When you first move into a home, you usually plan to get really nice matching furniture and decorate it the home so that everything compliments everything else, and wood furnishings are usually part of that plan.Then, for most of us, reality hits. The next thing you know, you’ve got a pine table in the dining room with oak chairs and a buffet which is made of some wood you haven’t identified yet. And let’s not even talk about the color of the floor. The question is, “can it all be made to somehow work?” The answer is yes.
First off, there are no types of wood that absolutely positively don’t go together. Oak can be a little challenging at times because of it’s prominent grain (it tends to go best with similar “grainy” woods like elm and rosewood), but even oak will play nice with others if properly introduced. The design of the piece is actually much more important than the color or type of wood. If you have one modern design wood chair and an one Louis XIV chair, they’re not normally going to look like they belong together even if they’re made of the same wood in the exact same shade.
That being said, there are some types of wood that do naturally look very good together. Some popular choices include walnut with maple, maple with cherry, walnut with cherry and cherry with mahogany. Keep in mind though that wood’s color changes as it ages, so what looks like a great match today may be quite different in the future.
Another thing you need to know is that too much of the same type of wood can actually start to look bland. A big mistake that people often make is decide to make an “oak room” with oak floors, furniture and trim only to find that they suffer from oak overload. Variety is the spice of life, so maybe it’s good that you couldn’t afford that matching dining room set that was the same shade as your hardwood floor and trim.
Speaking of flooring and trim, those are excellent tools to tie different types of wood furniture together. Picture frames are also useful in this regard. Flooring is a great equalizer, since many hardwood flooring patterns have both light and dark shades in them. Without an equalizing floor, one way to utilize trim to balance wood furniture in a room would be to find a trim that has a similar pattern or grain to one piece of wood furniture while being close in color or shade to another. This could “bring the two pieces together” and make them look like they are part of a greater plan. Another tactic is to get trim or other decorative pieces that form a”middle ground” for the color of the woods in the room. For instance, if you have a light colored hardwood floor and a dark cherrywood rocking chair, a medium-dark trim could bridge the gap and allow the eye to travel naturally from lighter to darker or vice versa.
Without some intervening piece or trim to smooth out the transition, it’s usually best not to put very dark wood next to very light wood. If you have two pieces of furniture that you absolutely love, you don’t want to move them and you don’t want to add trim, flooring or other accents to blend them, your best bet may be to stain one of them a slightly different color so that you can keep the style without a harsh color difference. The bottom line, though, is that wood, in general, is pretty flexible in terms of its compatibility and there is almost always a way to make it work.