Best Paint Colors for Your 90s-Era Home

Choosing Paint Colors that Go Well with Medium Oak and Honey Oak

Crisp and cool white walls contrast nicely with the original warm honey oak flooring in this home, giving the space new life. / Source
Crisp and cool white walls contrast nicely with the original warm honey oak flooring in this home, giving the space new life.

Have you followed along on our ongoing 90s-era series? Then you know that of all the hallmarks of a 90s-style home, oak trim is one of the most common. So, how do you deal with it? You can certainly rip out any traces of oak and start fresh. But sometimes it’s better to work with what you have. We recommend looking for ways to enhance the beauty of oak and those 90s elements first. Paint is your best initial solution.

What paint colors that go with oak wood trim and cabinets?

Wall paint can have a massive impact on a space and the cost is quite affordable. What paint colors go well with So, we’re dishing today on the best paint colors with oak trim, oak cabinets, oak flooring, (and how to use them). After all, you want a home that feels like a contemporary haven. And as long as you’re striking the right balance with your color selections, we guarantee you can live with that overwhelming oak. In fact, you may just come to love it.

Tip #1: Keep the Wall Color Cool

While oak, in general, can feel outdated, honey oak in particular tends to feel rooted in the 90s. Consider updating your wall color before you make any other changes. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make! Oak is warm through and through (think yellow and orange tones). So when selecting your wall color, you want to avoid using pink or purple undertones whenever possible. Instead, stick to cooler colors overall. 

Of course, if you’re drawn to warmer hues in general, it isn’t a no-go. You can still go cooler while staying a little on the warm side. Think of grey, for instance. One of the most asked questions we get is “can I use grey paint with oak trim?” Well, there are endless shades of grey paint on the market. But no matter which one you choose, most are inherently “cool.” This is because grey colors have undertones of green, violet, or blue. BUT, there are some grey shades with a brown undertone that tend to be warmer. 

So, to evoke the warmth you crave, simply go for a beige or grey paint color with brown undertones. Steer clear of beiges or greys with cool pink or blue undertones. This way, it will be the perfect balance for an oak-filled home. To get you started, grab our free guide on How to Choose Paint Colors with Confidence. It’ll give you all the steps you need to select the right shade for your oak-filled space.

RELATED: Best Greige Paint Colors for your Home – Favorite Grey-Beige Shades for Your Home

A medium charcoal grey paint color with honey oak trim and floor is the perfect contrast as it sets the stage to bring out the warmth of the oak in a vibrant and purposeful way. / Source

Sage green fireplace

Traditional fireplace in two shades of sage green with oak wood floors give this space a modern upgrade. Source

A soft and muted blue paint color paired with a charcoal grey paint color adds visual interest and cools off the orange tones in the oak floors.

REALATED: Neutral Paint Colors We LOVE and Where to Use Them

Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Think you can’t go for ultra-contemporary paint colors just because you need to “brighten up” your oak-filled home? Think again! Dark and saturated colors work like a charm with oak trim. And as long as they’re on the cool side, they give your home a direct splash of modern design. Just remember to avoid traditionally 90s-era paint colors that feel too earthy like burgundy, sage, and beige. Opt instead for blacks, greys, blues, and greens. They’ll give each room a dose of personality and pizzazz.

This charcoal paint color with honey oak floor feels ultra-contemporary, yet the cooler tones work perfectly in contrast to the yellow/orange tones of the floor. / Source

A deep navy (Farrow and Ball Inchyra Blue) feels fresh and anchors this breakfast nook visually. The cool tones in the paint color balance out the creamy white and honey oak nicely. / Source

Benjamin Moore Backwoods is the perfect saturated green to use with oak. As long as it’s balanced out with white/bright walls and a few key oak elements peeking through, it will feel modern, yet classic and earthy. / Source

A fresh and saturated navy blue paint color with oak floors and an oak desk in this bedroom works wonders. The blue adds a much-needed visual depth to the space. / Source

RELATED: Get Fast and Affordable Interior Design Advice

Tip #3: Always Contrast

When choosing the best kitchen paint colors to go with honey oak cabinets, contrast is essential. You can opt to go dark with a navy or black or to brighten up your oak with a crisp or creamy white or grey. Just make sure you choose a paint color that stands apart from that warmer wood. This will help to enhance its best features. The contrast makes a room feel balanced and visually interesting.

Creamy white walls with oak kitchen cabinets gives this 90s kitchen an instant upgrade with a coat of contrasting paint. / Source

RELATED: What Flooring Goes with Oak Cabinets?

Oak cabinets with a light grey wall color, charcoal grey tile, and updated hardware and fixtures feels fresh and contemporary. / Source

Keeping the original oak trim, this living room still feels contemporary thanks to a coat of creamy white paint on the walls and cabinetry. / Source

Bright white walls and honey oak floors in this breakfast nook creates a welcome contrast. / Source

Our Go-To Paint Colors Paint Colors that go with Oak Wood Trim and Cabinetry

Got the inspiration you need to overhaul that 90s-era home? Ready to tackle it yourself, but not quite sure where to start? Go ahead and pin the image below. It’s our simple no-fuss roundup of our must have colors to complement even the warmest of oaks.

For more 90s-era home transformations, check out How to Work with Honey Oak Trim.

Our simple no-fuss roundup of our must have colors to complement even the warmest of oaks

RELATED: Best Greige Paint Colors for your Home – Favorite Grey-Beige Shades for your Home

And, don’t forget to UNLOCK YOUR OWN DESIGN STYLE, with our fun and FREE QUIZ!


By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Carla Bast Design

26 Responses

  1. Hello. I have oak trim – oak color kitchen cabinets and oak color blinds!
    Holly way too much oak!!! Help. What color would you paint the kitchen cabinets? Or… would you paint the walls?? The walls are not a Manila ugly yellow/beige? I do like the color paint white dove. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Love your website. Thx Carla

    1. I love Benjamin Moore White Dove and actually did my own in this color! You also paint the walls too to give it all a fresh update, but use a color on the walls that contrasts the White Dove.

  2. I also have a whole hose full of honey oak. It is a creams now and needs to be brightened up. My painter uses Sherwin Williams. Any suggestions on something that will lighten my living room/ kitchen up. It does not have to be gray. Thanks

    1. Hello Lanea, There are so many things to consider when choosing a paint color, and without seeing your spaces, it is hard to do. Here is a wonderful guide to help you choose: Paint color Guide

  3. My whole house is honey oak, including trim. Our kitchen, laundry room and hallway is revere pewter, so is the little powder room. However, the powder room seems too dark—what color should I paint it to coordinate with the nearby revere pewter? Thank you. (I thought about buying more revere pewter and having it lightened at the paint store, but I’m not sure how light to go (25%, 50%?) or whether this is the best way to go. Thanks!

    1. Hello Tecero, Without seeing your bathroom fixtures, possibly the best way to approach this is to haver the paint shop lighten the Revere Pewter by 25 – 50% – hope this is helpful!

  4. I have honey oak floors and I love BM Simply White, which is a warmer white with yellow undertones. Is Simply White a bad idea with these floors?

    1. Hi Lisa, Are you looking to so the Simply White on your walls? I probably would lean towards BM White Dove. It is a little bit deeper and I think won’t look too stark next to honey oak.

  5. I am converting my back room into a vintage themed office. The room has a murphy bed and card catalog that a both honey oak colored. I am looking for suggestions for a deep color as the room has a slider door that faces north. I am also considering painting the trim and ceiling the same color. The hardwood floor will be covered in an indoor outdoor oversized rug once the colors are determined.
    Thank you in advance for your suggestion.

    1. Hi Debbie, Sounds like a fun project! My suggestion would be to select the rug first and then determine the paint colors after to coordinate with it. If you are a member of the Facebook Group “Interior Design & Remodeling Talk” you can post a picture of your rug and room and we’ll give you some suggestions to sample for paint colors.

  6. Honey oak floors. The trim seems to be white Dove. Can’t decide on a wall color to update. Pale oak, revere pewter,Manchester tan. No too dark. Suggestions ?

    1. Hi Sally, My suggestion would be to select an item for the space that you have or are looking to purchase such as an area rug or piece of art and use as a jumping off point and the base for your room palette. Then determine the paint colors after to coordinate with it. ALways choose your paint color last. If you are a member of the Facebook Group “Interior Design & Remodeling Talk” you can post a picture room and your inspiration piece and we’ll give you some suggestions to sample for paint colors. It is important to sample the colors first in the different light of day and night. There are so many factors to consider for your specific room. Hope to see you in the Facebook group!

  7. Hi Carla, my whole house on the main floor is literally honey oak colored wood. I live in a log home that the ceilings, walls, trim, floors and kitchen cabinets are all the same…the kitchen cabinets I think may be maple and are a hair lighter than all the other wood. The living room, dining room and kitchen are all one room with 14 windows, so there is a lot of light. I am looking to replace the countertops and floor in the kitchen area since it is ugly tile that does not look good with the wood color. I am also wanting to paint the kitchen cabinets but having a hard time deciding on a color. Thank you for any suggestions.

    1. Hi Kimberly, My suggestion would be to select your wood flooring and countertops to establish the base for your room palette. Then determine the paint colors last. If you are a member of the Facebook Group “Interior Design & Remodeling Talk” you can post some pictures for feedback and we’ll give you some suggestions. It is important to sample the colors first in the different light of day and night. There are so many factors to consider for your specific room. Hope to see you in the Facebook group!

  8. Hi Carla, I have honey oak throughout most of the house except the kitchen, bathrooms (1 upstairs, 1 downstairs), and our sunroom/office area. What color tile would you suggest to put next to the honey oak? We have to tile 3 rooms next to honey oak on the first floor, and we’re currently working on the sunroom first. Should we pick the same color tile or same tile for the kitchen, bathroom, and sunroom since they’re all off the living room? I’m feeling overwhelmed with choices. Thanks!

    1. Hi Patrice, My suggestion would be to select tile that will be neutral enough to flow through the spaces, and to use pops of color for accents only to set apart each space. Many greige colored tiles work beautifully with oak tones because they are warm yet bring in some shades other than brown. There are so many factors to consider for your specific rooms, so be sure to join the Facebook Group “Interior Design and Remodeling Talk” if you haven’t already so you can post images for more feedback. Also, stay tuned to my blog for a post on greige tones later this week!

  9. I am remodeling a 1920’s house and the floors have been stripped and refinished. They lean more towards a honey oak. I’d like to paint the ceiling, walls and trim all the same color of white and paint the doors a dark charcoal. I’m going to take your suggestion and use “White Dove” on the walls and trim. What color of charcoal gray do you recommend?

    1. Hi Marta! Thank you for your comment/question. One of my favorite charcoal colors is Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams #7069! It is slightly off-black and looks beautiful with the colors you are talking about.

  10. Hi Carla!

    Our house was built in 2000 and has honey oak trim, oak wood floors on main level & cabinets throughout. Is it ok to mix white kitchen cabinets with oak trim? I’ve always wanted white cabinets but I’m afoot won’t look ok not having white trim. I saw some great updates with stair rails and banisters that mixed white with oak also. Your input is greatly appreciated!!

    1. Hi Heather, Thank you for your question! The answer is yes, in fact this is how I had it in my previous home! The important key here is to choose a white that isn’t too cool in tone such as Benjamin Moore White Dove or Swiss Coffee. Good luck with your project!

  11. Hi. I have the 90s honey oak kitchen cabinets. The countertop is a darker grey with beige flecks through it and my trim is white. I do have a larger window so I do get quite a bit of natural light during the day. What would your suggestion be for a wall color.

    1. Hi Jen, If you’re looking for a neutral color, I would get a few samples of some of the shades that appeal to you from our blog post: “Best Paint Colors for Your 90s-Era Home” and look at them in different lighting (day and night) next to your countertop. It is important that the shade doesn’t fight with your countertop shade, as grey can have cool or warm undertones and your paint color should have the same undertones. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up to receive “How to Choose Paint Colors with Confidence” and learn more! Just scroll down to the bottom of the home page and you’ll see where to get it!

  12. Hi Carla,

    What do you think of using Pure White by Sherwin Williams against honey oak trim in a south facing living room with 20-ft vaulted ceilings? We’re hoping for a more modern look.

    1. Hi Monika- Pure White, by Sherwin Williams has a very slight, soft, passive warmth to it, and it picks up the colors surrounding it. I think that’s a top pick for a white wall with honey oak in any lighting!

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