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From the Design Files of Heather B – Paint Color Choice for Oak Furniture

Design Question

Hello Heather, I have quite a dilemma in choosing appropriate colors for a house we recently bought and are moving into, so I need some help!!

My furniture is mostly oak wood. The kitchen has oak cabinets, white Corian countertops, the white and gray floor, and white appliances. It is a pretty good size room but is in the center of the house and doesn’t have a window. It is currently painted a dark green and looks very dark. This room adjoins the family room which does have some but not a lot of light and vaulted ceilings. That room is currently painted a very pale bright yellow.

The dining room and living room are also open to the kitchen and living room. They also have the white and gray tile floors. In those rooms, there is small white dentil crown molding and an oak top on a half wall at the entry. These rooms are painted in gray and tan combination where my son started to paint gray over the existing tan and quit. At least the top of the 1/2 wall is oak and will go with my furniture. The tan is just too much brown with my oak furniture, but I am questioning the tone of the gray.

I need to know what color or tone and color I can paint all these rooms that will be a light neutral backdrop. I have been pulling out my hair trying to figure this out. I don’t want any red or bright primary colors. More understated, simple elegance is my style. I was thinking something like a gray, putty, taupe or stone color. My biggest problem is trying to get the right tone since the oak is so orange. I do like light shades of blue, green, yellow, neutrals and soft muted tones. I am just STUMPED. I don’t want to do this twice! ANY help would be most graciously accepted!

Design Answer

You’re right; the oak is definitely orange rather than tan or golden. But it is beautiful; the cabinetry in the kitchen is simply stunning. However, I do think that because the oak/orange is a warm color and is such a commanding element in the room, it should be balanced by neutrals like gray and cool colors like blue and green.

Color Choices

I also agree that the gray currently in the space doesn’t work with the ceiling – it is my feeling that it doesn’t provide enough of a contrast, making them both blend into one another. Based on the colors you said that you preferred, except for yellow because it is a “warm” color, I picked some shades and hues that I thought would work in all four rooms – the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room. The palettes are loosely divided into gray, green and blue.

Once you’ve narrowed down the color or colors you think you would like to use, don’t forget to test it out by seeing how it looks in the room, either by applying paint samples or using the online tools many paint companies offer through their websites.

Hopefully you won’t have to paint it twice! Let me know how it turns out. Thanks for writing in. Come back next Monday when we’ll answer another reader’s design question.

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