Light Or Dark Countertops With Oak Cabinets – Which To Choose?

Figuring out what color and style of kitchen counters you want can feel endless sometimes. Do you have oak cabinetry in your space and don't know whether light or dark countertops will look better? Well, we've done plenty of digging and have the answer here for you. Let's dive in.

Depending on the design of your kitchen, countertop color can make a massive difference with oak cabinets. Generally, lighter countertops with oak cabinetry will open up a kitchen, giving it a more modern feel.

On the other hand, dark counters are great for enhancing the rich undertones of your oak cabinets, so both have their advantages. So, there isn't one way to decorate here.

As we begin, we will cover all things oak cabinets and discuss what color countertops look best with them. Whether you're renovating, planning your dream space, or need inspiration for the future, we're here to offer some help. With that said, let's jump right into this topic!

Dark oak cabinets and cupboards inside a modern rustic kitchen, Light Or Dark Countertops With Oak Cabinets - Which To Choose?

What Are The Best Countertop Colors For Oak Cabinets?

For those stuck on what color countertop will look best with their oak cabinetry, this comes down to your kitchen. For example, if you want something modern, choosing a light, bright countertop color can be helpful.

Cupboards, cabinets and center island made from light oak wood

However, deeper counters are also good if you prefer a more classic, rich-tone kitchen design. According to the experts at Arch City Granite, a few countertop choices for oak include:

  • Snowfall Granite (bright and modern)
  • Hawaii Granite (warmer but still current)
  • Netuno Bordeaux Granite (deeper undertone)
  • Titanium Granite (very dark, almost entirely black)
  • Coffee Brown Granite (also very dark in hue)
  • Giallo Fiorito Granite (warm undertones: traditional)
  • Ganache Granite (modern with grey undertones)

Of course, these are just a few great options, so the list is endless. Additionally, if you're having trouble making a final selection, we recommend reaching out to your local kitchen design store to see what they think would work best in your kitchen.

How Do I Choose A Countertop For My Kitchen Cabinets?

The best way to find countertops for your kitchen cabinetry is to look for similar undertones. For example, oak cabinets tend to be warmer, so your countertops should share that quality.

Again, you do not have to match undertones or even hues, but it is an easy way to create consistency in your kitchen. Furthermore, you might also want to spice things up with a cool undertone for the counters.

As we covered above, options like Snowfall Granite, Hawaii Granite, and Ganache Granite all have a modern flair, so those are great styles to choose from. If you want to do something more severe, Titanium or even Coffee Brown Granite could be options to consider.

Everyone is different, so not every oak cabinet kitchen will follow the same design.

Do Lighter Countertops Look Better With Oak Cabinets?

Light oak wooden cabinets and cupboards with a dark oak center island

If you want your kitchen to feel bigger, lighter countertops with oak cabinetry are the way to go. Considering that oak is a rich-tone wood, a light, bright countertop can be a great design choice.

For example, Granite Selection claims that using a light quartz countertop is one of the better options for oak cabinets, as they complement each other well.

Again, this is an example of using a lighter, more modern countertop with the traditional-looking oak wood, so we recommend it.

However, that's not to say that deeper countertops won't look great with oak cabinets, but they won't help brighten up your kitchen.

Should Countertops Be Lighter Or Darker Than Cabinets?

Although there isn't technically a set-in-stone answer, lighter countertops with darker cabinets seem to be the best design choice. Generally, white or light-colored counters give a kitchen/space a modern feel.

That can help make your home feel newer, thus increasing its overall appeal. Furthermore, lighter countertops with a rich tone cabinet like oak can contemporize them, which isn't always easy.

On the other hand, deeper counters with similar tone cabinets will present a more elegant, sleek vibe, so both have their advantages.

Which Kind Of Countertop Is Best For The Kitchen?

Different varieties of marble and granite countertops

Out of the countless kitchen counter materials, granite is what we recommend. Considering it is one of the most used countertop designs among homeowners, granite seems to be the perfect option for any kitchen space.

One of the main reasons granite is so popular is its unique natural composition, which is hard to replicate. Furthermore, granite is relatively durable, making it an excellent choice for those who love to cook.

Price-wise, you can typically expect to spend between $40 to $60 per square foot, which isn't cheap but also isn't the highest-cost countertop option. Figuring marble will cost closer to $75 to $250 per square foot, granite tends to be the next best thing.

What Is The Easiest Kitchen Countertop To Maintain?

If you don't want to spend hours cleaning and polishing your countertops, quartz is a great option. Considering this material is engineered using ground stone and resin, quartz counters don't need regular sealing.

On the other hand, marble and granite countertops do. This is a major advantage that quartz has over other materials, although it isn't always considered fancy.

Furthermore, quartz counters are not susceptible to knife cuts, will not chip or crack, and don't stain easily, which is always helpful in the kitchen.

Cost-wise, high-quality quartz countertops will set you back roughly $50 to $65 per square foot, which isn't quite as much as marble.

What Quartz Goes With Oak Cabinetry?

If you want to try using quartz countertops with your oak cabinets, Taupe is a great color/design. Generally, this quartz has a natural stone vibe and blends well with most wood tones, making it perfect for oak.

Additionally, Taupe quartz counters usually have sprinkles of grey and beige throughout, which is perfect for more modern spaces. Again, you don't have to stick with one particular aesthetic for oak cabinetry, so your options are endless.

Furthermore, a simple white or grey quartz countertop will also blend nicely with oak cabinetry, so those are two other ideas to consider.

How Do You Make Oak Cabinets Look Modern?

Oak kitchen cabinets paired with white countertop inside a narrow kitchen

The easiest way to make oak cabinets feel more modern is to use light, neutral colors throughout the rest of your kitchen. As we mentioned, grey, white, and beige all have a newer look.

You can also try choosing stainless steel appliances to pair with oak cabinetry, as they will make your space feel up to date. The best way to modernize anything is with a simple, understated design, so that's something to keep in mind.

According to Kyle M. Interiors, using copper finishes for your cabinet and sink hardware can also modernize oak cabinets, as they share similar undertones. Although copper has a more rustic appeal, newer homes have started to use it more often, as it tends to feel more "livable."

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Should I Use A Stain On My Oak Cabinets?

If you want to enhance the color of your oak cabinetry, we think staining is a great idea. Especially for those renovating or installing new countertops, using a stain will change the color of your cabinets without taking away their natural beauty.

Furthermore, using a stain is an easy way to fix scratches or discoloration on your oak cabinets, so it serves many purposes.

Is Oak Cabinetry Still In Style?

A kitchen with wooden oak cupboards and cabinets matched with a granite countertop[

Yes! Oak cabinets are certainly in-style as of now. Although they don't always have a modern look, oak has seen a resurgence among homeowners through the power of nostalgia and vintage meets new interior design.

As we said, this wood has a classic appeal. That makes it perfect for people of all ages and styles, which few cabinets can accomplish. Additionally, you can always stain oak cabinets to look more modern, which is great for anyone planning a renovation.

Again, cabinet styles go in and out of trend all the time, so we don't think you need to pay much mind to what everyone else is doing/thinking.

Are Oak Kitchen Cabinets Expensive?

Surprisingly, oak cabinetry is not too expensive. Generally, you can find oak cabinets for less than cherry or even maple options, which is good to know.

Price-wise, oak cabinets for a standard size kitchen will usually set you back between $4,000 to $5,000, so they aren't necessarily cheap either.

However, if you want custom oak cabinets, it's safe to budget $8,000-$20,000, so this can be quite the financial undertaking.

To Wrap It Up

Dark oak cabinets and cupboards inside a modern rustic kitchen

Whether you love traditional wood designs or want something modern, knowing how to design around oak cabinetry is essential. From what we found, light countertops work best for modernizing oak cabinetry, while darker options are perfect for a sleek final design.

It's also important to find similar undertones in your cabinets and countertops. Doing this will create a cohesive look for your space and ensure the final aesthetic of your kitchen is tasteful.

Regardless, shop around for different countertop colors, materials, and prices, and don't be afraid to spice things up with a super-light or dramatically dark option.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related kitchen posts below!

How To Remove Dishwasher From Under Granite Countertop

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