If you’re like most of my clients, you have a mix of wood types and finishes that aren’t perfectly matching sets of furniture and furnishings in every room in the house (good for you). The good news is, things aren’t boring.
However, it can also be tricky to mix-and-match furniture with different wood types and finishes, grain patterns and finishes without looking cluttered, chaotic or a little too eclectic for your taste. The same can be true if you’re working with furniture that is painted different colors.
Think in terms of wood undertones
If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice that wood has undertones. Maybe it’s a deep brown, luminous gold or rich red, for example. By paying attention to undertones, you can include multiple pieces in the same space, even if actual stains or wood types are different. In fact, using this technique can deepen the effect of your beautiful assortment of wood furnishings, creating rich, layered textural contrast.
Use contrast to your benefit
Speaking of contrast, use it to your benefit when working with various wood types and finishes or colors. For example, a darker finished piece can become the focal point of a room, while lighter finishes live on the perimeters. If your wood pieces are only slightly different, choose a contrasting, monochromatic color for the room’s walls and flooring.
Use the birds of a feather rule
While there are variations of a sort (like the pattern difference between standard and bird’s eye maple), most wood types have similar grain patterns and colors. Keeping to the same wood family will create a more cohesive look.
Think more about the furniture’s style rather than finish
Sometimes, the finish is the least of your problems when it comes to using different wood types or finishes in the same room. The issue is actually the architectural style of the piece itself. For example, trying to mix a light, wicker beach house chair in the same space as an imposing, dark-stained Victorian hutch might pose a problem. On the flip side, either of those pieces might look right at home sharing a space with a rustic or distressed piece in the right hue. In this case, its style – not finish or color – that matters most.
Use an area rug to transition floors to furniture
Perhaps the biggest challenge isn’t getting the furniture to blend together, it’s getting the furniture to blend with the hardwood flooring. Dining and coffee tables are the most notorious for creating this visual dilemma.
The area rug – or throw rug – is your greatest ally here. Just as a backsplash creates a transition between contrasting countertops and cabinets, or between two cabinets that are finished or painted different colors (more on that next), you can choose an area rug that includes both wood tones in its color scheme or pattern. That way, it matches both the floor and the table and forms a transitional bridge to balance them. Now your eye won’t even be bothered by the difference in wood type or finish.
Make the most of different wood types and finishes or tones in the kitchen
Your new kitchen will have beautiful cabinets – and odds are there will be a fair amount of them – especially if you have a larger kitchen or an open floor plan. Be careful if a wall or two has wall-to-wall cabinetry with little interruption. This can wind up looking overwhelmingly blah.
By choosing two separate finishes for the top and bottom cabinetry, or on the perimeter cabinets and the island, or using a fun accent color on the island, you can create a more interesting effect. It also gives you more room to play with other colors and finishes in the current design, as well as when you want to change things up again in the future.
Re-think your house-wide furniture placement
Sure, the dining room table belongs in the dining room, and a couch of some type belongs in the living or family room. Sometimes, however, I find clients are stuck in furniture ruts – placing the same pieces, in the same rooms, in the same configuration for years on end or even in different houses.
Perhaps it’s time to re-think furniture placement throughout the house. Maybe you’ll find that a small end table in the living room would look better in the guest bedroom and that a small trunk from the guest room would make a fun and eclectic replacement for said end table. Look at ways you can rearrange your furniture for more stylish and blended arrangements from room to room. If you get serious about it, it can feel like a free home remodel. Inviting a design-savvy friend over for this chore can create a delightful afternoon and a whole new look and fee.
Which pieces are ready to be repainted? Or reupholstered?
If you have an abundance of wood furniture, why not convert a piece or two, or three via a fresh coat of paint? It’s hard to cover up beautiful wood, but if you can’t find a solution to your rainbow-of-finishes issue, it’s time to either trade some in for new pieces or paint the ones most ready for a little TLC.
Reupholstering is another option for wooden chairs. Not does upholstery add color, pattern and comfort, reupholstering leaves only the legs exposed (or the backs, if you only cover the seats), and that might do the trick when it comes to mixing those pieces with others in the group.
You’re always welcome to contact me at Kristina Wolf Design. I can help you via single, in-home consultation where we brainstorm together for a whole new look. Or, you can hire me to do the mixing and matching of your various wood types and finishes for you. Either way, I guarantee we’ll find a way to ensure there’s a place for every finish, and every finish will find its place.