The Top 15 Paint Colours to Update Wood Stains – Specifically Red, Yellow and Orange Undertones
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! And while some of these colours can be timeless, there are many versions that can be challenging (understatement) to modernize and update. Which is why I’m going to narrow things down a bit and point you towards some of the more popular choices with…
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 and 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!
- Warm or cool paint colours that are a few tones lighter or darker than the wood tone will accent it more than colours that are the same depth. However, cool colours will do a BETTER job than warm colours
- 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
- 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 your wood is a great way to keep things seamless, but can be a bit bland looking if you choose a warm or neutral colour. It’s better to go a bit lighter OR darker than the depth of your wood or to shift into a slightly cooler tone
- 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 cream, beige and brown paint colours 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 still 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!
1. 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.
2. 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 warmth.
3. 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 similar 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.
4. Benjamin Moore Abalone 2108-60
Abalone is a mix between gray, brown and purple. The purple is subtle but adds a decent dose of colour to get things out of the gray range. It’s light enough that it can help off-set a bit of the visual weight of darker cherry cabinets while still contrasting nicely with white trim. I love how the purple taps into the wood tones without being ‘obvious’ about it (shown below).
5. Benjamin Moore Collingwood OC 28
Collingwood is a beautiful warm gray-greige with a subtle purple undertone. The undertone is quite passive and this colour still leans heavily into gray, only nodding politely towards greige/purple, and can look QUITE lovely with wood finishes that have red or purple undertones. Most grays can lean into ANY of the 3 cool gray undertones with the right lighting, but Collingwood usually holds pretty steadily.
6. Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream OC 96
Gentle Cream is an awesome way to create a warm and inviting room, without going overly golden. With its almost ‘butterscotch’ undertones, this colour will sit pretty neutral with oak and won’t entirely camouflage nor accent it.
7. Sherwin Williams Canvas Tan SW 7531
Canvas Tan is a relatively neutral tan paint colour that doesn’t fall too flat or greige toned for orange-toned woods NOR too golden warm, making it flexible for a variety of wood stains, as shown below…
Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
- At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
- If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
8. 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.
Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages
9. Sherwin Williams Sea Salt SW 6204
Sea Salt is a lovely complement to most woods if you’re wanting a fun, 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 wood stain, but it will look BEAUTIFUL! Read ALL about Sea Salt in its colour review.
10. Benjamin Moore Mountain Air CC 636
Mountain Air is a beautiful way to accent the warm tones of your orange toned cabinets or flooring. It’s a slightly fresher choice with its subtle, earthy, gray/green blend, as shown in my client’s bedroom below…
Read more: The 8 Best Blue and Green Paint Colours
11. Benjamin Moore Sandy Hook Gray HC 108
Sandy Hook Gray is a greige with a decent green undertone. While it WILL accent the warmth of your cabinets, the neutral base keeps things a bit more in check.
12. 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
13. Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere 2138-60
Gray Cashmere is a soft gray with a strong blue-green undertone, making it almost whimsical with its fresh feeling (usually favours blue over green). 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.
14. Sherwin Williams Heron Plume SW 6070
15. Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray HC 173
This is another fave. Edgecomb Gray is the PERFECT greige, sitting nicely in between gray and beige with no obvious preference either. This is not going to highlight nor blend in most woods unless you have DARK wood, which would be highlighted via the contrast, not the colour.
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. But, I don’t want you missing out on a few more paint colour ideas…
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.
Still not sure what the best colour for your home is?
Check out my affordable Online Colour Consulting and E-Design Services!