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What Paint Color Goes With Medium to Dark Wood (trim or cabinets)

Posted on November 2, 2023 by KylieMawdsley

The 10 Best Paint Colors to Update Wood (medium to dark stains)

While a lot of the chatter on this blog post is about the best wall colors for wood trim, doors, and cabinets, the same colors work if you have dark wood floors – there’s a little inspiration for everyone!

With a focus on updating the oaks and maples of the ’90s, it’s easy to bypass the slightly (or more) darker wood trims and doors of the ’70s and ’80s. Oh, those were the days…shag carpets, avocado-colored fridges, and macramé plant hangers. Wait, isn’t some of this back in style again?

However, there are also GORGEOUS medium and dark wood trims found on older homes – hopefully, these never go out of style.

Best paint colours to go with dark wood trim, doors and floor. Kylie M INteriors Ediesng, similar to BM White Dove or Dove Wing. Client before photo

Now, you might be in a rush to see the paint colors – I get it. However…

This is a ‘learn how to‘ blog, not a ‘Kylie tells you what to do, and you mindlessly do it‘ blog, even though that can be fun, too. 

This means I want to teach you the WHAT and the WHY because it will help you make smarter, more informed choices when finding your home’s best color.

So, let’s talk wood.



While painting your dark wood finish seems like the obvious solution, many of these darker woods are WAY too stinkin’ gorgeous to cover with PAINT! This means it’s about updating the space around them, to update them with modern surroundings that work with your wood but take things up a notch.

And while this blog post is geared towards the best COLORS (shortly), there are a few other ways to modernize your dark wood…

  • Update any surrounding hardware, whether it’s on cabinets, doors, or light fixtures. The right finish all depends on the style of your home. Older homes often suit a golden or antique brass (super trendy right now, if you choose the right STYLE), whereas slightly more modern homes lean into polished nickel. Black can work on surrounding metal finishes, such as light fixtures, but disappear on dark wood cabinets and doors. Luckily, black is pretty universal, and if you do some black light fixtures, they’ll coordinate with your chosen cabinet/door hardware if you choose similar styling.
  • Change your light fixtures. This isn’t just about the metal finish but the STYLE of your light fixtures. Edison bulbs are out of style, and dark wood finishes often benefit from light fixtures with white glass shades, as the white helps to reflect more light and brighten a dark space.
  • If you have dark wood cabinets, update your backsplash with a subway tile!
  • Notice the photos in this blog post – pay attention to what you think makes them beautiful, updated, and well-coordinated. Pick up these cues and apply them to your own home!

Dining room with wood ceiling and beams, dark wood trim, Benjamin Moore Spanish White off-white cream paint color on walls

While I love the bones of this eating area, here are a few ideas that would update it and better accentuate the existing wood finishes…

  • Upholstered chairs rather than wood chairs. Too much wood isn’t always a good thing – it’s good to add some soft surfaces for acoustics and visual balance.
  • A new light fixture in a slightly more modern style. I’d also lower the light by at least 18″.
  • Consider a round area rug for acoustics and to break up the wood-on-wood-on-wood look.

You’ll see my TOP COLOR PICKS shortly – keep on reading & learning!



While dark wood trims in older homes can be impressive in thickness and quality, wood trims from the 70s and 80s are known for being narrow. So…

If you think it’s the COLOR of your trim that’s the problem, think again…

  • With its two-inch width, the SIZE of your trim is the 1970s, not the stain color. In other words, don’t curse the color; curse the size. Once you get three+ inches, things start looking better (that’s what she said).
  • If you’re reading this blog post, I’m assuming that painting your trim is out of the question for financial, labor-intensive, and marital reasons (oh, those hubbies looove their wood…)
  • While painting your dark wood trim from the ’70s would help modernize your home, keep in mind it will STILL be narrower than the modern style of white trim work. You’ll only get the full benefit when the trim is wide (in which case, you might be less inclined to paint it as it’s so darn pretty!)

Dark wood trim, stairs and doors in older home entryway, best paint colour soft white, similar to SW White Duck or Alabaster. Kylie M INteriors E-design, before image. Client design

The above two photos are great examples of wider trim than the ’70s and ’80s versions.

So, while there isn’t much we can do about the size of your wood (wink wink), there’s A LOT we can do with what’s around it (I’d say we could enhance your wood, but that might be crossing a line…which I do LOVE to do.)



Wood doors are either wrapped with wood trim in the same stain or white trim. Either way, if you don’t plan on painting them, I have colors for you to explore. Just consider that when white trim separates your wood door from the walls, you can often explore a bit more color – you don’t HAVE to. Still, in my experience, my Online Color Consulting clients are usually a bit more flexible when they have white trim surrounding their doors.

Wood doors with white trim, Benjamin Moore Graystone paint color on the walls, White Dove trim, Kylie M Interiors Edesign

On the other hand, with wood trims AND wood doors, the inclination is often to downplay and mute things a bit. In the end, it’s up to you how you approach it, but if you want more colorful options, finish this blog post, then go to my SEARCH and type in the types of colors you love (like green, blue, taupe) and see which blog posts pop up!



In my Online Paint Color Consulting work, when my clients have medium or dark-toned wood cabinets, more often than not, they want to lighten and brighten their kitchen, and I’ve got some GREAT options to do that!

However, remember that while you’re focusing your attention on the cabinets, your backsplash is the REAL shot caller in the kitchen.

kitchen before with dark espresso wood cabinets, granite countertops


Because it’s on the same vertical sight line as your cabinets, your backsplash ‘usually’ matters the most. I mean, sure, your walls are vertical, too, but your paint color is more changeable than your backsplash. So, when choosing your wall color, nod towards your cabinets, but pay closer attention to how these colors coordinate with your more permanent hard finishes.

Here’s the ‘usual’ hierarchy (there are exceptions based on the kitchen’s layout/amount of each product/etc.)…


And yes, if you don’t have a backsplash, the next one in line is the countertop.

Now, if you’re inclined towards a bit more color on your walls, that can be gorgeous, too. While you won’t find overly colorful shades below, I have over 500 blog posts full of the best blue greens, violets, and more (type your fave color into the SEARCH and see what you get!)



If you have a darker wood floor, you might be looking to lighten and brighten your space. Just remember that while your wood floor and its undertones matter, finishes that are VERTICAL can play a bigger part in your color palette. Don’t forget to nod toward your stone or brick fireplace, other permanent hard finishes, and soft furnishings when choosing your paint color.

Sherwin Williams Alabaster and Extra white paint color on trims and walls, dark wood floor, hallway with doors. Kylie M Online Paint consulting client photo

And lastly…



When choosing a stain for wood finishes, we often choose a ‘stain color’ without considering the ACTUAL color we’re creating. Colors like English Chestnut, Weathered Oak, and Early American don’t really MEAN anything in the color world. Besides, how they look will change depending on the species of wood they’re applied to.

So, whether you’re staining new wood or learning to coordinate with an existing wood surface…

Stop thinking of your trim as a ‘wood/stain’ and start thinking of it as a COLOR!

To help see the color of your wood, blur your eyes to block out the grain. It’s easier to see the COLOR of your wood when you take out the details, and you can then decorate accordingly around that.

Living room with dark wood beams, trim and tv stand, stone fireplace, brown leather furniture and greige taupe

Let’s look at a few examples…



This next trim is an orange-red colored wood with a lot of brown in it, so it’s a brown-orange-red. So, when I’m picking paint colors, I might not look at colors with a lot of yellow-cream in them, as the wood is more inclined to orange (beige) undertones or maybe even some taupe (violet-pink). On the other hand, green is a beautiful CONTRAST to this wood color if I want to highlight it.

If your wood trim is in this range, seeing as it’s a bit lighter, check out THIS BLOG POST once you’ve finished this one (I’ll include another link at the end for you).

Tony Taupe in dining room, best neutral beige brown paint colour. Dark wood trim. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour and advice blog diy

This next wood is a bit deeper, richer, and has more red compared to the degree of orange in the last one…

Sherwin William White Duck, warm neutral paint color with dark wood trim and floor. KYlie M.

Mahogany is a wood species with a red undertone. It’s commonly found on trims, doors, and furniture. It’s not always as strong as the red-stained wood above, but it’s usually noticeable.

What paint colors go with red-orange woods?

There are so many; where do I START? Some of these woods love a subtle taupe, with its gentle violet-pink undertone. Others look great with a muted, modern, off-white beige. However, there’s a lot to be said for contrast with the right greige (green undertone) or an interesting blue-green blend!

You’ll see my TOP COLOR PICKS listed shortly! 



Red hues are red-orange or red-violet. This next wood trim and door are definitely red-violet with not a drop of orange to be found!

Sherwin Williams Worldy Gray in dark family room basement, lounge leading into wine room with cherry wood door, slate tile floor. Kylie M.

While cherry wood finishes are the most common red-hued woods, red oaks also have red-pink undertones, as can any wood if a reddish stain is applied!

What best suits this red-violet wood stain?

Colors with violet-pink, such as taupe, can look stunning, as can warm grays (you’ll be seeing some shortly!). However, if you want to accent this type of wood, you might hit up a darker shade of blue or a subtle green. Even dark green can be stunning.

The stronger the red stain is, the less it will love a yellow hue or strong cream, especially those that lean into green.

Here’s another wicked, pretty red-purple…

Wine room with wood floor, barrel, built in red cherry wood stained wine racks, crystal chandelier, Benjamin Moore Charcoal Slate, blue gray paint color on walls and ceiling. Kylie M Edes

This wicked shade of navy is PERFECT with the red-violet hues in this room (and with the floor)



Some wood stains just look more or less DARK BROWN. Sure, there’s a smidge of orange-red in the one shown below, but the overall impression is BROWN, especially compared to the previous wood color.

Benjamin Moore Antique White, off-white cream paint color, dark wood trim, dark floor and furniture, arched opening to dining room. Kylie M client photo

This wood was trendy in ’70s and ’80s homes on trims, doors, AND cabinets. Some people refer to it as ‘walnut,’ which it can look like. Some walnuts look brown, whereas others pick up a touch of red or even a bit of yellow.

What paint colors suit brown-toned wood?

That’s a loaded question. While a really BROWN looking wood can handle almost any color – gray, greige, taupe, cream, beige, etc… if any undertone pops through, it could be a bit fussy. This is why the colors listed below are a great place to start.



This finish was popular on cabinets, in particular, in the late 90s and early 2000s and is known for its DRASTIC depth. More often than not, this wood color has a violet undertone, although some species flash a touch of red and, more rarely, yellow.

In this next kitchen, the dark wood floors and cabinets have a violet undertone, and I might see a tiny wink of red in that floor, too…

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, green blue paint color, dark wood floors and cabinets, stainless steel, white trim

What colors go with dark, espresso wood finishes?

Most espresso or super dark wood stains love grays with violet undertones (which you’ll see shortly), as well as varying shades of taupe. Of course, this is assuming they have a bit of violet in them themselves. However, some dark woods suit muted, warm off-whites (of which I have some listed below), as well as greiges tones.

Entryway, staircase, Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige, Benjamin MOore White Dove, dark wood flooring and railing. Kylie M design blog

Just LOOK at the purple undertone in this wood floor! 

Dark woods with more noticeable violet hues can be fussy with creams with too much yellow in them, as well as some of the more muddy greige tones.

I have a blog post that goes into more detail on LIGHTER wood trims and cabinets, their colors, and their specific paint color needs (I’ve included a link at the end of this post). As for this one, I don’t get into as much detail on wood COLOR; this is just to get you started in the right direction with POPULAR, neutral paint colors that are liveable, suitable for resale, and great for updating your home.

These colors won’t suit EVERY dark wood finish, but they’re the PERFECT place to start your color journey! 

the best paint colors to go with dark wood trim, cabinets, wood floor, dark furniture. Update ideas with Kylie M online paint color expert



Ballet White is a soft, warm, subtle way to complement your dark wood trim or cabinets, as well as more mid-toned woods. While Ballet White has a cream base, it nods lightly at tan and greige, meaning the traditional yellow hue found in most creams is GREATLY reduced.

Ballet White suits a variety of wood stains and colors but isn’t as great for wood stains with a LOT of red or violet in them.

Sherwin Williams White Duck with wood trim and oak wood cabinets in dining room and kitchen, black hardware and update ideas. painted subway tile backsplash. Kylie M Interiors Edesign (2)

Here’s Ballet White again (below) in a relatively low-light living room with a beautiful brick fireplace…

Benjamin Moore Ballet White in family room with sloped ceiling, dark wood trim, brown brick fireplace, beige carpet, dark brown furniture. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy update ideas

The trim in this room is a bit more ‘standard brown’ compared to the slightly stronger red-orange hues in the above kitchen, and you can see how soft and subtle Ballet White sits with it.

BTW, I rely 99.9% on photos from my E-Design clients, so you’re seeing REAL homes with REALISTIC budgets. 



One of the most IMPORTANT parts of choosing the best paint colors is to COMPARE them to other similar colors…

  • Benjamin Moore Navajo White, which has a bit more creamy warmth to it
  • Sherwin Williams Shoji White, which is very similar to Ballet White but a bit lighter and less warm
  • Benjamin Moore White Sand has a similar look with a bit more body. Just be cautious of it with woods with a STRONG red hue
  • Sherwin Williams Creamy is more cream, but has a super light, subtle look

FULL Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Ballet White



If you want a slightly cozier but still modern-looking beige for your room, Balanced Beige is one of my favorite light-medium shades. It’s popular because rather than having a typical beige-golden look, it leans slightly into gray. It’s similar to Accessible Beige, which is like a lighter version of Balanced Beige and another personal fave.

Best paint colours with dark wood trim, Sherwin Williams Balanced Beige and Warm Stone. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

Neither color caters to an overt undertone, which means a minimal commitment to green, yellow, orange, or pink (which are common with this type of neutral). Of the undertones, a vague green comes up the odd time, but it’s situational.

Sherwin Williams Basket Beige in split level foyer with rustic wood door and dark wood trim, pendant light.

As shown below, Pavilion Beige is similar to Balanced Beige but has a touch less gray in it…

Family room with travertine tile floor, green reflection on lower walls, wood trim and beams, stone fireplace, blue sectional. Kylie M.

Notice how red the ceiling beams and trim are – they LOVE the wee wink of pink undertone tucked in Pavillion Beige! Don’t let the ‘p’ word scare you; it’s really a beige with an orange undertone. I’m just being my usual particular self and like to point out the SUPER subtle bits here and there.

FULL COLOR REVIEW of Sherwin Williams Balanced Beige



Because one color doesn’t fit ALL homes, it’s good to do some comparisons…

  • Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige has similar intentions but a lighter approach.
  • Sherwin Williams Loggia is QUITE similar, just a tiny shift in undertones – watch that it doesn’t look murky green against some woods.
  • Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth is a beige-gray with a bit of a gray backdrop to calm it down.
  • Sherwin Williams Tony Taupe is a fun guy and has a bit more depth to play with.



When it comes to POPULAR neutral paint colors, it’s hard to beat Revere Pewter. So it’s no surprise that it not only looks great with white trim but with wood trim as well!

Revere Pewter in room with dark wood trim, dark wood floor. Kylie M INteriors edesign client photo

However, being a warm, muddy shade of gray, Revere Pewter appreciates a room with at least moderate light. You might not notice its green undertone and depth as much as you would against white trim, but it can still be pretty and organic with a WIDE range of wood stains. Be sure to read its full color review (link below) before biting the bullet – as with any color.

Best paint color for dark wood trim, oak floor. Kylie M Interiors E-design, Benjamin Moore REvere Pewter in entryway and stairs



  • Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray is a touch grayer with a bit less green undertone.
  • Benjamin Moore Rodeo is like a lighter version of Revere Pewter with similar intentions.
  • Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray is a more noticeable shift, but it can be hit-and-miss.
  • Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray is kind of like a darker, slightly greener take on Revere Pewter.

 Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter



For those who want a darker shade, it’s easy to see how STUNNING Graystone looks with the warmth of the wood doors (orange-red). Graystone’s slightly warm gray/greige approach adds some balance to the warmth of the wood without making the room look cold and uninviting. Its green undertone is a contrast/complement to the wood doors. However, it’s the warm white trim that really sets it off…

Wood doors with white trim, Benjamin Moore Graystone paint color on the walls, White Dove trim, Kylie M Interiors Edesign





White Duck is an off-white cream that is heavily sedated by a beige-gray base, which calms down the yellow (very similar to Benjamin Moore Ballet White).

Kylie M Interiors Edesign, dark wood trim and doors. Off white warm creamy greige walls and travertine tile flooring. Online paint color advice blog

Dark wood kitchen cabinets and trim with travertine tile backsplash and warm granite. Sherwin Williams White Duck darkened on walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice blog

The 5 Best Off-White Paint Colors: Undertones and More

As you can see in the above kitchen, while the travertine tile backsplash would love a BIT more of a beige tone, White Duck offers a muted, subtle warmth that helps to balance the weight of the dark wood cabinets. By the way, these cabinets have a violet undertone. If White Duck had any more yellow/cream, it wouldn’t work with the cabinets. As is, it’s a happy medium between the violet in the cabinets and the more beige preferences of the backsplash, countertop, and tile floor.

When using light and bright paint colors like creams and off-whites with dark wood finishes, make sure your home décor can visually support a high-contrast look. Without getting into too much detail, you need other high-contrast items in your room that mimic the contrasting combo of your trim/walls.



  • Sherwin Williams Shoji White is White Duck’s kissin’ cousin
  • Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White shifts out of yellow-cream and introduces a bit of beige (mad love)
  • Benjamin Moore Ballet White, as mentioned previously
  • Sherwin Williams White Heron takes a slight departure with a brighter approach

Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams White Duck


Before we look at more colors…


  • The lighter the paint color is, the more high contrast your palette will be. As your color darkens, the contrast lowers. High-contrast combos can make a space look smaller, especially if you have a lot of doorways and windows. However, sometimes, we have to find that happy medium between that and brightening our homes when dealing with dark wood finishes!
  • When sampling paint colors, include white paper alongside your samples. It can be hard to get a read on the depth/undertones in a paint color on a small scale without something white to compare it to. I ALWAYS recommend using Samplize peel-and-stick paint color samples, as they’re more affordable and effective than paint sample pots.
  • I’m a HUGE fan of dark colors, even with dark woods! If you paint your room a darker color and have dark wood, you’ll need adequate lighting to bring things to life. Lighten and brighten your space via accents and decor so there’s contrast, reflective value, and visual interest. If you ignore these topics, things may fall flat and heavy.
  • Formal living room fireplace, travertine tile surround, dark wood floor, taupe and beige furniture. Edgecomb Gray and White dove, Benjamin Moore. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Don’t forget about choosing the best color for a north-facing or south-facing room!



Collingwood is one of my FAAAAVE warm gray paint colors with its soft, subtle violet undertone. This particular undertone can be a beautiful complement to many dark wood finishes, especially those with red or violet hues, but it can also complement some orange and yellow undertones.

Benjamin Moore Collingwood Gray, warm gray , greige paint colour. Online Color Consultation by Kylie M Interiors. 2 storey entryway, curved stairs, black railing (2)

And while there’s NO shortage of popular grays to choose from, when it comes to DARK wood trim, I usually prefer light grays that lean into a violet undertone, more so than blue (learn all about gray undertones HERE).

Unfortunately, I don’t remember what color the walls are in this next beautiful home. Also, the kelvins of the bulbs will skew how it looks, but I would GUESS that this is the general vibe of a warm gray like Benjamin Moore Classic Gray, which is lighter and a bit warmer than Collingwood but can also harbor violet (violet-pink) undertones…

Entryway and hallway, dark wood trim and wood flooring. Kylie M Interiors Edesign.



FULL Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Collingwood


By the way, if you’re looking for the best WHITE paint colors to go with your dark wood, I have a blog post DEDICATED to this topic. I’ve included a link at the end of this blog post for you. 


SAMPLIZE offers peel-and-stick paint color samples – simple, easy, affordable, AND arriving on your doorstep in 1 DAY!

Paint colour review of tool Samplize, peel and stick samples. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Farrow and Ball, Home Depot. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE



Oooooo, I LOVE me some Edgecomb Gray with wood! Edgecomb Gray is just a fabulous paint color as it’s like a bridge between the warm and cool worlds. Also, with its VERY non-committal undertones, it’s happy with a wide range of wood colors, species, and finishes.

Look at how STUNNING Edgecomb Gray looks with the dark wood (oak) floor in this living room…

Formal livingroom, travertine tile fireplace surround, dark wood floor. White mantel, greige taupe furniture. Edgecomb Gray walls, White Dove. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, diy consultant


I would love to tell you that Sherwin Williams has a similar or at least comparable shade, but Edgecomb Gray really is a creature unto itself. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t colors with similar intentions and versatility.

  • Sherwin Williams Modern Gray is a lovely take on a warm gray taupe. It’s different from Edgecomb Gray but still somewhat flexible. It’s really as close as Sherwin William’s has.
  • Benjamin Moore Winds Breath is kiiiiind of like a lighter shade of Edgecomb Gray (but NOT literally, there are shifts).
  • Sherwin Williams Egret White is a personal fave, right up there with Edgecomb Gray, for its versatility and pretty softness.
  • Sherwin Williams Mortar (a newer shade) is sure to be a fave with great flexibility – it’s a good shade lighter than Edgecomb Gray.
  • Sherwin Williams Whirlwind, another newer shade in the Emerald Designer Edition, is worth exploring, with a bit more gray-taupe than Edgecomb Gray and some great potential.

Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray

REMEMBER, the depth of an off-white or light color would be more noticeable with clean white trim. Dark trim tends to make light colors look LIGHTER than white trim – get some white paper alongside your samples to see their depth.



With trends leaning warmer and warmer, Aesthetic White is bound to be a popular shade. While old school beiges are more golden and rich, Aesthetic White has a gray backdrop calming it down. This atypical approach to beige is a great way to add passive warmth to your room without hitting the Tuscan end of things.

Sherwin Williams Aesthetic White, best off white paint colour with greige Benjamin Moore Stonybrook dark wood trim, beige carpet. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consultant

While a more modern approach is to paint the upper and lower walls the same color when you have a chair rail, the style of this room and the tone of the wood suit this two-color palette MUCH more than one single color would.

Thank you for sending your photos; you make my colorful little world go round! 



If you want to dive into the slightly COLORFUL range, a great place to start is with blues, greens, and violets heavily mixed with gray – such as Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.

Sea Salt is an awesome green-gray, but it’s a bit of a NINJA, so be sure to check it out closely HERE.

Best paint colour dark wood trim and floor. Kylie M Interiors E-design, online colour consultant. Sherwin Williams Sea Salt in dining room with fireplace



The 8 Best Blue-Green Blend Paint Colors

Paint Color Review of Sherwin Williams Sea Salt



While many lean into lighter grays with dark wood trim, choosing a gray with a bit more meat on its bones can be a stunning complement to warm wood tones.

Coventry Gray is a soft, stormy gray with VERY passive blue (slightly blue-green) undertones. As shown in this photo below, it offers a nice balance to the warmth of wood tones…

Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray best gray paint colour, wood floor, wood trim and headboard. Client photo, Kylie M Interiors Edesign

The headboard is a great example of a relatively BROWN wood.



Paint Color Review of Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray



  • Generally speaking, the more ‘color’ you add, the less modern your room may look. Now, this isn’t a bad thing, as it can also look more vintage and have more personality than a neutral color; however, if updating is your goal, NEUTRAL is usually best.
  • The more color you add, the more you may complement your dark wood, meaning your wood could stand out and ‘pop’ more. Read more about that here: The Best Paint Colors to Coordinate with Wood.

Tony Taupe in dining room, best neutral beige brown paint colour. Dark wood trim. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour and advice blog diy

Should You Paint or Stain Your Wood Cabinets: A QUESTIONNAIRE

I hope I’ve helped to enhance your wood (a girl can dream!) and lower your stress level!


The 4 Best Shades of White That Go With DARK WOOD

The 20 Best Paint Colors to Go With Oak and Wood

REAL Wood Kitchen Cabinets: Update Ideas

How to Mix and Match Wood Stains and Undertones

The Best LIGHT Greige & Taupe Paint Colors

Update Oak or Wood Cabinets WITHOUT a Drop of Paint!


Check out my affordable Online Color Consulting Services!

Online paint colour consultant Benjamin Moore Sherwin Williams, Vancouver Island, USA, UK. Interior, exterior, edesign colors. Kylie M Interiors, blogger marketing

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign

Originally written in 2018, awesomely overhauled in 2023


  1. Oh my…this article may have literally convinced me to convince my husband to reconsider purchasing an old house we’ve been eyeing up! It would be an amazing space for our family with 4 kids, but the amount of updating it requires (and the attached price tag) has intimidated us. Your pictures show that the right paint/decor really can make an older home look lovely. Even with the modern paint colors and furniture, I think the rooms shown maintain a traditional feel, which I enjoy, because of the dark wood. If we do ever pull the trigger on that home, I will definitely use you for e-consultation. Thanks again for the great info!

    1. Wahoo, now THAT is what I’d like to hear! I’d LOVE to help you with your home if you go ahead with the purchase – good luck Steph!

      And you know, if you want a 2nd, unbiased opinion on the house, just to look at the scope of the projects I’d be happy to take a quick boo at it if you email me the link! kylie@kylieminteriors.ca I wouldn’t get into too much detail, but I can certainly say whether ‘I’d’ do it or not (I’m a bang for buck gal – nothing too major…)


  2. Thank you for posting this with such eloquent explanations of why to use one color over another. Very enlightening. I’ve been searching for about 6 months now for colors for our Dutch Colonial built in 1929, with tons of medium colored natural wood, not sure what type of wood it is. But it goes along the side of our staircase and adds a lot of character, but is also distracting for me to settle on a color scheme for my home. Your examples helped me have a clearer idea of the route I should be going. Thanks!

  3. I am updating a VERY 70’s house which has a lot of light and which I LOVE — but I am really struggling with how to update it inexpensively. Particularly since my furnishing tendencies are not modern, but Victorian antiques and hippie-chic hodgepodge.

    I have vaulted ceilings upstairs, and a low ceiling down – and am getting new flooring put in next month (yay!!)
    All the doors and that skinny trim are dark — but I’ve been anxious about using gray and cool colors for the walls b/c the trim/doors are reddish. Not super red, but if you put a cool color next to the brown, it looks… uncomfortable.

    Also, ALL the cabinetry in my kitchen is the same dark color. They are good, solid wood cabinets and I can’t justify replacing them. Have thought about painting them, but then I’m still competing with all the doors/trim that are still brown. And yes – painting ALL that trim and the doors is daunting. Besides, the sliding glass doors are brown also and then they’d REALLY stick out. Ah, it’s a slippery slope… easier to embrace the dark trim, I think.

    And if you really want pictures of 70’s houses with dark trim — I could overwhelm you! 😀

  4. Hi! I love your blog! We just bought a home with dark to med wood trim on everything. Trying to convince my husband that we can have a balance like painting the trim white but leaving the exposed beams, floors and stairs wood. Trying to figure out wall color too! Need some advice!!!

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  5. I love your blog! Could Carrington Beige HC-93 work with dark wood paneling? I have paneling half way up the wall in my hallway (1930s) that is mahogany colour (with a red tone in it). It is currently painted Carrington Beige but I’m not sure if that look is too dark and dated. The hallway gets light from the north and the west. Let me know if you would like some paneling photos for your blog.

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      Hmmm, off the top of my head, i might say it could be a touch murky looking as it does have a wink of green in it…perhaps I could talk you into the slightly more neutral Manchester Tan????

      And yes, I’m ALWAYS needing photos with dark wood panelling, absolutely!!!!


      1. Thanks so much! Is there a page on your site where you talk about Carrington Beige or is that a colour you avoid? We have a lot of it (whole basement family room is covered in it!) and I prefer it over similar colours with pink undertones or colours that look peachy in some lights. I painted it 18 years ago though… maybe it’s time for a change. Thanks again.

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          Hi Christy! Carrington is lovely, but it does have a very vague green undertone, which happens to be a colour that some people want to avoid – they are often wanting a more clean neutral. But it IS a beauty!!


  6. Your article has been not only an inspiration but a confirmation of what colors I plan to use for our new construction. With the design goal of modern mountain, we are considering Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze for trim, with SW Mindful Gray, Dorian Gray or something else along those lines as the primary wall color for the great room, halls, kitchen, dining, loft and entry. Do you have any suggestions for a modern non-white trim color? Thank you again for posting this insightful article.

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      Hi! A modern non-white…hmmm…I’m hesitant to go into that without seeing the other products in the home. But I can tell you I wouldn’t do Urbane Bronze, it will be too warm for the walls. Check out Gauntlet Gray as it will give you a CONSIDERABLY more modern look – and it makes total sense as it’s the dark version of the wall colours!!! YOu can also look at the more clean gray look of BM Kendall Charcoal which is PRETTY wicked!

  7. We have nice 90’s oak trim (not thin), except it has ambered over the years. I do not love the orange tint, but I also am not a paint it all white gal. I have toyed with the idea of painting it darker since I have been told that staining it darker (which is my first choice) would not be an option. I’d have to rip off all of the trim and stain new trim the walnut color I’d like. Finding pictures of painted trim that is not white or black is tricky. Have you ever had anyone restrain their existing wood trim without a HUGE expense or can it be even be done?!? Or can we keep out baseboards stained and paint the trim?? Trying my best to not get rid of perfectly fine oak wood trim…except for my issue with it’s orange tone 🙁
    Thank you for any thoughts, ideas etc!

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      Hi Lauren! You know, I have seen quite a few people have luck with Gel Stain as you don’t have to sand the trim right down. Other stains tend to penetrate more, which is why you need to strip the wood down, whereas Gel Stain can act more like a paint in that it can still show the grain, but it sits more on the surface. In Pinterest, look up ‘Gel Stain cabinets’ and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And yes, while I’d have to look at your photos, you ‘could’ consider wood baseboards and painted trim, but I would be more inclined to keep them the same…hope that helps!

  8. Hello looking for advice for my older home it has original woodwork built ins and hardwood floors all which I describe as having a cherry or red undertone. Not orangey oak and not espresso brown…? I have tried diverse beige but that looked purple. I tried a taupe and at certain times of the day it has mauve undertones. Would like a gray that complements but not sure what to try next? Was thinking Dorian gray, mega griege but need help.

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      Hi Tracy! When it comes to personal questions where I need to see the space, I refer to my e-design (it’s affordable and fun!). This way I can take into account the size of the space/exposures/furnishings and all of that other good stuff that can play a BIG part in colour choice! Off the top of my head, Dorian it sounds like Dorian could be a pretty complement, but that’s really just a guess… https://www.kylieminteriors.ca/online-decorating-design-services/


  9. Help please, I have a room with red/purple wood trim and wainscotting. I need to know how to update it without painting or restaining the wood. The floor is to be covered with broadloom – probably a grey fleck. I would like a light Benjamin Moore colour that cancels out the purple in the wood – it really looks like a stain gone wrong. I also want to paint the walls and ceiling all the same colour. I was going to attach a photo of the room so that you could see what I am dealing with but there is no means to do this. I can send a photo in a separate email if you tell me where to send it.
    Thanks, Dorothy

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  10. What light gray would look nice in a living room with dark wood trim? Agreeable gray?

    My foyer that opens up to living room is Aloofgray gray.


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      Hi Grace! A lot depends on your exposure, flooring and furnishings, but i WILL say that Agreeable Gray is an awesome, flexible greige. It leans more to the gray side and will EVEN MORE if you have northern exposure, in which case some people can find it a touch too cool…

  11. Hi! I have dark walnut floors and trim, beige carpet, and cream colored doors. Currently most of the rooms in our home are painted a dark beige and I am looking to modernize with a gray. Is there any you recommend? I was looking at sw anew gray. Thanks!

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  12. Wall color to blend in or soften yellowy oak cabinets…..looking at greige with warm undertones….but to blend or soften not sure which tones……looking for more modern greige color.

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  13. Hello Kylie!
    I had bookmarked one of your posts several months ago, and checking it today it seems to have changed. Yikes ! I am panicking !! It is a picture of entry way and walls appeared George, trim off-white and dark wood accents to include a dark exterior door and dark trimmed portal window. I thought it was posted in “what potassium goes with dark trim?” But when I went there today, it’s not there! I loved this look and wondered if you remember it or know how I could find again? Thanks Soo much, I love your ideas and style. Keep up the good work!

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      Hi Carolyn, i know JUST the George you’re speaking of 😉 Seriously though. I’ve been going through my site and deleted HUNDREDS of photos that aren’t mine. Generally, a lot of us refer to other designers with a link to their sites when we want to use a photo, but I’m trying to be more careful and use only images that are mine from my Edesign, so unfortunately, it’s been off-loaded!

      1. Thanks Kylie for your follow up! I am going to enlist your help via with color scheme for my 1925 craftsman house. Working on filling out the info and need to decide what package to get!

        See you soon!!!

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  14. I just want to thank you for all of your articles. I was looking for a white for my northern exposure dining room that has dark wood trim (my house is an old Victorian). I read through a bunch of your posts including how to best choose white. I ended up going with SW West Highland White. It came out so beautifully. Thanks again for all of your tips and advice!

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      Well, thank you, Allison! With all of the questions I get, it is SO nice to get a note like this – thank YOU!

  15. So, so glad I found this site. Yes, the 70’s home have that narrow trim and at times when I look at it I love it, and then when I look at all the painted trims out there they look just as good. Always seem to be stuck until I came across this site. I now have a direction I can go in with the color I want on the walls, that will enhance the home, open it up and change the look without breaking the bank.

    Thanks for the info and explaining it in a concise manner.

  16. Thank you so much for this post. I feel less alone with my dark trims. 🙂
    Do you have a psychological limit of “LRV not to be exceeded” for the choice of ceiling paint? I have the feeling that 90 would be this limit in rooms with white trims. But with dark trims, is it better to play in the 80 to limit the contrast? Perhaps I have it all wrong!
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Thank you for such a detailed post on paint colors with dark trim. I just remolded my home and convinced my hubby to toss out the carpet and went with engineered hardwood. I picked a dark smokey brown and had my carpenter install farmhouse trim to match. I also went with what I liked for my paint color which happened to be sea salt from Sherman Williams. I was starting to think I made a mistake until I read your blog. However I’m stumped on how to decorate. Your right there isn’t many pictures on the internet. I have moderate natural lighting but lots of other light. What is your thoughts for furniture color? If you wouldn’t mind me picking your brain.

  17. I love the high contrast white wall with dark trim look. But what do you do with the chair rail? I haven’t been able to find any examples that include one. Keep it dark, or paint it the same color as the wall?

  18. I have an old house with low lighting, not many fixtures and plenty of windows but the light doesn’t come in. The house orientation doesn’t allow for that I guess. I have so much gumwood, staircase, doors, paneling, built ins. Can you suggest a white for the walls and a trim and ceiling color that will pair well throughout a house like this.

  19. Any thoughts on SW Steamed Milk with 70s dark walnut trim? In my NE exposure living room, it seems to just read as a super light brown, not quite as yellowish as I’ve seen it look in pics. Would it end up being too much brown?

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      Mmmm, I think this could be VERY pretty. Steamed Milk is so light, soft and pretty without being OVERLY yellow, you know? If you do it, send pics, I’d love to see how it turns out!

      1. Yeah, I’m trying to hit that spot where there’s juuust enough warmth so that it stays warm looking in cooler light without being overpoweringly yellow or orange or anything. For me and the light I’m working with, I think Casa Blanca and Choice Cream are a touch too much, and Moderate White and Divine White are not quite enough, but Steamed Milk looks just about right. Creamy hits that ‘just enough warmth’ spot, too, but I think I want something a little lower LRV like Steamed Milk, so it’s not quite so contrasty. I’ll send pics if I go with it!

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