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Paint Colors That Love Stained Wood

Which wall shades look best when woodwork is unpainted? The answer is one part personal taste, one part a matter of the wood’s hue.

Photo by Gridley + Graves

With medium-warm oak, “you want some weight and substance,” says Bonnie Krims, an architectural color consultant in Concord, MA. Gray-blues often work well (like Benjamin Moore’s Buckland Blue, with Harbor Haze above it, shown). Or, Krims suggests, go with an earthy green in a medium shade, “which would be restful with the wood tones.” Warm-related shades of golden yellow, terra-cotta, or red are another option (see Best Paint Colors for Historic Houses). Misty Yeomans, a color marketing manager at Glidden Paint, chose their Crimson Red for an oak-trimmed bedroom in her own house.

With dark reddish-brown wood, consider a jewel tone or saturated shade that can stand up to it, says Sara McLean, a color expert for Dunn-Edwards. “I also like classic neutral whites with dark trim and dark floors,” she says. This can be an especially good choice in areas without much natural light.

With pale wood trim, which may be almost bleached-looking, Krims suggests cool coastal shades of blue or green, like Benjamin Moore’s Taffeta Green or Quiet Moments. Or try a light pinkish gray like Sherwin-Williams’s White Dogwood to reinforce the Scandinavian vibe.