While people are getting more ans more adventurous with mixing periods and styles in their home, one of the puzzling questions we always get asked as editors is: How do you mix wood tones in a room? Whether it's matching a dining table to an existing hardwood floor or simply complementing various wood furniture pieces together, many people are still hesitant to mix wood tones in a space. But mixing wood tones can be just as beautiful as mixing metals in a room—the trick is to follow a few foolproof rules to help guide your decisions.
The goal in design when mixing anything, from colors to periods or styles, is to somehow create continuity—a design conversation or story if you will. By paying attention to details such as undertones, finish, and wood grain, it becomes easier to mix and match confidently. Ready to try mixing wood tones in your own space? These are the decorating mistakes people most often make—and how to easily avoid them.
Not Picking a Dominant Wood Tone
While mixing wood tones is perfectly acceptable and, in fact, encouraged, it always helps to pick a dominant wood tone as a starting point to help you pick the other pieces to bring in the room. If you have wood floors, this would be your dominant wood tone. Otherwise, pick the largest furniture piece in the room.
Not Matching the Undertones
Courtesy of Charlie Ferrer
Another helpful tip for mixing wood tones is to match the undertones between different pieces. For instance, in this living room by interior designer Charlie Ferrer, most of the antique wood pieces are in a warm mid-tone, creating continuity throughout the space. Pay attention to whether your dominant wood tone is on the cooler or warmer side, and stay in the same family to create a coherent thread.
Not Playing With Contrast
Often, people try to mix wood tones by trying to match similar ones together, but the best thing to do is actually the opposite: playing with contrast. In this living room by L.A.-based designer Amber Lewis, for instance, the light gray washed floors are complemented with a dark walnut coffee table and chairs that feature three different wood tones ranging from light to dark. Playing will contrast will add visual interest and help pieces complement each other.
Not Creating Continuity With Finish
If your wood tones are all over the place, it can be helpful to create continuity with similar wood grains or finishes. For instance, most of the finishes in this room are matte or eggshell with a subtle grain finish, so the room looks put together despite the high contrast between wood tones.
Not Breaking it Up With a Rug
Breaking up your wood pieces and your floor with a rug can make a huge difference, especially if your furniture and wood floors have a similar wood tone. For instance, the two X-leg stools in the room above may have looked washed out if placed directly on the wood floors in the room above, but with a blue and red Persian rug in between, they stand out.
Next up: Five decorating mistakes people with good style never make.