the warmth of the knotty pine.

Or you can use gray for the reverse. While gray may seem too dark, it is actually a common undertone in many species of wood. For example, it is commonly used for beach wood in coastal interior designs. So, gray will feel like a natural neighbor to knotty pine walls.

Brown, Green, and Blue to reinforce nature

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Because knotty pine walls are already going to have a homemade cabin feel to them, you can lean into that charm of nature. Many interior styles welcome unusual amounts of wooden fixtures and furniture. This is particularly true for rustic styles such as farmhouse, country, or beach house scenes.

As such, you should be able to keep your kitchen cabinets colorless and showcase their natural wood. Most wood species have some degree of brown, at least in their undertones. Brown is found everywhere in nature, as in soil or sand. All you would need to do is give your cabinets a transparent stain and finish.

Because brown is nearly neutral, it is also just as flexible as the pure neutrals. However, it is more subdued than white, gray, or black. So, brown serves as a great middle ground if you don’t want to completely eliminate the nature theme of your knotty pine.

However, that may seem like a bit too much for some. In that case, you can also use green or blue. These colors are very flexible with their temperature, but blue will always maintain its naturally cool temperature. Green and blue can represent lush foliage or soft skies while feeling less dramatic next to knotty pine walls.

How Do You Make Knotty Pine Look Modern?

Clean kitchen interior with dark cabinets

First of all, you should keep in mind that modern interior designs tend to ask for a lot of minimalist qualities. This would involve a lot of tidy lines and symmetry. You should also avoid anything that looks too elaborate or flashy. A modern room should feel open, organized, and equipped with sleek, streamlined appliances.

As such, knotty pine is practically the opposite of a modern look. It is full of unique cracks and knots and has a vintage look. Fortunately, there are still ways to balance this out without changing the knotty pine itself.

You can actually make your cabinets pure black. Black is the coldest neutral, so it’s going to have a high degree of contrast with knotty pine walls. And it is highly absorbent, so it tends to make the room look smaller. That’s why it isn’t always used in kitchens, which are often small, to begin with. However, black is also very sleek and doesn’t show damage over time. That’s one of the main reasons that black is a primary color in modern scenes.

Also, a modern interior design style isn’t identical to a purely minimalist scene. That’s because you can still highlight a few pieces of décor or furniture with bold or bright attitudes. As such, the knotty pine walls can serve as your dash of personality. Modern scenes welcome all neutrals, so the beige look of wood can work.

Should You Paint Knotty Pine?

This sounds like a natural alternative when you want to modernize knotty pine walls since you would effectively be covering up the signature knots, streaks, and cracks.

Sometimes you might decide to restyle in the long run. Or you might have just moved in, and don’t want your interior designs to be put in a corner by knotty pine walls. If you don’t feel like working around the knotty pine, it’s absolutely acceptable to paint right over it.

It may seem counterintuitive because wood is typically known for having a big price tag. But specialists such as the Kitchen Cabinet Kings agree that knotty pine wood isn’t all that expensive, most of the time. So, it isn’t that much of a loss if you decide to strip and paint it. 

How Do You Refinish Knotty Pine?

The finish will not change the color like wood stains, but instead, alter the level of gloss. This refers to how shiny the walls seem. You can use higher levels of gloss to make the knotty pine walls appear more slick and modern.

Click here to find this gloss interior wood finish on Amazon.

You can refinish knotty pine by following the same methods that are necessary for any other species. You’ll need to clean the surface first, and then sand down the previous wood finish. You can use sandpaper with a rough, low grit strength to quickly cover more area. This will allow you to completely remove, or strip, the existing finish.

Afterward, you can use a combination of finer sandpaper and a microfiber cloth to remove any residue. However, for larger jobs such as walls, it may be necessary to resort to commercial wood strippers. Each of these will have its own set of instructions.

Click here to find this varnish remover on Amazon.

Next, you can use a primer to seal the wood again. This will allow you to apply a new coat of wood stain or paint. And finally, either of these will provide the base for your brand new wood finish.

In Closing

Knotty pine walls are an unusual but striking addition to your home. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to work with their unique personality. Now you know which colors will help establish a good relationship between the kitchen cabinets and your knotty pine walls. Or, you can even transform the knotty pine itself, to make it feel more modern than rustic, and create the kitchen that’s right for you.