What Color To Paint Kitchen With Oak Cabinets?

If your kitchen has hardwood cabinets made of oak, it is crucial to paint the room correctly. Oak is a valuable hardwood, and since your cabinets take up most of the kitchen, they will have a large impact on the interior design. So, we have carefully researched what color you should paint your kitchen when you have oak cabinets.

A dream kitchen with granite counters and oak cabinets, What Color To Paint Kitchen With Oak Cabinets?

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Oak cabinets are light and available in White or Red Oak, so you can paint your kitchen to contrast or agree with the natural temperature of the wood. You may also keep your kitchen neutral or align it with the style of the cabinets:

  • White
  • Gray or Black
  • Brown
  • Green or Blue
  • Yellow or Red

Painting your kitchen can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s essential to plan and find the perfect color for your home. Keep reading to learn how different kitchen colors will look with oak cabinets, how to match a cabinet finish, and if cabinets should be darker than the walls.


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Modern kitchen with hardwood cabinetry

This is the most popular option for most interior designs because of its brightness and flexibility. White is neutral, which means it is absent of any actual color. Britannica explains that white reflects all colors, making it ideal for almost any style.

This trait can also allow a white, neutral kitchen to appear larger than it is. When all light is reflected, the room can feel more spacious. That can be crucial for kitchens, which are generally smaller than other rooms in the home.

Since white has a naturally warm temperature, it would also be a perfect fit for either Red or White Oak cabinets.

White Oak cabinets are typically not a true white and instead contain other neutrals like gray and brown. As such, using more white may not become overwhelming.

Gray or Black

Interior of a gorgeous gray walled kitchen

These choices need to be balanced correctly because they have cold temperatures and sometimes feel dull. However, they are still neutral options, making them highly flexible. 

But they won’t fill the kitchen with brightness. Instead, pairing a gray or black kitchen with oak cabinets will help create contrast. 

This can make the cabinets pop and become the central feature of your kitchen. This is a great way to show off ornate or valuable cabinets.


Kitchen in new construction home

Natural wood always tends to have a brown tone or undertone, so painting your kitchen brown is a clear fit. Brown is a near-neutral that isn’t as warm as white or as cold as gray and black.

However, brown is often associated with nature, such as trees, sand, and soil. This means that painting your kitchen brown may restrict the kind of interior designs you use. 

And if your cabinets already have too much brown in them, the combination might feel a little overwhelming. If you select a brown kitchen for your cabinets, you can still use wood stains to create a finer balance between the two. 

Green or Blue

Interior of a bright light blue kitchen with wooden kitchen cabinets

Like brown, both of these colors may also reflect nature. But they are found in more interior designs, and they introduce color.

Both green and blue maintain their temperatures with any shade, no matter how light or dark. But green is warm, and blue is cool. 

You can use green to agree with the warmth of the oak cabinets or blue to establish a calming contrast. 

Traditionally, kitchens use a lot of natural light to make the room feel airier. Sky blue would agree with an outside view, and green is always sure to fit a brighter kitchen. 

But green is also the direct opposite of red on the color wheel, so expect a contrast with Red Oak cabinets. And blue is a permanently cool color, so it will also create contrast with the warmth of any oak cabinets.

Yellow or Red

Large kitchen in luxury home

Although these colors are very bold, they will make a natural fit with flowery kitchens that get a lot of natural light. They also suggest the imagery of fruit, which is often stored or used in the kitchen. 

The brightness of a yellow kitchen would agree with Red and White Oak alike. Yellow is also near red on the color wheel, so it will pair well with wood that already has that undertone.

Just bear in mind that pairing red with Red Oak cabinets might be overwhelming, and you should keep them at least two to three shades apart.

Should kitchen cabinets be lighter or darker than walls?

The cabinets can go either way and like any interior design, your personal preferences should take priority. But you should understand the relationship between cabinets and walls before you decide.

If the cabinets are lighter, they can appear to recede into the walls. When cabinets are darker than the walls, the smallest amount of contrast helps them become a highlighted feature.

You may also want to consider the color and temperature of your kitchen floor. Generally, most rooms are darker at the base and brighter near the ceiling. This grounds the area with a clear foundation.

So if your walls are a little too dark, you may want to use cabinets that are lighter. This will allow you to keep the flow of the brightness moving upwards in your kitchen.

You can read the post, “What Color Floor Goes With Oak Cabinets?” for tips on balancing these two features in the kitchen.

How do you match a cabinet finish?

Click here to find this clear wood finish on Amazon.

A wood finish will usually go unnoticed because they tend to be sold with a clear look. The cabinet’s wood finish is only there to protect the wood, while wood stains adjust the color.

Sometimes, they are sold as a mixture of the two. Mainly, the wood finish will adjust the level of gloss on the wood. You can always choose between high gloss, some gloss, or none at all. 

You can use the degree of shine to help match your kitchen with it, too. Use softer tones in your kitchen to reduce the gloss of your cabinets.

Sometimes, a wood finish can be altered by age. In that case, it may help to learn which wood species was originally used. 

How do I update my kitchen with oak cabinets?

Click here to find this walnut wood stain on Amazon.

If you already have oak cabinets, you can freely update your kitchen by changing the wood stain. You can also read the post, “How To Restore Oak Cabinets [5 Steps],” if you want your cabinets to look new again.

Wood stains can give your cabinets tones and styles that the natural wood could never achieve. A variety of wood stains can also be mixed for unique effects. 

Wood stains are highly flexible so that they can match any style. For example, you can finish the wood black to help it blend in with a modern interior design.

You may not want the trouble of uninstalling all of your cabinets to give them a new stain. In that case, you can always adjust the natural or artificial lighting in your kitchen. You may also paint the walls, which serve as the backdrop for the cabinets.

Does painting oak cabinets increase home value?

Specialists agree that painting your cabinets can increase the resale value of your home. This is because cabinets are so noticeable and frequently used. 

However, it is highly important that you keep the cabinets neutral. New tenants may disagree with the style if you give your oak cabinets a colorful or niche wood stain. 

The task of reinstalling new cabinets or applying a new stain would decrease the home’s value. Instead, white is the most popular option to keep options open for the next tenant.


The kitchen is used every day, and oak cabinets can be a costly hardwood to install. So, it’s important to design the room as you wish from the beginning. 

Now that it’s clear how different colors in your kitchen will look with Red or White Oak, you can decide on the kitchen that’s right for you. Some colors make the cabinets hide or pop, while others can help you create entirely new scenes that agree or contrast with the wooden style.

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