How to Work with Your Honey Oak Kitchen and Trim

Solutions to Transform Your 90s Oak-Filled Home

Oak Kitchen cabinets and white subway tile. Updated oak kitchen. How to work with honey oak in your 90s kitchen.

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 oak stained cabinets. Read on! We’re going to dive right in and show you how easily we can create a balance making your honey oak work for you, not against you!

Refresh Your Wall Color to Update your Honey Oak

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 The result, an all-over aesthetic that feels outdated.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: Best Paint Colors for your 90s Era Home

90s oak tends to fall more into the yellow-orange-tinged categories. You’ll want to choose a color that highlights these features. An entire room in an overall shade of orange or yellow lacks personality. 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. Not sure which color to choose? Receive our free paint guide to help you find that perfect cool shade!

A fresh paint color on the walls can transform your space!

To give the oak elements new life in this kitchen, a light blue-green paint color was chosen for the walls, letting the warmth of the wood pop.  How to work with your honey oak built-in.
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. / Source

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

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

RELATED: Best Greige Paint Colors

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. 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? 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. The oak sea will part!

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. 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

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 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. / 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.

Change Your Flooring

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 hardwood flooring. 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. 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 oak. What we want to achieve is contrast. This will give your eye a rest from that never-ending sea of oak.

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Honey oak kitchen and wood floor idea.  How to work with honey oak kitchen cabinets.
Kitchens with honey oak cabinets can look fresh and updated with new wood or Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) flooring. The key is to choose a warm neutral floor with similar tones in the oak to bring the two elements together.

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.
Large stone tile draws the eye away from the oak trim peppered throughout this kitchen, allowing for a much more modern and updated look. / 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: Subway Tile Inspiration

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.
With the upper cabinets painted white and the floors in a complimentary warm finish, this oak kitchen has 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 a bold graphic black and white floor tile. / Source

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 contrasting focal point within the room. 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 vanity. 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, and your 90s oak home can be updated in a way that feels oh-so-modern and totally you.

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Carla Guide_whitecrop

Choose your paint colors with confidence

Hi I’m Carla

carla-bast-interior-designer-and-blogger

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 and outdated 90s era 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.

Join me!

 

I’ve been honored to be featured in and receive awards from:

The Spruce

Apartment Therapy / Cubby

Houzz / Best of Service & Design

Minnesota Chapter ASID – First Place Award

MSP Magazine, Best Use of Color

Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

 

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