Mixing Wood Tones in a Room

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Let’s all sing it from the mountain tops: The days of matching wood furniture sets are a thing of the past. Truthfully, it was a decorating rule that really never was — and for good reason. When all of the wood surfaces in a single space share the same tone, nothing stands out and the room falls flat. Allowing various wood finishes to coexist can result in a more eclectic, layered look that lends the right amount of texture and depth. The overall feel is more organic, as if individual pieces have been collected over time.

There is no magic formula when it comes to mixing wood furniture finishes, but here are a few guidelines that may help you find your footing.

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Contrast Furniture and Flooring

Furnishings can get lost against the backdrop of a similarly toned wood floor. Break up the monotony by pairing light furniture with flooring that has a darker stain — as we did here — or vice versa.

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Start with An Anchor Piece

An easy way to create impact is by using a larger piece of wood furniture, such as a coffee table or buffet, as your starting point and mixing in two to three contrasting wood tones around it. You can always experiment by switching out wood accessories to see what appeals to you.

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Create a Harmonious Balance

To prevent your room from looking lopsided, balance different wood finishes throughout your space. Here, the dark-stained furniture grounds the room, allowing the whitewashed elements to have a greater contrast for an airy effect.

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Pick a Dominant Wood Tone

Nothing says you have to go crazy mixing wood tones, especially if you’re feeling a bit out of your element. Here, the neutral, graywash stain of the wall adds just enough contrast while letting the dramatic, dark painted wood pieces and accessories in the room really anchor the space.

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Create Continuity with Accent Color

If you’re worried your mismatched wood grains have gotten out of hand, tie the different finishes and styles together with an accent color. We used our accessories — throw pillows, lamp shade and stools — to create a harmonious flow through color.

How to Mix Wood Finishes

Soften the Mix with a Rug

When you’ve got a lot of legs in various wood tones, give them common ground with an area rug. A rug also helps to create a soothing transition between the furniture and wood floor.

For more design inspiration, browse our Pinterest boards, or find all the rooms from our catalog in our How to Decorate Photo Galleries. 

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Patricia Palermo

Patricia Palermo

Patricia Palermo has been writing about home décor and design since 1999, which is when she first learned the term faux bois. She's passionate about helping others find their design style, because she believes with a little know-how and inspiration, anyone can decorate with confidence. Patricia has a degree in Journalism and lives in Atlanta with her husband and four-year-old twins.

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  1. Reply

    Jan

    July 30, 2018

    Hi
    Need some help
    I have very dark woodwork and purchased a matte black cherry dining table and chairs, with a turned leg -just cushion seat and wooden backs
    Also purchased a dark same wooden tones buffet
    Along with a shades of brown granite topped buffet
    The bottom of which is yellowish off white.
    Both buffets are the same size which I think was a mistake. Your opinion please
    and I have a built in china cabinet
    I feel there’s too much dark going on but don’t know how to fix it
    My carpet is antique look with shades of beige a bit of rust and splashes of blue
    I don’t know what color fabric to have on the chairs or what type fabric
    Any suggestions
    It’s a lively room has three windows on wall opposite the built in cabinet
    The walls on either side of the built in cabinet have built in wall shelves as does one other wall
    Also ornate pillars that sit on big square blocks as you leave the room
    I think this home might be of craftsman design
    Any suggestions would be appreciated
    The walls are neutral off white
    Thank you for your time

    • Reply

      Kath

      August 31, 2018

      Hi, I need some help in mixing wood color in bedroom. I have a mahogany bed and i’m planning to get a cherry maple side table. Is it okay to have a different color of bed and side table?

      • Heather Daly

        September 4, 2018

        Hi Jan,
        Try our tip of using a color to tie it all together. You could try using a lampshade on the side table and a pillow on the bed that are the same color to create harmony and flow. This will take the eye away from the different wood tones and the focus will be on the accent color.
        Good Luck!

  2. Reply

    Bernie

    March 31, 2018

    I have solid wood flooring in my dining room the color is a dork brown. My living room is right across from the dining room and has carpet. I would like to put wood in the living room . Can I have different wood colors? Thank you

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 21, 2018

      Bernie,
      Since the rooms are adjacent, I’d recommend having them match. You may need to refinish your dining room floors so that they coordinate.
      Good luck!

  3. Reply

    Rae

    March 9, 2018

    Hi. We are currently in the process of buying a home that has a reddish looking cherry floor. At first, I wanted to match all the wood furniture such as coffee table, sofa table, entry table with the floors but I don’t want them to get lost by doing that. Would a dark wood like expresso or black furniture look good with the more red cherry floors?

    Thanks!

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 21, 2018

      Rae,
      Black or espresso are so different, that I think the contrast will be fine! We always recommend mixing wood finishes in a room to get that collected look!
      Good luck,
      Caroline

  4. Reply

    Ron

    September 29, 2016

    My living room is carpeted and I want put wood flooring. I have a built in wall unit (oak stained with nutmeg stain -it is not very dark wood but looking a little yellow depending on lighting). I have cedar tongue in groove walls (darkened from age). Husband refuses to remove the tongue in groove walls or the wall unit. My coffee table is my grandmiothers 100+ yr old cedar hope chest with weathered looking aged brass accent strips on the top and sides. It is a darker wood somewhat like the cedar. I am not sure what color wood flooring-as it will be butting up to the kitchen light tile. I will be purchasing a new couch, end tables and lamps. The dining room is directly next to this room and it is wall panelled (i am having the wall panelling removed and painting the walls). Furniture is a darker oak–with a hutch– Neither room is very bright unless it is a very sunny day (huge tree in front of home). I have a wihte kitchen directly beyond the dining room. I know it is hard without pictures but I am not sure what goes with what. Thank you.

  5. Reply

    Hope

    September 16, 2016

    I have a great room with limited natural light. I’d like to lighten it up by adding a Vintage White entertainment wall unit, but all the wood pieces in the room are dark. I have an open concept floor plan with medium brown hickory wood floors throughout. I have an oriental rug with gold, cream, green, terracotta, red an navy blue colors, and dark wood pieces in the room. My sofa is a light gold color. My kitchen cabinets are creamy white. Can I add vintage white or do I need to go with a lighter wood tone? Thanks!

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      How to Decorate

      September 16, 2016

      Hope,
      You most certainly can add a vintage white entertainment unit. In fact, we think it’ll work much better than trying to find a wooden pieces that works with your wood furniture and floors. It’ll be VERY difficult to find something to match, but a painted white piece will work with what you already have.
      Best of luck!

  6. Reply

    Kim Hubler

    August 4, 2016

    My husband insist on keeping a wall shelving unit of original oak with light stain. He won’t let me paint it. Our floor is a grey with brown tones. I am trying to buy bedroom furniture, but don’t know what to buy. Not sure if I should go with a fabric headboard and wood dressers (color?) or what?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 5, 2016

      Kim,

      We are definite fans of mixing wood finishes, so we don’t think you need to worry too much about the wall shelving unit. With that said, we do think a fabric headboard would be a nice way to keep things from looking too disjointed. When it comes to your dressers, you have a few options:

      1. Choose a dresser with a similar finish to your floors. It doesn’t have to be exact, but a similar tone and darkness will help it blend.
      2. Choose another completely different wood finish, but use it in several other places throughout the space. Maybe you choose a chair with a coordinating wood finish, or perhaps a tray.
      3. Go for something completely different like a painted or mirrored dresser. This way it won’t compete with the floors or the built in shelves.

      Happy decorating and good luck!

  7. Reply

    Melanie Gahan

    July 31, 2016

    The lower level of our walkout ranch is all oak. I would like to change the stain of the built in entertainment center to a darker colored stain but do not want to change all the baseboards, trim and doors. Can the entertainment center be treated as a piece of furniture even though it is built in or does it need to match all the other woodwork?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 4, 2016

      Melanie,
      This is a tough question, especially when we can’t see the space exactly. Generally, it’s tricky to blend differing woods tones of a built in piece with woodwork that will come right up against it. Have you considered painting your built in entertainment center instead? This might be a better solution. You can certainly go darker like you’re wanting with maybe a black or even navy blue paint color, and this will make it so there’s no need to change the stain on your baseboards, trim, and doors.
      Best of luck!

  8. Reply

    Kim

    April 20, 2016

    I have a large matte black armoire, a medium gunstock oak floor, side tables with tops the same wood stain as the floor with black iron legs. There’s also a black iron floor lamp. So I guess I have enough black spread around the room to balance the black armoire.
    My question is about a coffee table and the legs of the upholstered chairs I haven’t chosen yet but they’ll be in some type of blue and white or soft yellow and white pattern. I have a white slipcovered sofa, pale yellow walls, lots of natural light. Should I stick with wood the color of the floor and side table tops, or maybe black legs on chairs and a coffee table with a wood top and black iron legs? Or would it be better to go with a distressed blue painted coffee table to go with the blues in the room?
    I’m trying to keep the room as open and airy as possible, thanks!

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 29, 2016

      Kim,

      It’s hard to say without seeing your room, but generally we don’t think it’s necessary to match the wood of your furniture legs to either your floor or each other! We do like the idea of maybe using a different material altogether like metal or a painted wood.

      If you’d like more help, feel free to send your room to our Design Solutions team so they can make some better suggestions. You can do so by submitting this form here.

      Best of Luck!

  9. Reply

    janet poccia

    April 15, 2016

    i need some help with wood tones. I bought the suette couch with cream wood frame and the claudette chair from ethan allen. I have an open floor plan, so my question is can I go with a dark wood tone for my kitchen set and counter stools?

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      June 29, 2016

      Janet,
      It’s hard to make a suggestion without seeing photos, but generally we don’t think it’s necessary to match all of the wood tones in the room. As long as you have at least 2 uses of each wood tone in the room, they’ll blend together just fine!

  10. Reply

    Renae Miller

    April 13, 2016

    I have a open floor plan – kitchen into living room. Light wood floors and white kitchen cabinets. All trim, doors and staircase is oak. The fireplace mantle, barn doors in living room are cherry colored as well as the dining room table – which is close in proximity to the living room. I would love to stain or paint my staircase a dark java stain but am afraid it would be one more color. I hate the oak staircase but don’t want the expense of installing new!

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      April 14, 2016

      Renae,
      It’s hard to offer suggestions without seeing your space, but it sounds from your description like there is indeed a lot of different finishes. We typically like to incorporate 1-2 different wood colors (not including painted wood). Maybe consider staining the trim, doors, and staircase to match the floors or perhaps painting them white to match your kitchen cabinets.
      Best of luck!

      • LucyAnne Pastor

        February 27, 2017

        Have you thought about whitewashing with a satin finish? It would incorporate both the wood and the white and give it some texture!

  11. Reply

    Carolyn LeTourneau

    April 10, 2016

    Can you tell me about the sofa in the fourth picture with the wood trim?

  12. Reply

    Erin

    January 26, 2015

    Can you tell me what arm chair is the first picture. It’s sitting next to the barrel table. Thanks

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      January 26, 2015

      Hi Erin,
      That is our Edwards Library Chair. We’re so happy to hear you like it!
      The How to Decorate Team

  13. Reply

    Ilse Marx

    September 21, 2014

    Hallo!
    I am a decorator from Cape Town RSA and was wondering what your take would be on decorating a very dark Dining room that has only one small window. My client is a very traditional man and he wants this room to be decorated in the Downton Abby style – here’s my predicament.. he wants it to be light but does not appreciate contemporary design. My understanding of this era is that most fabrics and furniture are dark (with wood panelling). I tried to introduce a more contemporary look with light damask wall paper and lovely velvets but was met with ‘ it’s too plain!’…. Help please!!
    Regards
    Ilse

  14. Reply

    Tarah

    August 12, 2014

    In the picture How To Create A Harmonious Balance, which lights are those hanging? They are so neat, but I couldn’t find the lights in the website.

    Thanks

    • How to Decorate Team
      Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 18, 2014

      Hi Tarah,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately those lanterns are discontinued, but we do have a couple of lanterns with a similar feel, like our Sawyer Pendant and our Marcelle Pendant.

      Hope that helps,
      The How to Decorate Team

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