How to Choose Paint Color Based on Wood Tones

How to Choose Paint Color Based on Wood Tones

Sample Oak Wood Grain

Wood tones from trim, doors and cabinetry provide a dilemma when selecting paint. Depending on the color selected, you can emphasize your wood elements or camouflage their effects. 

Considerations when selecting paint colors used with wood tones

  • First consideration, do you want to highlight the wood trim, doors and cabinets, or do you want to minimize their influence?
    • If you want to highlight the color, select a complementary color to the wood tone (a color from the opposite side of the color wheel).  Golden oaks and yellow/orange woods look great against blues, purples and blue-greens.  Red mahogany and cherry tones look great against greens, aqua and yellow-greens.
    • If you want to minimize or camouflage the wood features, select a color with the same undertone as the wood.  For highly grained species like oak, select a tone that blends with the overall color, taking into consideration all the light and dark colors of the wood grain.
  • If the wood is more neutral in color, like stained whites, dark-brown or black, you have more room for making color decisions.  Most neutral woods will not be hard to work into most color schemes.

Kitchen with wood floors and cupboards

If all else fails? Trust your instinct! If it looks good, it’s probably right.


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