Mixing Wood Tones
I would love your professional advice. I’m in the process of decorating my dining room. We just purchased new chairs and will be repainting our dining room table a bit darker to give it a fresh look. I just can’t decide on the sideboard. Should I get one that matches the table or a different color? – Suzy, Monroe, NY
Traditionally, we went to the furniture store and purchased a suite of matching room sets and lived with it forever. This is a thing of the past and wood tones do not have to match unless you want matchy-matchy. It’s a matter of personal taste. A darker table works well with a similar tone, lighter or in your case with white wainscoting, even white.
When the wood in one room shares the same tone, nothing stands out and the room looks flat. Mixing tones and finishes can coexist creating an eclectic, organic look.
There are no rules, just a few considerations. In design, when mixing anything from colors to styles, the goal is to create continuity in the story by paying attention to the details. Part of what makes a room cohesive is repetition. Adding layers of texture creates depth and interest.
Anchor a room with the largest piece of wood furniture such as the dining table. The anchor piece is your dominant wood tone. From there, mix in contrasting wood tones around it. Is the dominant wood tone warmer or cooler? Stay in the same tone family to create a harmonious balance.
An area rug grounds multiple wood tones especially when there are many mismatched legs colors and helps create a buffer between the wood furniture and a wood floor.
Play with accent colors to tie the various wood tones together. The color story can carry throughout the space in accessories. If you like a neutral look, stick with tone on tone neutral colors. If you have a favorite color, incorporate that color throughout the space.
The open concept in my own house is a mix of light-colored seating in my dining chairs, sofa and accent chairs. The wood tones vary from light multi-tone mixed wood flooring to mid-tone furniture. The dining table is warm mid-tone with a muted, distressed turquoise pedestal base. The chair legs do not match the floor or the table, but the leg color appears in some of the flooring planks. The accent colors of turquoise, blues and greens are repeated throughout the space. It is an eclectic mix of layers and textures. The warmth of the wood tones and stone fireplace wall grounds the entire space and works well with the cooler accent tones and gray walls.
This living space evolved over almost two years of settling into it. Decorating a house is a mix of inherited, found and purchased items, whether vintage or new. It did not happen overnight. When I was doing vacant stagings in my business, there was an ‘instant’ look created in a quick timeline. A staged house creates a lifestyle to capture the attention of the target market of the house. It looks good but is not lived in or includes the daily ‘life’ stuff. When selecting staging furniture, I never did matched sets of wood tones but preferred a mix for visual impact. Tip: update any dining table by adding new updated chairs.