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 mixing wood tones can be just as beautiful as mixing metals in a room. The 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 decorating mistakes people most often make when mixing wood and rules to easily avoid them.
Pick 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 choose 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.
Match the Undertones
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.
Play With Contrast
It may seem counterintuitive, but when mixing wood tones, contrast is your friend. 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. Playing with contrast adds visual interest and gives a design more depth.
Create 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 example, most of the finishes in this room are matte or eggshell with a subtle grain finish, so the room looks cohesive. If your wood floor or table is glossy, follow suit and choose side tables or chairs in a glossy finish.
Break It up With a Rug
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 two X-leg stools may have looked washed out if placed directly on the wood floors, but with a blue and red Persian rug in between, they fit in and don't look out of place.