How to Mix Wood Tones In Your Home
Last week, we talked about mixing metals throughout your home and my dos and don’ts to achieve a layered and purposeful look. Today, we’re diving into how to mix wood tones. You’ll notice that many of the tips are similar (look at undertones, use more than one kind, etc.), proving that when it comes to home decor, you probably already know more than you think you do!
How to Mix Wood Tones
I’ve gotten many messages in my inbox about buying wood furniture or choosing wood floors that work well with the rest of the wood in a home and I’m surprised it has taken me this long to devote an entire blog post to this topic. But it’s an important one, because if you mix wood tones correctly, it will completely elevate the entire look of your home.
What Not To Do
First, the big “no-no” when it comes to wood tones is choosing only one and calling it a day. This is very similar to my rookie mistake about matching furniture. If you have all of the same colored wood in your home, it will look like you went to the store and picked up matching bedroom sets for the entire house. Nope.
As you can see from my mom’s old home (above), the furniture all matches. And beyond that, it even matches the door and the trim. Instead, thoughtfully layering different wood tones will give your home depth and prevent your style from looking flat. Jan’s new home is full of lots of gorgeous layers of wood tones! But how the heck do you mix wood tones the right way? Let’s dive in…
Figure Out Your Dominant Wood
The first thing you should do is figure out the dominant wood in your home. For many, that will be their hardwood floors. In our house, we have white oak floors, so that is definitely the dominant wood in our home because you will find it just about everywhere.
If you don’t have wood floors, then look at a room and choose the largest piece of wood furniture you have or perhaps your wood trim and doors. That will act as the dominant wood in your house.
Take a Look at Undertones
Just like metals, woods have undertones, which means feeling cool or warm. Wood typically has a lot of warmth in it and that’s why I love incorporating it into my decor. It makes everything feel cozier. But some stained woods can have a bit of a cooler undertone. For example, most walnut, cherry, and maple will be warm. Whereas any of these woods that are stained with gray or black may have cool undertones, like the sideboard in our living room.
If you want a foolproof method to mix wood tones, figure out your undertone and then only choose other wood pieces with that same undertone. In my house, my floors are white oak and they read warm, so I could then choose other pieces of wood furniture that have a warm undertone.
However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and I sometimes break it in my own home! For example, in my bedroom, our large dresser definitely has a cooler tone to it with the grayish wood. I think this works because it fits well with the other cool tones of the room – the blue walls, the black nightstands, etc. So it’s something you can definitely play around with, but if you’re nervous about making the “wrong” choice, opt for woods with the same undertones.
Incorporate Light, Medium, and Dark Shades
So, you’ve figured out your undertone. Now it’s time to add various shades of wood throughout your home. Again, remember that you don’t want to just choose one wood and call it a day. To achieve a well-designed look, you should try to incorporate two to three shades of wood throughout your home.
And here’s how to really make it work – incorporate each shade at least twice in a space.
So, if you have a walnut dining room table, you’ll want to make sure you have walnut somewhere else in the room. It doesn’t have to be another big piece of furniture. Instead, it can be small – a picture frame, a wooden bowl, a piece of decor. That will make the wood tone look intentional and balanced in a room.
For example, in Ellis’ nursery, we have a light wood crib, so I wanted to make sure to incorporate that wood somewhere else in the room. I decided to use light wood shelves to bring that same wood tone into the other side of the room. Even just an accessory or two can work!
Don’t Overdo The Wood
As I mentioned, I love adding wood to a room because it often adds warmth and life to a space. However, it’s important to incorporate other materials as well. You recently read about my quest for a side table for our living room. Between the TV console, oak table, and entryway console, I already have a lot of wood in the space, so instead, I opted for a marble and black table.
Be sure to survey your room as a whole and make sure you’re adding in different materials. From stone, to glass, to wood, to leather, they all work together to create a layered look.
I hope this was a helpful resource on how to mix wood tones. At the end of the day, it’s your home, so do what feels right to you! But if you’re looking for guidance when buying a piece, you’ll now have a bit more knowledge as to how to make a room feel cohesive and interesting.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.