How to Mix Wood Tones like a Pro
Wondering how to mix wood tones in your home decor and furniture? Read these designer tips for mixing light and dark wood tones in your bedroom, living room, bathroom, or kitchen.
More useful tips in Paint Colors To Work with Wood Floors and Your Guide to Mixed Metal Decor and Fixtures.
How to Mix Wood Tones
This mixed wood tone mood board was inspired by a question that was submitted by a reader on the Remodelaholic Facebook page.
“We just bought a home with beautiful, knotty pine floors throughout. They have recently been refinished and are a light, natural color that showcases all the “knots”.
I want to incorporate darker shades of wood in our decor (picture frames, furniture, etc) but I’m not sure how to do it.
Are there any rules to mixing wood types/shades? “
This is a GREAT question!
YES, it’s okay to mix wood tones.
Gone are the days of decorating with match-matchy furnishings were ALL of the wood furniture was exactly the same and even matched the floors.
People aren’t buying full sets of matching furniture anymore; they are mixing and matching decor styles for a more unique, curated feel.
(I actually talked about this in The Dos and Donts of Mixing decor styles!)
And with decorating, I don’t like to follow set “rules” so much as “guidelines”, so if you are wanting to break up the wood tones in your home, I’m going to give you some guidelines to follow that will help you look like a pro designed your home!
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links, which allow us to continue providing you lots of decorating and DIY ideas at no cost to you. Learn more here.
Find all sources for this mood board here!
I will dive into my mood board in a bit and explain my choices, but first let’s chat about how to mix different wood tones.
Learn more about visualizing your space in a mood board here.
4 Tips to Mix Wood Tones in Your Home Decorating
1. Look for Common Undertones.
As you can see in the picture below, the shades of wood vary from light to dark, but the thing they have in common is that they share the same rich, warm, reddish undertone.
What you don’t see is any cool, grey wood undertones here, or any light blonde shades of wood either.
Here you can see another great example using grayish tones of wood in varying shades, from whitewashed floors to darker beams and furniture.
2. Go for High Contrast.
One dark wood focal piece in a space when all the other wood in the room is much lighter really makes an impact!
Imagine if this dining table was the same shade as the floor and the chairs. They would blend together and look bland, don’t you think?
See more beautiful inspiration spaces in our Get This Look library.
3. Repeat your accent wood at least twice.
Here you can see that the homeowners took the darker shade of wood that is used on the window frames and repeated it with the dark wood chairs.
Repetition is key, but to know when to stop, follow the the 80/20 rule I talked about here.
Resist the urge to add too many shades of wood into your space by keeping the main shade (which is usually the floor in most cases) in about 80% of the design, then adding about 20% of the accent color. This will maintain balance in the space and make it visually appealing.
4. Go for varying textures.
Add lighter, more rustic wood pieces or accents in with your sleek wood floors to add interest to the space, or add sleek, modern dark furniture in with your rustic knotty pine floors.
The contrast in texture will add interest and dimension to your room.
How amazing is this ceiling?!?
Weathered Gray Mixed Wood Tones Mood Board
Before I give our reader some advise on her question, I’m going to show you the mood board I created using most of the guidelines above, pulling from all the yummy inspiration we just saw.
Find sources and similar items for this mood board below!
I’m completely in love with moody grays right now! I even recently re-painted my living room with these tones, so naturally I was drawn to this beautiful rustic wood floor with grey and neutral tones.
I kept most of my furnishings in the weathered grey tones, then added darker, richer wood tones as my accent color, pulling from the colors in the flooring.
Need to change the stain on a piece of furniture you love? Read our Step by Step Guide to Refinishing Wood Furniture.
I also mixed up the decor styles adding a rustic coffee table with the more formal seating. A rustic chandelier is the perfect accompaniment to the sleek mid century modern dining table and chairs!
Tips for mixing wood tones with knotty pine floors:
The advise that I would give the Remodelaholic reader for picking mixed wood tone furniture to go with her light knotty pine floors:
1 – Add a few pieces of wood furniture in the medium to dark range, making sure that you stay away from any red undertones as pine tends to be more on the yellow side.
2 – Add some white to the space to help keep it light and bright as well.
For example, if you have knotty pine wood floors in your living room, try adding a darker wood coffee table and accent chair, but incorporate a large white oversized sofa to keep an airiness to the space.
3- Most importantly, have fun with it! If a piece doesn’t fit into these guidelines, but just feels right, then it probably is.
Thanks again to team at Remodelaholic for having me again today! If you have time, i’d love for you to pop over to my blog and say hi:)
See ya next month!
Easy ways to add wood tones to your home:
- Build and install a simple wood mantel
- DIY reclaimed wood floating vanity
- How to refinish wood furniture (without sanding a ton)
- Build an easy decorative wood ladder
- DIY wood ceiling tutorial
plus 22 more wood projects + tutorials here!
Home by Diamond B Builders and Cedar & Sage Interiors // photo © Remodelaholic.com
First published 4 Feb 2015 // Updated 13 Sept 2021
Thank you for this article. I’m just getting ready to purchase paint for a whole house repaint project and realized I had chosen the same color I used in my last home ten years ago (can you say, “stuck in a rut much?). Also, this home is filled with honey-colored cabinetry (which I would love to change the color over the next year), and brass fixtures (EVERYWHERE). The carpet will be replaced and luckily the tile and laminate floors are all in grey tones, WHEW!
So, and I hope you can lend a hand, how do I choose a pallet that will be updated and still help me not be color-shocked through the next year of transition? We live in NC, so we love our warm, coastal color, not quite used to the steely tones…yet.
Love these tips! I’m always weary when mixing wood tones so I found these very helpful. Thanks!
I have a very open floor plan for kitchen into living room. Floors are very light wood. Just painted kitchen cabinets white. They were dark cherry with dark granite. All our trim and staircase is oak, which I hate. The fireplace mantle and barn doors and kitchen table are dark cherry as well. I would love to stain or paint my staircase a dark java or black but am afraid it would be another color. Am thinking about painting the legs of my cherry kitchen table white also. Would love some help and opinion!
Hi Renae! If you’ll take a couple of pictures and message us over on Facebook, we have an awesome community there that loves to help with questions like this! https://www.facebook.com/Remodelaholic
I HAVE A LOT OF REALLY PRETTY CARVED ENGLISH PINE PIECES BUT NOT SURE ON WHAT COLOR TO DO THE FLOOR – I HAVE A BLACK BABY GRAND PIANO, TOO – I WAS THINKING A VERY LIGHT PINKISH BUT MAYBE A DARKER RICH WALNUT OR CHESTNUT FLOOR? ANY IDEAS?
My husband and I decided to refurbish our oak cabinets with a gun stock red type of color. Any tips on wood tone matches? We have oak flowing in the entire house: Flooring in two bedrooms, staircase, doors and moldings. It would be quite a project and a bit of money refurbishing oak flooring that is already in decent condition. My husband plans on refurbishing all of our moldings due to several pieces missing from the homes previous owners. It would look goofy if we left the moldings on the windows as well or wouldn’t it? We are not even certain what type of hardwood flooring would look decent in both the kitchen and living area unless we leave the living area carpeted and the kitchen tiled.
Hi there!! I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this article. We just bought a brand new home in April. Our wood floors are starting to buckle- our builder recognized their fault and are replacing them but we are wanting to go with a wood tile instead to avoid the same problem- however we face another issue- our staircase and banisters were stained to match- not only that but we installed barn door like shutters to slide over our windows in the living room to also match the stair case and the floors. We’ve tried to find wood tiles that directly matched our stairs but it looks like we are trying too hard. i think I would say they are cherry with espresso undertones. I’m thinking our best bet would be to go with a contrasting wood tile floor. I found one that is mostly gray but with dark brown/cherry undertones in it. What are your thoughts?!
Where do you get that light colored rustic kitchen table? The one against the dark floors and fireplace behind it. I love it!
i bought all fir solid core fir doors for all rooms of my ’50’s tract house, and fir for the trim and mouldings. I had an oak linen tower, wall cabinet, medicine cabinet and vanity made for one of the bathrooms in one section of the house. and I may have cabinets built in the kitchen–maybe oak? I was also going to have my bedroom wall to wall closet designed and built. I love the finish I have seen of fir when it has a deep orangish finish, like it has been aged. I have to decide if it is important to have all oak cabinetry in the house (for resale appeal?), since it is in the one bathroom, or if fir is okay for the bedroom closet. That would match the fir trim and mouldings and fir door, but not the oak cabinetry in that bathroom–which has a tile floor and is not close to this bedroom-which has (honey colored and various browns) oak flooring, as throughout most of the house and neither room can be seen from the other. ‘Hope this is understandable. Thank you.
Hi. Just purchased a craftsman style coastal Home. All floors are red birch (very lively) with cherry stairs. Two stone fireplaces (sort of golden and gray). I was thinking of going with a natural cherry dining table but what other wood and finishes to I bring in? Thinking of light gray walls with white trim (open floor plan) Where to start?
Where did you buy those bistro chairs shown with rectangle French table?
I agree that matching wood tones is so bland and boring, but it can be intimidating when it comes to mixing wood tones. I love the advice you gave – it takes some of the apprehension out of the decision making process. Thanks!