4 Kitchen Designs That Make Red Oak Flooring Shine

Posted July 24, 2019 by Katlyn Droke

Red Oak hardwood floors have been America’s favorite choice for hardwood flooring for decades. It was THE wood of choice for hardwood flooring (and still is). Homeowners love Red Oak for its many benefits:

  • The beautiful grain really shines through the stain. Red Oak flooring has a highly detailed wood grain, adding a natural Earth-y vibe to your kitchen or bath. Like a fingerprint, no board looks the same.
  • Get a closer match to other features. Red Oak is the type of wood used in many standard fixtures around the home, like stairwell banisters, handrails, and more. If you want those pieces to feel like a natural fit in your overall design, then it would be a good idea to consider matching them with Red Oak. 
  • Floor color becomes the focal point. Red Oak is a highly stainable wood, providing a lot of flex in terms of color choices. While most homeowners opted for warm walnut or cherry shades that you see in most homes, there are several dark shades that look amazing, too. 
  • It’s an eco-friendly wood. Red Oak is considered an eco-friendly wood because it’s actually farmed and harvested, making it a beautiful yet sustainable option for flooring. 

With all those benefits at play, you may have original hardwood that you don’t want to pull out because it’s still in good shape. Plus, it’s often not economical to rip up hardwood that is still structurally sound and durable. This means you need to work around it, but that can be hard to do because this flooring can be such a unique color. So how do you do it? Here are four ways to keep your beautiful, original Red Oak flooring in your new kitchen designs:

white shaker cabinets with red oak flooring.
White or grey cabinets are a good way to balance the red tones in Red Oak hardwood.

If you want to temper the red tones… try off-white or light grey colors.

This flooring is known for its very warm tones that can look reddish or yellowish, and going neutral with your color scheme is the key to offsetting that. You can choose a light off-white color (like Nantucket White) for walls to balance the intensity of these warmer tones. Light grey hues can also help cool out the red hues in Red Oak floors, and neutral greys are definitely in style as a cabinet color. 


Modern farmhouse kitchen with navy shaker cabinets
Intensify the drama of red oak flooring with dark contrasting colors.

If you want to turn up the heat to bring out the wood’s warm hues… try red or navy colors.

Maybe you want to play UP the warm tones that this hardwood is known for. Red walls are a bold choice that brighten the room while matching well with your existing floors. You can also bring out the red tones of the wood with blue wall colors, like a neutral navy. 


Antique kitchen with white shaker cabinets and red oak flooring.
Brighten up a room with darkly stained red oak flooring with antique colors and decor.

If you want to lighten up darker tones… try Antique white or light grey colors. 

For Red Oak that has been colored with darker stains, go with Antique white walls or light grey cabinets to keep the room from getting too dark. It doesn’t matter what style of cabinet you choose either. Luckily these floors are versatile when it comes to design elements beyond color. 


Hand scrubbing the stain off hardwood flooring to refinish with a sponge.
Don’t be afraid to refinish your floors to get the exact color you want!

If you don’t like the color at all… refinish the wood to match.

If the red or yellow tones are just too much, keep in mind that you can often strip the color off and refinish it. While that might not be as economical as the other options, it’s a great option if you have a set cabinet color in mind that doesn’t play well with established Red Oak floors.

That’s how you can keep your beautiful and strong Red Oak flooring and make it fit in to your new kitchen.