6 Tips for Mixing Wood Tones in Home Design
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we all have those antique furniture pieces laying around that we aren’t quite sure how to fit in with the rest of our home. Well, we’re here to lay the mystery to rest and teach you how to beautifully mix and match wood tones.
Designer Tips for Mixing Wood Tones in your Home
1. Always get samples. As with all materials, wood samples can look drastically different depending on how they are illuminated. Be sure to bring multiple samples home in order to compare their appearances in the room they will go in. Throughout the day, observe how natural and artificial lighting affect the tone of the wood.
2. Make note of undertones. All woods have different temperatures of undertones, so it’s important to be mindful of this when mixing and matching! Deciding on a family of undertones for a space and sticking to it is preferred. Warm tones consist of reds, oranges, and yellows, while cool tones usually have more of a grey, blue, or green appearance.
3. Pick a dominant tone. If you have wood floors, this would be the dominant tone. If not, this could also be the largest piece of furniture in the room.
4. Add similar tones as accent pieces. Like we mentioned before, sticking to the same color family (cool, neutral, or warm) will help things from looking jumbled and thrown together. Smaller accents such as vases, bookends, and photo frames will do just the trick.
5. Have a unifying piece. When choosing a main piece for a space, opting for a coffee or dining table allows you to get creative with chair and rug combinations. If this happens to be an antique piece, keep in mind that it most likely has warm undertones.
6. Bring in contrasting materials. If your flooring and furniture pieces are similar in wood tones, it’s a good idea to break up these pieces with a rug. If you place them together without a visual barrier, your furniture could blend in too much with the floors. Additionally, bringing non-wooden materials into the space such as an acrylic coffee table, a metal sideboard, or a fabric sofa will help to create balance. The space seen above achieves balance through adding fabric sofas and chairs, and layered area rugs.
Okay, so now you’re wondering which types of wood you should use in your home. Each wood species has different characteristics related to appearance and durability, so it’s important to consider this when choosing which woods to include in your home design.
There are countless different wood species and variations of species out there that we could spend all day on it. But no one has that kind of time, so we're just going to break down the most common woods used for flooring and furniture pieces.
1. White Oak | White oak has a very distinctive appearance because of its grainy texture. This type of wood is durable, resistant to warping, and tends to show yellow undertones.
White Oak floors give any space a lighter feel. When mixing wood tones, white oak is a great option for the dominant tone to give the home a sleek, edited feel with a bit of rustic charm, still. Love the look of white oak floors, but not looking to go full reno? Check out our tutorial on how to update outdated red oak flooring to a light & bright white washed alternative!
2. Poplar | Because poplar wood typically lacks a strong coloration or grain pattern, it is most commonly used when painted or stained and is a popular choice in millwork. Its natural color is white to light cream with a straight grain pattern.
We incorporated poplar wood in our client’s master bathroom in our Lakeview Home project. These custom doors, vanities, and bath base are finished in a white textured glaze. Check out the full reveal of this gorgeous home here!
3. Maple | Being one of the hardest wood species, maple is great for heavy-duty pieces like dressers and cabinetry. It’s durable, affordable, and usually exhibits red undertones. Maple is practical for furnishings in the kitchen because it can be wiped down with a damp cloth.
4. Walnut | The color of planks of walnut can vary dramatically depending on which part of the tree it is cut from. The center of the tree yields more of a rich brown, while the outer rings of the tree yield a more yellow wood. The strength of this wood makes it a prime choice for antique style pieces because it can support very intricate carvings, as commonly seen in headboards and dressers. This advantage, along with others, does put walnut on the pricier side of your options, though.
What is Reclaimed Wood? And Why Use it?
Reclaimed wood is simply any piece of wood that has been used for a previous project, whether that be the frame of an old barn, original hardwood flooring, or anything in-between! Any wood species can be reclaimed and because it is in its second (or third) life, it has its pros and cons. Consider these when deciding if you’d like to go this route in your home.
Sustainable + Environmentally-Friendly | By using reclaimed wood instead of sourcing new lumber, you are helping to reduce deforestation and energy usage. Since this wood has already been harvested, transported, dried, and milled, you save on time and energy. Also, even though wood is a renewable resource, some species are not as rapidly renewable as others, and reusing old wood helps to cut down on the demand of creating new planks.
Strong + Durable | Reclaimed wood tends to be more durable than newer wood planks because these pieces are from older, stronger trees. They have been exposed to temperature and moisture conditions, and after years of expansion and contraction, the wood has settled into a more permanent state.
Distinctly Unique + Rich in History | Because these planks and boards come from projects past, they are sometimes combined with other wood species. Using differing species and sizes of planks creates a truly one-of-a-kind look. As a plus, researching where the wood actually came from can reveal amazing stories. If you’re all about telling a story with you home, this is one sure-fire way to spark up an interesting conversation!
Previous Treatments | What makes reclaimed wood “reclaimed” is that it has had a previous use. For this reason, the wood may have been treated or stained its past life. This might make refinishing the wood time-consuming and more labor-intensive. Additionally, you’ll need to be cautious about handling any reclaimed wood that may release toxins from these treatments and follow proper precautions.
Size Irregularities | While uniqueness and variation are a sought-after quality of reclaimed wood, it may vary dramatically in size and thickness. There may be a combination of wood species that you’re dealing with, so these will also present variations in strength, potentially complicating any required assembly. The ways each plank holds stain can also vary, so for those seeking uniformity, please tread carefully.
Availability + Cost | If you are planning on sourcing the wood yourself, this could present some unforeseen challenges. Not only will you need to go out and find it from an old scrapyard, but it is harder to ensure its quality. You may end up spending more money than you would on new planks if too many of the reclaimed pieces are not suitable for your particular project.
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How are you planning on mixing wood tones in your own home? Comment below to let us know!