Honey Oak Floors and Cabinets: 5 Ways to Make Them Look Great In Your Home

honey oak flooring in dining roomMost design styles never really go away, they just reinvent themselves. 

I bet you never thought honey oak floors, cabinets, or ceilings would be waking from the dead in 2023. Perhaps you were hoping (or praying) they would remain buried, never to be seen again?

My apologies to diehard lovers of neutral wood tones like grey or taupe, but it’s true! Honey oak wood is quietly re-entering the design scene. Perhaps this once popular colour of the 90s never left your house, so rejoice in the comeback of décor dominated by this golden-hued wood.

Honey oak, also called golden, red, blonde, or yellow oak, is regaining popularity. Homeowners are rediscovering their love for this cheerful colour. 

I can already hear your dramatic “no!” but yes, it’s back, adding a warm, positive glow to drab grey rooms and bland white spaces. That splash of deep, golden yellow punches up a room that’s lacking warmth. For now, its golden glow is returning in small doses, so if you happen to have a lot of it, hold tight. Don’t tear it out. Work with it!

Are you having a tough time making your honey oak flooring and cabinets look great in your home? Here are 5 ways to make them look spectacular!

1. Use black hardware on cabinetry

One of the most effective ways to enhance honey oak cabinets is by pairing them with black hardware. This combination is a game-changer. The stark contrast of black against the warm tones of honey oak creates a visually striking balance. It sharpens the overall look, bringing a contemporary edge to the cabinets without overwhelming their natural charm.

Steer clear of silver and gold

It’s important to note that while honey oak is versatile, not all metallic finishes complement it equally. I advise steering clear of silver or gold hardware with honey oak cabinets. Nothing good will come from these choices!

These metals don’t always match well and can make the overall look feel mismatched and off-balance. Gold can compete with the warm tones of the wood, while silver can appear too cold and stark, failing to harmonize with the oak’s natural warmth. 

2. Avoid blue paint colours for walls

When choosing paint colours to complement honey oak floors, it’s crucial to select hues that lack blue or blue undertones. This is because blue can clash with the warm tones of the honey oak, creating an unbalanced and jarring visual effect.

White paint colours that complement honey oak floors

For those considering white walls, certain shades harmonize beautifully with honey oak floors. Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, Classic Gray or Chantilly Lace are excellent choices.

honey oak floors white paint

These shades have the right balance of warmth and neutrality, enhancing the natural beauty of the wood without overpowering it. They bring a fresh, airy feel to the room that works well with the oak flooring.

Intense white paint colours to avoid

On the other hand, it’s advisable to avoid intense shades of white like Gray Owl or Wickham Gray when working with honey oak floors. These whites have undercurrents that can unintentionally highlight the yellow tones in the wood. The result can be a stark contrast that makes the golden oak stand out more than desired. This can even give the illusion of light blue walls due to the interplay of colours, which can disrupt the harmony of your space.

The key is to choose paint colours that complement rather than compete with the honey oak, ensuring a warm, cohesive look that feels both inviting and aesthetically pleasing.

3. Use contrasting decor to balance golden oak hues

To minimize the prominence of the golden hue in your space, incorporating contrast is a key strategy. This can be achieved easily through thoughtful decor choices that play with darker tones against the golden colour.

black frames and side table with honey oak floors

Consider framing pictures in black frames. This not only adds a modern touch but also creates a visual break from the gold. Additionally, incorporating black and white accessories can significantly balance the golden oak’s warmth. The stark contrast of black and white adds depth and dimension to the room, preventing the gold from dominating the overall aesthetic.

Another effective way to tone down the golden oak is by adding throw pillows in a mix of black, deep charcoal, white, and light ivory. Layering these colours adds texture and richness, creating a sophisticated palette that complements the oak.

A black and white patterned rug can also be very effective. It grounds the room and diffuses the intensity of the golden oak colouring. By strategically using these elements, you can achieve a balanced and harmonious look that celebrates the golden oak while maintaining a chic, contemporary feel.

4. Consider oversized area rugs

If your honey oak floors are overpowering your space, an effective solution is to introduce an oversized area rug in a light colour (lighter than the floor). This strategy works because light colours naturally draw the eye more than dark ones. The contrast created by a lighter rug will immediately pop against the rich, golden hue of the oak, creating a visual balance in the room.

The rug’s light colour not only breaks up the expanse of the oak flooring but also brings a refreshing change to the overall colour scheme, making the space feel more open and less overwhelmed by the wood’s intensity.

oversized white rug in bedroom on oak floor

In case you’re struggling to find a rug large enough for your needs, there’s a practical alternative. Visit a local carpet retailer and explore their “end of roll” cuts. These are often available in substantial sizes and can be a cost-effective option.

Once you’ve selected a piece, you can have the edges professionally bound, transforming it into a custom area rug that fits your space perfectly. This approach not only allows for more flexibility in terms of size and fit but also allows you to choose a unique piece that truly complements your room’s decor, effectively taming the presence of golden oak floors. 

5. Embrace the gold

Lean into the gold colouring but remember, it’s a strong “bossy” colour meaning it can easily overwhelm a room if not handled correctly. The key is to restrict this bold hue to just one main surface. Whether it’s your floors or ceilings that feature honey oak’s golden hue, be cautious about adding additional elements like trim or doors in the same colour. Overdoing it can change the look from chic to overpowering.

If your goal is an updated country chic style, then adding more golden oak in trim or doors might not be the best move. This approach can inadvertently lead you towards a cabin-like look, which is a completely different style. To maintain a contemporary and stylish ambiance, balance the honey oak with other colours and materials. This will help you create a harmonious and updated space, where the golden tones serve as an accent rather than dominating the entire decor. Remember, less is often more when it comes to integrating such a distinctive colour into your interior design.

Visit our Instagram page for a video about The Do’s and Don’ts of Honey Oak.

honey oak video on Instagram