How to mix wood finishes and make it workJen Wiss-Carline
Perhaps you’ve moved into a new home with wooden floors that don’t match any of your furniture. Or you’ve spotted a gorgeous table or stunning sideboard going for a bargain, but you know it doesn’t match what you’ve got already. If you’re wondering whether mixed wood finishes can ever look good, the answer is yes! Gone are the days of matching every item of furniture in your room – mixing wood finishes rather than matching them is a huge trend that adds interest and stops a room from looking boring and flat. Below, we’ll show you how to make this look work.
Pick out the colours
All wood encompasses a whole range of tones and colours – so if you’re wondering whether two different types of wood will ‘go’, look for a common underlying colour in both. If an item of furniture has the same chocolately browns, reds or lighter tones that can be found in your other furniture or flooring, you can be confident of a match.
Use the contrast as a showcase
On a dark wood floor, an isolated light wood piece of furniture can really stand out. Position the furniture away from other furnishings, using the floor around it to showcase its features.
A light wood floor can equally showcase a dark piece of furniture to beautiful effect. Look for the same underlying tones in the furniture that you have in the floor, for the best match.
Very light and very dark wood can also make a brilliant contrast – for example, in modular units.
Don’t go too close
Different coloured wood furniture that are very distinct will usually mix easily – while wood finishes that are very close to each other in colour can sometimes create a clash. Pick out wood furniture with very distinct colours where the underlying tones are similar and you’ll find you don’t have to worry about mixing it up. Wood with a white or soft gray finish tends to blend with any other woods and can help add further interest to your ‘wood palette’.
Textiles and other items of furniture can help create transitions between the different types and colours of wood. This is an especially useful trick if the woods are quite similar in shade and would otherwise look uncomfortable side by side.
In the dining area, place a large rug on a dark wooden floor to create an effective transition between the tones of the floor and a lighter or darker wood table.
In the bedroom, runners down the side of the bed can be used for a transition between a wood floor and bedside units. A large rug can create a transition between the floor and a dressing table. If your wardrobes don’t perfectly match your flooring, try placing a long rug in front, to soften the effect.
If the eye can see the same or similar toned wood on each side of your room, you’ll find that other tones blend easily into the space between. Darker woods to each side help create a beautiful contrast for lighter woods in the centre, and vice versa.
Experiment with wood finishes
Colour is not the only consideration when trying to mix different woods. Wood furniture comes in both traditional and modern styles with a range of finishes from clean lines to rustic or distressed looks. Using a range of complementing tones and different finishes works well, adding interest to the room and softening the sharp, slick feel of contemporary lines.
The feel of a particular wood can be more important than its colour – for example, simple rustic furniture that has a homemade look can give a room a cosy country feel, regardless of whether the wood grains are dark or light. In a fresh, bright room, deep shades of wood combined with washed white wood gives the room a next-to-the sea feel.
Check the grain
Wood grain can be large or small – and this can give your room a very different feel. Larger grains can feel casual, while smaller grains can feel more formal. Keeping the wood grains in the room a similar size can help create a uniform feel. Mixing up the grains can work to create an interesting look, where the wood shares a similar nature – for example, shiny gloss, rustic farmhouse or shabby chic.
If you’ve got one or two pieces of furniture that simply don’t match, try repainting them in complementing colours rather than throwing them away. Choose coloured paint for feature pieces such as a dining or coffee table, while keeping cupboards and units neutral shades of white, cream and beige.
Use accent colours
Using a splash of accent colour on two different colours or finishes of wood can tie the two together. For example, place a bright bowl on a dark wood table with a matching vase on a light wood mantelpiece, or use coloured glass on your sideboard that matches colourful cushions on your wood framed sofa. The colour connects the two types of wood and eases the transition.
Break it up with white
Blocks of white work perfectly to break up sections of your room that feature different woods. Whether you use put it on the walls, floors, units, furniture or textiles, white is a brilliant way to create a visual divide between different wood finishes in a room. For a darker, cosier feel, swap out the white for black – it tends to pick out the darker tones in the grain and is just as effective at dividing up different types of wood.
Don’t go overboard
Although you can make mixed woods work, don’t overdo it. Two or three different types of finishes places around the room is fine, but any more can feel chaotic. Aim to repeat each finish more than once in each room, for a more harmonised feel.