5 Mistakes People Make When Mixing Wood Tones

Updated 08/04/19

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 do you 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 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. 

The goal in design when mixing anything from colors to styles is to create continuity.

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 how to easily avoid them.

Not Picking a Dominant Wood Tone

Mixing Wood Tones
Courtesy of Amber Interiors

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.

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Not Matching the Undertones

How to Mix Wood Tones
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.

Natural Tree-Stump Side Table
West Elm Natural Tree-Stump Side Table $249
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Not Playing With Contrast

Guide to Mixing Wood Tones
Courtesy of Amber Interiors

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.

Emmerson(R) Modern Reclaimed Wood 3-Drawer Dresser
West Elm Emmerson Modern Reclaimed Wood 3-Drawer Dresser $899 $719
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Not Creating Continuity With Finish

Tips for Mixing Wood Tones
Courtesy of Amber Interiors

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 cohesive.

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Not Breaking it Up With a Rug

Advice for Mixing Wood Tones
Courtesy of Amber Interiors

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. For instance, the two X-leg stools in the room above may have looked washed out if placed directly on the wood floors, but with a blue and red Persian rug in between, they stand out.

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CB2 Curator Hide Stool-Table $249
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Next up: Five decorating mistakes people with good style never make.

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