Paint Color Ideas for Stained Woodwork

Hello!

While I know that painted woodwork and cabinets is the trend, there are many of you who have stained woodwork in your home, and sometimes it can be a challenge to find paint colors that work with stained trim work.  So today, we’re going to talk about some paint color ideas for stained woodwork, and some ideas on how to make updates to your home that don’t necessarily involve painting your trim or cabinetry.

Lately I’m finding myself drawn to spaces that have a mix of stained and painted woodwork.  I think it’s a great mix, and the stained woodwork really adds warmth to a space.  In my son’s room from the One Room Challenge, I incorporated this very thing, and I love the result.  This is also getting me to think about having stained lower cabinets and painted upper cabinets in my laundry room redo.  

 

This stained island really warms up the whole kitchen, doesn’t it?  I don’t think it would be quite as welcoming if it had been painted like the perimeter cabinets.

Here is another gorgeous example of mixing stained and painted cabinetry.  A great traditional look.

I love this as a way to update your oak kitchen, without painting your cabinets.  By taking down the upper cabinets, adding subway tile, and a light countertop, it is entirely transformed.  Those cabinets look like they could be original to the house, and the updates just work.  I love the wall color in here too – it really plays well with the stained cabinets, and the crisp white finishes.  I don’t know for certain what the color is, but it looks a lot like Sea Salt from Sherwin Williams.

Stained Lower Cabinets

I love the rich contrast this island gives, not only with the countertops, but with the surrounding cabinetry as well.  One thing to consider if you’re looking do incorporate something like this in your own home, is to consider gel staining like I did on my breakfast bar and front doors as part of my “Stain Without Pain” projects.  It gives existing woodwork a whole new look, and you don’t have to strip off the existing finish.  

White and walnut kitchen
 
If you have stained woodwork throughout your home, don’t despair, there are great options there too.  This kitchen is from The Hall Way is warm and inviting, don’t you think?  The wall color is Perfect Taupe from Behr.
Perfect Taupe - Behr
 
Who says only white kitchens can be light and bright?  I love this stained kitchen, with the bright contrast of subway tile and quartz countertops, and the paint color is a nice little pop of color.  It reminds me of Silver Sage from Restoration Hardware.  A gorgeous neutral that works beautifully with stained woodwork.
 
Presidio Heights Residence
 
You all know I’m on a navy blue kick right now, but one way to give oak cabinets a great backdrop is by painting the walls navy.  I love the mix of navy and stained wood to begin with, but this is a great option, in my opinion.
Oak cabinets navy walls

Source – photo credit – Alex Buryk

 
Rich colors are a win when it comes to stained woodwork.  I love the look of a gorgeous gray against wood tones.  This isn’t a kitchen, but look how well the gray and the wood look together in this dining room.
 
But gray walls certainly bring out the best in wood tones.  I love the high contrast look that these rich gray walls bring to this stained kitchen.

Again, you can see how the rich gray works as an accent wall with the stained oak trim in this home, with a coordinating color on the adjacent wall.  Accent wall color is Elephant Skin and window wall is Wheat Bread, both by Behr.

Oak Trim with Gray Walls

The key in working with stained woodwork (orangey oak, in particular), is to choose colors that provide some contrast away from the oak color, vs. those that draw attention to the color of the oak.  I know it sounds intuitive, but there are a lot of oak kitchens that could be made to look completely different with a coat of paint on the walls.

Let’s not forget that using light paint colors on the walls can also give stained woodwork a lift, making everything look lighter and brighter.
 
Prospect Park West
 
 
What a stunning space this is – light and bright, but also rich and warm.
 
 
Lately I’m finding myself drawn to spaces that have a mix of stained and painted woodwork and finishes, which is a great way to get the best of both worlds.  I think it’s a great mix, and the stained woodwork really adds warmth to a space.  In my son’s room from the One Room Challenge, I incorporated this very thing, and I love the result.  This is also getting me to think about having stained lower cabinets and painted upper cabinets in my laundry room redo.  

This stained island really warms up the whole kitchen, doesn’t it?  I don’t think it would be quite as welcoming if it had been painted like the perimeter cabinets.

Here is another gorgeous example of mixing stained and painted cabinetry.  A great traditional look.

I love this as a way to update your oak kitchen, without painting your cabinets.  By taking down the upper cabinets, adding subway tile, and a light countertop, it is entirely transformed.  Those cabinets look like they could be original to the house, and the updates just work.  I love the wall color in here too – it really plays well with the stained cabinets, and the crisp white finishes.  I don’t know for certain what the color is, but it looks a lot like Sea Salt from Sherwin Williams.

Stained Lower Cabinets

I love the rich contrast this island gives, not only with the countertops, but with the surrounding cabinetry as well.  One thing to consider if you’re looking do incorporate something like this in your own home, is to consider gel staining like I did on my breakfast bar and front doors as part of my “Stain Without Pain” projects.  It gives existing woodwork a whole new look, and you don’t have to strip off the existing finish.  

White and walnut kitchen
 
Paint Color Ideas for Stained Woodwork
 
I’m definitely seeing more stained woodwork in design trends these days, and I think there are lots of ways to give it a modern update, without starting from scratch.
 
Jenny

17 Comments

  • Reply
    AliJ
    January 25, 2017 at 11:44 am

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! As someone who lives in a 4000sq foot house with ALL oak trim and an oak cabinet kitchen, I totally appreciate this. Never once have I said to my husband “I want to do the trim in white” or “I want white kitchen cabinets” – I’ve had both in our previous house and I absolutely hated it because I felt like I spent more time cleaning the white versus the oak – and not a fun thing when you work full time and have a child and husband. When we first bought the house I wasn’t sure about paint colors so I went a little too light. We did our powder room in navy – which I LOVE; then did our finished basement in gray – probably my favorite room in the house is the basement because the gray looks great!

    • Reply
      Jenny
      January 25, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      I’m so glad you found this helpful! I think stained wood trim is making a big comeback! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rosie
    January 25, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I am looking for your list of favorite books for 2016. I am at a friend’s house and wanted to refer to them.

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    January 25, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Love your article! Great ideas, along with great photos! You hit it nail on when it comes to stained woodwork…… you have an eye!

    • Reply
      Jenny
      January 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks so much Kimberly! I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    January 25, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Also, I’m wondering in the photo of the kitchen with the “high contrast”…. what color would you say that is? I’m looking at a Benjamin Moore chart.

    • Reply
      Jenny
      January 26, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      From the photo, I would say maybe Iron Ore (Benjamin Moore) would be a good option. So pretty!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    January 26, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Finally a post from someone on the beauty of stained woodwork and trim! When we built our house 20 yrs ago we added gorgeous stained crown moulding and trim and I still love it today. This post is so helpful as we are ready to repainted. Thank you so much for these tips!!!

    • Reply
      Jenny
      January 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      I’m so happy you found this helpful Catherine! I think the right colors are key to give stained trim an updated and modern look, that is as beautiful as painted trim.

  • Reply
    Cindy Barton
    October 2, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Hi, I really love your advice on missing painted wood with natural /stained wood. The grey and oak living room is stunning! I have new replacement windows that are white with stained woodwork around the windows, baseboards and doors. I’m not liking it. Any suggestions? Thanks Cindy Barton

    • Reply
      Jenny
      October 4, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      What don’t you like about it? Would you rather it all be the same, or is your wall color bothering you?

  • Reply
    Laura Guntner
    December 18, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I loved all your ideas but I didn’t see any bedroom ideas. I have a oak sleigh bed,armoire and dresser. My floors are also rustic oak. The room is huge and I have a layered tray ceiling. Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • Reply
    Dale
    February 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    I am so glad I came across this! I am doing a very small open galley kitchen. The navy blue kitchen is exactly what I’m going for with the cabinets in that color. What color do you think the navy is in Ben Moore?

    • Reply
      Jenny
      February 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Paint retailers can usually do color matches to other brands – Naval (Sherwin Williams) is the PERFECT navy in my opinion!

      • Reply
        Dale
        February 4, 2018 at 5:51 pm

        Thank you!

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