How to Work with Your Honey Oak Kitchen and Trim

Solutions to Transform Your 90s Oak-Filled Home

how-to-work-with-honey-oak

So, how DO you work with your honey oak kitchen and trim to update your 90s home? We get it, your home is filled from top to bottom with honey oak trim, and honey oak wood cabinets. In this blog post, we’re going to dive right in and show you how easily we can create a balance making your oak work for you, not against you!

New Wall Color to Update your Honey Oak Cabinets

First, and possibly the least expensive solution is to simply change your wall color. The hallmark of a 90s-style home is the pairing of honey oak with paint colors in shades of brown or red. The result, an all-over aesthetic that feels outdated. A paint color that brings out the best of oak – and its inherent warmth – will completely transform your room. 

RELATED: Try the Benjamin Moore Color of the Year

Paint Colors that go with Oak Wood Trim and Cabinets

The most important thing to note: 90s oak tends to have yellow undertones or orange undertones. First thing, you’ll want to choose a wall color that compliments warm wood tones. An entire room in an overall shade of orange or yellow lacks personality, especially in a kitchen design. A paint color with a purple undertone will have the same affect. Look to contrasting colors that are a bit cooler in tone. Shades of blue, green, grey, white, and greige (grey beige), are all options. By making the oak stand out in an intentional way, it feels fresh. Neutral colors are always a good choice when working with oak cabinets and trim.

But what is the perfect color? Receive my free paint color guide to help you find the best choice and create a harmonious color palette to work with your oak wood trim and cabinetry.

RELATED: Best Paint Colors for your 90s Era Home

A fresh paint color on the walls can transform your oak wood tones!

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To give the oak elements new life in this kitchen, a soft light blue-green paint color was chosen for the walls, letting the warmth of the wood pop. / Source

Original oak trim gets a beautiful upgrade when paired with dark blue wall paint in this living room.  How to work with honey oak trim.

Original oak trim gets a beautiful upgrade when paired with navy blue wall paint in this living room. Using contrasting colors is a great way to modernize honey oak woodwork. / Source

RELATED: Sherwin Williams Iron Ore: A Review

Crisp and bright white paint on the walls completely changes the look of this home, and paired with contemporary black and white furniture, the wood adds the perfect touch of warmth.  Oak trim and windows are updated with a fresh wall color.

Crisp and bright white paint on the walls completely changes the look of this home. Paired with contemporary black and white furniture, the oak trim adds the perfect touch of warmth. / Source

RELATED: Simply White vs Chantilly Lace – Comparing Top White Paint Colors

Creamy white paint pairs perfectly with the oak trim in this home, and with a collection of comfortable and stylish furniture, the end result is stunning.  Medium oak wainscoting and creamy painted walls.

Creamy white paint pairs perfectly with the oak trim in this home, and with a collection of comfortable and stylish furniture, the end result is stunning. / Source

A pairing of deep navy blue and bright white paint make this craftsman-style home’s oak woodwork shine. How to update your home with oak trim.

A pairing of deep navy blue and bright white paint make this craftsman-style home’s oak woodwork shine. / Source

RELATED: The Benjamin Moore Color of the Year

Get peel & stick (real) paint color samples to try in your home – HERE!

Break Up the Sea of Oak

What is a sea of oak exactly? Well, if everywhere you look brings you an unobstructed view of a shade of oak, you’ve got a sea of oak. We’re talking a combination of wall-to-wall oak kitchen cabinets, oak built-ins, oak trim, oak flooring, and more. You get the picture. To work with your honey oak and elevate its style is to break it up visually. 

How do we do that? The easiest way is to paint the elements that feel the most oak-heavy visually in a complimentary color. Think of your old oak kitchen cabinets with a pop of color on them or in a creamy white, leaving the floors and trim intact.

Oak wainscoting gets a complete revamp thanks to a shade of creamy white paint. As a result, the oak elements of the room feel exciting and architecturally unique.  Breaking up the oak with a complimentary paint color.

Oak wainscoting gets a complete revamp thanks to a shade of creamy white paint and updated light fixtures. As a result, the oak elements of the room feel exciting and architecturally unique. / Source

A soft and muted blue-green transforms these kitchen cabinets and makes the oak window trim and floors stand out intentionally.  How to work with honey oak to update your home.

A soft and muted blue-green transforms these kitchen cabinets and makes the warm oak trim and floors stand out intentionally. / Source

RELATED: How to Determine Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget

A coat of sage green paint on these oak cabinets in the laundry room softens the effect of the oak trim and manages to capture the perfect balance of earth tones. Painting over oak cabinets.

A coat of paint on the oak cabinetry with warm undertones and contrasting cabinet hardware softens the effect of the oak trim and manages to capture the perfect balance of earth tones. / Source

By keeping the floor, the top rail and the newel post cap in natural honey oak and painting the newel post and balusters a creamy white, this foyer feels bright, happy, and updated. Honey oak and white stair railing update.

By keeping the floor, the top rail and the newel post cap in natural honey oak and painting the newel post and balusters a creamy white, this foyer feels bright, happy, and updated.

RELATED: Best Greige Paint Colors

New Flooring with Oak Cabinets

One way we like to bring in a new vibe… changing your flooring. Oftentimes the already oak-heavy 90s home will also have honey oak floors. A new and unexpected flooring option can instantly elevate the room and the honey oak will feel warm and inviting. Tile is a great option. By choosing graphic tile, natural stone, or LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile), you can easily achieve a nice contrast with oak cabinets for a more modern kitchen. If you want to stick with hardwood flooring or go with super durable LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank), you can opt for a different finish color to compliment the warm tones in the oak. What we want to achieve is contrast. This will give your eye a rest from that never-ending sea of oak.

Pin this for easy reference:

how -to-make-honey-oak-look-moder-pin

Kitchens with honey oak cabinets will look fresh and updated with new wood flooring or Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) flooring in similar undertones. The key is to choose a neutral floor with similar warm color tones found in the oak to bring the two elements together.

Pin this for easy reference:

flooring-ideas-for-honey-oak-cabinets

RELATED: What Flooring Goes with Oak Cabinets?

RELATED: Insider Tips on Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVT, LVP)

Large stone tiles give the oak trim peppered throughout this kitchen and update. How to work with honey oak doors and trim.

A large sized gray color tile draws the eye away from the oak trim peppered throughout this kitchen, allowing for a much more modern look with a new color scheme and white walls. / Source

By keeping the kitchen cabinets in their original oak finish, this kitchen gets a bright white makeover with sleek grey floor tiles and modern-day appliances.  90s Oak kitchen cabinets with grey tile floor and white subway tile.

By keeping the oak cabinets in their original finish, this kitchen gets a bright white makeover. Sleek grey plank floor tiles, and white subway tile with grey grout give it a fresh new look. / Source

RELATED: 10 Kitchen Lighting Ideas for Low Ceilings

Oak kitchen cabinets feel updated thanks to the new grey floor tile and a fresh coat of cool blue paint.

Oak kitchen cabinets feel updated thanks to the new grey floor tile and a fresh coat of cool blue paint.

By painting the upper cabinets white and choosing a darker stain for the wood floors, this oak kitchen has an instant modern vibe.  White upper cabinets in oak kitchen.

White upper cabinets and slightly contrasting wood floors in similar tones give this oak kitchen a modern vibe. / Source

The oak cabinets in this kitchen feel far from outdated when paired with a bold graphic black and white floor tile. Black and white tile with oak kitchen cabinets.

Oak kitchen cabinets feel far from outdated when paired with dark colors. Bold graphic black and white floor tile and matte black cabinet hardware is a great choice. / Source

RELATED: Modern Countertop Colors for Honey Oak Kitchens

Create a Contrasting Focal Point

Paint and flooring can have a profound impact on your oak-filled home. The answer to your oak woes, is to create a focal point within the room with contrasting color. By incorporating bold artwork, a feature wall, or driving the focus towards a brightly tiled fireplace, the oak is less jarring. Balance goes a long way!

In this ASID Showcase Home award winner for Best Use of Color, we added a bold blue and green tile backsplash with bright white quartz countertops and chrome hardware and fixtures to soften the oak vanity. The result was a much more balanced look overall, visually pulling the attention away from the oak and towards the mix of colors throughout the space. Oak vanity cabinet and modern backsplash.

In this ASID Showcase Home award winner for Best Use of Color, we added a bold iridescent aqua blue and green tiled backsplash with bright white quartz countertops and chrome hardware and fixtures to soften the oak vanityIntroducing cool colors that are found on the opposite side of the color wheel is a great way to create a contrasting palette. Design by Carla Bast

Modern navy-blue wallpaper and an ornate gold accent mirror help to take the focus away from this 90s oak home office built-in. Modern navy-blue wallpaper and an ornate gold accent mirror help to take the focus away from this oak home office built in.

Painted oak cabinets on a living room fireplace wall.

In this living room, oak built-ins were given new life by becoming part of a larger feature wall, complete with a new coat of grey paint and a classic fireplace. / Source

RELATED: 90s Home Transformation – Jordan Remodel Project Reveal

You aren’t forever relegated to an outdated 90s-era home. With a bit of creativity and the creative ideas shared here, you can work with your honey oak, to create a modern design. Your 90s oak home can be updated in a way that feels oh-so-modern and totally you.

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Hi, I’m Carla

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I’m glad you’re here! You are in the right place if you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of embarking on a remodeling or interior design project. Living with an outdated home and don’t know where to start? I’ve helped families like yours update their home and create spaces that reflect what’s important to them for over 25 years.

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Minneapolis Star Tribune

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