Honey Oak

Are honey oak cabinets coming back in style?

Oak Cabinets: A step back in time?

Honey Oak Interior design
Cassette tapes and crimped hair are 80’s trends that have come and gone. Yet many kitchens are still head to toe in Honey Oak – a trend previously at the forefront of interior design.

The golden tones of honey oak seem to have lost favor with the 21st century. Leaving many people thinking… “What do I do with my cabinets now?”

However, much like halter neck tops and velvet trousers – the 90’s are back in fashion baby! A honey oak kitchen can be ultra-modern and stylish, when accessorized correctly.

In this article I can help you decide whether or not you want to keep your honey oak – and if yes, how to do so stylishly!

Should I keep my Honey Oak cabinets?

There are many reasons you should keep your Honey Oak cabinets.

  • Honey Oak gives your home a warm and comforting touch
  • It creates a vintage feel- which is now more modern than ever!
  • Honey Oak is very durable
  • It has natural wood grain which feels timeless and classy

Instead of replacing your Honey Oak kitchen cabinets, it’s a great idea to decorate around them.

With the right colors and accessories, your space can easily have a trendy feel. A quick (and not to mention cheaper) alternative to a brand new kitchen.

How to Update Honey Oak Cabinets?

How to make oak kitchen cabinets look modern? Here are 4 steps to a fresh look to your kitchen, whilst keeping your old honey oak.

Step One: Wall Color

Painting your kitchen is the easiest and cheapest way to update its look. Honey Oak cabinets can be given new life with a simple splash of color.

There are two ways of tackling your cabinets’ orange undertones-

  1. Counterbalance

    Help your cabinets be assertive rather than loud! Accept their bright personality but subtly soften their presence with camouflaging colors.

    A bit like placing your lovable but drunken auntie on the back table at your wedding. A smart and discreet tactic.

  2. Enhance
  3. Make a modern statement. Promote your fabulous oak cabinets in the limelight they deserve.
    Compliment with colors that outline their stature.

Wall Color Suggestions:

What is the best paint color for a kitchen with oak cabinets? Blue, soft green, white, beige and greige are some of the best wall colors that go well with honey oak. Let me explain how each of these colors complement your wooden cabinet.

To Counterbalance

  • Dark Blue
  • As well as stealing some attention from your honey oak, this color will offer your kitchen an ultra-modern feel. The dark blue color compliments the orange undertones of your cabinets particularly well.
    Oak Cabinets matching dark blue wall
    Note: This color works well with natural light. Avoid using in smaller spaces as it may feel stuffy and/or claustrophobic.

  • Bluey/Green
  • For a brighter feel, try a lighter blue/green shade. This color softens the honey oak shade well and adds a splash of color to your kitchen without feeling overbearing. Tactful and vibrant.

  • Light Blue
  • Personally, I love the combination of light blue with honey oak! It adds a bright and airy feel to the kitchen. Inject your kitchen with freshness.

Wall color that goes with oak cabinets

To Enhance

  • White
  • White will make your cabinets stand out. It’s incredibly versatile: easy to pair with a variety of floor types and hardware. This color keeps the room crisp and modern!

  • Warm Beige
  • This color will warm your kitchen, giving a homely and comforting feel. The perfect shade for a large kitchen within a family home.

  • Greige
  • Greige is a mixture of grey and beige. Similar to the beige, this color will keep your kitchen warm and cozy. It also adds a little modern seasoning for a trendier home.

Step Two: Backsplash

Adding a backsplash is both stylish and practical.
I would advise to stay light with your colors. Black and darker shadings can add a cold, dreary feel to the kitchen.

First rule: make sure your backsplash compliments your new wall shade!

Backsplash Color Suggestions

What color backsplash looks good with oak cabinets? White, light blue, greige and grey are the backsplash colors that go well with honey oak. Just make sure that the backsplash color complements the wall paint color.

  • Light Blue
  • Much like the wall color, this adds a fresh and airy feel. It works well as a little glimmer of color next to your honey oak.
    Suggestion: Pair it with a white wall to add some tasteful vibrance.

  • Greige
  • Back again with this gorgeous shade! This adds a warm welcoming feel and harmonizes well with your honey oak.

    Suggestion: This color backsplash looks great combined with beige and white walls.

  • White
  • This will make your cabinets stand out. A white tile is very modern and accentuates the golden-orange undertones of your honey oak. It’s a very versatile option which works well with most wall colors.

    Backsplash colors that match with honey oak
    Suggestion: Pair the white backsplash with dark blue for a fabulously complimentary color combination!

Step Three: Flooring

Luckily one of the significant advantages of a Honey Oak kitchen is that it’s super easy to match with stylish flooring!
Boasting brown and gold undertones, it works well with many shades and materials.

Again, it’s important to match with your wall color.

It is also important your kitchen flooring agrees with the rest of the home. This will avoid your kitchen feeling disjointed.

Floor Color Suggestions

  • Light Wood
  • Using a light shade of wood or laminate will lift the room. It will add a brighter feel. This shade works well in smaller kitchens as it makes the room feel bigger.

  • Natural Wood
  • This flooring gives the room an earthy feel. It lifts the room whilst keeping a grounded, warm vibe. This is a particularly popular floor type as it shows less dirt and requires minimal cleaning – (yay! It has my vote).

  • Honey Oak
  • Why not choose a similar color to your cabinets? This works well with the overall design and when combined with a great wall color, it looks super flattering and modern.

  • Natural Stone
  • Using a natural stone flooring or laminate is a great way to add modern variation to your kitchen. It is very trendy and boosts the room in an innovative way.

    There are different types of stone you can choose from – just make sure the pattern doesn’t clash with your countertop!

* Avoid – Dark Colors
I advise avoiding dark colored flooring. It doesn’t sit well with the golden undertones of the honey oak and can make your kitchen feel small and cramped.

Step 4: Update your cabinets

A great and easy way to update the 80’s oak cabinets themselves is to update your hardware!

Discard the white or golden handles that usually come with a 90’s honey oak cabinet. Swap them for a dark or black hardware to compliment your backsplash.
This adds a rustic quality, and works particularly well with a dark granite.

Countertops: Black granite and white marble or quartz countertops go very well with oak cabinets. I prefer white color for countertop. Couple that with white wall, light color floor, white ceilings and some pendant lights hanging, your old kitchen at home is transformed into modern kitchen.

Oak cabinet- Before after kitchen
“Honestly, I’m still not convinced!”

Are you still not a fan of honey oak?
Fair enough! For some, it just doesn’t sit right.

How do I modernize? Although decorating around your cabinets is the easiest and cheapest way to modernize, you can of course paint over your oak cabinets to completely transform the room.

How do I paint my oak cabinets?

Should I paint my oak cabinets white? Yes. It is a timeless color that will give a gorgeous look to your kitchen. Grey is another popular color that you can paint.

However, you should know that simply painting white on a honey oak kitchen cabinet will not hide the wooden texture.  You must fill the pores in the oak before you paint.

What you need:

  • Clear wood grain filler
  • A Scraper
  • A Rag
  • Sand Paper

Steps to Painting Oak Cabinets:

  1. Disassemble hardware. Mark the hinges and handles.
  2. Sand down wood – strip all the material
  3. Clear the sawdust
  4. Apply clear wood filler with a rag, using a circular motion
  5. Remove excess wood filler with a scraper
  6. Leave to dry for roughly 30 – 40 minutes
  7. Repeat steps 4 – 6, two or three times
  8. Give the cabinet a final sand
  9. Paint! As many layers as necessary

Note: There will still be a slight wood grain pattern underneath your paint, but no porous oak holes.

Paint oak cabinets white

How to hide the wood grain?

Use spackle. Apply a thin layer of spackle on the cabinet doors using a flexible putty knife. Once dried, sand it lightly with a find grade sand paper. Clean the saw dust with air or microfiber cloth. Do not use wet clothes or cleaning solutions as they may remove the thin layer of spackle you just applied.

Now it is time to paint white over your honey oak kitchen cabinets to give them a brand new look.

A great (yet time consuming) way to reinvent your cabinets!

Has the honey oak won you over?

With all these tips, you’re on the right path to reinventing your kitchen with or without the honey oak.

Along with other 90’s trends, Honey Oak is coming back! It can be a great way to keep a cozy feel whilst integrating modern features and interior design.