Pairing Wood Tones and Grains in a Room

Cortney Lindquist

Imagine this – you’ve just bought a new house, and everything seems perfect. You love the finishes, the trim and most of all; the glorious hardwood floors. Then you look at your furniture. The antique hutch is a family heirloom but it doesn't really match. The dining room table you loved in the showroom is now making you nervous. Do you need all the furniture to match the floor?

Don't worry - you don't. You just need to learn how to pair contrasting wood tones and wood grains like the pros do.

Make your Floor the Dominant Tone in your Room

When you enter any room, your eyes naturally pick up the elements that take up the most space. Because hardwood floors span from wall to wall, it’s safe to say their tone will be the dominant one in the room - unless, of course, you are planning a large wooden wall panel or you already have a large piece of furniture that you want to make the central piece.

When it comes to determining the tone of your dominant wood, you’re likely going to choose a cool, warm or a neutral undertone. Undertone is the ‘color’ of the wood, as in, ‘yellow/orange/red/purple/green’.

Break Up the Monotony with Contrasting Furniture

Contrasting different woods can give a room more depth compared to having a continuous and monotone color. The trick to mixing contrasting wood tones, is for each tone to be repeated at least twice in the room. Repetition ties a single piece with one tone to add balance to a space. It could be anything a pot, painting, or even a small frame. Contrasting tones or shades will make the room look elegantly put together.

It may sound counter-intuitive at first to match contrasting tones, but this can also work when your furniture seems to be on two separate spectrums, such as having light-colored wooden tables and chairs paired to a darker shade for your wall.

Any additional wood colors or species that you incorporate in your room should have the same undertone. For example, a lighter-toned desk with a warm undertone would look great on dark-toned flooring that also has a warm undertone.

If you’re considering a lighter tone for your hardwood floors, such as natural or white, it would complement darker colored furniture such as a black leather couch or Mahogany ceiling beams. If you want a different type of hardwood but want it darker in color, you can also consider having it stained to give a rich, darker color to compliment your light or neutral furniture.

Add Character with Different Grains

The beauty of the different grains in wood is that they seem to tell a story. Therefore, mixing different grains can add personality to your space, as long as it’s done right. Visible large wood grains give an out-country look, while small wood grains make the room look conventional. Remember, the rule of sticking to the same undertone of wood.

There are hardwood floors with open grains that have the natural pores and holes of a tree – such as Oak. There’s also another type that has a finer finish and grain, as seen in Maple or Cherry wood species. The grains appear closer, giving it a subtle ribbon-striped appearance.

Take Away

Contrasting tones and different grains in the same room are not an interior fashion faux pas. The key is to not mix too many and to start with your dominant tones.

Need more help? Let one of our experts help you plan your flooring project to contrast and complement existing wood in your home? We’re here at your service. Contact us at 920-984-3383, 800-354-9902. We are also available for showroom appointments.

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