High Contrast With Oak Cabinets

September 22, 2013

oak cabinets with gentle cream


I received an email yesterday asking if I had any suggestions of a good white that would work with oak kitchen cabinets. As I stated here, I do not suggest choosing whites with woodwork because of the many different undertones of white, (you do not want to mix a pink undertone white with yellow cabinets because the two different undertones will clash together) and also because of the high contrast between the cabinets and the pale wall:

oak cabinets


See how much contrast you see between the walls and the cabinets when you choose a lighter color?

If you prefer the drama of high contrast between the walls and the cabinets, I would suggest instead of looking at whites, look at creamy beige paint colors that will work well with the oak.

oak cabinets2


You will still have the contrast, but not as stark and obvious as a white wall color:

oak cabinets3


Warm neutrals, such as Benjamin Moore Powell Buff and Monroe Bisque will work well.

I hope this helps give you more color options for your kitchen if you have oak cabinets. If you like the high contrast between the wood and the walls, use a beige color with yellow undertones for the right mix.

oak and beige


Here is a picture of another color that works with oak cabinets:

gray and oak


Dark gray! I love the oak wood with medium to darker wall colors as shown here. This color looks like Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal.

My favorite wall color I still suggest most often when working with oak cabinets, is a medium to dark green that warms up the wood:


Do you like the look of high contrast in the kitchen? Love to hear your thoughts.

If you need help choosing colors for you home, contact me today.


  1. The color I found worked the best in our former home with yellow undertoned woodwork and hardwood floors was Behr Cracked Wheat. It warmed up the wood and yet had a little contrast. It’s a sort of soft,’dirty yellow’. It looked very much like the first pic in your post 🙂 I really like the dark charcoal pic too—providing the room had plenty of natural light during the daytime.

  2. Kelly, I still refer to your original post about green being such a great color to work with oak cabinets. Mine are very old and I’m still planning to paint or reface them (something creamy white) but that’s going to be a while yet and I’m seriously thinking of painting the kitchen walls until then (something I could do easily and fairly cheaply). I groove with the Benjamin Moore Agave you listed in that original post. But, for those who want oak cabinets or like the oak they have, this is an excellent post. Good job, girl!

  3. ALL OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS ARE BEAUTIFUL….I have oak kitchen cabinets–but hate them–want to paint them a creamy white–any suggestions for a wood filler–and do you know if a filler is difficult to work with. Thanks for you input. Brooke

  4. Hi! I desperately need some input along these lines. I have honey oak cabinets with SS appliances. The window frames are also honey oak. The kitchen is open to the family room, which has charcoal furniture, area rug with pale grey on the walls. The kitchen is painted a light mustard now, which I like, but would like to update it–thinking a lighter charcoal? Any help? 🙂 Thank you!!!

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