The Best Paint Colours to Update Wood Stains – Red, Yellow and Orange
Partner Post to 5 Ideas: How to Update Oak Cabinets Without a Drop of Paint!
There are SO many colours of wood in the world – virtually every colour in the rainbow it seems! And while some of these colours can be quite timeless, there are also many versions that can be challenging (understatement) to modernize and update.
And why do I call them colours of wood not species of wood? Because wood is often stained a different colour than its roots (literally) suggest – so we’re going to base things on the overall ‘colour’ that you see – not the history of the tree!
This is going to be TREE-LY exciting, so let’s get started!
- Paint colours that are a few tones lighter or darker than the wood tone can also help to accent. However, simply painting the walls a cooler colour, regardless of depth, will do a good job
- If you REALLY want to jazz things up, choose colours that don’t have too much gray in them as these will give more contrast and energy against the woods
- And even if you THINK you want to blend in those wood cabinets, you might be surprised at how awesome a well-chosen cool opposite can look!
- Keeping the paint colour a similar depth to that of your wood is a great way to keep things seamless, but can be a bit bland feeling if you choose a warm or neutral colour. It’s better to go a bit lighter OR darker than the depth of your wood
- When it comes to cream, beige and brown, you’ll want to look at creams that hold similar undertones to the ones in your wood
- Some creams, beige and browns can pick up a wink of green, which can look a bit fugly and murky against some warmer woods
Yellow-toned wood finishes
Yellow toned woods are often pretty committed to yellow, but can also slide slightly into orange and more rarely, they can pick up a wink of pink or green.
Orange-toned wood finishes
While yellow-toned woods are ‘usually’ pretty darned yellow, orange-toned woods easily lean into yellow or red, but the dominant undertone is usually orange.
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
Red or cherry wood finishes
Red or cherry toned woods are the richest of the bunch, adding depth and colour to a room. Red-toned woods can also look slightly pinkish (pink being the light version of red) or can give off a subtle purple cast at times.
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
So remember, MANY wood products will pick up on more than 1 undertone. This means that not ALL of these paint colours will look good with ALL wood stains, but they should get you started in the right direction!
Benjamin Moore Classic Gray OC 23
For a soft, subtle look, Classic Gray is a nice slightly warm gray which won’t blend in, but certainly won’t ‘highlight’ your cabinets. I usually recommend darkening Classic Gray by about 25%, just to give it a wink more body.
Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray SW 7016
Mindful Gray is a warm, light-medium gray with a soft purple undertone (and a wink of green). While I might not partner it with OVERLY yellow cabinets, it can handle a little.
Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige SW 6106
With a nice range of warm undertones, Kilim Beige is a soft, subtle and versatile choice. Kilim Beige is along similar lines to BM Muslin, which will look a bit softer and subtler. Both of these colours can pick up a weeee tiny wink o’ red and aren’t as great for yellow-toned woods.
Sherwin Williams Cardboard SW 6124
Cardboard is an awesome, richer golden beige tone – not for the faint of heart!
Benjamin Moore Abalone 2108-60
Abalone is a mix between gray, brown and purple. The purple is subtle but adds enough colour that you aren’t just dealing with ‘greige’ and light enough that it can help to off-set a bit of the visual weight of darker cherry cabinets. I love how the purple taps into the wood tones without being ‘obvious’ about it (shown below).
Benjamin Moore Collingwood OC 28
Collingwood is a beautiful warm gray/greige with a soft, feminine undertone that looks SO pretty with some red or purple undertones. It does lean considerably more into gray than beige.
Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream OC 96
Gentle Cream is an awesome way to create a room that is warm and inviting. With its almost ‘butterscotch’ undertones, this colour will sit pretty neutral with oak and won’t entirely camouflage nor accent it.
Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan SW 7531
Canvas Tan is a nice relatively ‘neutral’ tan paint colour that doesn’t fall too flat or greige toned for orange-toned woods, as shown with these furniture pieces below…
Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray HC 170
Stonington Gray is a beauty if you want a subtle accent to your wood tones. It’s a gray with a soft blue undertone that can sometimes go a wink blue-green.
Sherwin Williams Sea Salt SW 6204
Sea Salt is a lovely complement to most woods if you’re looking for a fun and fresh look. Sea Salt is a light-toned green blend with a gray/blue undertone to calm it down. Yes, it will slightly accent your oak, but it will look BEAUTIFUL! Read ALL about Sea Salt in its colour review.
Benjamin Moore Mountain Air CC 636
Mountain Air is a beautiful way to subtly accent the warm tones of your orange toned cabinets or flooring. It is more of a fresh choice with it’s a subtle, earthy, gray/green blend, as shown in my client’s bedroom below…
Read more: The 8 Best Blue and Green Paint Colours
Benjamin Moore Sandy Hook Gray HC 108
Sandy Hook Gray is a greige with a decent green undertone. So, while it WILL accent the warmth of your cabinets, the neutral base keeps things a bit more in check.
Sherwin Williams Barcelona Beige SW 7530
Barcelona Beige is one of many, great light-medium depth beige’s that offer a soft simple backdrop to some wood finishes.
Read more: Is Beige Back? You Might Be Surprised!
Sherwin Williams Silverplate SW 7649
Silverplate is a cool, slightly stormy gray with a vague blue undertone. And sure, the blue might enhance things slightly, but overall it’s a great way to create a more modern look with your yellow-toned wood (shown below).
And don’t forget about LRV when choosing a paint colour! How to Use LRV to Pick a Paint Colour
Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere 2138-60
Gray Cashmere is a soft gray with strong green and blue undertones making it almost whimsical with its fresh feeling (leans more blue). It has more gray in it than Sea Salt so it adds a whisper of colour without being too powerful. Again, this would accent wood tones, not soften them.
Sherwin Williams Heron Plume SW 6070
Heron Plume is an interesting one, that can shift a lot with exposure, but the bones of it are like a creamy/greige with a soft slightly purple/pink undertone that can slightly flash through.
Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray HC 173
This is another fave. Edgecomb Gray is a subtle dusky undertone that can nod towards the pinkish end of things (without being REMOTELY pink), making it a LOVELY choice for light oak that has those undertones. The foundation of this colour is a gray with a solid greige/beige undertone. This colour would slightly neutralize light oak.
And because I rely 100% on photos from my Online Colour Consulting clients, I don’t always have a photo of the colour I want to chat about and you could be missing out if you don’t look at…
Sherwin Williams Rainwashed SW 6211
Rainwashed is a beautiful blue-green with a soft gray backdrop to calm it down. It’s quite similar to Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.
Sherwin Williams Softer Tan SW 6141
Softer Tan is a warm tan with subtle orange, yellow undertones. With its beige base, it would be your best bet to start blending those cabinets in, while still staying on the lighter side.
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