Gone are the days of perfectly uniform furniture sets (thank goodness), but with the passing of the trend comes a question: What are the best ways to mix wood tones and finishes? Whether your style is traditional, modern or somewhere in between, combining dark and light wood furniture and frames will make your space feel layered and personal.
Here, five easy tips for mixing wood tones like the pros.
1. Check the undertones
The key to mixing woods is keeping the undertones consistent. Woods with warm undertones will look yellow or red — think Cherry, Mahogany, and Hickory. These work well together, even if they vary in tone and grain. Cool-toned woods like Ash, Maple, Poplar, and Pine will look a little bit gray. Neutrally toned woods like Walnut are the most versatile. Walnut has soft purple undertones that work with warm and cool-toned wood alike. Feel free to mix dark and light woods of varying finishes and grain sizes, so long as the undertones are consistent.
2. Mix wood finishes throughout the room
If you pile all your darker wood pieces on one side of a room, it will feel heavy and a little bit off-kilter. Instead, mix lighter and darker pieces throughout the room to add visual interest and balance. Many rooms have permanent wood components (floors, paneling, exposed beams) so you can play off the character of the room by adding furniture, frames, and other wood elements to create balance.
Consciously or not, we think about wood grains in the same way we think about style. Typically, large wood grains suggest a more casual, lived-in look, while fine wood grains are usually perceived as more formal. Mixing wood grains can keep a room from feeling too contrived, but if you want a specific look, focus on the grain that fits your style.
4. Mix old and new pieces
More than likely, the furniture in your home has been acquired over time — a dresser you inherited, a nightstand you picked up at a flea market, the couch you splurged on. The same is probably true of your frames. This mix of old and new is the goal, making a space feel like it’s evolved through the years.
However, when you add furniture here and there, the woods will most likely not match. We recommend embracing these differences and upping the contrast. Mixing a variety of finishes will look like a deliberate (and chic) design choice. Depending on how you style your pieces, the end result can be modern, traditional, or a happy medium between the two.
5. Repeat wood tones
While we love a wide variety of wood tones, pay attention to how many you’re using in a room. If you’re mixing multiple woods, try to use each type at least twice for a pulled-together look. The same goes for frames. Notice that The Hardwoods Cozy Organic and The Hardwoods Grand Organic gallery walls each keep to two kinds of wood, with the frame width varied to add variety.