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How to Mix Wood Tones in Your Home Like a Designer

how to mix wood tones - living room with light, medium and dark wood tones

Bespoke Only

While people are getting more and more adventurous with mixing periods and styles in their home, one of the puzzling questions we're always asked as editors is how to mix wood tones in a room. Whether it's matching a dining table to an existing hardwood floor or trying to mix various wood furniture pieces together, many people are hesitant to combine different woods in a space. But let us tell you here first, the era of matchy-matchy furniture is over. Say goodbye to the furniture sets of yore, because mixing wood tones can be just as beautiful as mixing metals in a room. The only trick is to follow a few foolproof rules. 

The goal in design when mixing anything from colors to styles is to 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 tips and tricks you should always follow.

Pick a Dominant Wood Tone

how to mix wood tones - living room with brown wood, walnut molding, and rustic coffee table

Becca Interiors

While mixing wood tones is perfectly acceptable—and in fact, we encourage it—it always helps to pick a dominant wood tone as a starting point to help you choose other pieces to bring in the room. If you have wood floors, your work here is done — those are your dominant wood tone. Otherwise, pick the largest furniture piece in the room like a desk, dresser, or dining table. When choosing your other wood tones to add to the space, always consult your dominant shade first.

Match the Undertones

how to mix wood tones - dining room with gray floors, warm wood chairs and birch wood table

Pure Collected Living

Another helpful tip for mixing wood tones is to match the undertones between different pieces. Just like you would when choosing new makeup, figuring out undertones first can make all of the difference. Pay attention to whether your dominant wood tone is warm, cool, or neutral, and stay in the same family to create a coherent thread. In this dining room, the warm wood of the chairs pick up some of the warmer streaks in the wood floor and blend seamlessly with the warm grains of the birch dining table. Warm + warm + warm = foolproof tone mixing.

Play With Contrast

how to mix wood tones - light wood floor with dark chair and medium piano

Design: Emily Henderson Design, Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

If you're feeling more daring, contrast is your friend. It may seem counterintuitive, but going for high-contrast shades can actually work seamlessly. In this living room, for instance, the light warm wood floors are complemented with a dark, almost inky, walnut chair and plenty of medium wood tones on the piano and ceiling beams. Playing with contrast adds visual interest and gives a design more depth while repeating shades (like the warm wood floors and matching accent chairs) gives the space some continuity.

Create Continuity With Finish

how to mix wood tones - gray wood table with birch chairs and light wood floor

Bespoke Only

If your wood tones are all over the place, it can be helpful to create continuity with similar wood grains or finishes. For example, most of the finishes in this room are matte or eggshell with a rustic grain finish, so the room looks cohesive. If your wood floor or table are glossy, follow suit and choose side tables or chairs in a glossier finish.

Break It Up With a Rug

how to mix wood tones - dark wood on top of walnut wood floors

Katie Martinez Design

Breaking up your wood elements with a rug can make a huge difference, especially if your furniture and wood floors have a similar wood tone. In this living room, the legs of the dining chairs may have blended too much if placed directly on the wood floors, but with a striped rug in between, they fit in and don't look out of place.

If your furniture and wood floors are drastically different in color, a patterned statement-making rug can also help minimize the contrast between the two.

Keep It on Repeat

how to mix wood tones - california cool living room with sofa and wood accent chairs

Katie Hodges Design

Once you find the shades that work, just rinse and repeat. In this living room, the dark walnut of the ceiling beams are picked up by the legs of the couch and coffee table while the lighter wood floor matches the accent chairs. Having recurring wood tones in your room provides continuity and structure to your space, so it looks put-together without trying too hard. Repeating each shade a minimum of two times is a foolproof way to nail this look.